Two contestants, one a returning champion, competed to solve a rebus concealed behind a 30-space board. Each contestant called out a pair of numbers on the board which contained the names of prizes, humorous joke prizes and WILD and action cards (the latter three explained later). No match passed control to the opponent, but a match gave whatever prize was printed on the card or allowed him to perform an action, revealed two pieces of the rebus (identifying a person, phrase, place, thing, etc.) and allowed him/her a chance to solve the rebus. WILD cards provided an automatic match, while TAKE cards allowed the contestant at that moment to snatch a prize his/her opponent might have in their possession. A FORFEIT card meant the player immediately had to give up one of the prizes he/she had in his possession. The joke prizes (things such as a banana peel, a button, etc.) actually served as insurance markers against opponents TAKE cards and the FORFEIT cards he/she might stumble upon. ... Written by
Brian Rathjen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There are several reasons why the original Concentration is a game show classic. First, it's a very simple game that involves the home viewer. Second, unlike the big money quiz shows that died after the scandal the prizes weren't terribly high, except for a car. Third, there was plenty of drama as the contestants revealed portions of the rebus puzzle. Interesting note, the show's producer Norm Blumenthal created every rebus puzzled used on the air.
Let's not forget the hosts Hugh Downs and later Bob Clayton. Both were outstanding. For several months of 1969, Ed McMahon hosted the show but he wasn't accepted by loyal viewers, thus Clayton returned to front the show until it left the air in 1973 after the emergence of the Price is Right cut into the show's ratings and then new NBC Vice President of Daytime Lin Bolen wanted to get rid of the older, dated shows. Concentration was the last game show to use an organist.
As for the 70s revival, some things worked out well. The four head starts to begin each game, the addition of a bonus round and having both contestants play for the entire show. Jack Narz was very good as the new host, coming from Beat the Clock. But after a couple years, Goodson-Todman, who took over production from NBC decided to tamper with a successful show, speeding up the game with Free Looks and Bonus Numbers and making the rebuses easier. That's what caused the show to plummet in the ratings and end after five years.
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