Happy 2018, everyone! Unlike what I had done in the past three years, I’ve decide to select and list the Top 10 most memorable game show moments in 2017. As usual, this was not an easy list to make considering there have been so many incredible moments from this past year, from CBS’s Candy Crush setting a world record for the largest touchscreen display to BBC’s Pointless airing is 1,000th episode to the Cash Cab returning to the streets of New York. It was a difficult to pinpoint the top moments of the year, but not impossible. Check out the countdown below and have a happy new year!
#10: Danny Abell Wins $1 – October 17
This year’s countdown list begins with a rare moment in Jeopardy! history. We have seen some staggering one-day totals over the course of the show’s 37-year illustrious history in syndication. We have also seen dismal and disappointing finishes, such as the infamous three-way zero loss in 2016. In October, two-day champion Danny Abell managed to edge out a win against his opponents with only $1 to his credit for the day after each contestant failed to provide the correct response on a Final Jeopardy! clue and lost the chance to capitalize on their bold wagers. This occurrence has happened to two other contestants: The Nanny star Benjamin Salisbury (April 30, 1997) and Darryl Scott (January 19, 1993).
#9: @midnight Ends Series at 600th Episode – August 4
After nearly four years of engaging in hashtag wars, doling out millions of points and listening to countless phallic jokes, Comedy Central, host Chris Hardwick and Funny or Die mutually agreed to end the show’s run. The social media-driven comedy game show made its late-night debut on October 21, 2013. Throughout each episode, comedians were award points for giving snappy, clever and oftentimes raunchy answers to various posts and topics across the social media virtual landscape. @midnight also allowed Twitter followers to get in on the fun by tweeting their own witty responses to the night’s Hashtag Wars topic (e.g. #RuinAChildrensBook, #OneWordOffSongs, #ElderlySciFi). The hourlong series finale invited some of the show’s more memorable panelists, including Paul F. Tompkins, “Weird Al” Yankovic, executive producer Thomas Lennon, Doug Benson and Ron Funchess, to compete against each other for last time on the show. Take a look at the episode on ComedyCentral.com.
#8: Ryan Belz Sets Daytime “Plinko” Record ($31,500) – May 25
Since its debut on January 3, 1983, Plinko has become a fixture on The Price Is Right by becoming the most popular and recognizable pricing games on the show. Plinko is mostly known for its alluring $50,000 (previously $25,000 until 1998) top cash prize. Interestingly enough, it is also the only pricing game in which no contestant has technically won, given no one has ever won the full $50,000. The closest contestant to reach the threshold is also the game’s biggest winner: Ryan Belz. Belz broke the 10-year daytime record (originally $30,100) on May 25 by winning $31,500, thanks to hitting the $10,000 slot three times.
#7: Team Erupton Wins Robot Wars Series 10 Tournament – December 3
This was undoubtedly one of the best episodes of Robot Wars I’ve ever seen. From the chaotic, no holds barred 10 Robot Rumble to the final battle, this episodes was exciting, action-packed and competitive from start to finish. Eruption, comprised of Michael Oates, Adrian Oates, entered the grand final as one of the wild cards in the show’s first-ever 10 Robot Rumble and survived the subsequent semifinal and final rounds. The final round may have felt like déjà vu to viewers who tuned into the previous series. Eruption and Carbide (Dave Moulds, Sam Smith) face each other in the finals for the second straight tournament. Unlike the ninth series where Carbide emerged victorious, Eruption defeated their opponent in a hard-fought, highly-contested match by a unanimous judges’ decision. If you’re able to, check out the full episode on BBC Two’s site.
#6: Harry Friedman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award – April 28
Friedman was given the prestigious award during the 44th Daytime Creative Arts Emmy ceremony along with former Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart. The honor stems from Friedman’s decades-long success as the executive producer of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Since he respectively joined the programs in 1995 and 1997, he has helped the game shows become the highest-rated in syndication for over 30 years, make Jeopardy! into the most honored syndicated game show by winning a Peabody Award in 2011 and 33 Emmy Awards, including nabbing the Emmy last year for Outstanding Game Show. Last year, Friedman broke the record for the most game show episodes produced (11,128).
#5: Jill Wins £43,500 on Cash Trapped After 10 Days – August 22
For those you who have never seen the show before, Cash Trapped pits six contestants against each other in a series of quiz rounds. In order for a contestant to win their bank, he/she must eliminate (or “cash trap”) all five opponents by answering toss-up questions correctly in one minute. Failing to do so results in the day’s winner losing their entire bank and all six contestants must return next show until a contestant wins the end game.
In the short history of the ITV summer filler, hosted and created by Bradley Walsh, there hasn’t been a group of contenders that have been cash trapped on the show for more than five days. That record was shattered last series as contestants Gemma, Jemiah, Helen, Dave, Jill and Rob were forced to remain on the show for two television weeks – or 10 days in layman terms.
What makes this format so devilishly clever is the constant dynamic shift of indirectly helping somebody one minute and screwing them over the next, groups learning more about each others strengths and weakness as the days go by and the emotional toll the game takes on the contestants as they stay on the show for longer periods of time, especially if he/she consistently bankrupting themselves due to failing to completely cash trapping the opposition.
After ten days of close calls, tens of thousands of dollars lost, hundreds of questions asked and mentally struggling to survive, the emotionally grueling game of attrition came to an end for this group when Jill finally managed to escape the clutches of the fiendish game and won a record-setting £43,500 with 16.2 seconds remaining in the minutelong end game. It was incredibly to see how effective
#4: Christina & Steve Win $1 Million on Beat Shazam – June 22
The high-stakes music ID game show found its first million-dollar winners early in the season. The couple became the show’s biggest winner after beating Shazam at its own game by providing the exact titles to six well-known songs within seconds. Take a look at the incredible and enriching moment below.
#3: Johnny Gilbert Sets Guinness Record For Longest Career Announcing On A Single Game Show – July 28
Jeopardy! is no stranger when it comes to Guinness World Records. The revered syndicated quiz show was in the spotlight once again as veteran announcer Johnny Gilbert broke the record for the longest career as a game show announcer for a single show. At the time Gilbert was presented with the honor, he had served as voice of Jeopardy! for 32 years and 321 days. Prior to Jeopardy!, Gilbert was the announcer for several game shows including The (original) Price Is Right, The $25,000 Pyramid, The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime and Supermarket Sweep, Who else could make grocery shopping exciting with enthralling play-by-play commentary? But I digress. Take a look at Gilbert receiving the achievement in the clip below.
#2: Three-Way $1 Tie + Two-Way $25,000 Win In Showcase Showdown – September 22
This moment was insanity and uncanniness personified. It was the equivalent of lightning striking thrice in the same spot. That’s how rare of a moment this was. This occurred on the final day of a weeklong celebration of not only the 46th season premiere of The Price Is Right, but also Drew Carey’s 10th year hosting the daytime game show. Here’s how it all went down: the show began with Carey announced hitting a dollar on the first spin in the showcase showdowns net contestants $10,000, rather than the standard $1,000 bonus. Later in the second showcase showdown, Wilbert Powell, Charlotte Sosebee, and Zacharia Whitaker all spun $1.00 on the Big Wheel and it was shortly followed by Powell and Whitaker landing on the dollar again on their bonus spin to bring their bonus winnings to $35,000 each. A grand total of $80,000 was won in that round, making it most money ever given away on the Wheel.
#1: Austin Rogers Wins $411,000 On 12-Win Streak on Jeopardy! – October 12
In the past few seasons we have seen Jeopardy! champions go viral across the social media universe such as Arthur Chu in 2014, Matt Jackson in 2015 and Buzzy Cohen in 2016. Last year saw Austin Rogers, a bartender from New York, steal the spotlight with his outgoing personality, pantomiming silly introductions, gutsy wagers, possessing a healthy wide range of knowledge and impressive ability to control and manage the game. In his 13-game appearance, he managed to ranked in the top five in largest one-day winnings, largest regular season winnings and most consecutive games won. His staggering total was enough to place him in tournament contention. Although he fell short in this season’s Tournament of Champions finals, he will be remembered as one of the more clever, entertaining and dangerous competitors Jeopardy! has ever seen.