Blockbusters 1980 Pilot.png
Blockbusters Titlecard.png
Aired
Pilot, October 21, 1980
NBC Daytime, October 27, 1980 – April 23, 1982
Number of episodes
372
Run time
30 Minutes
Host
Bill Cullen
Announcers
Bob Hilton
Rich Jeffries
Origination
NBC Studios 2 and 3, Burbank, California

Blockbusters was a game of skill and strategy with letters and hexagons that leads to victory. In this version, a solo player faced off against a family pair just to see if two heads are really better than one.

Game Format[edit | edit source]

1980 Pilot[edit | edit source]

It took $500 to win the match. A regular game of Blockbusters was played, with the first side to make the connection winning $250. That player/team then played a game called "Shortcut to Victory". Cullen asked three Gold Run-style questions. If the contestant could answer all three questions correctly. It paid $250, ending the match immediately. If the contestant stumbled along the way, the opposing side received the $250, and a second game of Blockbusters was played to determine the winner of the match. For the Gold Run, the four gold bars on the right-hand side of the board concealed money amounts ($1,000/$2,000/$5,000/$10,000). If the contestant connected gold to gold, the payout was the amount hidden behind the bar adjacent to their last correct answer.

Series[edit | edit source]

Main Game[edit | edit source]

A 4x5 board of 20 hexagons is presented with a letter in each hexagon. A letter is chosen at random to start a game. The answer of the question would begin with the letter chosen. For example, if the letter B were chosen, a sample question might be: "What 'B' is a long silver rod twirled by a majorette or cheerleader?", in which case the correct answer would be "Baton". The player who buzzes in first gets a chance to answer the question. If correct, the space is marked with their color. If they are incorrect, the second player/pair gets a chance to answer (should the solo player miss, only one half of the family pair could answer, with conference). If nobody answers correctly, another question is asked whose answer began with that same letter.

The solo player would have to connect from top to bottom (red to red), which can be done in as little as 4 correct answers. The family pair would have to connect from side to side (white to white) in as little as 5 moves. Completing a path earned the player/pair $500, with two games needed to win the match, $1,000 and advance to the bonus round called "Gold Rush/Run". Originally, each win was worth a trip to the "Gold Rush/Run", with no money awarded for the front game.

Due to the interlocking patterns of the hexagons, it was impossible for a game to end in a tie.

Gold Rush/Gold Run[edit | edit source]

The player has to connect from side to side (gold to gold) in 60 seconds or less. The difference here was that many of the hexagons had multiple letters on them (1 to 5 letters), and naturally, they represented an answer of more than one word (eg: "BS", What people kiss in Ireland: Blarney Stone). Correct answers mark the chosen hexagons gold, but wrong answers or passes put up blocks and the player must work around them. If the contestant makes the connection, he/she wins $2,500 (on the first time) or $5,000 (on the second time). If time expires, the player gets $100 for every captured hexagon. If he/she gets blocked out, the contestant could still continue and try to build up the consolation prize of $100 for every correct answer until time ran out. After the show began awarding money in the match, Gold Rush was always played after each match for $5,000. Either way, win or lose, Bill would go over any missed and/or passed questions, and another match would begin. If the family pair advanced to the bonus round, only one of them could play.

Personnel[edit | edit source]

Host: Bill Cullen
Announcer: Bob Hilton, Johnny Olson, Rich Jefferies
Executive Producer/Director Ira Skutch
Producer: Robert Sherman
Set Designer: Dennis Roff
Music: Bob Cobert​

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Bill Cullen won his only Emmy award for his work on the show.

In the 1980-1982 run, the game board was run by slide projectors (ala shows like Press Your Luck, The Joker's Wild and Bullseye). Each one's responsible for each of the 20 hexagons. It had lighted trapezoids on the sides which flashed with the appropriate colored hexagons (white for white & red for red). The white trapezoids double as secret doors which open up to reveal eight golden capsules for the Gold Rush/Run; as shown in one episode, the white hexagons turned gold when the transition occurs. Absent from earlier weeks, at the top of the board was a flip sign reading "$5,000" which was obviously used for the Gold Rush/Run only. At one time at the start of a show before a playing of the Gold Rush/Run, Tom Kennedy (who hosted Password Plus at the time) was inside the board and stuck his head out a top hexagon to promote the time change for Password Plus.[1] Also, late in the run, the background of the set changed from gold to blue. On two shows during Christmas time, several of the hexagons make up a Christmas tree with red & white hexagons flashing back & forth.[2]

International Versions[edit | edit source]

Main Article: Blockbusters/International

Merchandise[edit | edit source]

Main Article: Blockbusters/Merchandise

Photos[edit | edit source]

[edit | edit source]

Tickets[edit | edit source]

Production Slates[edit | edit source]

In Popular Culture[edit | edit source]

Blockbusters has been referenced, spoofed or mentioned in the following:

  • Great Expectations (1998) When the 10-year old Finnegan "Finn" Bell goes inside a house, clips of the show can be seen on television.

Episode Status[edit | edit source]

See Also: Blockbusters/Episode Guide
This series exists in its entirety, and has aired on GSN and Buzzr at various times in the past.

References[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Blockbusters (1987)
TKO

Links[edit | edit source]

Blockbusters @ Game Show Utopia
Blockbusters @ Classic Game Shows.com (via Internet Archive)
Blockbusters @ Game Show Galaxy (via Internet Archive)
Blockbusters @ Pearson's Official Website (via Internet Archive)
Blockbusters (Cullen) @ Jay Anton
Game Night: Blockbusters @ This Was Television

Video[edit | edit source]

Blockbusters_-_Pilot_2

Blockbusters - Pilot 2

Blockbusters_-_Bill_Cullen's_Premiere

Blockbusters - Bill Cullen's Premiere

Blockbusters_-_November_5,_1980

Blockbusters - November 5, 1980

Blockbusters_-_November_12,_1981

Blockbusters - November 12, 1981

Blockbusters_-_Cullen_Finale

Blockbusters - Cullen Finale

Las_Vegas_Gambit_Blockbusters_promo

Las Vegas Gambit Blockbusters promo

Blockbusters_-_Bill_Cullen_interview_medley

Blockbusters - Bill Cullen interview medley

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