Duel of the Dice
Man Vs. Monkey in the
battle of the century
High Rollers Pilot: 1986
Ah, High Rollers. It was a
fantastic show in the 70s. Hosted by the afro wearing Alex Trebek,
and announced by Kenny Williams, it was a must watch show in both
incarnations. While the 2nd incarnation was the best, even with
the prizes getting really weird in the end, especially with that $10,000
Antique Chinese Fishbowl. Unfortunately, High Rollers was
cancelled alongside Hollywood Squares and Chain Reaction in 1980 to make
way for David Letterman's disaster of a daytime talk show.
However, Merrill Heatter didn't give up on High Rollers.
His first go at a revival of
sorts was the 1985 pilot, Lucky Numbers. It was also hosted by
Alex Trebek and announced by John Harlan with Debbie Sue Maffett as the
hostess. To be fair, it wasn't a bad pilot, it just was very
unremarkable. It wasn't picked up by Networks or syndicators, so
Merrill tried again in late 1986 with a rebooted version of High
The Pilot of High Rollers was
pretty much what you got in the actual run. Hosted by Wink
Martindale and announced by future Game Show Garbage inductee Dean Goss,
this version of the show had the traditional High Rollers gameplay, with
a killer set, plus they brought back the BIG Numbers from the original
1974-1976 incarnation. Now what killed this version was the snail
pace gameplay & the minigames. To be fair, some of the games were
just one roll like the Full House game or Wink's Garage Sale. But
others would take a while to play like Dice Derby & Love Letters.
While the show would be picked
up in 1987 for a year in Syndication, it wouldn't last because of a mix
of slow gameplay & poor timeslots. Also included in the pilot was
a pitchfilm for the show. The Pitchfilm will live in infamy
because of the demonstration of one mini-game that was mind-boggling and
very stupid at the same time. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time
The Duel of the Dice
Here we see Wink with our
"contestant" eagerly awaiting his opponent for the duel. All he
has to do is beat this person in one roll. His name is High
Roller. And who might this person be?
A monkey. Seriously, he's
going to roll against a monkey. I mean, this belongs in a SNL
Parody of game shows or a storyline for a sitcom. But a monkey?
That just hurts my soul. (Great line Necro Critic.) The contestant
is ready to compete against our simian foe...
But the Monkey is just staring
into the green screened stars. Wink asks him to turn around...
But he's still content at
looking at the stars. (Note: I did not use the same picture.
He actually did the same move.)
Now Wink looks like he's getting
ready to kill that monkey. So, he asks him one more time to turn
And this time he does.
So, now Wink explains to the
"contestant" that all he has to do is get a higher roll that High and he
wins a Trip to Hawaii & $1,000 in Travelers Checks. At least if he
wins, he won't be completely shamed for having to compete against a
While the "contestant" is
nodding feverishly, the monkey is just mocking him and Wink. I
also smell some cockiness in the Monkey. So, without any further
ado, let's get this duel going. Our "Contestant" picks up the
And he rolls a 7. A middle
of the road number. Now all he hopes for is that High rolls low
instead of high to win his trip and cash. Wink asks High to
But he's staring at the dice and
pretty much says, "I don't like those dice." Wink asks why he
doesn't roll those dice. Well, we find out why he doesn't roll
He only rolls the Golden Dice.
Great. Not only is he not caring, he's also a primadonna and a
bling king as well. Swell. Well, now that High has his dice.
He proceeds to motion with the dice. And what does the monkey
"We'll find out after this,
you're watching Duel on ABC".
DAMMIT, Greenie. Get out
So where were we? Oh yeah,
High has his Golden Dice. He motions and rolls....
A 5. The "contestant"
wins. So, he wins and gets his vacation & $1,000 in Travelers
checks. So, after seeing that,
The Monkey palms his head in
shame and disappointment. Afterwards, Wink puts over the show and
the pitchfilm ends.
With all that said, this
mini-game didn't even make it to air. And I'm thankful that it
didn't. The mini-game took way too long, I mean 2 minutes for a
mini-game in a 22 minute show doesn't exactly make for a good game show.
But then again, this is the 1987 High Rollers where one match took about
3 episodes to complete. Not only that, why a monkey?
I mean, you could have given an audience member a roll and maybe given
them some cash to the audience member if they beat the contestant.
At least that would make more sense than having a chimp rolling the dice
like a chump.
The show would make it to air in
1987 and get cancelled in 1988. Wink would continue to host other shows
such as The Great Getaway Game, Trivial Pursuit & Debt. Dean Goss
would announce Slime Time & the various Pyramids around the era.
The Monkey would proceed to go back to the LA Zoo and continue to live
like a monkey.