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Duel is a Game Show created in France, originally running on ABC in the United States and ITV in the United Kingdom. The French version premiered on France 2 several months later, and still airs every summer to this day. It has spun off versions in several other countries as well, usually most closely resembling the UK and French versions. In particular, Spain has its own version which can be viewed internationally for free on its official site here.
The show pits two contestants against each other in a head-to-head quiz. Both players are given 10 chips at the start of the Duel, which they use to select answers. Each question is multiple-choice with four answers, A through D, and is asked to both players simultaneously. Contestants stand on opposite ends of a podium with a screen in the middle, which displays the question and also blocks their view of their opponent. Each side of the podium has four indentations marked A through D, and each contestant can put a chip on each choice to cover it.
The first contestant to lock in had the option of putting time pressure on their opponent, known as a Press in the U.S. version and an Accelerator in the British version. When used, a Press or Accelerator puts a seven-second time limit on the opponent, who is automatically locked if they haven't already when time runs out. Each contestant could use this twice per Duel (once in the U.S. version's second season).
Once both contestants are locked in, the screen is lowered to let them see each other's choices. Then, the answer is revealed, and chips placed on incorrect answers are lost. If a player covered the correct answer, he/she gets that chip back and stays in the game, while failure to cover the correct answer results in an immediate loss. If only one player covers the right answer, he/she wins the Duel and continues as the reigning champion. On the British version, if both players fail to cover the correct answer, it results in a double loss. On the U.S. version, this triggered a sudden-death Shootout question, where both players get four chips, and if both answer correctly, the player who used fewer chips wins.
Chips lost to incorrect answers are added to a progressive jackpot, except in the U.S. version's second season, where the jackpot was a constant $500,000. In the UK version, players who won four Duels in a row won the jackpot and retired undefeated, while the U.S. version's second season required five wins. In the first season of the U.S. version, the four players with the longest consecutive win streaks (with ties broken by the amounts of money they won) returned on the season finale to play a single-elimination tournament for the jackpot.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Initially on the UK version, contestants who answered a single question incorrectly went home empty-handed. After 4 episodes of every winner bailing out at the first opportunity, this was changed so that there was no risk at all in playing on (and thus no bailout option). Strangely, the U.S. version changed from the no-risk format in Season 1 to the All or Nothing format in Season 2.
- Bonus Round: Two different ones, one on the UK version and one on the U.S. version's second season:
- On the UK version, repeat champions got to play a bonus question with the Accelerator's 7-second time limit after their 2nd win for £10,000, and another after their 3rd win for up to £20,000. Answering the question correctly using only 1 chip awarded the full amount, 1/2 the amount for 2 chips, or 1/4 the amount for 3 chips, and there was no penalty for failure. Players got to keep their winnings from these questions no matter what happened later.
- On the U.S. version's second season, after each Duel, the winner was given 1 chip and 7 seconds to play a "Max Question". Correctly answering the question doubled their winnings from the previous Duel. Unlike the UK version, players could lose the money by losing a subsequent Duel.
- Confetti Drop: Pyrotechnics were triggered for a jackpot win, or confetti and streamers on the U.S. version's second season.
- Promotional Consideration: Pepsi Max in the U.S. version.
This show provides examples of:
- Catch Phrase: "Let's Duel!", said by the host at the start of each Duel.
- And "You're watching Duel on ABC" ... to an extent.
- Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Like many game shows of the time, this was used quite liberally.
- Enforced Plug: For Pepsi Max in both seasons of the U.S. version.
- Friday Night Death Slot: The U.S. version was moved to Fridays at 8:00 PM for Season 2. The ratings halved, and it was canceled at the end of the season.
- Moment of Awesome: The first $500,000 winner of the U.S. version in Season 2, Gabriel, surprised everyone by winning with a 3-to-1 chip disadvantage on a question with all of the answers split. Greenberg even called him a literal wolf in sheep's clothing, when in reality he's more of a Badass Normal due to his unemployed status. The look on the loser's face makes it priceless.
- Padding: While not as bad as other shows that were on the air back then, Duel holds the dubious distinction of being one of the few shows to end an episode after the players had locked in their answers, thus forcing everyone to wait until the next show to see if they were right.