"Today, one of these three players
will be our champion and will be trying for a bonus of $X,X00 plus a chance
to win one of these new Pontiacs, on..."
Tom reigned as emcee of this
breathtaking quiz that took "Jeopardy!" to a new level.
Three contestants compete. Tom asks
a three-part question. The contestants ring in, their lockout devices
determining the order in which they’ll answer. The first contestant chooses
which part of the question s/he wants to answer and gives a response. The
second contestant then chooses from the two remaining (or all three if the
first contestant was wrong), and the third contestant may have one, two, or
all three choices.
Round One paid $5 if all three contestants answered correctly, $10 each if
two contestants answer correctly, and $25 if only one contestant answers
correctly, and the first contestant to achieve a "Singleton" wins a bonus
prize. Round Two payoffs are $10, $25, and $50.
In addition to the
many questions in which Tom implored contestants to "look at the board," the
game drills contestants with a variety of visual questions (involving in
some instances, paintings that have been manipulated, graphics for
fill-in-the-blank questions, and even announcer Jack Clark as Ramar of the
Jungle on one occasion). Each game also had one "Memory Buster," in which Tom
reads a list to the contestants and the contestants have to give the answers
that fit a category that he announces afterward.
The third and final round of the game iss the Countdown Round,
in which each contestant iss assigned a number of answers needed to win the
game. The contestant in first place
has to give three correct answers to win, the contestant in second place
needs four correct answers, and the contestant in third place needs five
correct answers (in a tie, the tied players need the lower number of
questions). Tom then went to asking questions, only now a contestant could
answer more than just one part, and could keep going in a particular
question as long as their answers were right. (Hence the first-place
contestant could win on the first question.)
Whoever hits zero first wins the game and the right to try
for a new car, and all players keep their accumulated winnings.
The winner chooses one of five
keys and then chooses one of five cars on display. S/he then hops into the
car and turns the key. If the car doesn't start, the winner comes back for
the next show. If the car does start, the winner gets the car and a cash
jackpot that starts at $200 and grows by $200 a day until won (later in the
series, $1,000 plus $500 a day until won). If a contestant wins five games
in a row, they automatically win the jackpot and whichever of the five cars
Very few shows make it on the air without at least one pilot - and Split Second was no different. Click the slate above to learn more about Split Second's 1971 pilot!
An absolutely superb and flawless
quiz show. It was a hit for three years before being canceled along with
“Password” and “Blankety Blanks.” This was unfortunate as “Split Second” was
being canceled solely on the merit of how the two series preceding it were
doing in the ratings. That, and while game shows thrived in 1975, it was somehow determined that
straightforward quiz shows
were passe. “Jeopardy!,” “The Joker’s Wild,” and “The Big Showdown” were
also canceled that year.
The series was revived in 1986 featuring series co-creator Monty Hall as
emcee but low clearances & low payoffs doomed the series.
An anecdote about how good this show
was. When I first watched an episode, I knew what the game’s outcome would
be because of the episode summary I had read. After the Countdown Round, I
realized I had still held my breath anyway. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a
good quiz show.
ABC was a
veritable "house of hits" for game show fans when Tom and "Split Second"
arrived in early 1972. The daytime line-up already included such
institutions as "The Newlywed Game" with Bob Eubanks, "The Dating Game" with
Jim Lange, "Password" with Allen Ludden, and "Let's Make a Deal" with Monty
Hall. As it turned out, the new show fit right into such an established
group, and "Split Second" thrived for more than three years.
Tom made emceeing an art here. From the opening question and his instruction
to “look…at…the board” to the closing sigh of relief after the Countdown
Round, Tom successfully juxtaposed speed and suspense with a calm, relaxed
demeanor, which is exactly what the show needed. A lesser emcee either would
have gone for suspense and made the show seem cold and sterile, and an emcee
focusing on being friendly and methodical would have damaged the show’s
excitement factor. Tom did it juuuusssssttt right.
course, I'm just a game show fan with a website, so maybe I'm not the best
judge there...but another game show emcee might be! On the final episode of
Split Second in 1975, Tom's boss, Monty Hall, paid him tribute during the
final moments of the show.
just wanted to jump out here because this is the final Split Second show,
and on behalf of my partner, Stef Hatos, and all of the gang back at the
office, we wanted you to know how proud we were of the job that the entire
Split Second gang did for the entire three years and a bit...and the
wonderful job that you did too. You brought a lot of class to our
organization and you did it just beautifully. Thank you so much for the
wonderful job that you did."
more than a Split Second to explain how he feels about "Split Second." (1.64