Child’s Play (CBS, 1982-1983)
This is the original American version of the game show that ran on ITV for about four years in the 80s. And this was yet another one that was hosted by Bill Cullen in his long and distinguished career, I think that this is the third of his shows that I have reviewed, he really did do a lot of them. This version of Child’s Play was slightly different to the format that was used in the UK.
Firstly, it was one contestant against one, instead of two teams of two, so they would not be accompanied by a celebrity panellist who could help them out. Also, there was a defending champion who could appear on up to five shows, so if they kept on winning they might end up earning themselves a rather decent amount of money. And several segments of the studio set span around for no particular reason, which is always great.
The basic idea of the game was to guess the words that were being described by various children (usually aged around seven or eight) who appeared on a rather large screen, mostly on their own, but sometimes in pairs, and of course much of the humour comes from their sometimes rather unusual descriptions that made everyone laugh. If the contestant gets it wrong, it is passed to their opponent who sees the word described by another child.
And if they still don’t get it, it goes back for a third and final child’s description. There is one point for every correct answer. Then there’s the Fast Play round. There are more descriptions, but this time the contestants can buzz in and interrupt the child, if they know the word. Get it wrong, and their opponent can see the rest of the description. There are now two points for every correct answer. Whoever is in the lead when the bell goes wins $500 and goes into the final.
The original format of the final was the Triple Play game. The contestant has to guess six words in 45 seconds, and they can have up to three definitions. Every correct answer won $100, and if they get all of them right, they win an additional $5,000, and also get the chance to squeal right in Bill’s ear with the overexcitement. The format of the final was changed about halfway through the series, as some children now appeared in the studio to give definitions.
There were over 250 editions of Child’s Play that were shown on CBS in the space of just under a year, so they definitely managed to pack a lot in, and some of the children featured ended up being rather famous themselves. As well as the UK, there have also been several versions of the show around the world, although there have been no further revivals of the format in America.