Battlestars (game show)

(The New) Battlestars
Created by Merrill Heatter
Written by Bob Logan
Gary Johnson
Directed by Jerome Shaw
Presented by Alex Trebek
Narrated by Rod Roddy (1981–1982)
Charlie Tuna (1983)
Theme music composer Mort Garson
Country of origin United States
No. of series 2
No. of episodes approx. 130 (original series)
65 (revived series)
Executive producer(s) Merrill Heatter
Producer(s) Robert Noah
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Heatter-Quigley Productions
Distributor Orion Television (original)
MGM Television (current)
Original network NBC
Original release October 26, 1981 (1981-10-26) - April 23, 1982 (1982-04-23) (original series)
April 4, 1983 (1983-04-04) - July 1, 1983 (1983-07-01) (revived series)

Battlestars is an American game show that aired on NBC during the 1980s. The program's concept was developed and produced by Merrill Heatter.

Battlestars premiered on October 26, 1981 with Alex Trebek hosting and Rod Roddy serving as the announcer. This marked Heatter's first solo production since his former production partner, Bob Quigley, retired and their company was dissolved. The program ran until April 23, 1982.

Less than a year later after its cancellation, NBC commissioned another edition of Battlestars as a replacement for the cancelled Just Men!. The New Battlestars premiered on April 4, 1983, but ultimately met the same fate as its predecessor and was cancelled after thirteen weeks with the final episode airing on July 1, 1983.

Main game

Two contestants competed on each episode of Battlestars, with one usually a returning champion. The players were also designated by color, with the champion's podium being blue and the challenger's red.

The object of Battlestars was to "capture" members of a six-celebrity panel. To do this players had to light up numbers positioned around triangle shapes, inside of which sat the panelists. The numbers 1–10 were positioned around the triangles so that each edge was attached to a number (1-4-5, 2-5-6, 3-6-7, 4-5-8, 5-6-9, and 6-7-10). The numbers were referred to as "Points of Light" throughout the game.

The champion began the game and pushed a plunger on his or her podium to stop a flashing randomizer, and the number it stopped on determined which celebrity would be asked a question. If a number was attached to two or more triangles, the contestant chose which celebrity to play. If the number was attached to a celebrity who would be captured if it was lit, the contestant was forced to choose that celebrity unless there were more than one celebrity that could be captured by lighting the number. The questions were asked in the style of The Hollywood Squares, except that a celebrity was given two possible answers and had to choose between one or the other (although the celebrity might still give a joke as a response at first). The two answer choices provided to the celebrity were also displayed for the home audience; however, the contestants were unable to see them. Once the celebrity chose an answer, the contestant was asked whether he or she agreed or disagreed with the celebrity. A correct response allowed that player to keep control. If the contestant was wrong, control passed to the opponent.

Any point of light hit remained lit, regardless of whether the contestant in control correctly agreed or disagreed. However, similar to Hollywood Squares, if a miss resulted in the capture of a celebrity to an opponent by default, the point remained in play.

If the contestant in control lit the last point of light around a celebrity, even if his or her opponent was responsible for one or both of the other lights, the contestant captured that star and the background behind the celebrity was lit in the player's color. The first contestant to capture three stars won the game and played the bonus round. If a contestant managed to capture all six celebrities, he or she won a bonus prize, later $1,000.

Because it was possible for the champion to win the game without the challenger ever being in control, a challenger who lost in such a manner remained for the next game. Champions continued to play until defeated or until they played the end game 20 times.

When the program returned in 1983, the object of the game was the same but the format was slightly tweaked. Instead of turning on the points of light, all ten of them were lit to begin the game and the contestants instead had to turn them off. At the beginning of each player's turn, they used the randomizer to select a number as they had before. If they managed to answer correctly, the contestants would select the next number to turn off themselves instead of using the randomizer again and continued to do so until answering incorrectly, which passed control to the other player, or until capturing the necessary three Battlestars to win the game.

Bonus game

1981–1982: Battlestars Two

A celebrity's portrait was hidden under 16 numbered blocks. The winner of the game chose three cards, each representing blocks on the board, which Trebek inserted into an electronic scanner in his podium. After the three blocks were removed, the contestant verbally picked one more square that would help him or her most. The contestant then had a chance to identify the celebrity for $5,000. For a week of Christmas shows in December 1981, the top prize was doubled to $10,000.

However, if he or she gave a wrong guess or could not answer, the contestant drew up to three additional cards (one at a time) and could solicit help from the celebrities. The prize value dropped to $3,000 for the first card, then $2,000, $1,000, $500, at which point the player could choose any space to reveal, and finally $250.

1983: The Main Event

In The Main Event round, the day's winner and the three Battlestars the contestant had captured played a series of multiple choice questions for a cash bonus and an accumulating jackpot of prizes. If more than three Battlestars were captured, the champion chose three to play with.

Each multiple-choice question had three possible answers which were displayed to both the contestant and the celebrity in play. After the celebrity offered his or her choice, the contestant was asked whether he or she agreed or disagreed. If the contestant was correct in disagreeing, he or she had to choose the correct answer from the two remaining choices to win any money. Each correct answer earned $500. If the contestant answered all three questions correctly, he or she won the "Battlestars Bonanza", a jackpot that consisted of $5,000 in cash and a collection of prizes that saw a new prize added for each time the Main Event was not won. The typical starting value of a Bonanza package was usually over $10,000.

Broadcast history

NBC scheduled the first version of Battlestars at 11:30 a.m./10:30 Central, replacing Card Sharks and switching places with Password Plus. However, it failed to find ratings against the second half of CBS's The Price Is Right. NBC decided not to renew Battlestars after two thirteen-week cycles of episodes and removed both it and Blockbusters from its lineup to accommodate another of its struggling daytime series, the soap opera Texas, which the network moved to the 11:00 hour.

Logo for The New Battlestars (1983)

A little less than a year after its cancellation, the now-New Battlestars premiered in NBC's 12pm Eastern/11am Central time slot and replaced the cancelled Just Men! there. Like many shows before it, The New Battlestars found ratings trouble due to the popularity of ABC's Family Feud, CBS' The Young and the Restless, and preemptions for newscasts and other programming on various affiliates. Thus, NBC did not renew The New Battlestars when its thirteen-week contract expired and replaced the series with The Facts of Life reruns. NBC did not try another game show in the slot until the short-lived Go premiered later in the year and did not find a hit show until Super Password premiered in 1984 and stayed on the air until 1989.


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