Child's Play (game show)
Child's Play is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

 in which adult contestants tried to guess words based on definitions given by children. The Mark Goodson
Mark Goodson
Mark Goodson was an American television producer who specialized in game shows.-Life and early career:...

-produced series debuted on CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

 from September 20, 1982 at 10:30 AM Eastern/9:30 AM Central (immediately following The New $25,000 Pyramid
Pyramid (game show)
Pyramid is an American television game show which has aired several versions. The original series, The $10,000 Pyramid, debuted March 26, 1973 and spawned seven subsequent Pyramid series...

, which debuted on the same day). That time slot was held by Alice
Alice may refer to:* Alice , including a list of notable people called Alice-Books and comics:* Alice , the heroine of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass...

 for a little over two years. Child's Play was never able to make ratings headway against either Wheel of Fortune
Wheel of Fortune (U.S. game show)
Wheel of Fortune is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin, which premiered in 1975. Contestants compete to solve word puzzles, similar to those used in Hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a large wheel. The title refers to the show's giant carnival wheel that...

 or Sale of the Century
Sale of the Century (US game show)
Sale of the Century is an American television game show which debuted in the United States on September 29, 1969, on NBC daytime. It was one of three NBC game shows to premiere on that date, the other two being the short-lived Letters to Laugh-In and Name Droppers. The series aired until July 13,...

, two hit game shows that NBC aired opposite it; CBS ended the series on September 16, 1983 and replaced it with Press Your Luck
Press Your Luck
Press Your Luck is an American television daytime game show created by Bill Carruthers and Jan McCormack. It premiered on September 19, 1983 on CBS and ended on September 26, 1986. In the show, contestants collected "spins" by answering trivia questions and then used the spins on an 18-space game...

, which performed much better for CBS.

Perhaps the first inklings of the format appeared on a 1967 episode of Goodson-Todman's earlier series I've Got a Secret
I've Got a Secret
I've Got a Secret is a panel game show produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman for CBS television. Created by comedy writers Allan Sherman and Howard Merrill, it was a derivative of Goodson-Todman's own panel show What's My Line?...

, on which guest Woody Allen
Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, jazz musician, author, and playwright. Allen's films draw heavily on literature, sexuality, philosophy, psychology, Jewish identity, and the history of cinema...

 read children's definitions of words for the panel to guess. Child's Play host Bill Cullen
Bill Cullen
William Lawrence Francis "Bill" Cullen was an American radio and television personality whose career spanned five decades...

 was a member of that series' panel.

Hosts and announcers

Child's Play was hosted by game show veteran Bill Cullen (who had just finished hosting NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

's Blockbusters
Blockbusters (US game show)
Blockbusters is an American game show which had two separate runs in the 1980s. Created by Steve Ryan for Mark Goodson Productions, the first series debuted on NBC on October 27, 1980 and aired until April 23, 1982. In the first series, a team of two family members competed against a solo contestant...

). This was both Cullen's final game for CBS and his last for Mark Goodson, ending a 30 year association with the Goodson company as an emcee. Gene Wood
Gene Wood
Eugene Edward "Gene" Wood was an American television personality, known primarily for his work as an announcer on various game shows. From the 1960s to the 1990s, he announced many game shows, primarily Mark Goodson–Bill Todman productions such as Family Feud, Card Sharks, Password, and Beat the...

 was the primary announcer for the entire run, with Johnny Gilbert
Johnny Gilbert
John L. "Johnny" Gilbert III is an American show business personality who has worked mainly on television game shows. Originally a nightclub singer and entertainer, he has hosted and announced a number of game shows from various eras, dating as far back as the 1950s...

, Fred Saxon, and Bob Hilton
Bob Hilton
Robert "Bob" Wesley Hilton is an American television game show personality. He hosted The Guinness Game, a revival of Truth or Consequences and the 1990 revival of Let's Make a Deal, and announced on several other shows....

 (who also announced on the pilot) filling in on occasion.

Cullen first plugged the show during his only appearance on Bob Barker's
Bob Barker
Robert William "Bob" Barker is a former American television game show host. He is best known for hosting CBS's The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007, making it the longest-running daytime game show in North American television history, and for hosting Truth or Consequences from 1956 to 1975.Born...

 version of The Price Is Right
The Price Is Right (U.S. game show)
The Price Is Right is an American game show which was created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. Contestants compete to identify the pricing of merchandise to win cash and prizes. The show is well-known for its signature line of "Come on down!" when the announcer directs newly selected contestants to...

 (Cullen hosted the original version of Price from 1956-1965, although this was not mentioned in his appearance with Barker).

Main game

Two contestants competed. The object of the game was to correctly identify words based on videotaped definitions given by elementary school
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

-age children (ages 5–9). The game was played in two rounds.

Round 1

In the first round, a word was given to the home audience, and a video clip of a child defining that word was played. (For example: "It's when you run around and wave your arms back and forth." Answer: Arms race.) Any incriminating words (including the word itself) were censored.

Once the clip ended, the contestant had a chance to guess the word; a correct response earned one point. If the contestant was incorrect, their opponent viewed a clip of another child defining the same word. If the opponent was wrong, control passed back to the first contestant, who saw one final clip (usually of an older child, and the answer usually not that hard to guess by this point). If the contestant was still wrong, Cullen announced the correct answer and no points were awarded.

The first round continued, with the players alternating control on words (originally the winner of the previous word played first on each new word), until the first commercial break.

Round 2: Fast Play

The second round was known as the "Fast Play" round. Both contestants were given the opportunity to guess what word the child was defining by hitting a buzzer
A buzzer or beeper is an audio signaling device, which may be mechanical, electromechanical, or piezoelectric. Typical uses of buzzers and beepers include alarm devices, timers and confirmation of user input such as a mouse click or keystroke....

 to interrupt the video clip and guess the word. If the contestant was correct, they received two points; if incorrect, the rest of the clip was played and the opponent was given a chance to guess. When the school bell rang, the game was over. If there was a tie at the end of the game, a tie-breaking word would be played. If a contestant buzzed in with the right word, they won the game; if the contestant gave a wrong answer, the contestant was locked out, and their opponent got a chance to listen to the entire description of the same child, before taking a free guess.

Notes: In the first three episodes, correct answers in "Fast Play" were still worth one point. After the school bell rang the first time, correct answers were worth double, or two points. Also, upon stealing, the stealer would see the whole clip rather than start from where it left off. This rule was discontinued in favor of the rules above.

The contestant with the highest score when time expired won $500 and played the bonus round.

Bonus round

Two different bonus round formats were played during the year-long run of Child's Play. The object was the same in both — complete the round within forty-five seconds to win $5,000.

Format 1: Triple Play

In the "Triple Play" bonus game a winning contestant tried to guess words based on definitions written by three children. ("Child A", "Child B", and "Child C"). The contestant started by picking one of the three children, whose definition was then read by Cullen, and then either provided a guess or chose another child's definition. If the player was not able to guess the word after seeing all three definitions, they passed to the next word.

Each correct guess was worth $100, while getting six before time expired won $5,000.

Format 2: Turnabout

The "Turnabout" bonus round was instituted April 25, 1983. In this round, the winning contestant was joined by five of the children who were appearing in the film clips and had to describe seven words to them. Each time the champion got a correct answer from a child, they won $100 for themselves and the children won $100 to be split among them. The champion was able to pass and return to a word if time permitted. If the champion was able to get the children to guess all seven words within the time limit, they won $5,000 for themselves and the five children shared $1,000.

While giving clues a player could not give any illegal clue (i.e., saying the word, using a form of the word in the clue). Doing so took the word out of play and cost the player and the children a chance at their respective top prizes, but play continued until time ran out or all the other words had been successfully guessed by the children.

Champions returned until they were defeated, won five consecutive games, or reached the winnings limit CBS imposed on its game shows- which at the time was $25,000.

Episode status

The series is intact, and has been seen on GSN
Game Show Network
The Game Show Network is an American cable television and direct broadcast satellite channel dedicated to game shows and casino game shows. The channel was launched on December 1, 1994. Its current slogan is "The World Needs More Winners"...

 at various times.

Notable contestants

Several celebrities appeared on Child's Play before they became famous: Jeff Cohen, Breckin Meyer
Breckin Meyer
-Early life:Meyer was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Dorothy Ann , a travel agent and former microbiologist, and Christopher William Meyer, a management consultant. As a child of divorced parents, he lived in California, Texas, West Virginia and New Jersey. He has an older brother,...

, Masi Oka
Masi Oka
Masayori "Masi" Oka is a Japanese-American actor and digital effects artist.He has performed in numerous feature films and TV series, most prominently as Hiro Nakamura in the NBC TV series Heroes from 2006 until its cancellation in May 2010. He resides in Los Angeles, California.-Early life:Oka...

, and Tara Reid
Tara Reid
Tara Donna Reid is an American actress. Reid has acted on television shows such as Saved By The Bell: The New Class, Days of our Lives, California Dreams, and Scrubs....

 were all featured children on the show. In addition, Anne-Marie Johnson
Anne-Marie Johnson
Anne-Marie Johnson is an American actress and impressionist who has starred in film and on television. She is perhaps best known for her role as high school educator Althea Tibbs on the NBC/CBS television drama In the Heat of the Night. She is also known for her role as Nadine Hudson Thomas on...

 appeared as a contestant. Also, Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson was an African-American professional boxer. Frequently cited as the greatest boxer of all time, Robinson's performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions prompted sportswriters to create "pound for pound" rankings, where they compared fighters regardless of weight...

 appeared in the audience of the July 4, 1983 episode, and Bill Cullen introduced him as the boxing coach of one of the Child's Play kids participating in the Turnabout game.

Spanish version: Dame la Pista

On September 15, 2008 FremantleMedia
FremantleMedia, Ltd. is the content and production division of Bertelsmann's RTL Group, Europe's second largest TV, radio, and production company...

, owners of the Goodson-Todman catalog of games, revived Child's Play in the Spanish-speaking market as Dame la Pista ("Give Me a Clue") hosted by Alessandra Rosaldo
Alessandra Rosaldo
Alessandra Rosaldo is an actress, singer and dancer from Mexico. In 2006, she was the winner of the first prize in Televisa Network's, later broadcasted in Univision “Bailando por un Sueño”....

 on Univision
Univision is a Spanish-language television network in the United States. It has the largest audience of Spanish language television viewers according to Nielsen ratings. Randy Falco, COO, has been in charge of the company since the departure of Univision Communications president and CEO Joe Uva...

-owned TeleFutura
TeleFutura is a U.S. Spanish-language broadcast television network owned by Univision with headquarters in Miami, Florida.-Overview:TeleFutura Is America’s #2 Spanish-Language Network in prime time...

. This show was the lead-in to ¿Qué dice la gente? (Spanish-language version of Family Feud
Family Feud
Family Feud is an American television game show created by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. Two families compete against each other in a contest to name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people...

) during its run. The show has been cancelled for unknown reasons as the show's page has been taken down from the TeleFutura website.

External links

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