Hit Man (partially found Jay Wolpert game show and other media; 1982-1989)

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Promo6.jpg

Production photo of a game in progress

Status: Partially Found

Hit Man was an American game show that was created by former Jeopardy! champion Jay Wolpert. It aired for three months in early 1983 on NBC and premiered alongside two other game shows, Just Men! and a revival of Sale Of The Century. It was hosted by Peter Tomarken (in his first hosting gig) and announced by Rod Roddy[1] (who would later be known as the voice of The Price Is Right for 17 years), the two would later collaborate on the Bill Carruthers, Jan McCormack game show Press Your Luck just six months after Hit Man ended[2]. The show wasn't a ratings success as other shows on the network's daytime lineup and was cancelled after 65 episodes. The show has developed a cult following in the years since it's short-lived run much like Wolpert's previous show Whew! (which was also short-lived, but had more episodes than Hit Man).

Format[edit | edit source]

Four contestants compete in a quiz based around memory and instant recall. The first round begins with a short film about the round's topic being shown to three contestants. Tomarken would ask the contestants questions relating to the short film's subject and the first one to buzz in with the correct answer, their cartoon character (referred to as "hit man") would move a step up a ladder displayed behind the contestant, while a wrong answer would lock the contestant out of the next question. The first two contestants to make it up their ladders would advance to the next round.

The contestants for the next round are now made up of the two winning contestants from the previous round and the returning champion from the previous episode. The next round also starts with a short film about a topic being shown to the contestants and the questions that will be asked by Tomarken relate to the short film's topic. However instead of a ladder, the contestants now have their own army of "hit men" (number of which is determine by who came in first and second in the previous round and the champion's number of hit men is seven) and the object is to eliminate the two other players from the round by answering questions given to the contestants by Tomarken. The player who came in first place in the previous round gets to choose which player they like to face off against. A correct answer from the player that buzzed in eliminates the other player's hit man and a wrong answer eliminates the player's own hit man. A contestant is eliminated from the round if they are out of hit men. The last player standing goes onto the Triple Crown.

In the Triple Crown, the winning contestant has 60 seconds to get as many correct answers as they can. The questions this time will be a mix of the topics the player was shown in the previous two rounds. The contestant is back against as a game board with eight columns with a varying number of circles displayed in each one. The number of circles display in each column will be randomized and the present number of circles in that column will be the number of correct answers the player has to get to win the column. If they answer the required questions in that column, it displays a crown and the player gets $1,000. A second column claimed displays another crown and awards the player $5,000. Finally a third column claimed displays one final crown and wins the player $10,000. If the contestant runs out of time, their winnings are determined by the number of columns claimed and an extra $1,000 added for each one claimed[3].

Other Hit Man Media[edit | edit source]

Tomarken Pilot (1982)[edit | edit source]

Status: Partially Found

Before the show got picked up, a pilot was filmed with Tomarken and had a very different soundtrack to what can be heard in the final show, having being comprised of songs from Pablo Cruise and Earth, Wind & Fire than the music composed by Paul Epstein heard in the series. The format of the pilot remains unchanged than what's seen in the series. The only copy of the pilot is in the possession of entertainment veteran Wink Martindale who uploaded four minutes of it to YouTube in March 2014. In the comment section of the video, he stated that the pilot was "not in great shape", meaning that the pilot had deteriorated and the contents of the video are the only segments from the pilot that are still intact.

Four minutes of the Tomarken pilot


Wolpert Pilot (1982)[edit | edit source]

Status: Existence Unconfirmed

Before the pilot that was filmed with Tomarken as host, there allegedly exists a pilot for the show with Jay Wolpert as the host instead of Tomarken. But NBC requested the producer to lost 20 pounds and Wolpert balked and Tomarken was brought in to host instead. The only claim for this comes from the TVTropes page for the show[4]. There is no other evidence to cooperate this and the existence of the pilot with Tomarken confuses the claim of Wolpert being the host of the pilot when the only available footage of the pilot it clearly show Tomarken as the host.

Hit Man UK (1989)[edit | edit source]

Status: Partially Found

Six years after the show ended in America, a new version of Hit Man was made in the UK. It was hosted by Nick Owen and premiered on ITV on 28 February 1989. The format of this version remains the same as the American version, according to UKGameShows.com[5]. This version of Hit Man was even more short-lived than the American version, lasting only 14 episodes and would leave the air by 30 May 1989. The show was never seen again after it's final episode aired and the only footage there is of the British version is from a 1992 special entitled "Goodbye To All That" where it shows clips from various productions TVS did for ITV, Hit Man being one of them. A possible reason for the British version's disappearance is due to the archives of the show's broadcaster TVS currently in legal limbo with the master tapes of all the broadcaster's productions going missing and the documentation of the broadcaster's productions (including Hit Man) being destroyed[6]. The current whereabouts of the master tapes are unknown.

Goodbye To All That special (Hit Man UK clip at 38:21).


Availability[edit | edit source]

The show hasn't been reran since it's April 1983 finale and the main reason for the show's absence from reruns was due to the visuals used in the short films. The visuals were contracted to be shown only once and never again[7]. It's likely the master tapes for the show still exist as another one of Wolpert's shows Whew! also has it's whole run still intact (Whew! would later be picked up for reruns in September 2021 by the satellite channel Buzzr[8]) and NBC discontinued wiping tapes in 1980. Home recordings of the show have surfaced on YouTube, accounting most of the show's run, but the rest of the series remains elusive.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Episodes[edit | edit source]

January 3, 1983 (Premiere)
February 2, 1983
February 3, 1983
February 4, 1983
A March 1983 episode
A March 1983 episode
March 29, 1983
April 1, 1983 (Finale)

Promos[edit | edit source]

Promos for Hit Man


References[edit | edit source]