Press Your Luck

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Press Your Luck
Press Your Luck board.jpg
Big Bucks! Big Bucks! No Whammies! No Whammies! STOP!
Genre: Game Show
Running Time: 22–26 minutes (1983–2003)
42–46 minutes (2019–)
Country: United States
Release Date: September 19, 1983 – present
Network(s): CBS (1983–86)
GSN (2002-03)
ABC (2019–)
Created by: Bill Carruthers
Jan McCormack
Distributed by: Fremantle (2002–present)
Seasons: 3 (CBS)
2 (GSN)
2 (ABC; 1 upcoming[1])
Episodes: 761 (CBS)
130 (GSN)
17 (ABC)

Press Your Luck is an American television daytime game show created by Bill Carruthers and Jan McCormack. It premiered on CBS on September 19, 1983, 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 board to win cash and prizes. The contestant who amassed the highest total in cash and prizes kept his/her winnings for the day and became the champion. Peter Tomarken was the show's host, and Rod Roddy was the primary announcer. John Harlan and Charlie O'Donnell filled in as substitute announcers for Roddy on different occasions. Press Your Luck was videotaped before a studio audience at CBS Television City, Studios 33 and 43, in Hollywood, California. The show was a retooling of the earlier Carruthers production Second Chance, which was hosted by Jim Peck and aired on ABC in 1977.

The show was known for the "Whammy", a red cartoon creature with a high-pitched, raspy voice. Landing on any Whammy space reset the contestant's score to zero, accompanied by an animation that showed the Whammy taking the loot, but frequently being blown up or otherwise humiliated in the process. The Whammies were created and animated by Savage Steve Holland and Bill Kopp, and voiced by Carruthers. Approximately 85 different animations were used.

A revival was made in 2019 and is hosted by Elizabeth Banks; currently airing on ABC as part of its Summer Fun & Games block.

Why It Rocks

  1. Masterful hosting by Peter Tomarken, Todd Newton, and Elizabeth Banks.
  2. Excellent "Trivia meets Roulette" format.
  3. The intro sequences that play before every episode starts are a really good addition to the show, as they basically summarize the main premise.
  4. Many likable contestants, including the "battling bickersons," Warren and Miriam, and basically every with a high one day total.
  5. The winnings cap was fair for the contestants; The winner of each episode kept coming back to the next episode every time they won, able to retire undefeated after winning 5 consecutive episodes or winning a total of at least $25,000 over their multiple-day reign. This cap later was increased from $25000 to $50000 in mid-1984.
  6. Nice looking set, especially the Big Board itself.
  7. Great moments, including when Michael Larson exploited the seemingly-random board patterns in 1984 to win $110,237, (although he lost all of it shortly), and the famous spin battle between Lori and Cathy in 1984.
  8. Simple but great Whammy animations, and many of them memorable and funny such as "Look out! Look out!", "Yes! Yes! Yes!", "I cannot tell a lie, you lose!", and "Who would ever hurt a Whammy?".
  9. Catchy theme song, which was even catchier in the 2019 revival.
  10. The "Double Your Money" prize slide was an extremely good addition to the Big Board, as it is extremely exciting when contestants hit it when they already have a lot of money. Even better, the prize slide returned in the 2019 revival of Press Your Luck in its 2nd season.
  11. The Flokati Rug joke. Peter would typically freak out whenever a contestant landed on it because "it carried a curse".
  12. The new 2019 revival introduces the Bonus Game, where the winner after Round 2 goes on to play for $1,000,000.
    • On top of that, the whammy animations, including the ones that were remade from the original, were even funnier. The second season even added animations that only occur when a contestant already has $0 in their bank, with the whammy acknowledging this.

Bad Qualities

  1. Its 2002 revival, Whammy!, while not too bad, isn't nearly as good as the original.
  2. The show started to go downhill in late 1986. The Big Board in Round 2 was cheapened, with many of the $2000 cash slides being replaced with $1000, and many prize values being cheapened as well.
  3. When the Big Board changed its colors to neon in August 1985, $2250 and $1750 were replaced with $750 and $500 and a spin for unknown reasons.
  4. Sometimes contestants make really dumb moves, such as passing when there in third place, which pretty much gets them out of the game.


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