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Let's Make a Deal
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Let's Make a Deal

Let's Make a Deal is a television game show aired in the United States. The original and most widely known version aired from 1963 until 1977. Other short lived versions aired in 1980, 1984, 1990, and 2003. The show's attraction was its deals - audience members were challenged to maximize their winnings by matching wits against the host, usually Monty Hall.

The premise

The idea behind Let's Make a Deal began with the host (again, usually Monty Hall) choosing a studio audience member at random to play a game against him. Although the specifics of the games varied, the usual pattern was that the audience member was given a small amount of cash or prizes, or promise of cash or prizes. The choice posed to the audience member was to keep a relatively safe bet, or to risk for the potential of a larger or different prize or cash award.

Initially, studio audience members came in their Sunday best - suits and ties and dresses. Shortly into the show's run, a single audience member carried a sign to try to get Monty's attention, and he picked her. The sign became more signs, costumes, hollering...anything an audience member could think of to become the lucky person Monty picked next. The free for all the audience became was a hallmark of the show.

Format of the show

The show opens with a series of deals between Monty and contestants he picks.

For example: Monty Hall picks a studio audience member at random to become a contestant. He gives him a plastic egg.

Monty: 'You have a plastic egg that may have a thousand dollar bill hidden in it, or it may have a lot less. You can either keep that, or trade it for what's behind the large box on the display floor that Carol Merrill is showing us.'

Now the contestant is forced to make a difficult choice: keep the egg he's been given in the hope that a thousand dollars is contained within, or pick the box and its contents instead. Either may have a prize of value; the egg could contain $1000, or the box might reveal a new kitchen appliance. However, either location may also contain something worthless, called a 'zonk' on the show.

Zonks became as outrageous as the audience; giant shoes, a garbage can for each day of the week, giant stuffed toys, a ton of watermelons. The goal for contestants was to increase their winnings by making the right choices as given by Monty Hall.

The top two winners in each show were eligible to either keep their winnings or give up everything already won for a spot in the Big Deal. If one or both of the top winners declined to give up their winnings, Monty would go down the list of winners (highest to lowest) until he had two traders. In the Big Deal, the two contestants were allowed to make a simple choice between three curtains. The top winner in the Big Deal had first choice. One curtain hid the day's Big Deal, which was often multiple cars, a large cash prize, or multiple trips, and typically valued around $10,000.

Versions of the show

The classic version of Let's Make a Deal aired from 1963 until 1977. It was broadcast on NBC until 1969, and swiched to ABC until the end of the series. A short lived syndicated version of the show appeared in 1980.

A more popular syndicated remake of the show called The All New Let's Make a Deal and again starring Monty Hall was tried in 1984. That show began with a terribly small budget, but managed to widen its audience and budget as the series went on.

In 1990, NBC tried a revival of the show starring Bob Hilton, but the show flopped. Monty Hall was brought back to try to bring the show's ratings up, but the attempt failed.

In 2003, another revival of Let's Make a Deal was tried, this time starring Billy Bush. The show was plagued by a souring of the audience due to some questionable content, and its being put against the incredibly popular reality show American Idol.

See also