"Live, coast to coast, America plays Paranoia! You're playing from satellite cameras in living rooms around the country. You're connected by internet and by telephone. You're all battling one studio contestant. Paranoia, it starts now!"
Rest of opening (Premiere):
"Yes, this is Paranoia and I'm Peter Tomarken, coming to you live coast to coast with the most incredible game and the most incredible environment you have ever seen. It's an environment that can produce up to one thing, and that is all you folks out there playing our game. We got people gonna play live from the phone, live on the internet, and playing via satellite and they have all one thing in common: To try to make our in-studio contestant paranoid."
Paranoia was an interactive phone-in show where a contestant competed against phone-in players.
One contestant faced three at home players connected via satellite. The object of the satellite players was to make the in-studio contestant paranoid (hence the name of the show). The studio contestant was given $10,000 to start, and his/her objective was to keep as much of it as possible.
Host Tomarken asked a multiple-choice question to the studio contestant, in which a correct answer kept all the money he/she had; if the contestant got it wrong, that he/she lost $1,000. Whatever the outcome, after the studio contestant answered the question, he/she challenged one of the three satellite players to answer the same question. If the satellite player in control answered the question correctly, he/she won $1,000 from the studio contestant; if the satellite player got it wrong, no money was taken and that player got a strike. It took two strikes to eliminate a satellite player from the game, however, that player kept any and all cash accumulated.
Before the game started, the studio player was given two cards to help him/her in game playing, but it cost money to use any one of those cards.
- Swap Out – This gave the contestant the right to trade off one satellite contestant of his/her choosing for another at the cost of $1,000.
- Knock Out – This gave the contestant the right to knock off any one satellite contestant of his/her choosing immediately at the cost of $3,000.
Play continued until the studio player had no more money left, 10 questions were played, or if the three satellite players were knocked out of the game. If the studio player ran out of money, the studio player lost and the satellite player with the most money was invited to play a future game in the studio; if all three satellite players were eliminated or the studio player made it past all 10 questions, he/she won the game and kept all the cash leftover. Upon winning the game, the studio player would also win an interactive cash jackpot which started at $5,000 and decreased by $50 each time any one of five online players & five phone players (10 altogether) got the question right. So a maximum prize of $15,000 was up for grabs for the studio contestant.
The winning contestant also won a chance to play a bonus question to increase that player's total. Ten categories were displayed before the contestant. Nine of them would multiply the contestant's winnings by 10, but the one remaining category would multiply the winnings by 100. So the maximum possible grand total for any studio player would be $1,500,000. The player would choose a category, and then 10 or 100 times the player's total would be revealed (indicating how much the contestant was playing for). Then Peter posed the question under that category after which the player had 15 seconds to answer the question. The player's heart rate would be shown during that time. A correct answer won 10 or 100 times the amount, but an incorrect answer did nothing.