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"Blackout — it's not your average game show!"—Tagline spoken in several promos for the series.
Describe Blackout here.
In each round, two celebrity/civilian teams had to successfully fill in the four blanks of a sentence with clue words. One team had its celebrity record 20 seconds of themselves describing one of the words in the puzzle, while the other player wore headphones so they couldn't hear it. (They would switch seats the following round.) However, once the description was played back to the contestant, the other team could hold down a plunger in front of them known as the "Blackout Button." The Button allowed its user to mute out up to seven seconds of the description, hopefully removing enough key information to prevent the contestant from guessing correctly, since doing so would earn their team $100 and a chance to solve the puzzle. (An extra second of Blackout time would be accorded for each duplicated key word). Teams alternated giving, censoring, and solving until a team solved two puzzles, which gave them the chance to play for $10,000 in the bonus round.
In the event of a tie, there would be a sudden death round where the leading player would have the option of describing the single word (for ten seconds) or censoring three seconds of the description. Again, every duplicated key word would allow the opponent to mute out an extra second of the playback. Since neither teammate could hear the description, the wrong word would automatically lose.
Blackout is a cult classic whose brevity can be chalked up to bad timing and stiff competition — it replaced The $25,000 Pyramid on January 4, 1988 and faced not only the still-popular Sale of the Century on NBC but also a massive outcry from viewers toward the network for killing off the Dick Clark-hosted game. The resulting low ratings caused Blackout to be canned on April 1. The show was then replaced with a final 13 weeks of Pyramid, which would be canned (for good this time) on July 1st in favor of Ray Combs' Family Feud.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Bonus Round: The Clue Screen — While one member of the winning team viewed the incoming clues on the screen (up to six), the other would have his / her back to this screen and would have to await a cue (“solve it!”) before turning around to see all of the accumulated clues at once. The cycle would repeat until they either ran out of time (70 seconds) or gave five correct answers, which would win $10,000.
- Losing Horns: A virtual staple of Wolpert's games. Here, bizarre "electronic" ones were used for bonus losses.
- Show the Folks At Home: Only used for the sudden-death word.
- Sound Proof Booth: The contestants wore headphones when needed. But, instead of going into a booth, the seat and table half the contestant sat at literally slid backwards instead.
This show provides examples of:
- Animated Credits Opening: Wolpert seemed to like animated intros; this one has a demonstration of the game mechanic at a restaurant table with a fast-talking lady (actually a sped-up recording of Wolpert's wife).
- Porn Stache: Goen. He got rid of it by the time he took over Wheel of Fortune in July 1989.
- This Trope Is Bleep: The Game.