It’s the Countdown US Pilot

By | October 21, 2023

Wink Martindale’s Youtube channel posted this this morning, the 1990 US Countdown pilot, hosted by Michael Jackson (not that one).

Immediately I quite enjoyed the synth-rock-tastic interpretation of the theme tune as was de rigeur for US shows at the time, so it was quite surprising to hear our standard UK Countdown clock jingle for the rounds themselves. I don’t hate the amateur/celebrity nature of the game, although clearly you’d want the celebs to be of a roughly equal skill level and that’d be quite hard to balance. It is perhaps telling how much applause five letter words got. It felt like it took an age to get the nine letters out even though realistically it probably wasn’t that much extra time.

I don’t love the Countdown Scramble, or at least I don’t love the way it’s presented here. I did quite enjoy Jackson’s desk just flying off.

Of course it’s extremely easy to look at the lack of maths round and laugh, but let’s not forget Le Mot Le Plus Long existed as a format that ran for five years before Armond Jammot added the “le Compte est bon” (the sum is right) element so it’s not like it was unheard of.

3 thoughts on “It’s the Countdown US Pilot

  1. Robin

    How does the assistant (was she even introduced?) know the letters? She is clearly isn’t looking at the front of the cards, and she often announces the letters while still raising them, which seems to be too fast to be seeing at them in a monitor. Could the cards be marked on the back, where the contestants can’t see it?

    1. Brekkie

      Yes, that baffles me second time around so either marked or a monitor in front of her. She did it rather effortlessly.

  2. Greg

    The wild letter is a fun addition.

    For me I was always more of a numbers guy so miss that. Also I find it very odd the clock goes anticlockwise


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