Now You See It (American game show)

Now You See It is an American television game show created by Frank Wayne for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. The object of Now You See It is to answer general knowledge trivia questions by finding the answers hidden in a grid, similar to a word search puzzle.

Now You See It
NYSI 89 opening title.PNG
Created byFrank Wayne
Directed byPaul Alter
Marc Breslow
Andrew Felsher
Presented byJack Narz
Chuck Henry
Narrated byJohnny Olson
Mark Driscoll
Don Morrow
Theme music composerQuincy Jones, Bill Cosby
Opening themeChump Change
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes308 (1974–75 version)
75 (1989 version)
Executive producersFrank Wayne
Jonathan Goodson
ProducersBuck D'Amore
Gary Dawson
Andrew Felsher
Production locationsCBS Television City
Hollywood, California
Running timeapprox. 22–26 minutes
Production companiesMark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1974-1975)
Mark Goodson Television Productions (1989)
Original networkCBS
Picture formatNTSC
Original releaseApril 1, 1974 (1974-04-01) –
July 14, 1989 (1989-07-14)

Two seasons were produced, both of which aired on CBS. The first series ran from April 1, 1974, until June 13, 1975, and was hosted by Jack Narz. Johnny Olson was the original announcer, with Gene Wood substituting on occasion. The second series (the only one to refer to the title with the exclamation point in it) ran from April 3 until July 14, 1989, and was emceed by Los Angeles news anchor Chuck Henry. Los Angeles disc jockey Mark Driscoll announced for the first month of the 1989 season, with Don Morrow replacing him for the remainder of the run.


1970s versionEdit

Format #1Edit

An elimination round in progress.

The first round of Now You See It under its original format began with four new contestants split into two teams, each with one "outside" and one "inside" contestant. This round, called the Elimination Game, was played using a board of 56 letters that were arranged in four rows of 14; each row contained a series of overlapping words, read left to right. Rows and columns were numbered for scoring purposes, and were referred to respectively as "lines" and "positions." The board was shown briefly to the four contestants, then turned off before any of them could fully memorize it.

The outside contestants turned their backs to the board as it was turned back on, and Narz asked a toss-up question for the inside contestants. The first one to buzz-in had to give the number of the line containing the correct answer. If he/she was correct, the other three lines were turned off, and the outside teammate turned to face the board and had to give both the answer and the position number of its starting letter. If the wrong line was given, the correct one was turned on and the outside contestant of the opposing team received a free guess at the answer. If an incorrect word was given, Narz gave the correct one and neither team scored. The point value for each correct answer was determined by adding its line and position numbers; for example, a word that started at position 9 in line 2 would be worth 11 points. Inside contestants could buzz-in before the host had finished a question, but in this case the outside contestant had to respond based only on the portion read to that point.

After each question, the entire board was turned on and the outside contestants turned their backs to it again. A total of 12 questions were played, with the members of each team trading places after the first six. The team in the lead at the end of the round advanced to the Semi-Finals, while their opponents were eliminated.

The members of the winning team competed against each other in the Semi-Finals, facing a board with four rows of 16 blanks each.[1] Narz read a crossword-style clue, after which the letters of the answer were filled in one at a time as he said "letter," starting at the far left end of the top row. Either contestant could buzz-in at any time; a correct answer scored one point and completed the word, but a miss gave the opponent a free guess before Narz resumed filling in the letters. If the word was not solved before its last letter was revealed, neither contestant scored. Each word after the first overlapped its predecessor by at least one letter; when the row became too full to accommodate any more words, play continued with a new word on the next row down.

The first player to guess four words won the round and a prize package, in addition to moving on to face the champion in the Finals. During the first two weeks, no prize package was given to the winner. The goal was increased from four words to five during the third week; this would become permanent when the second format was introduced.

The Finals followed the same rules as the Elimination Game, using a new board of 56 letters. A contestant who buzzed-in had to give first the line of the correct answer, then the answer and its position. After 12 questions, the higher-scoring contestant took/retained the championship and advanced to the Solo Game for a chance to win a cash jackpot. During the first episode only, a correct toss-up answer gave that contestant sole control of the round until he/she missed a question. The opponent could then take control by giving the correct answer; if he/she also missed, the next question was played as a toss-up. After the first episode, this format was abandoned and all words were played as toss-ups.

Beginning with the 101st episode and continuing until the adoption of the second main game format, contestants were asked to scan the board and write down one word from the board each at the beginning of each half of the Elimination Game and the Finals. A contestant or team earned a 10-point bonus for correctly answering a question with one of their chosen words, but had to reveal it immediately upon using it in order to score.

Format #2Edit

On December 16, 1974, Now You See It underwent a significant change in format.

The game began with two new players playing the Qualifying Round, which was played in the exact same manner as the Semi-Finals prior to the change. The first one to reach five points won the round and played against the returning champion in the Championship Round.

The Championship Round was played in the same manner as the Finals in the prior format, and the scoring format was still the same. The difference was that the goal was to reach 100 points first, as opposed to being ahead when the final bell rang. In addition, the values of all words were doubled once either contestant reached 50 points. Whoever reached 100 points first became champion and played the Solo Game for the jackpot. If the champion won the Solo Game, the contestant he/she defeated returned for the next game as champion-designate.

Under this format, a new game began as soon as the previous Solo Game ended. Play continued until time ran out, then resumed on the next episode.

1989 versionEdit

When Now You See It was revived in 1989, it kept the basic game format introduced late in the first series' run, with a qualifying round and a championship round. Like it had done with its recent revivals of Blockbusters and Concentration two years earlier, Mark Goodson Productions gave the show a technological upgrade with a computer generated board. The game was conducted on a three-tiered stage, with each round of play conducted on one of the three levels and covered by a large ring covered in chase lighting that was raised when play moved to that level and lowered when the round was over.

Qualifying Round

The qualifying round was played on the first level and, as in the previous qualifying round, two contestants faced off to try to advance to face the day's champion (or champion-designate). The object, still, was to find the words that fit the clues given by the host. Like before, the board consisted of four lines and fourteen letters.

The major difference came in scoring. Neither the lines nor the positions of the letters were numbered. Instead, the value for a correct answer was 100 points and decreased by five points for every third of a second that elapsed before someone buzzed in. The first contestant to buzz in had to give the line containing the answer, and then the word itself, to score. If the counter reached 25 points with no guesses, the contestants would be told what line the word was on to assist them.

The qualifying round consisted of two boards, with the second being played for double points. Originally, the second board was also played for the same number of points, with points doubling if time was running short.

The first person to 1,000 points moved on to face the champion in the next round of play.

Championship Round

In the championship round, the winner of the qualifying round moved up to the second level and faced off against the returning champion, whose nametag had a crown atop of it so the audience knew. The two competed for cash and tried to be the first to reach or surpass $1,000.

The first board was worth $200, increasing by $100 for each one that followed. Every board had six hidden words that fit a specific category and was revealed to the audience and viewers first. After Henry revealed the category for the board in play, a window popped up in front of each contestant so they could see the board.

The first player to find a word fitting the category was given the chance to earn the monetary value of the board. To do so, he/she was shown the board again and given twenty seconds to locate the other five words in the category. Doing so won the board and the monetary value attached. If either player failed to come up with the necessary five answers on their turn, the opposing player was given a chance to claim the money. Henry would remind him/her of what answers had already been given, and he/she was shown the board for five seconds to come up with one of the remaining answers; successfully doing so won the value of the board, while failure meant the first contestant claimed the board's value.

The first contestant to reach or pass the $1,000 goal became champion, got to keep their bank, and advanced to the Solo Game.

Solo Game (both versions)Edit

In the Solo Game, the champion was given one minute to find ten words on a brand new board. The champion viewed the board on a telestrator screen. On the original Now You See It, the Solo Game board had four rows of 16 letters each and the screen was embedded in Jack Narz's desk. The 1989 series positioned their bonus area at center stage, with the podium on the third tier of the set. Inside the podium was the screen to display the computer generated board, which like all of the boards to that point was four rows of fourteen letters each.

After a clue was given, the champion had to find the relevant word, say it, and circle it with an electronic pencil. He/she could pass as often as desired, then return to those words after all ten clues had been given if time permitted; however, if the champion gave a guess that was incorrect, he/she had to stay on that clue and either give the right solution or pass.

The champion won a cash jackpot for finding all words before time expired, or $100 per found word otherwise. On both series, the Solo Game's jackpot started at $5,000. For each unsuccessful playing on the original Now You See It, the jackpot increased by $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000. Any champion who won the jackpot immediately retired from the show, and the contestant he/she had defeated in the Finals became the champion-designate for the next show or match (depending on the format; as noted above the change resulted in games that straddled episodes). A contestant was not limited as champion otherwise; champions played until they were defeated or won the Solo Game.

On the 1989 revival, each loss in the Solo Game added $5,000 to the jackpot. Champions retired after playing the Solo Game five times or accumulating a total of $75,000 in winnings, whichever came first. The highest jackpot won was $50,000.

Production informationEdit


Both versions used the instrumental theme "Chump Change," composed by Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby. For a brief period, the 1970s version used an alternate theme written by Edd Kalehoff, but returned to "Chump Change" shortly thereafter.

Broadcast historyEdit


The first version ran from April 1, 1974[2] to June 13, 1975, at 11:00 a.m. (10:00 Central) with Jack Narz hosting, replacing The $10,000 Pyramid, which moved to ABC one month after its CBS cancellation. Initially, it did well against Alex Trebek's American debut on NBC (The Wizard of Odds) but, three months later, NBC gave Trebek a new show called High Rollers at that slot and Now You See It began to struggle while the producers altered the format several times. The show was taped at Television City Studios in Studio 33, the current home of The Price Is Right. Some episodes used Studio 41, which at the time was the stage of CBS's Tattletales, another Goodson-Todman show.[3]

NBC's resurgence in its morning lineup in early 1975 with the likes of Wheel of Fortune prompted CBS to clean house, canceling The Joker's Wild along with Now You See It. Gambit (the show actually facing Wheel), which had begun in 1972 at 11/10, returned to that slot after Now You See It's departure from the schedule.

This version aired occasionally on Game Show Network during the 1990s and 2000s until the network chose not to renew its contract with FremantleMedia (which now owns the Goodson-Todman library). The show currently airs as part of Buzzr's early Sunday morning lineup. (4 a.m. EST)


Years after the original Now You See It came to an end, and with a string of revivals having varying degrees of success throughout the 1980s, Mark Goodson Productions decided to try the show again in 1989, despite the probability that few viewers remembered the original. CBS once again signed on to air the program in daytime, and the new Now You See It launched on April 3 at 10:30 a.m. (9:30 Central) in place of Card Sharks, another Mark Goodson show, which had been airing in that timeslot since January 1986. Los Angeles news anchor Chuck Henry, as noted before, was tabbed as host, and the show once again taped at Studio 33 inside Television City in Hollywood.

Not only did it face its sister Mark Goodson-packaged game Classic Concentration on NBC, but the new Now You See It faced a vastly changed television market from the days of the original. Syndicated talk shows such as Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael had become popular and made games like Now You See It seem tame and quaint by comparison. Further, daytime viewership had declined greatly overall since 1975, thanks to a surge in cable and pay channels giving the viewer more choices than just the three major networks and more and more women working outside the home than was the case then. With a greater possibility for local advertising revenue from the talk shows, numerous stations passed on the game despite the solid performance of its lead-in, Family Feud. Ultimately, Now You See It was done in not by the aforementioned preemptions, but instead by the relocation of a long-running off-network hit to the Television City studios.

Production of the syndicated game show Wheel of Fortune, at that point the biggest ratings winner in syndication, had moved to Studio 33 at Television City for the upcoming seventh season after spending the previous six at NBC Studios in Burbank, California. Meanwhile, NBC had cancelled the daytime edition of Wheel they had carried since 1975 due to a decline in ratings and its final episode aired on June 30, 1989. CBS decided to take advantage of having Wheel in its studio space and relaunch the daytime series shortly after the show left Burbank. This left Now You See It as the odd show out since it was the only one of CBS’ morning offerings that was not performing well in the ratings, and the network declined to extend their commitment past the original fifteen weeks the sides had agreed to.

Now You See It came to an end on July 11, 1989 after seventy-five episodes. The show closed with the entire stage crew joining Chuck Henry and the day’s champion to bid farewell. Wheel launched the following Monday and lasted until January 11, 1991 in the time slot before finishing its run on NBC later that year.


Home gameEdit

A board game based on the 1974–1975 version was made by the Milton Bradley Company (referred to simply as Milton Bradley) in 1974.

Computer gameEdit

A computer game based on the 1989 version was made by Gametek in 1990.

International versionsEdit

Country Local Name Host Network Year Aired
  Australia Now You See It Mike Meade & Melvin the Robot
Sofie Formica
Seven Network 1985–1990
Scott McRae Nine Network 1998–2000
  Indonesia Temukan Kata Nico Siahaan
Irgi Ahmad Fahrezi
Kompas TV 2012–2013
  United Kingdom
Now You See It
Celebrity NYSI
Children's NYSI
Johnny Beattie
Jack McLaughlin
Grant Stott
Fred MacAulay
Scottish Television 1981–1984


  1. ^ Now You See It premiere, 1974.
  2. ^ "TV TIMES". Los Angeles Times. 1974-03-31. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  3. ^ "Shows–CBS Television City". Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011.

External linksEdit