Exclusive: Information on GSN’s “The Pyramid” Series
A few weeks ago, we reported details on the pilot stages of GSN’s upcoming The Pyramid, the newest revival of the beloved word game series. Clearly, whatever happened in the pilot pleased those in charge, since they announced the program would be picked up for 40 episodes premiering on September 3rd. Tapings for the series began July 21st and will continue for a few more days. We have a BuzzerBlog exclusive report on the details of the series for this program, including things that have changed from the pilot, updates made to portions of the game’s rules, an idea of the advancement of the game’s set and things that will even carry over from the 1980s Pyramid programs.
The meat of the format from the pilot is in play for the actual series. Players begin with $10,000 in their Winner’s Circle bank at the beginning of each round. Every time they earn 7 out of 7 in 30 seconds, they add $5,000 to their bank and earn $500 in bonus cash to keep no matter their result in the rest of the program. The value of their Winner’s Bank at the end of the round is what they play for in that portion. So, again, no Mystery 7s, no 7-11s. The bonuses contestants earn come from getting all seven in the main game. A carryover from the Donny Osmond Pyramid is their pass rule. When you pass a word in the game, it is out of play but if time remains, you are allowed to come back to it once you get through the rest of the list. If it is someone’s last turn at the game but only two are needed to tie and three to win, they will still be allowed to play up to all seven to earn another bonus and add to the Winner’s Circle Bank. Once they make it to the Winner’s Circle, the consolation values carry over from the pilot as well: $100 / $200 / $300 / $400 / $500 / $750. The show has no returning champions, so “score money” is not an issue.
A new feature of The Pyramid, original from any previous version, is the tiebreaker. I like to refer to it as the “infinite tiebreaker.” In the 1980s, when contestants tied at the end of a game, they had to get up to 7 more words right in 30 seconds. If they did that, opponents not only had to get all 7 but they also had to beat the time. That is not the case in this version. Enough material is prepared in this tiebreaker so that if “words beginning with C” is chosen, contestants can go through as many words as are there to achieve the highest score possible. Seven is not a limit in this round; contestants try to get as many from an “infinite” list as they can in 30 seconds. Mixed reviews have been given to the writing, but the overall sense is that it is definitely an upgrade from the 2002-04 version.
The most radical update comes in the form of the set. The set is inspired by the 2009 Million Dollar Pyramid pilot set, now using bright yellow and red, but the game pieces are very different. It is not like Pyramid, using monitors hung on steel girders and it is not like the 2009 pilot with actual trilons. The main game “small” pyramid and the Winner’s Circle “big” pyramid are actually two, large, pyramid-shaped screens electronically designed to mimic the way the boards operated in the 1980s. In use, they actually simulate trilons on the one large monitor. When not in use, they can display the logo of the program with a background design. In contrast, they are keeping the 80s “Tuning Up” as the theme song – no, not a remake but the actual composition. The majority of the 80s sound effects have found their way back too.
The roughest part has apparently been a couple of the celebrities playing. The Pyramid has chosen to go with the “week” appearances of celebrities, so there will not be different celebrities each day like were seen on Osmond’s Pyramid. Some of them have been pretty good, some have been alright… but a few have been downright awful. A couple of very disastrous Winner’s Circles have taken place. Whether these will ever make the light of day, I do not know. But if I was in the shoes of production and the network, to try to erase these blemishes from an otherwise decent to good production, I would bury those tapes, schedule another taping day and try again with a couple of available celebrities who proved to be good game players in previous episodes. Celebrities that have played so far include Dot Jones from Glee, The Office‘s Oscar Nunez, Nicholas Turturro from Blue Bloods and Community‘s Yvette Nicole Brown and Danny Pudi. You can see an interview with the latter two on the set courtesy of Access Hollywood at their website.
And, lastly, I know that unfortunately some of our readers are more “radical” fans of The Price Is Right that wanted to throw their televisions out the window when they heard Mike Richards, the current producer of that program, was hosting The Pyramid. Put your pitchforks away. He is not ruining the show. Is he the second coming of Bill Cullen? Of course not. But is he keeping a competent presence, allowing the game to move along and using his role to put the focus on things that deserve the focus? Yes. He does his job just fine. If this program ends up not working, it will not be because of Mike Richards. Access Hollywood also has an in-depth interview with Mike Richards discussing the program, his hosting, his relationship with Dick Clark and his family and what he has learned from the original Pyramid master.
I always try to keep the viewpoint of “don’t judge it until you see it.” I hate when people proclaim death to something before they even see it. But this could really bring excitement to the game show landscape. What do you think about it? Does the report make you more likely to check out the show? What are your likes and dislikes from what we know? We also know this for sure – The Pyramid premieres September 3rd at 6PM ET on GSN.
Edited to add: GSN began running promotional advertisements on the network today promoting the show. Here’s more of a preview for you in these spots: