Chain Reaction (partially found Bob Stewart game show; 1980)

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Status: Partially Found

Chain Reaction is an American game show that was created by Bob Stewart and aired on NBC for only 5 months in early 1980. It's a word game similar to Password (another show created by Stewart) but where one word leads to another. While the show only lasted only 23 weeks from January to June 1980, it has been revival several times throughout the decades with the current one airing on Game Show Network since February 2021. While the other versions of the show are widely available online, the original NBC run is far less lucky with under half of the show being available online.

Format[edit | edit source]

Two teams of two celebrities and one contestant try and complete a chain of eight words (sometimes the chain includes phrases). A correct guess at the chosen word in the chain awards the team the number of points determined by how many letters the chosen word is (sometimes if the word has a + next to it, the score doubles), an incorrect guess passes the control of the chain to the other team. The first team to get to 50 points, wins the game and goes onto the bonus round.

The bonus round is somewhat similar to the front game but different, instead of a eight word chain, the two celebrities form a sentence (one word at a time), which acts as a question to the contestant to guess what word or phrase the celebrities are asking about. The question ends when either celebrity rings a bell and that would be the contestant's cue to answer. A correct answer adds a zero to the teams bank (one correct answers banks $1, two correct banks $10, three banks $100, four banks $1,000, next four correct banks an additional $1,000 and the ninth scores them $10,000). If they didn't say the correct word, the celebrities would have the option to pass or form a new question, they have 90 seconds to bank $10,000. This format for the bonus round would only last four weeks, the format for the first week of the series is the team starts at $1 and had a 60-second time limit. Each correct response added one half of a zero behind the $1, meaning that after two correct responses the player would win $10, after four the player would win $100, and so on up to the $10,000 maximum. For the final 18 weeks of the show's run, a correct answer awards the team $100 and nine correct answers awards them $10,000.[1][2]

Episodes[edit | edit source]

# Celebrities Airdates Status Notes
1 Patty Duke-Astin, Joyce Bulifant, Fred Grandy, Nipsey Russell January 14-18, 1980 Partially Found January 14 premiere exists in full January 18 episode exists in full
2 Joyce Bulifant, Didi Conn, Jay Johnson, Robert Mandan January 21-25, 1980 Found January 21 exists in full January 22 episode exists in full January 23 episode exists in full January 24 episode exists in full January 25 episode exists in full
3 Elaine Joyce, Vicki Lawrence, Nipsey Russell, Richard Paul January 28-February 1, 1980 Found January 28 episode exists in full January 29 episode exists in full January 30 episode exists in full

January 31 episode exists in full February 1 episode exists in full

4 Joanna Gleason, Jo Anne Worley, Michael McKean, Richard Paul February 4-8, 1980 Partially Lost February 4 episode exists in full February 5 episode exists in full

February 7 episode exists in full

5 Peggy Cass, Shelley Smith, Fred Grandy, Robert Mandan February 11-15, 1980 Partially Lost February 11 episode exists in full February 12 episode exists in full

February 13 episode exists in full February 14 episode exists in full

6 Lois Nettleton, Debralee Scott, Jay Johnson, Soupy Sales February 18-22, 1980 Found February 18 episode exists in full February 19 episode exists in full

February 20 episode exists in full February 21 episode exists in full February 22 episode exists in full

7 Anita Gillette, Lois Nettleton, Soupy Sales, Bart Braverman February 25-29, 1980 Partially Found February 25 episode exists in full

February 26 episode exists in full

8 Joanna Gleason, Debralee Scott, Robert Mandan, Robert Walden March 3-7, 1980 Partially Lost March 3 episode exists in full

March 4 episode exists in full March 6 episode exists in full March 7 episode exists in full

9 Betty White, Anita Gillette, Allen Ludden, Brian Patrick-Clarke March 10-14, 1980 Partially Found March 10 episode exists in full March 14 episode exists in full
10 Anita Gillette, Gina Hecht, Fred Grandy, Nipsey Russell March 17-21, 1980 Partially Found March 18 episode exists in full March 21 episode exists in full
11 Joanna Gleason, Patty Duke-Astin, Nipsey Russell, Brian Patrick-Clarke March 24-28, 1980 Partially Found March 24 episode exists in full
12 Joyce Bulifant, Judy Norton-Taylor, Robert Pine, Jay Johnson March 31-April 4, 1980 Lost
13 Gina Hecht, Vicki Lawrence, Jack Carter, Wesley Eure April 7-11, 1980 Partially Found April 7 episode exists in full April 8 episode exists in full
14 Constance McCashin, Jo Anne Worley, Robert Walden, Richard Paul April 14-18, 1980 Lost
15 Didi Conn, Elaine Joyce, Robert Mandan, Ken Kercheval April 21-25, 1980 Lost
16 Susan Richardson, Betty White, Daryl Anderson, Jay Johnson April 28-May 2, 1980 Partially Found May 2 episode exists in full
17 Sharon Spelman, Jo Anne Worley, Sal Viscuso, Steve Kanaly May 5-9, 1980 Partially Found May 7 episode exists in full
18 Judy Norton-Taylor, Anita Gillette, Richard Paul, Ken Kercheval May 12-16, 1980 Lost
19 Anita Gillette, Vicki Lawrence, Wesley Eure, Ron Silver May 19-23, 1980 Lost
20 Sharon Spelman, Laurie Walters, Brian Patrick-Clarke, Nipsey Russell May 26-30, 1980 Lost
21 Gina Hecht, Alison Arngrim, Daryl Anderson, Nipsey Russell June 2-6, 1980 Lost
22 Vicki Lawrence, Judy Norton-Taylor, Richard Paul, Robert Mandan June 9-13, 1980 Lost
23 Joyce Bulifant, Betty White, Jay Johnson, Ron Silver June 16-20, 1980 Partially Found June 20 finale exists in full


Cancellation[edit | edit source]

The show was cancelled in June 1980 after 115 episodes, but it was almost spared. The chairman of NBC daytime at the time was Fred Silverman and he wanted to do a 90-minute talk show with comedian David Letterman simply called "The David Letterman Show"[4]. Before the show went into production, three game shows from NBC's daytime lineup were gonna be cancelled to make way for The David Letterman Show, the shows being Hollywood Squares, High Rollers and Wheel Of Fortune[5]. However it was announced on May 7th that Wheel Of Fortune was not cancelled[6] and Chain Reaction was now gonna be the third show to be cancelled alongside Hollywood Squares and High Rollers[7] and all three of those shows met their fate on June 20, 1980[8].

Availability[edit | edit source]

Despite the show's swift cancellation, it has been reran a lot on several cable networks like CBN, USA network and Game Show Network[9]. Recordings from these reruns have appeared online over the years. Game Show Network skipped 13 episodes when they reran the show in the late 1990s and those episodes have become very rare to come by with recordings of CBN and USA airings of the skipped episodes being very hard to find[10]. Since the series has been reran a lot of times in the years since it's cancellation, it has cause speculation that the show maybe one of the few shows to have aired on NBC with it's run still intact since NBC would discontinue their practice of wiping tapes around the time of Chain Reaction's run, but this remains to be seen.

References[edit | edit source]