is an American
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
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...
where contestants competed to answer trivia questions about popular culture and recent history to win prizes. The show aired on NBC from January 7 through April 26, 1985 and was hosted by John Davidson
John Hamilton Davidson, Sr. is an American singer, actor and game show host known for hosting That's Incredible!, Time Machine, and Hollywood Squares in the 1980s, and a revival of The $100,000 Pyramid in 1991....
. Charlie Tuna
Charlie Tuna is the stage name of Art Ferguson , a radio personality based in Los Angeles, California currently working at KRTH-FM....
was the announcer, with Rich Jeffries
Rich Jeffries is a former American television announcer, who announced on the revival of Blockbusters in 1987.Jeffries also was the first announcer of Super Password until November 23, 1984, and would substitute sporadically afterwards, while regularly assisting main announcer Gene Wood in warming...
as his substitute. Reg Grundy Productions
Reg Grundy Productions was the American wing of the worldwide television production company Grundy Worldwide, which was founded by Australian television producer Reg Grundy. Reg Grundy Productions was responsible for the production of two highly-successful daytime game shows on NBC during the...
produced the series, and upon its premiere Time Machine
was one of three Grundy series airing on NBC (Sale of the Century
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,...
, which followed Time Machine
on NBC's daytime schedule, and Scrabble
Scrabble is an American television game show that was based on the Scrabble board game. The show was co-produced by Exposure Unlimited and Reg Grundy Productions. It ran from July 2, 1984 to March 23, 1990, and again from January 18 to June 11, 1993, both runs on NBC. A total of 1,335 episodes were...
were the other two).
Most of the questions used focused on nostalgia
The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.The word is a learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of , meaning "returning home", a Homeric word, and , meaning "pain, ache"...
, popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...
, and recent (usually post-World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
) history, and more specifically what year a particular event occurred.
Future Card Sharks
Card Sharks is an American television game show created by Chester Feldman for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Two contestants compete for control of a row of oversized playing cards by answering questions posed by the host and then guessing if the next card is higher or lower in value than...
model Suzanna Williams appeared as one of the prize models in this series.
Three contestants, one usually a returning champion, competed in mini-games, similar to pricing games from The Price is Right
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...
, to win prizes. The prizes won went into a contestant's "Prize Bank". Each contestant played one game, with the champion playing the third game.
Mini Games (Format #1)
- "Tube Game" – The contestant was given the names of two shows, and had to pick which one was airing in a given year. A correct answer gave the player control of the network the show was airing on. This process was done three times–the first with ABC shows, the second with NBC shows, and the third with CBS shows. After all three networks had been played the location of a hidden prize package was revealed, and if the contestant controlled that network the package was added to their prize bank.
- "3 In A Row" – In each square of a tic-tac-toe board is a different year, all from the same decade. 3 In A Row had two different formats. The first format had a player start by picking three cards dubbed "Poison Cards". After the Poison Cards were chosen the player was shown nine events and chose them one at a time. After a player chose an event the year it occurred lit up on the board, and the game continued until the player made any line. If a player made a line horizontally or vertically, a prize was added to their prize bank. A diagonal line won a larger prize, but if a player made a line with all three Poison Cards the game was lost. The second format gave the player a choice between two events; each time an event was chosen the year it happened was lit up on the board and a new event replaced it. Since the Poison Cards were no longer in play, a player could only lose by making a diagonal line.
- "As Time Goes By" – To begin, the contestant was given one free spin. Three photos of a celebrity were shown to the contestant one at a time and they had to guess in what year the photo was taken. Each time the player came within five years of the correct year they earned a spin. They then took their spins to the Money Clock, a spinner made to look like a clock. The area around 12 o'clock was painted red. The pointer moved automatically, and the contestant watched it for a few seconds. They then turned away and hit a plunger, stopping the pointer. If they landed at the red area, a prize was added to their prize bank. The game continued until a player stopped the pointer in the red area to win the prize or until they ran out of spins and lost.
- "Before Or After" – The contestant was given $200 and a base year, and the contestant had to guess whether an event happened before or after the base year. A correct guess doubled the money, and the year of that event became the new base year. The contestant had three opportunities to double their money, for a maximum of $1,600 for three correct answers. After the third question, the contestant was given an opportunity to bank the money and stop or risk it on a double-or-nothing final question. Answering correctly doubled the money and added it to the prize bank but answering incorrectly lost it all.
- "Sweet Sixteen" – Similar to the "Lucky Seven" pricing game on The Price is Right
The Price Is Right is a television game show franchise originally produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, and created by Bob Stewart, and is currently produced and owned by FremantleMedia. The franchise centers on television game shows, but also includes merchandise such as video games, printed...
. The contestant was given sixteen $100 bills to start the game. They were then shown a series of four products and had to guess what year they were introduced. For the first three products, the contestant was given a range to guess in (sometime in the 1950s, within the last 10 years, etc.). If any $100 bills were left after the fourth product, the leftover money and an additional prize package was put in their Prize Bank.
- "Main Event" – A base year was given along with five categories. The contestant was given a free category of their choice to start and then picked from the remaining categories one at a time. Each category had one question with two possible answers, with a right answer winning the category and a clue for the "Main Event", which was something that occurred in the base year. After all the categories were played a clue was revealed and the contestant got an opportunity to guess. Guessing the Main Event on the first clue put $5,000 in the Prize Bank; each subsequent clue cut the value by $1,000.
After the mini-games were played the three contestants faced off in the final round, the Time Capsule. Davidson gave the players a list of four events that all happened in the same year, and then a clip from a popular song from that year was played. The contestants then attempted to guess the year, and the contestant with the closest guess became the champion, won all of their banked prizes, and advanced to the bonus round. The other two players left with parting gifts.
On February 11 (just over a month after the series began), the format was completely overhauled with many mini-games undergoing rule changes to fit the new format and others retired. The champion no longer played the mini games, with the two challengers playing for the right to meet him/her in the final round. They played three mini-games, each one worth a prize; the Prize Bank was scrapped, with contestants now keeping their prizes regardless of how well they did.
The first two mini-games were worth one point, the last one was worth two. The one with the most points after three games won.
Mini Games (Format #2)
Six mini-games were used in this new format. Unlike the old format, the same two lineups were used for every episode, alternating each day. The first lineup went as follows
- "Game 1: As Time Goes By" – A photo of a celebrity was shown. Similar in format to Card Sharks, one player guessed when the photo was taken, and the other one guessed whether the right answer is higher or lower. Whoever was right won a spin. This was repeated with two more photos of the same celebrity. Each player then took their spins to the Money Clock, which now had four spaces. The four spaces read zero, $100, $300, and $1,000, with the $1,000 space much smaller than the rest. As before, the contestant watched the pointer for a few seconds, then turned away to stop it by hitting a plunger. The space they landed on was the amount of dollars they won. The player with the highest score won the game, but both players kept whatever they earned on the Money Clock.
- "Game 2: Tube Game" – Davidson described an ABC show that was on in a given year. Players buzz in to guess what show he's describing, and a right answer wins a point. Davidson then describes an NBC show from the same year, then a CBS show. After that, Davidson asked questions pertaining to the three shows. First to answer five questions correctly won the game and a prize.
- "Game 3: Jukebox Game" – Four jukeboxes were shown, each emblazoned with a different year from a certain decade. A song is played, and two possible artists are given. Buzzing in with the right artist won the right to match the song with the year it was released. If they got a match, they got a point. If they missed, their opponent got one chance to pick the right one and steal the point. The jukebox with the right answer was eliminated from play regardless. If all the jukeboxes were eliminated, then the contestants just had to identify the song's artist to get the point, without having to match the song to a year. First to three points won the game and a prize.
- "Game 1: On The Button" – An event was given, and one player guessed what year the event happened in. Getting it exactly right won a point for that player. If they guessed wrong, Davidson would say whether the event happened before or after that year, and the other contestant had a chance to guess. This continued until one player got three points, winning the game and a prize.
- "Game 2: 3 In A Row" – Just like before, each square of a tic-tac-toe board had a different year from the same decade. One player was given two events. The contestant picked an event from the two choices, and the year it happened in lit up. A new event takes the selected one's place, and the other contestant picked one. This continued until three spaces in a row were lit up. The person who lit up that last space won the game and a prize.
- "Game 3: Main Event" – A base year was given. Davidson would ask a question about an event that happened in that year. Buzzing in with the right answer put $200 in a pot and revealed a clue pertaining to the "Main Event". If the contestant could figure out the Main Event, they won the game and any money in the pot. If not, play continued as before until the Main Event was guessed.
The Time Capsule round from the previous format was reworked into a two-player game and renamed the "Challenge Round" following the format change. The winner from the mini-games portion of the show faced off against the returning champion. The format for the Challenge Round remained the same, with the closest player winning and playing the bonus round. If the winning mini-games player was unable to unseat the champion, they kept whatever prizes were in their prize bank.
The bonus round had to do with the year involved in the Time Capsule/Challenge Round. Three different bonus games were used during the show's run.
- Bonus Round #1 – Four events were given, and only one of which happened in the given year. If the contestant picked the right event, they won a growing Jackpot of prizes.
- Bonus Round #2 – A target year was given, and up to four questions were asked. The contestant's job was to guess whether the event occurred before or after the given year. Four correct answers won the bonus round, a prize package, and a cash jackpot that began at $1,000 and increased $1,000 every day until hit. The game ended if the player missed a question.
- Bonus Round #3 – Questions were asked relating to whether a certain event happened before or after the given year. Enough correct answers won the player a new car, while an incorrect answer stopped the game. The champion had to provide four answers to win the car on the first try, with one less required for each return trip. The car was automatically won if the player made it to a fifth day.