Blackout (game show)

Created by Jay Wolpert
Written by Joel Hecht
Jay Wolpert
Jon Field
Meredith Kornfeld
Directed by John Dorsey
Presented by Bob Goen
Narrated by Johnny Gilbert
Jay Stewart
Theme music composer Middle "C" Productions
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 65
Executive producer(s) Jay Wolpert
Producer(s) Joel Hecht
Randall Neece
Stacey Babbitt (assistant)
Location(s) CBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running time approx. 26 minutes
Production company(s) Jay Wolpert Productions
Taft Entertainment Television Inc.
Original network CBS
Original release January 4 – April 1, 1988

Blackout is an American game show that was broadcast on CBS as part of its daytime schedule from January 4, 1988 until April 1, 1988. The program was created and produced by Jay Wolpert.

Bob Goen served as the host for Blackout. The show's original announcer was Johnny Gilbert, with Jay Stewart announcing for the last two weeks. This was Stewart's final announcing job before his 1989 death.


Main game

Two teams, each consisting of a contestant and a celebrity partner, played. One of the players was usually a returning champion and sat at a yellow desk with his/her partner, while the challenger's team played from a red desk.

The object of the game was to solve word puzzles that consisted of a sentence or short paragraph with four blank spaces, usually incorporating a pun or play on words. Each blank represented a word, and the object of the game was for one of the players to guess the word based on clues provided by their partner. A typical puzzle: "The _____ wasn't _____, he just had a _____ in his _____ ." With the words "sick," "code," "spy," and "nose," the solution would be: "The spy wasn't sick, he just had a code in his nose."

Play in the first round began with the red team. The celebrity was shown one of the four missing words and had 20 seconds to describe it, while the contestant donned a pair of headphones and his/her seat was moved forward to prevent him/her from seeing or hearing anything. The celebrity's comments were recorded; after time was up, the contestant was brought back into the game to hear the playback. However, the opposing team's celebrity could use a plunger on his/her desk, known as a "blackout button," to silence portions of the audio in an attempt to hinder the contestant's attempt to guess. The blackout button could be used for a maximum of seven seconds, with one extra second added for every instance of the celebrity repeating a significant word or phrase in his/her description.

If the contestant correctly guessed the word, he/she won $100. An incorrect response allowed the opposing team to guess, with the advantage of having heard the entire description. The team that guessed the word was then given a chance to solve the puzzle by filling in all four blanks; successfully doing so scored one point. If neither team guessed a word, it was put up on the board and play continued with the next word. Teams alternated describing the four words in the puzzle. Saying the word or any form of it in the description immediately awarded $100 and a free guess at the puzzle to the opposing team. If both teams missed the fourth word, Goen read a definition of it as a toss-up, and the first team to buzz in with the answer received the $100 and a guess at the puzzle. If the team that guessed the fourth word failed to solve the puzzle, their opponents were given a chance to solve it.

For the second round, the contestants described words for their celebrity partners and operated the blackout buttons, and the yellow team played first, with the $100 per word still awarded to the contestant.

The first team to score two points won the game and advanced to the Clue Screen bonus round. If the score was tied after two puzzles, a sudden-death tiebreaker was played using one final word, with the contestants again in control of giving clues and blacking out. The team that had correctly guessed more words during the first two rounds (or the winner of a backstage coin toss if there was a tie) chose to either play the word or pass to the opponents. The contestant giving clues had 10 seconds to describe the word for his/her partner, and the opposing contestant had three seconds of blackout time, with the same repetition penalty as in the first two rounds. A correct guess won the game, while a miss gave the win to the opposing team.

Clue Screen

In the Clue Screen round, the object was for one team member to guess five subjects within 70 seconds, based on the other deciding how many clues to give to him/her. The giver faced a screen on which the clues were shown, while the guesser faced away from it.

The clock started when the category for the first subject (Place, Thing, etc.) was displayed on the screen and the subject was shown to the giver. Up to six clues would be shown, one every two seconds; when the giver believed there was enough information for the guesser to figure out the subject, he/she said, "Solve it!" and no further clues were shown. The guesser then turned to the screen, offered a guess, and turned away again. The contestant won $10,000 if the guesser correctly identified five subjects before time ran out, or $250 per correct answer otherwise.

Contestants remained on the show until they were defeated or won five matches.


Blackout was taped in Studio 33 at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California.[1]

Broadcast history

Blackout debuted at 10:00 AM on January 4, 1988 and took the place of The $25,000 Pyramid, which had been cancelled by CBS after five and a half seasons. Blackout never managed to find an audience, however. NBC's Sale of the Century routinely beat it in the ratings, and Blackout did not perform as well as Pyramid had in the slot. CBS, unsatisfied with the performance, decided to move in another direction. Blackout was cancelled following its initial sixty-five episode order, which ended on April 1, 1988, and the network began working on a revival of Family Feud which would launch later in the year. Blackout's immediate replacement was its predecessor, as The $25,000 Pyramid was brought back for a final run of sixty-five episodes while Family Feud was waiting to debut; Pyramid aired its final episode on CBS on July 1, 1988 and was replaced by Family Feud the following Monday.

Blackout has not been seen on television since its cancellation by CBS.

A brief clip of the pilot episode, which was hosted by Robb Weller, was seen in the background during the opening sequence of the ABC miniseries The Stand in 1994.

International versions

Country Local Name Host Network Year Aired
 Netherlands Blackout Bert van Leeuwen Evangelische Omroep 1991-92


  1. "Shows–CBS Television City". Retrieved 25 July 2011.

External links

American version

International versions

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