Mark Goodson Wiki
160px-Child's Play.jpg
Child's Play 1983 End Credits.jpg
Pilot, May 11, 1982
CBS Daytime, Monday, September 20, 1982 – Friday, September 16, 1983
Number of episodes
Run time
30 Minutes
Bill Cullen
Gene Wood
Studio 33, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, California

Child's Play (not to be confused with the popular 1980s horror movie franchise or the charitable organization of the same name) was a short-lived daytime game show in which two players watch video clips of children trying to describe a word and then the players have to guess what it is for points. 

Game Format[]

Main Game[]


The main game was the same except with these following differences:

  • The bullseye in front of a player indicated that the player had only one guess at the word, and the player with two guesses was equipped with two candy sticks. The player with the bullseye had the advantage of deciding to take a guess after hearing the definition or pass the guess to his/her opponent.
  • Four definitions were played instead of three in the series, and on the fourth and final definition, Bill gave the first letter of the word, and the definition became a toss-up for both players.
  • The first round played until one player reached three points; at which point the game shifted into the Fast Play round played under the same perimeters minus the two point score.
  • The first player to score six points won the game.


Round 1[]

In the first round, a word was given to the viewers at home, and a video clip of a child defining that word was played. Any words that were too incriminating or the answer itself were censored.

Once the clip ended, the contestant had a chance to guess the word; a correct response earned one point. If he/she was incorrect, his/her 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 a younger child, and the answer usually not that hard to guess by this point). If he/she 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 second commercial break.

Fast Play - Round 2[]

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 to interrupt the video clip and guess the word. If the contestant was correct, he/she received two points; if incorrect, the rest of the clip was played and the opponent was given a chance to guess.

In the first week, 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.

When the school bell rang, the game was over and whoever was ahead in score was the winner. 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, he/she won the game; if he/she buzzed in and gave a wrong answer, he/she was locked out and their opponent got to hear the entire description, before they guessed.

The winner of the game won $500 and the right to play the bonus round.

Bonus Round[]

The bonus went through two formats in its season long run, but they both have the same time limit of 45 seconds and the same payoff of $5,000.

Triple Play/The A-B-C Game - Format 1[]

The winning contestant had 45 seconds (60 in the pilot) to guess six words correctly. Each word had three written definitions by three different children ("Child A," "Child B," and "Child C"). The contestant must choose one of the three children, and after seeing the definition, supply a guess or choose another child. If, after seeing all three definitions, the contestant cannot identify the word, he/she must say "pass" to move on to another word.

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

Turnabout - Format 2[]

The second bonus game format was instituted in spring of 1983. Five children who regularly appeared in the film clips were brought into the studio, and (similar to Pyramid) the contestant had to describe seven words to the children within the 45 second time limit. The contestant won $100 for each word that a child guessed correctly and the children won the same amount collectively. Getting all seven words won $5,000 and the children won $1,000 collectively. As in the previous bonus round format, the contestant can pass a word and come back to it if time permits; however, if the contestant gave an illegal clue (such as giving away the word), he/she lost the chance at the $5,000.

Champions returned until they were defeated, had been on the show for 5 days, or exceeded the CBS winnings limit (at the time) of $25,000. Theoretically, a championship player can win no more than $27,500.



This was the first Goodson-Todman show in which Mark Goodson produced the show solo as his partner, Bill Todman (who died in 1979), passed away three years before. Although in the 1982 pilot, it was "credited" as "A Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Production".

On October 26, 1982; an episode of the current Price is Right featured Cullen promoting his show when it aired on the same network (CBS). However, no mentions were made as the show's original host of TPIR before Barker.

The following Monday after the cancellation of Child's Play, Press Your Luck (produced by Carruthers Company) with Peter Tomarken took its time slot had a successful three-year run from 1983 until 1986. In addition, the show was originally going to be replace by another Mark Goodson produced pilot Star Words hosted by Nipsey Russell but lost in the process.

Another short-lived Goodson game show that also had a bonus round named "Turnabout" was Get the Message originally hosted by Frank Buxton followed by Robert Q. Lewis.

The original 1982 pilot aired on Buzzr as part of their "Lost and Found" week on September 11, 2015.

The short-lived musical-themed game show from 2008 Rock & a Hard Place hosted by Meatloaf also had a round called Child's Play although its completely unrelated to the show.

Before They Were Stars[]

Lori Beth Denberg starred in one of the episodes in Child's Play long before her days at Nickelodeon.

Other stars before they were famous are:
Breckin Meyer
Tara Reid
Devin Ratray
Jeff B. Cohen (once called Jeff McMahon)
Michael Marona
Anne-Marie Johnson


The buzz-in sound is the same sound from Family Feud and Classic Concentration.

The wrong answer buzzer was used when time ran out to answer a question on Child's Play’s replacement, Press Your Luck.

The correct answer bell is the same one used on The Price is Right and was also used to signal spins being added to contestants' scores on its replacement Press Your Luck.

The buzzer was used when a winning contestant inadvertently said the word in the Tournabout bonus round is the same sound from Body Language and Super Password.

International Versions[]

Main Article: Child's Play/International


No Merchandise[]


Main Article: Child's Play/Photos

Episode Status[]

The series is intact, and has been seen on GSN and Buzzr at various times in the past.


Child's Play @ (via Internet Archive)
Child's Play @ Game Show Utopia
Child's Play (Pilot) @ Game Show Utopia
Child's Play (Pilot) @



Child's Play contestant plug, 1983


Behind the scenes at "Child's Play"-0


Child's Play PILOT (1982)


Child's Play (Taped May 10, 1982) Pilot Episode Glenn vs Dautie


Child's Play CBS Daytime Premiere September 20th 1982 Bill Cullen


Child's Play (1982)


Child's Play Long Credit Roll - 1983