PDQ (game show)
- For other uses of this three letter acronym, see PDQ.
PDQ Format Game show Created by Heatter-Quigley Productions Presented by Dennis James Narrated by Kenny Williams Country of origin United States No. of seasons 4 No. of episodes 826+ Production Running time 22–24 minutes Broadcast Original channel Syndicated Original run September 6, 1965– September 26, 1969
PDQ is an American television game show created by Heatter-Quigley Productions and syndicated by Four Star Television which aired from September 6, 1965 to September 26, 1969, primarily on NBC-owned stations but syndicated in markets where NBC didn't own a station. PDQ was named after its original sponsor, a flavored drink mix. The show and product shared logos, although on the show the initials stood for "Please Draw Quickly".
Baffle was a revival that aired on NBC from March 26, 1973 to March 29, 1974 without a specific sponsor.
Dennis James was the original host, with Monty Hall filling in on at least one occasion in James' absence before Let's Make a Deal moved to ABC. Kenny Williams was the announcer, and Arlo Hults provided the music.
For many years, rumors circulated that Bill Cullen replaced James later in the show's run; however, only one source has ever stated this (Alex McNeill's Total Television) and the existence of an episode taped October 3, 1968 with James as host has effectively debunked this. Further, Cullen was at the time based in New York City, while PDQ was taped in Hollywood.
The contestants consisted of three celebrities and one civilian. Two celebrities were paired as the "Home Team"; the third celebrity and the civilian contestant made up the opposing team, which was known as "The Challengers".
These two teams played a word game that required quick thinking, where the object was for a player seated in an isolation booth to guess a famous name, title, or phrase posed by their teammate who displayed letters as clues (one at a time starting with three letters with one of them being the first) on their own individual game board. A musical tone every few seconds served as a signal to add another letter. (If the guessing player guessed the name after the time signal sounded, the team was still charged for the letter that should have been used.) Each team took a turn at the same puzzle, with the team using fewer letters winning the game. A tie was considered a win for the contestant and the challengers. Prizes were awarded to the contestant for every game won by the challengers. A prize "for just being on the show", in the words of Kenny Williams, was always included, so that even if the challengers lost every game, the contestant would not leave empty-handed.
Each show featured a three-game "PDQ Special" match, with special prizes awarded to the contestant if the challengers won two out of three games. Another format had the teams score points according to the difference between how many letters used by both teams (a tie was considered a draw and nobody scored) with the first team to reach 10 points winning the game (the civilian contestant won $100 times the difference between the winning and losing scores).
A bonus round was played by the contestant towards the end of the show in which they had to identify ten words with only three letters each to work with (for example, BTR for "betray"), with only five seconds allotted for each word. Each correct guess was worth $25 or, if the challengers used fewer letters than the home team/score 10 points first, $50. If all ten words were guessed correctly in 60 seconds, in addition to winning $250/$500 they also won a car; otherwise, the dollar amount won was redeemed for merchandise from the Spiegel Catalog.
Baffle (NBC, 1973–1974)
(All-Star) Baffle Format Game show Created by Heatter-Quigley Productions Presented by Dick Enberg Narrated by Kenny Williams Country of origin United States No. of episodes 100+ Production Running time 22–24 minutes Broadcast Original channel NBC Original run March 26, 1973– March 29, 1974
In 1973, the PDQ format (minus the original sponsor) was revived and altered somewhat, re-christened as Baffle, and broadcast weekday mornings on NBC. The format was altered again for a further season in 1974, this time with all the players being celebrities, with a title change to All-Star Baffle. Dick Enberg was the host, Kenny Williams returned as announcer, and Mort Garson was musical director.
The show's futuristic-looking set was designed by Jim Newton, and was the first use of neon on a game show set. The revival debuted on March 26, 1973 with guest celebrities Arte Johnson (who played the original version) and Barbara Feldon.
The object of the revival was for a team of two players (a contestant and a celebrity player, in the original version, pairs of celebrities in the second) to guess a word or short phrase in less time than the opposing team. One player would sit in an isolation booth, and the partner would stand outside the booth in front of a rack, on which letters representing the answer were placed. These letters were out of view of the partner in the booth. When signaled by Enberg, that player would take three letters from the answer and place them on a board behind him or her where the partner in the booth could see them. The first letter of the answer had to be used, but the first three letters could not, nor could letters that appeared the same (e.g., if the answer is "Boston Red Sox", B-O-S could not be used even if the S from "Sox" was used, although B-S-O was allowed). A player who did so was penalized, with 15 seconds being added to their elapsed time. The player with the letters would then make gestures, similar to charades, that would aid the partner in guessing the answer.
Every few seconds a bell would ring and the player would add a letter from the rack to the board. The partner in the booth would shout out answers until the correct one was guessed, at which time the clock stopped, or the time limit of 60 seconds was reached.
The process would be repeated for the other team, using the same answer; the player in the other team's booth could not hear the show's audio when the first team was playing. The team that solved an answer the quickest won a prize.
Four rounds were played; after two rounds, either the contestants changed partners or, in the all-star version, each team's partners switched positions. The team with the lowest total elapsed time won the game, and the "civilian" contestant went on to the bonus round. On All-Star Baffle, the winning celebrity team drew a card from the drum (filled out by the studio audience) and the lucky audience member got to play the bonus round.
There were two versions of the bonus round. In both versions, the contestant had 30 seconds to guess words based on three-letter clues given by Enberg, such as "GDN" for "garden". In the celebrity-contestant version, the contestant played up to five words; each correct answer was worth $50 plus three seconds toward a sixth, much harder, word, and the contestant won a car if this was correctly answered. Contestants could win multiple cars this way; at least one contestant won all five of his/her matches, went undefeated in the bonus round, and won five Chevrolet Vegas.
In the all-star version, there were nine words; the contestant won a prize based on how many correct answers were given, with the prize for eight always being a new car. The reward for getting all nine was not only the car, but also a trip and $5,000 cash.
Both versions were produced by Heatter-Quigley Productions, a company best known for the highly popular 1960s and 1970s celebrity-panel game Hollywood Squares. Many of the celebrities appearing on both versions were fixtures on Squares and several other H-Q shows.
The revamped PDQ took the honor, dubious to some, of replacing the venerable Concentration on NBC's daytime schedule at 10:30 AM (9:30 Central) on March 26, 1973. CBS, whose Price Is Right led the 15-year-old game to its end, trotted that show off to afternoons and placed its new word-association game The $10,000 Pyramid at 10:30/9:30 that same day.
Generally speaking, the Dick Clark-hosted Pyramid got the better of things in the Nielsens although Baffle, which featured many regular celebrities from its sister show Hollywood Squares, fought heartily.
But NBC daytime programming head Lin Bolen decided to use that slot to end the ten-year-old Jeopardy!, and on January 7, 1974 moved Baffle to 12:30 PM (11:30 AM, Central). In this slot, it had to shave off five minutes for a newscast anchored by Edwin Newman before the top of the hour.
This cut, along with its competition (CBS' Search for Tomorrow and ABC's Split Second) and a replacement of civilian contestants with an all-celebrity format some months earlier all worked to bring the year-old game to a halt on March 29, with Celebrity Sweepstakes taking over the next Monday; its former competitor The $10,000 Pyramid fell in the ratings to Jeopardy! and ended its CBS run the same day as Baffle.
The status of PDQ is unknown, as syndicated games typically fared better than their network brethren in the 1960s and 1970s. Only the 1965 pilot and Episode #826 (taped October 3, 1968) are held by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The 1968 episode features Stubby Kaye, Jo Anne Worley, Arte Johnson, and non-celebrity contestant Annette Kelly.
Baffle was likely destroyed due to network practices that were still in effect during the 1970s. Three episodes from 1973 (March 28, April 5, and April 13) are held in the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The March 28 episode features Arte Johnson and Barbara Feldon; the April 5 episode features Jo Anne Worley and Paul Lynde; and the April 13 episode features Karen Valentine and Michael Evans.
Sony Pictures Television, as a successor-in-interest to MGM (which owns the H-Q library), owns the rights to the show and any future revivals.
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