Hosts
Jack Narz (1973–1975)
Jack Clark (1985)
Chuck Henry (1989)
Announcers
Johnny Olson (1973–1975)
Gene Wood (1974 (sub), 1985)
Mark Driscoll (April 1989)
Don Morrow (May–July 1989)
Broadcast
Nysi74.jpg
Pilot: 10/1973
CBS Daytime: 4/1/1974 – 6/13/1975
Nysi85logo.jpg
Unsold Pilots for Daily Syndication: 10/19/1985
Now You See It 1989.jpg
Pilot: 10/1988
CBS Daytime: 4/3/1989 – 7/14/1989
Packagers
Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1973–1975)
Mark Goodson Productions (1985, 1988–1989)
Distributor (1985, planned)
Television Program Source

Now You See It was a game show based on Wordsearch where contestants had to find words hidden in a jumbled board of letters. The words were all answers to questions.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

The main game principle was based on the word search concept. The main game boards in all versions of Now You See It had four rows ("lines") with 14 letters of the alphabet ("positions") in each row. The host read general-knowledge trivia questions with single-word answers that were concealed within the jumble of letters on the board for that round. The answers on the board were always written horizontally from left to right.

Although the premise of the show remained the same, the main game was played differently on each version of the show.

1974–1975 version[edit | edit source]

The original run used two formats during its run.

Format #1[edit | edit source]

Elimination Round[edit | edit source]

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 Round, was played on an electronic game board on the opposite side of the stage from the contestant desks. The board consisted of four numbered lines, with fourteen letters in each line. The letters were referred to as "positions" for scoring purposes. The board was shown to the contestants momentarily, then quickly turned off before any of them could fully memorize it.

To start the round, the "outside" contestants turned their backs to the board as Narz read a question. The first "inside" contestant to buzz in would say which line the correct answer appeared on. If the correct line was given, it remained lit and the "outside" contestant for that team turned around to give the position of the first letter of the word, then give the answer that Narz was looking for; the entire response would therefore be in the form of "Line x, Position y, (word)." If the wrong line was guessed, the other team got a free guess.

Words were not scored by length. Instead, the position of the word's first letter was added to the number of the line it was on to determine a team's score. For instance, a word that started in the first position of the first line (Line 1, Position 1) would be worth two points, whereas a word on the same line but with the first letter in the eighth position (Line 1, Position 8) would be worth nine points. Halfway through the round, a bell would ring and the teammates would switch seats. This occurred after six questions had been asked, after another six were asked, the bell rang again and the team that was in the lead when it rang the second time won the Elimination Round.

Semi-Finals[edit | edit source]

The winning team advanced to the Semi-Finals, where they competed against each other for the right to play in the Finals. In this portion of the game, a second board with sixteen positions was used.[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." The contestants could buzz in at any time if they felt they knew the answer. If a contestant buzzed in and gave an incorrect answer, the opponent was given a free guess. If he/she too came up with a wrong answer, play continued until either one of the contestants guessed the word, at which point all of its remaining letters were revealed, or only one letter was left in the word, at which point it would be revealed if neither of the contestants got it. The next word's clue was then given, and more letters were added, the start of each new word always overlapped the end of the previous one by at least one letter. If the row became too full to accommodate any more words, it was cleared before the next clue was read.

Whoever guessed four words correctly won the round and a prize package, in addition to moving on to face the champion. During the first two weeks, no prize package was given to the winner. Also, during the third week, it took five words to win the round; this would become permanent when the second format was introduced.

Finals[edit | edit source]

The Finals was played the same way as the Elimination Round, except with single contestants. The contestant who had more points when time ran out won the game and played the Solo Game for a chance at a cash jackpot. In the first show of the series, in the finals, the contestant who scored blocked the other contestant and would be allowed to keep answering questions until he/she missed one. If the other contestant then guessed right, that person took control. If both contestants missed the answer, the next question was a toss-up to determine control. After the first episode, this format was abandoned and all words were played as toss-ups.

Bonus Words[edit | edit source]

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 on an index card at the beginning of each half of the Elimination Round and the Finals. A contestant or team would earn 10 bonus points if they correctly answered a question with one of their "bonus words." The contestant had to reveal his/her bonus word immediately upon using it in order to score the points.

Format #2[edit | edit source]

Beginning on December 23, 1974, and for the rest of the show's run, the format of the main game was changed. The Elimination Round was dropped altogether, and the team format went with it. Now, two new contestants began each game playing the Qualifying Round, which was similar to the previous format's semi-finals with the exception that five words were required to win the round instead of four.

The winner of the Qualifying Round played the day's returning champion in the renamed Championship Round, which kept the same line/position form of scoring. However, instead of being a race against time, the Championship Round was a race to achieve a score of one hundred points. The normal scoring format was used until someone reached fifty points. Once that happened, the bell rang to indicate it and each word played after that was worth double the points. Whoever reached 100 points won the game and the championship and got to play the Solo Game for the jackpot.

The change in format meant that episodes of Now You See It were no longer self-contained and could straddle between episodes, and an episode could end with a game in progress that would have to be continued on the next program.

Contestant Area[edit | edit source]

Though not acknowledged on the air, the contestant area was split into two colors: green & blue. Each side had a giant triangular side which lit up in neon lights when somebody rung-in; plus, it had matching scoreboards and ring-in boxes (the boxes were removed when the second format came into fruition). During the Championship round, the champion sat in the green position and the challenger sat in the blue position (sometimes the positions were the other way around during some of the first format); as a side note the lady players from the first show wore dresses that matched their backdrops. It was also a two-leveled area with the second level dubbed the "Champion's Gallery" where the returning champion sat until the final round.

1985 Pilot[edit | edit source]

Two teams of two players competed for the whole show.

Round 1[edit | edit source]

During the first round, one partner was given a word to define (much like The $25,000 Pyramid) and then hit a button revealing the board to the partner, the partner then had to find that word on the board. They had 15 seconds total to define and find the word. The clock stopped when the correct line was chosen. If successful, the team earned as many points as there were seconds left on the clock (e.g., eight points if there were eight seconds left). Each team played four words, with the team in the lead earning 20 bonus points.

Round 2[edit | edit source]

In the second round, the host read clues to words on a new board, and the first contestant to buzz in and correctly identify that word earned 20 points. The first team to reach 100 points won the game and chose one player to play the solo round. After that, the players on both teams switched positions and played another game.

1989 version[edit | edit source]

Like the second portion of the original run, the 1989 edition of Now You See It pitted two competitors in a qualifying round to determine who would advance to the championship round to face the returning champion (or a champion-designate if there was no returning champion). The game, however, was conducted in a different manner. The most notable change was that made to the scoring system, as the contestants no longer had to name the correct line and position to score. Instead, the contestants only had to name the line, and then the word. There was also no physical game board as there had been on the previous series, with the producers opting instead for a computer generated game board.

Qualifying Round[edit | edit source]

The qualifying round was played in two parts. In the first part, a clue to the word was given. The point value for the word decreased by five points from a starting value of 100 for every third of a second no one rang in. If the value reached 25 points, host Chuck Henry would tell the contestants what line the word was on. In the second part of the round, a new board was played and the point values doubled. In later episodes, the second part of the round started at 100 points. The point valued doubled when time was running out in the round. The first contestant to reach 1,000 points advanced to the championship round while the losing contestant went home with parting gifts.

Team Celebrity Shows[edit | edit source]

On team celebrity shows (since there were four teams of two stars competing), each pair of teams played their own board. The rules remained the same except that points were doubled after the first three questions, and it took 500 points to go to the championship round, which only one member of each team could play.

Championship Round[edit | edit source]

In the championship round each board was worth money, beginning at $200 and increasing by $100 for each additional board until someone won the game. Each board had a specific category for it and six words fitting that category on it. The first contestant to buzz in and correctly locate one of the six words was given twenty seconds to find the other five words. Doing so won the value of the board, but if the contestant could not do this the opposing contestant got a chance to steal by finding just one of the remaining words within five seconds. Doing so won the opponent the money attached to the board; otherwise, the money stayed with the first contestant.

The round continued until one of the contestants reached $1,000. The first contestant to get there became champion, kept the money, and advanced to the Solo Game.


With this change in format, games could no longer straddle between episodes.

Solo Game[edit | edit source]

In the Solo Game, the champion was given sixty seconds to find ten words on a brand new board. The champion viewed the board on a telestrator screen. On the original version, the Solo Game board now had 16 letters per row, and the screen was embedded in Jack Narz's podium. On the 1985 pilot and the revival series, a separate podium was used and, as in the rest of the show, the board was computer-generated. Although the pilot Solo board retained the original show's 4-by-16 letter layout, the revival's Solo board was the same 4-by-14-letter size used in the main games.

After each clue was given, the contestant sought out the word and circled it with an electronic pencil on the screen once he/she found it. Passing was allowed if a contestant got stuck on a word, and if time permitted the champion could play those words again once all ten clues were given. Finding all ten words before time ran out won the contestant the jackpot. If not, $100 was given for each word that had been found before time expired.

Cash Jackpots[edit | edit source]

Here are the cash jackpots for each version:

Version Jackpot
1974-1975 $5,000 + $1,000 for each non-win, up to $25,000. (The highest won was $21,000.)
1985 Pilots A flat $5,000 for the first Solo Game, a total of $10,000 for the second Solo Game.
1989 $5,000 + $5,000 for each non-win, up to $75,000. (The highest won was $50,000.)

Championship Formats[edit | edit source]

In the Narz version, a returning champion would immediately retire after winning the jackpot, thus making the player they beat in the finals/championship round (the semi-finals/qualifying round should the returning champion be defeated) the designated champion for the next game. In the 1989 version, a returning champion would return a maximum of 5 days (regardless of how many jackpots he/she won), unless he/she won a total of $75,000 or more, in which the champion was forced to retire.

Merchandise[edit | edit source]

A board game was released by Milton Bradley in 1975. Gameplay was adapted from Format #2 of the original version so that 3 or 4 players could play alternating as MC, contestant, or returning champion (4-player version only).

A computer game based on the 1989 version was released by GameTek in 1990.

International Versions[edit | edit source]

Countries that have had their own versions of Now You See It include:

  • Australia
  • Indonesia
  • United Kingdom

Episode Status[edit | edit source]

Both runs are intact. The Jack Narz run has been rerun on GSN and Buzzr.

Even though GSN/Buzzr has the tapes for the Chuck Henry version, they have not been reshown. In GSN's case, it was simply because nobody responsible for programming was interested in airing the 1989 series. Additionally, this was also rumored by Henry himself to request GSN by not airing his run of NYSI because according to him "It could harm his credibility in the news business".

Rating[edit | edit source]

72px-TV-G icon svg.png

Music[edit | edit source]

Main - "Chump Change" by Quincy Jones
Commercial (1970s) - by Edd Kalehoff

The main was also used on the pilot episodes of Blank Check.

The 1970s version used the consolation prize vamp cue from The Price is Right for the ticket and fee plugs.

The commercial cue would later be used as the main theme on the British and Australian versions in the 1980s.

Inventors[edit | edit source]

Frank Wayne, Mark Goodson, and Bill Todman

Studios[edit | edit source]

CBS Television City, Hollywood, CA (1973-1975, 1988-1989)
ABC Television Center, Hollywood, CA (1985)

Additional Pages[edit | edit source]

Now You See It/Quotes & Catchphrases
Now You See It/Gallery

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Now You See It premiere, 1974.

Links[edit | edit source]

Rules for Now You See It @ Loogslair.net
Chuck Donegan's Now You See It Rules Page
Curt Alliaume's Now You See It Page
Travis Eberle's Now You See It Rules Page
Screengrabs of Now You See It '89
Rules for the 1985 Now You See It Pilot
1985 Now You See It Pilot @ usgameshows.net
Rules for Now You See It @ The Game Show Temple
PC Edition of game playable online through Archive.org

YouTube Videos[edit | edit source]

1974-75[edit | edit source]

Rosemary Dirkson wins $17,000!
Sally Lewis wins $21,000!

1985[edit | edit source]

Pilot #2, in full

1989[edit | edit source]

Amanda's $25,000 win!
Dave's $25,000 win!
The $50,000 win!
Wacky moments from the Finale
More wacky moments from the Finale, plus a $35,000 win!

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