Beat the Clock (1950–1961)
"Beat the Clock" was one of televisions most durable game shows. Its popularity was derived from its simple format and wacky action. Two couples, preselected from the studio audience, had to complete various stunts within a time limit (usually 60 seconds or less) to win cash and prizes. Examples of the often-messy stunts (the centerpiece of the show) included blowing a plastic ship carrying a ping-pong ball from one side of a water-filled tub to the other, without allowing the ball to fall off; stuffing eight balloons in a lidded wastebasket without breaking any; and extracting three marshmallows buried in Jell-O using a spoon held in his mouth, then placing each marshmallow on a plate next to them. A huge clock counted down the seconds, as host Collyer provided commentary and encouragement. Couples who successfully completed their stunt won cash (usually $100 to $200, depending on the round) and a prize. After the first round of stunts, each couple got a chance to complete an extra-difficult "bonus stunt" (e.g., blowing a feather off a table and then catching it with a top hat while it was being worn) worth $100 plus $100 for each show it was not completed. During the big-money quiz-show era, the bonus prize stunt was worth $5,000 plus $1,000 for each show not completed. The format of "Beat the Clock" factored into countless stunt-related game shows in the years that followed; two "Beat the Clock" revivals also followed one in 1969 and another in 1979, both enlisting the aid of celebrity guests.- Written by Brian Rathjen <email@example.com>
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