Pat Sajak said something interesting on an episode of “Wheel of Fortune” last week. “Wheel”’s Bonus Round doesn’t have a name… other than just being called the Bonus Round.
Vanna White thinks “Bonus Round” is a sufficient-enough name: it tells you exactly what it is, so why bother changing it? But Sajak thinks viewers at home should send in some name options.
It got me thinking that Sajak does have a point. Many TV game shows have structured bonus rounds… and nearly all of them have some kind of name.
There’s “Final Jeopardy” on “Jeopardy!”, “The Big Deal of the Day” on “Let’s Make a Deal” and the “Showcase Showdown” on “The Price is Right.” “Family Feud”’s final segment is the “Fast Money” round. “Match Game” has the “Audience Match” and the “Super Match” – a 2 in 1 bonus round.
On “Card Sharks”, you play the “Money Cards.” At the end of a round of “The 100,000 Pyramid” you head to the “Winner’s Circle” – it isn’t called anything else. On the original “Password”, contestants played a “Lightning Round” with their celebrity partners. On later incarnations, it was “Alphabetics.”
“Cash Cab”’s final question was shown as the “Video Bonus.” And on one of Game Show Network’s biggest successes, contestants who survived the first portion of “The Chase” faced-off against The Beast in “The Final Chase.”
It also got me thinking that some game shows just don’t have a Bonus Round, including “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and “Deal or No Deal.” It’s rare, though. “Press Your Luck” didn’t have one until the new, revived ABC version with host Elizabeth Banks.
So, should “Wheel” add a name to its bonus round? The show has made some structural tweaks over the last few years. New executive producer Mike Richards (formerly of “The Price is Right” and “Let’s Made a Deal”) is currently shadowing longtime “Wheel” & “Jeopardy” EP Harry Friedman. Friedman is retiring when this season of shows has finished filming, with Richards taking over. Could this be one of the adjustments Richards makes?
I’ve followed his career for a long time, from hosting Reelz Channel’s “Dailies” movie news program and The CW’s “Beauty and the Geek” – to his jump to game shows, both as a producer and the host of GSN’s “The Pyramid” & “Divided”. He’s a smart, talented guy who will face some of the biggest decisions of his career: choosing who will take over for Sajak, White and Alex Trebek when they all retire.
In the meantime, Richards is also serving as co-EP on the new celebrity “Millionaire”, premiering with host Jimmy Kimmel on ABC April 8th. Less than a year after the cancellation of the syndicated version, here’s a game show that, again, doesn’t have a bonus round – but has received a bonus life on television.