The Big Showdown

The Big Showdown
Genre Game show
Directed by Dick Schneider
Presented by Jim Peck
Heather Cunningham
Narrated by Dan Daniel
Theme music composer Score Productions
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 140
Executive producer(s) Don Lipp
Ron Greenberg
Producer(s) Shelley Dobbins
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Don Lipp Productions
Ron Greenberg Productions
Original network ABC
Original release December 23, 1974 – July 4, 1975

The Big Showdown is an American game show that aired on the ABC television network from December 23, 1974 to July 4, 1975. Jim Peck (in his national television debut) hosted the program and Dan Daniel (then a disc jockey on New York City's WHN) served as announcer. Two pilots, simply titled Showdown, were taped in 1973 and 1974, respectively.

The series was recorded at ABC's New York studioTV15 on West 58 Street, and packaged by Don Lipp’s Daphne Productions and Ron Greenberg, with assistance by MCA Television.


Round 1 (The Big Showdown)

Three contestants competed. Before the round began, Peck announced a target score or "payoff point," and selected a dollar value for it by pressing a buzzer on his podium to stop a randomizer ($25, $50, $75, $100, or $500). He then read a one-point toss-up question. The first contestant to buzz-in and correctly answer it chose from one of six available categories, each with a different point value from 1 to 6 as represented by faces of a die. A correct answer to a question awarded the points for the chosen category and allowed the contestant to select the next one. If a contestant missed a question, he/she was locked out for the remainder of that question, without any score penalty, and the opponents were given a chance to answer. The payoff point had to be reached exactly, and contestants were not allowed to select or answer any question that would put them over that total. The first contestant whose score reached the payoff point won the money associated with it. A new dollar value and payoff point were set, the latter raised by several points above the previous one, and Peck asked a one-point toss-up to award control of the board. A toss-up was also asked whenever all players missed a question.

A new set of categories was introduced after the second payoff point had been reached. Four or more payoff points were played during this round, depending on the speed with which the game progressed.

Speed round

A 90-second speed round was played to end the Big Showdown, with each payoff point worth $100 after the one currently in play (if any) was reached. Once time ran out, the contestant with the lowest score was eliminated but kept any money accumulated during the game. In the event of a tie for second place or a three-way tie, Peck asked questions from the one-point category until the tie was broken. Players who buzzed in with a correct answer moved to the Final Showdown, but were eliminated for responding incorrectly.

Round 2 (Final Showdown)

The two remaining contestants competed to reach a payoff point of seven. Three categories were played, again represented by faces on a die, and point values were 1, 2, and 3 respectively. The scores were reset to zero, and the contestant who had been in the lead at the end of the first round chose the first category. As before, no contestant could choose or answer a question that would put him/her above the payoff point. The first contestant to reach seven points won the game and an additional $250; both contestants kept any money they had accumulated during the game.

Bonus Round

The champion now had a chance to win up to $10,000 by rolling pairs of oversized six-sided dice, whose sixes had been replaced by the words "Show" and "Down" (one of each per pair). Model Heather Cunningham joined the show at this point to assist the contestant by providing the dice to him/her.

The contestant rolled the dice once at the outset, on a long table with a well and a trap door at the far end. If "Show-Down" came up on this roll, the contestant won $10,000 and the round ended immediately. If not, the total of the numbers shown on the dice (between one and ten, with "Show" and "Down" counting as zero) became the payoff point. The contestant then had 30 seconds to roll the dice as many times as possible, with Cunningham giving him/her a fresh pair for each roll and Peck removing completed rolls from the well by pushing the dice into the trap door. Each time the payoff point was rolled, the contestant won $250 and a five-second bonus to be used after the clock ran out. If "Show-Down" came up, the round ended and the contestant won an additional $5,000. If the contestant did not roll "Show-Down" before time ran out, but had rolled the payoff point at least once, he/she used the earned bonus time to continue rolling. However, the payoff point was taken out of play.

Champions remained on the show until they either rolled "Show-Down" or were defeated in the main game.

1973 pilot

The first Showdown pilot was taped at CBS Television Center in New York City in 1973 and featured identical gameplay to the eventual aired series. However, in addition to a different set than what was aired, the show featured a bonus game involving a large bank vault. The winning contestant's objective in the bonus round was to break the safe, which concealed $10,000 in cash and prizes. After taping the first pilot, it was decided that this bonus game was too boring in comparison with the rest of the game, so it was scrapped in favor of the dice-based bonus game.

Episode status

The series is believed to have been wiped due to network practices of the era. An audio clip of the opening to one episode also exists,[1] as well as audio of the complete series finale. Two episodes also exist on videotape: the 1973 pilot and an episode from 1975 where Jim Peck falls while making his entrance down the stairs (which has made an appearance on The Most Outrageous Game Show Moments). After the applause died down on that moment, Peck said, "Well, sure! You people would applaud a lynching!"


  1. "Big Showdown Theme Song". Retrieved 1 February 2012.
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