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A timeline for Season 5 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 14, 1987 through June 24, 1988.

September 1987[]

  • On an episode sometime this month (Sandy/Mark/Jim):
    • The Prize wedge is in a font different from the usual, similar in style to the MAD magazine logo.
    • The $200 by $550 is increased to $900.
    • Sandy sweeps the game and wins a Mazda in the Bonus Round.
    • By this episode, the pink wedges have become noticeably brighter.
  • According to one recollection, an episode sometime before the retirement of shopping has a puzzle of ONCE YOU BUY A PRIZE IT'S YOURS TO KEEP.
  • The week of September 21 features a Battle of the Sexes week. This would be the first special week done on the nighttime version. It is played in approximately the same way as those on the daytime version, with the Monday through Thursday shows each featuring either three men or three women competing. The top players of each sex return on Friday, with the winner playing the Bonus Round for $20,000.

October 1987[]

The $2,500 wedge (October 1987).

The $3,500 wedge (October 1987).

  • From about now until November 1988, most four-digit values on the chyron stop using commas.
  • October 5 (#S-796) begins the Big Month of Cash, a special format which eliminates the shopping rounds and has the contestants play for cash. Changes introduced on this episode include:
    • "I'm a Wheel Watcher", also used in commercials around this point, now plays when Vanna walks out. This song, performed by Kool & the Gang, is set to the tune of "Girl Watcher" by The O'Kaysions.
    • Games are now played to a minimum of four rounds. The templates for Rounds 2 and 3 are moved to Rounds 3 and 4 respectively, while the Round 1 template is now used for the first two rounds. As a result, Free Spin now remains for Round 2.
    • Top dollar values of $2,500 and $3,500 are introduced. These are both sparkly like the $5,000 wedge, and are respectively colored teal and magenta. The $2,500 wedge replaces $1,000 for Round 2, and the $3,500 wedge replaces the red $300 for Round 3.
    • The Round 2 prize is on the blue $150 two spaces to the left of Lose a Turn.
    • A second Prize wedge is added in Round 4. It is placed over the purple $150 if Rounds 3 and 4 are in the same segment and on the red $300 if Round 3 is in its own segment.
    • Commercial breaks now occur between Rounds 2 and 3, between Rounds 3 and 4, between the last round and the Bonus Round, and between the Bonus Round and Pat and Vanna's post-game chat. If time permits, some games advance Round 4 and its prize to the second segment, with the third segment introducing $5,000 in Round 5. This practice is abandoned in the early 1990s, most likely during Season 9.
    • The entire puzzle board is now shown during Speed-Up rounds. Previously, the shot of the board would be cropped as tightly as possible.
    • A dramatic orchestral cue called "I Remember the Child" accompanies Pat's rundown of the Bonus Round prizes.
    • Five (sometimes six) prizes are available in the Bonus Round: $25,000 cash, a car, and three or four other prizes which are changed out every week (and which typically use the shopping price tags to indicate their values). A neon blue-and-green $25,000 sign, in the shape of a parallelogram, represents the cash prize. If it is chosen, the sign lowers at the start of the round a timpani roll (recycled from the 1978-79 version of Jeopardy!) sounds as Jack says, "Solve the puzzle and you win good ol' American cash that adds up to $25,000."
    • The Bonus Round prize budget goes up considerably during this time, with luxury cars, cabin cruisers, sports cars, trips around the world, and RVs in regular rotation at this time. The prize budget returns to a more modest level at the start of Season 7.
    • The stage now has several rugs and turntables showing various (mostly nonexistent) Wheel layouts, used mostly to display prizes like cars and boats. This includes a smaller rug which Pat, Vanna, and the day's winner stand on at center stage during the credits. The turntables are active during the opening, car descriptions, and closing (unless the champion wins a car and the post-game chat and credits take place there).
    • For at least this month, the sponsor list begins with "The following companies have furnished prizes and/or paid a fee for their promotion on the program" in all-capital letters.
    • As it no longer applies, "gift certificates do not include sales tax" is removed from Jack's closing disclaimer.
    • Despite the retirement of shopping, the show retains at least one ceramic Dalmatian and sometimes brings one out for special occasions. By 2009, it is named "Sheldon".
  • On October 5 (John/Nancy/Peter):
    • Jack's intro is "The studio is buzzing today in anticipation of magnificent prizes and lots of money in this Month of Cash on Wheel of Fortune! And here's our host, who's also buzzing to tell us more about it: Pat Sajak!" During the intro, the puzzle board reads WHEEL OF FORTUNE on three lines, center-aligned (which had previously been, and continues to be, a hallmark of the show's merchandise). Jack's intro uses a slight echo effect. Also, neither the money graphic nor animated logo are used.
    • John accidentally asks to buy an owl in Round 4, to which Pat responds "We do not sell any birds on this show anymore."
    • The first four puzzles all have apostrophes in them, much to Pat's amusement.
    • Rounds 1, 2, and 5 are Phrase.
    • For possibly the last time on the nighttime show, the chroma-key Wheel shot is used during Pat and Vanna's sign-off.
  • By October 5, the category chyron now appears in the Speed-Up, a practice that appears to have been dropped in 1981.
    • Sometime after the above change, and most likely still within Season 5, contestant Bill guesses STYROFOAM HAT for the Speed-Up puzzle STYROFOAM CUP, a moment which has been seen in several retrospectives.
  • Most likely on October 6, the opening is mostly reverted to the original, albeit ending with "Plus thousands of dollars in cash! Over (amount) just waiting to be won, as we continue this special Big Month of Cash on Wheel of Fortune!", and Pat still walks out to center stage to explain the change. Rhonda/Patt/Jay and Mary Beth/Donna/Robin (which are believed to be from the week of October 12) are known to use this.
  • On Rhonda/Patt/Jay:
    • Jay sweeps the game and wins a Jaguar in the Bonus Round.
    • Quotation makes only its second known appearance in the Bonus Round (PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE).
    • Pat and Vanna do not sign off. Instead, the final segment begins with the fee plugs.
  • On October 13 (Mary Beth/Donna/Robin):
    • Following the final round, as Pat is describing the Bonus Round prizes to the winner, the puzzle board can be seen being wheeled off the set.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 3, People in Rounds 2 and 4.
    • Pat and Vanna do not sign off. Instead, the final segment begins with the fee plugs.
  • On both of the above episodes:
    • The "only vowels remain" beeps still sound eight times.
    • The Round 2 prize is placed on the $150 between $250 and $400.
    • "I Remember the Child" is still used.
  • By the above episodes, the Enterprises logo is altered: the background becomes yellow, and "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" is changed to "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION".

November 1987[]

  • On November 2, the changes from Big Month of Cash are made permanent, and it is now referred to as "Big Bonanza of Cash". Pat no longer walks out to center stage, and Jack's intro changes slightly to end with "as we continue by popular demand our Big Bonanza of Cash on Wheel of Fortune!" At least three episodes are known to use this opening: Geri/Chip/Betsy, Norm/Marci/Dean, and Deb/Art/Amy.
    • The daytime show retains the shopping rounds through Rolf Benirschke's last episode (June 30, 1989), while Pat continues to tell nighttime players "We're playing for cash" until about March 1997.
  • Most likely on November 2, the "only vowels remain" beeps are shortened from eight to four. They are known to be used on Norm/Marci/Dean and Deb/Art/Amy (the latter taped in October).
  • "I Remember the Child" is likely dropped on November 2. It is not used on any of the aforementioned episodes.
  • On Geri/Chip/Betsy and Norm/Marci/Dean, the Wheel layouts still look the same as they did on October 5. By Deb/Art/Amy, five changes are made:
    • The tan $600 in Round 1 increases to $900.
    • The pink $1,000 in Round 1 uses a narrower font (most noticeably the 1 and first 0).
    • The pink $500 and purple $250 near the light-blue $400 in Round 3 swap positions.
    • The yellow $1,000 in Round 3 uses a narrower font (most noticeably the 1 and first 0).
    • The yellow $1,500 in Round 4 uses a narrower font (most noticeably the 1 and 5).
  • From this point until the one-template layout is introduced in the third week of Season 14, $600 is absent from Rounds 1-2.
  • On Geri/Chip/Betsy:
    • Jack introduces Pat as "And here's your host: the delightful Pat Sajak!"
    • After the Speed-Up puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • When the winner's final total is shown after the Bonus Round, it does not use a comma, even though the values of the Wheel prizes do.
  • As of Geri/Chip/Betsy:
    • The Round 2 Prize is once again placed on the blue $150 two spaces to the left of Lose a Turn.
    • The sponsor list still uses the same wording as it did on October 5.
    • The eligibility disclaimer still uses the same wording as it did when the nighttime show began.
  • On Deb/Art/Amy:
    • Rounds 2-4 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • Deb wins despite losing $12,050 ($2,550 cash and a $9,500 fur coat) to Bankrupt in Round 4.
    • After the Speed-Up puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna promote the Doral Inn in New York City, at which they stayed (apparently during a contestant search).
    • "HOTEL ACCOMODATIONS AND INTERVIEW FACILITIES WHILE IN NEW YORK PROVIDED BY DORAL INN" appears between the eligibility disclaimer and Vanna's wardrobe credit, on five lines over a shot of Pat, Vanna and Deb at center stage. "ACCOMMODATIONS" is misspelled.
  • By Deb/Art/Amy or Jean/Kathy/John, whichever is later:
    • Full credit rolls now have headers in blue and names in yellow.
    • The sponsor list now begins with "The following have paid and/or furnished prizes to the production company for promoting their products".
  • On November 13 (taped September 21) (Jean/Kathy/John):
    • The intro still contains the phrase "as we continue by popular demand our Big Bonanza of Cash".
    • The Round 1 puzzle FRONT PAGE NEWS is grammatically incorrect ("front-page" should be hyphenated).
    • No vowels are bought in Rounds 2 or 5.
    • The Round 4 Prize is a $9,663 Mercury Tracer.
    • Although five rounds are played, with Rounds 3 and 4 in the same segment, the second Prize is still added in Round 4.
    • Somewhat unusually, only Thing and Phrase are used in the maingame; even more unusually, the Bonus Round is Occupation.
    • Kathy sweeps the game and wins a Cadillac Allanté in the Bonus Round.
    • All of the puzzles are very short, with all of the maingame puzzles ranging from 13 to 16 letters and the bonus puzzle (PARKING LOT ATTENDANT) being the longest at 19 letters. As a result, this is the only known instance since the retirement of shopping where the bonus puzzle is the longest one.
  • Later this month, Jack's opening spiel is slightly changed to end with "...as we present our Big Bonanza of Cash on Wheel of Fortune!"
  • On an episode from November or December (Norm/Dianne/Linda):
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 2, Thing in Rounds 3, 4, and the Bonus Round.
    • The values of the Wheel Prizes do not use commas, but the Bonus Round prize and the winner's final total do.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 2.
    • After the Speed-Up puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • Dianne chooses to play for a $39,792 RV and wins it. This may well be first time a contestant forgoes both the cash and car in the Bonus Round during the Big Month/Bonanza of Cash.
  • On another episode from the above period (Sheila/Greg/Dick, known to have been rerun February 18, 1989):
    • Pat jokes at the top of the show that he forgot to put on a belt because he was talking to Bob Murphy, then-president of Merv Griffin Enterprises.
    • The Round 2 Prize is erroneously placed on the other blue $150 (between $250 and $400).
    • During the post-game chat, Pat deliberately lets his pants fall down (in reference to the above joke), causing Jack to laugh as he begins the fee plugs.

December 1987[]

  • On December 1 (Joseph/Stacey/Jennie):
    • No vowels are bought in Rounds 1 or 4.
    • Rounds 3, 4, and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • Nine turns are lost in Round 1, including seven consecutive wrong letters, and a streak of eight consecutive lost turns.
    • When Joseph solves the Round 2 puzzle, his scoreboard is not updated to include the value of the Wheel prize he won that round.
    • After Jennie solves the Round 3 puzzle, her scoreboard is accidentally blanked out along with the other two players' displays.
    • After Joseph hits Bankrupt in Round 4, Pat leans over to remove the Prize wedge from his arrow himself, as opposed to asking him to hand it to him as usual.
    • After the Round 4 puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • During the final segment, Pat and Vanna show pictures of a fishing trip they took together in Hawaii.
  • As of the above episode, the beginning of the sponsor list is still set in all-capital letters.
  • On December 3 (Norm/Marci/Dean):
    • In an unusual move, both Wheel Prizes are mentioned in the intro. (The other is a jet ski valued at $6,525.)
    • Rounds 1, 3, and 4 are Phrase.
    • There is a streak of seven consecutive lost turns in Round 2.
    • The Round 4 Prize is a chinchilla coat worth $12,500. It is claimed, but not won.
    • After the Round 4 puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • Dean sweeps the game and wins a $37,184 Mercedes-Benz 190E in the Bonus Round, and setting a nighttime winnings record of $74,834.
    • Dean solves the bonus puzzle JANE EYRE (Title) just after the buzzer begins to sound. Despite his answer clearly being a loss, Pat asks for a ruling, and an offstage voice (possibly Nancy Jones) can be heard saying "yes" before he is declared a winner.
  • On December 17 (Eileen/Peggy/Paul):
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Rounds 1, 2, and 4 are Phrase.
  • As of December 17 (or the above episode, whichever is later):
    • The money graphic is still in the center of the screen.
    • The eligibility disclaimer still uses the same wording as it did when the nighttime show began.
    • The sponsor list is altered to only have the T in "The" in upper-case
  • Reruns air during the week of December 28.

January 1988[]

  • Suzie/Jay/Lorie airs sometime between January 4 and February 5.
  • By the above episode:
    • The money graphic begins to be shown at or near the bottom of the screen.
    • The Prize wedge lettering becomes shorter (more "squished") than usual.
  • On January 28 (Rick/Julie/Gretchen):
    • The Wheel's automation can be heard during the opening.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 2 and 4, Thing in Round 3 and the Bonus Round.
    • After Round 1, as Pat is throwing to Jack for the Round 2 Prize plug, the blue contestant backdrop shows a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • After Julie hits Bankrupt in Round 2, Pat walks over to remove the Prize wedge from her arrow himself, as opposed to asking her to pass it to him as usual.
    • The game ends in a tie, which is broken by a second Speed-Up played by the tied contestants in the segment normally occupied by the Bonus Round. As a result, the Bonus Round and sign-off are both in the last segment, the first of only two known instances of this happening after the retirement of shopping.
    • The bonus puzzle SKI SEASON is inexplicably categorized as Thing instead of Event.
    • As Pat, Vanna, and the day's winner sign off after the Bonus Round, the Wheel can be seen starting its automation.
    • Following Jack's "prices of the prizes" closing disclaimer, he states that "This program was edited for broadcast."
  • From about January 31-April 30, Acme Supermarkets promotes a special Acme Wheel of Fortune game in which shoppers can receive game cards that award over $4,000,000 in cash and prizes including food, gift certificates, and $5,000 in cash (promoted with footage of the Wheel stopping on said space). The ads use clips from the show and a rendition of "Changing Keys" played on trumpets, somewhat resembling the 1994 rearrangement of the theme.

February 1988[]

  • On February 8, the Enterprises logo replaces "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION" with "A unit of Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc."
  • On February 12 (Hank/Nancy/Becky):
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are Title.
    • Becky solves the Speed-Up puzzle ARE YOU THINKING WHAT I'M THINKING with only the T's and N's showing.
  • As of February 12, the "Big Bonanza" title and opening are still in use.
  • On February 26 (Marj/Paula/Denia, taped January 12), Denia sweeps the game and wins $25,000 in the Bonus Round.
  • On an episode sometime this month (Michael/Tracy/Vicky):
    • The Round 2 puzzle IN THIS BUSINESS IT'S DOG-EAT-DOG has an apostrophe and two hyphens, tying the record for the most known punctuation used in the trilon era (barring Fill In the Blank puzzles) until September 1994.
    • Six rounds are played, with $5,000 introduced in Round 5.
    • Michael sweeps the game and wins a Maserati in the Bonus Round.

March 1988[]

  • By March 16 (Rita/Malinda/Cheryl), "as we present our Big Bonanza of Cash" is removed from the intro.
  • As of March 16, Free Spin is still present in Round 2.
  • By March 17, the $2,500 and $3,500 are changed to a thin and "off-model" font, a change that remains for the rest of the season.
Thin Font $3,500 1988.png
  • On March 17 (Lori/Marion/Becky):
    • Six rounds are played, with Round 3 in its own segment. Round 6 is also in its own segment, and the Bonus Round is played in the final segment. This is the second of only two known times after the retirement of shopping that the Bonus Round is played in this fashion.
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.
    • The bonus puzzle L A LAW (Title) is the shortest known bonus puzzle in the five-and-a-vowel era; however, one unconfirmed recollection claims that CHER was used as a bonus puzzle sometime in the shopping era.
    • Lori gets no help from her letter choices in the Bonus Round, the only known instance of this happening under five-and-a-vowel rules.
  • As of March 23 (Barbara/Laura/Marc), the money graphic is still shown at the bottom of the screen.

April 1988[]

  • Reruns air during the week of April 4.
  • By April 25:
    • Free Spin reverts to only being present in Round 1, with a yellow $300 replacing it for Round 2. This $300 wedge is "off-model", using the same thin font as $3,500.
      $300 yellow.png
    • $2,500 is also changed to the same font as the "off-model" $3,500 for the rest of the season.
      Thin Font $2,500 1988.png
  • On an episode from April 25 or 27 (Linda/Dorothea/Michael):
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1, 2, and 4, People in Round 3 and Person in Round 5.
    • All of the puzzles are unusually short, with Round 2 (WHAT ARE YOUR SYMPTOMS) and Round 4 (TALKING A MILE A MINUTE) being the longest at only 19 letters each.
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Lose a Turn.
  • On April 28 (Jan/Peter/Phil):
    • Pat mentions that some "guests from Denmark" are in the audience.
    • Jan's and Phil's hometowns are never mentioned.
    • Six rounds are played, with Rounds 3 and 4 in the same segment; unlike on March 17, the Bonus Round and sign-off are paced normally, suggesting that March 17's unusual pacing was a one-time fluke.
    • For the first of only three known times, there are three sets of repeated categories: Rounds 1 and 6 are Phrase, Rounds 4 and 5 are Thing(s), and Round 3 and the Bonus Round are Person.
    • The Round 4 Prize is a $10,292 travel trailer. It is not picked up.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 4.
    • Vanna begins to turn the hyphen in Round 6 before it is lit up, but she catches herself.
    • The shot of the Speed-Up puzzle is cropped as tightly as possible, a practice that was abandoned at the beginning of this season.
    • In the final segment, Pat has two of the stagehands raise and lower the $25,000 sign.
  • As of the above episode:
    • $3,500 is still using the same font as the "off-model" $300.
    • The shorter Prize wedge lettering is still present. The lettering returns to normal by the start of Season 6.
  • On April 29 (Debra/Christi/Diane), Free Spin is present in Round 2.

May-June 1988[]

  • On May 2, taped March 25 (Brauna/Harry/Julie):
    • Rounds 1, 4, and the Bonus Round are Phrase.
    • The Round 4 Prize is a $15,254 Dodge Colt Vista van.
    • There is a noticeable edit during the Prize copy; while Vanna is modeling the van, her hand abruptly changes position and there is an audio splice before Jack states the value.
    • Unusually, when Jack announces the Bonus Round Prize (a Corvette Roadster), there is a blue ring around the shot of it on the turntable.
  • For at least May 5 (Gerri/Maria/Kevin), taped March 25, Free Spin is replaced by an "off-model" $200 in Round 2; this wedge uses the same color and font as the "off-model" $300. This results in a very awkward layout, with two adjacent $200s and a third only two wedges away.

    Awkward, much?

  • On May 5:
    • The "off-model" $200 (see below) is accidentally present on the Wheel from the chant through Pat's opening spin.
    • Kevin sweeps the game but loses a Corvette in the Bonus Round.
    • At the end of the show, Vanna gets into a pool on-set and soaks her dress. She stands up, only to realize that her dress has become transparent.
    • The money graphic returns to the center of the screen.
  • On May 6, Jack announces for the last time; Charlie O'Donnell fills in for the rest of the season.
  • Sometime this month, a College Week is held. During this week:
    • Before Charlie introduces Pat, there is a shot of the contestants waving from the puzzle board (which reads COLLEGE WEEK) and holding signs for their colleges.
  • On an episode from the above week (David/Eugene/Ken), which was rerun on July 29:
    • Vanna wears a sweater and pants.
    • Three males play.
    • When Eugene calls an incorrect T in Round 1, the buzzer does not sound until after Ken starts to spin.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Before Round 3, each contestant gives a presentation on their respective university, accompanied by pictures of the campus.
  • On another episode from the above week (Lynne/Lolita/Eugene):
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are Title, while Round 3 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • For no particular reason, the "only vowels remain" beeps sound twice in Round 4.
    • Neither Bankrupt nor Lose a Turn is hit.
  • On June 6 (Donna/Jack/Marci):
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Things in Rounds 1 and 2, Phrase in Rounds 3 and 5.
    • The Round 4 puzzle IVY LEAGUE COLLEGE is a rare maingame puzzle with none of the five most common consonants.
    • Donna's mother, Joy Wyse, later appears as a contestant in early 1989 and wins a pair of Toyotas.

Post-Season[]

  • The Summer reruns begin with Jack reading newly-recorded fee plugs, but he quickly becomes too ill to do even those. As a result, Pat and Vanna do the new fee plugs for the rest of the summer, and at least one rerun during the weekend feed sometime in Season 6.
  • On the July 20 rerun airing of Suzie/Jay/Lorie, the replacement fee plugs are done by a noticeably ill-sounding Jack.
  • On July 21, Jack dies.
  • On July 27, that day's rerun on WEWS in Cleveland is interrupted around the 20-minute mark by a Jimmy Carter campaign ad from 1976, which runs for about 15 seconds before switching back to Wheel.
  • Beginning on August 31, owners of the Mattel game can play along with the in-show puzzles.
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