The Joker's Wild
The Joker's Wild was a game show that aired on CBS and later in syndication. It originally got prepped as a pilot for CBS in 1968 with Allen Ludden as host, followed by a second in 1970 (as The Honeymoon Game) and then finally as The Joker's Wild which had a three month run locally in Los Angeles on KTLA in 1971. It marked the return of Jack Barry to the game show arena since his exile from the Twenty-One scandal. It was also the first big-ticket giveaway show on CBS since 1958, when the network imposed a ban on giveaway shows in light of the scandals. It premiered on September 4, 1972, the same day the The New Price Is Right and Gambit premiered on the network.
Two contestants sit at podiums with a handle from a Vegas slot machine. In turn, they pull the handle to manipulate three slot machine windows. As each window stops, they display one of five categories or "Jokers." The "Jokers" act as wild cards as contestants can make pairs out of categories or even three of a kind. They select a category and is asked a question. If correct, the payoff is $50 for individual categories, $100 for pairs (natural or with Jokers) and $200 for three-of-a-kind (natural or with Jokers). If a contestant misses a question, the opponent can score it by giving a correct answer.
A player reaching $500 wins the game, provided the opponent cannot make a combination to at least tie. A player spinning three Jokers can win the game by selecting a category and correctly answering the question.
The winner plays the bonus game. The very first bonus game had the player the prize showing on the windows that compose a three-of-a-kind. It later changed to the player taking up to three spins and winning a prize by spinning three Jokers and not revealing a Devil.
In the final season, the bonus game had money amounts on the wheel. The player had to spin $1000 without hitting the Devil to win a jackpot of prizes.
After CBS canceled the show, it ran in replays for a year on Los Angeles station KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV). It went into first run syndication afterwards with the only noted change from the CBS show being some of the categories, which included "Fast Forward" (running off a series of answers). Late in the syndicated run, three members of the studio audience were invited to spin for money. Each member took one spin and won whatever money amount was in the windows. The high scorer spun the machine for prizes as per the regular bonus game. A children's edition of the show, called Joker! Joker!! Joker!!!, aired weekends in syndication from 1979 to 1981.
Jim Peck filled in for Jack Barry several times. Barry died in 1984 of a heart attack, so during the show's final two seasons, veteran Bill Cullen became the show's host (his final show before retiring).
The Joker's Wild returned in 1990 with a new set, a new host, and changed rules. A toss-up question determined which of three players controlled the slot machine. The money shown is added together to determine the value of the question (a Joker triples the value). The player had to run off as many answers as possible to the question. If he/she missed, control went to the next player. $500 ends the game and eliminates the player with the lowest score.
The remaining two players spun for the money amount then selected categories. They would run up their money by running off answers to questions. The player reaching $2000 played the bonus game by gathering spins by correctly getting the definitions to words. The player spun the windows for prizes as froze any windows with desired prizes and must get three matching windows within the spin allotment. Three Jokers wins everything.
This version's regular game rules later reverted to those of the original series.
Jack Barry Productions produced the CBS version of The Joker's Wild in association with the network from 1972 to 1975, then its successor Barry-Enright Productions produced the syndicated version from 1977 to 1986. The syndicated version, which was originally distributed by Colbert Television Sales, is now distributed by Sony Pictures Television. Kline and Friends Productions (a company founded by former Barry & Enright Productions producer Richard S. Kline) produced the 1990 show, with CBS Television Distribution currently handling distribution.
A new Joker’s Wild series premiered on October 24, 2017 on TBS. Rapper Snoop Dogg is the host.
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
There are no DVD releases for this show.