Run For The Money (ABC, 1987)
This is another American version of a British game show. Going For Gold was a success in the UK (and across Europe), being shown in a daytime slot on BBC1 for almost a decade, and then being reworked as One To Win on Channel 5, before there was another revival back under the Going For Gold name. There has also been a French version that has run for over 30 years. But did you know that in 1987 there was an attempt to launch Going For Gold in America? There is an edition on YouTube, so here’s the comparison.
Run For The Money began with all the contestants being introduced, but not with a theme informing us that “people are coming… and everyone’s trying“. The host was Bill Rafferty, who hosted a few other game shows around this time including the American versions of Blockbusters, Every Second Counts and Play Your Cards Right. The set design was just about identical to the British version.
Four contestants took part. There was no qualifying round here, so the first round was the first round, if that makes sense. In this round, questions are asked on the buzzer. There are no categories though, and the contestants don’t choose the value of the question, the host states whether they are worth one, two, or three points. The first three contestants to score nine points progress to the next round. Once one contestant has progressed, all questions become worth two or three points. Eliminated contestants don’t have the chance to return the next day and try again.
The next round was just about identical to the British version. Choose one of four categories, and then try to give four consecutive correct answers in 40 seconds, with the two highest scorers progressing to the final. The eliminated contestant gets $100. Again, the final round is very similar to what viewers will be familiar with, even if it doesn’t contain people from The Netherlands or Belgium.
Questions are asked with four time zones (not phrased in the “what am I?” style). Remember that you can only buzz in when the time is in your zone (and yes, the trailing contestant is told “you’re playing catch-up!”). The first contestant to score nine points wins. There was no weekly knockout format in this version, but there was a cash prize on offer. $5,000 is won for every daily win, and if a contestant wins five consecutive shows, their money doubles from $25,000 to $50,000 and they retire undefeated. The losing finalist gets $500.
We won’t ever really know if Run For The Money could’ve been a long-running success in America because it never got past the unaired pilot stage. It was interesting to note though that a lot of the rules and phrases were already established in this version and weren’t designed specially for Going For Gold. I bet that they wouldn’t have guessed at the time that this show would’ve done so well in Europe.