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Syndicated Game Show that ran from 1986-87 and was the first to offer a $1,000,000 grand prize years before it became the popular thing to do [1]. Hosted by Jim Lange, it pitted two couples against each other to play a word game with elements of Scrabble and Wheel of Fortune.

In each round, one player from each couple competed to solve words with the letters being filled in one at a time. Doing so won money and the right to select two letters to fill in a master puzzle, to which the buzz-in words gave a hint. Each letter placed in the puzzle added the amount of the original question to a pot, and the team that solved the puzzle added all the money from the pot to their score. There was one catch, however — at the beginning of the round, the computer lit all letters that were in the puzzle plus one extra, called the "Stinger"; selecting it resulted in the couple forfeiting their turn (and hence the chance to solve the puzzle) then and there.

Play continued for as many rounds as could fit within a set time limit; the couple with the most money won the game and advanced to the Bonus Round. Solving six words from a chosen category in a manner similar to the upfront game in 60 seconds earned the couple the right to return the next day (or take a cash "bribe" to leave); upon the couple's third bonus win, they won the top prize of $1,000,000 ($40K a year for 25 years in Season 1, $36K a year for 25 years plus $100,000 in prizes [including two cars] in Season 2).

Not to be confused with It's Your Chance of a Lifetime, a Who Wants to Be Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? import from Australia.


Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Big Win Sirens: A cacophony of sirens, klaxons, and clanging bells sounded when someone won the million in Season 1. This was changed to stock sirens and bells for Season 2.
  • Bonus Round: You had to win the upfront game and the bonus round three times to win $1,000,000. Failing at any point sent you home.
  • Confetti Drop: Of epic proportions, when a couple won it all. In a couple of Season 1 episodes, they shot fireworks onstage.
  • Consolation Prize
  • Golden Snitch: Everything was worth $25 in the first round, $50 in the second, and $100 every round thereafter. It was not difficult to blow past a couple who won the first two rounds.
  • Home Game: A board game was produced that was pretty faithful to the show. Departing contestants received a copy.
  • Personnel:
  • Promotional Consideration
  • Show the Folks At Home: Before a round started, the home viewer was shown which letter was the Stinger.
  • Sound Proof Booth: The Bonus Round was played in one; the couple could only hear Jim.
  • Speed Round: If time grew short during a round, the letters to the puzzle in play were filled in one at a time, with the first couple to buzz in with the correct answer winning the pot.
  • Whammy: The "Stinger".
Tropes used in The One Million Chance of a Lifetime include:
  • Beeping Computers
  • Stage Money: The giant lighted cauldron onstage contained a massive pile of it, flanked by two security guards.
  • Trans Atlantic Equivalent: Southern ITV franchise TVS brought a lower-stakes version, All Clued Up, to the British airwaves in 1988. It proved popular and lasted for 3 series, only getting cancelled because TVS lost its franchise.

Notes

  1. (well, unless the 1979 pilot of Bullseye counts)
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