Monday, July 11, 2011

Double Dare!!

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

When I was about eight years old, I was mesmerized by the concept of Double Dare. You did gross things like reach your hand up a giant nose to find a flag. You got really dirty and slid down slides of chocolate syrup. You tried to catch ridiculous things in your pants on or your head. Being a kid who couldn't stand being dirty (I cried in third grade when I fell in some mud at recess. I wouldn't walk in the sand barefoot at the beach. My mom tells me that she used to have to wipe my mouth after every spoonful of baby food or I wouldn't take another bite.), I couldn't get over why these kids would want to get filthy on television! Of course, by the time I was 17 or so I was able to get a bit messy without freaking out, and I took part in several ridiculously gross activities while I was in college (including a slip-n-slide that had ketchup and mustard and raw rice on it)... so I came to comprehend the brilliant fun of Double Dare with time.

Brief history:
First off, I'm talking about Marc Summers' Double Dare, not Alex Trebek's, which was a different show and aired in the 70s. The idea of mixing trivia questions with messy obstacles really helped out Nickelodeon. The show ran Monday-Friday and began in 1986, with taping taking place in Philadelphia. By 1988, the show was syndicated and many saw it on FOX stations, including me. Double Dare was actually the first cable game show to enter first-run syndication! In 1989, the tapings moved to Orlando, and in 1990 it switched to Family Double Dare, which taped at Universal Studios. The show was canceled in 1992, with reruns beginning in 1993. Throughout the run, over 500 episodes were made, some of which were taped at malls across the country as the game show toured. In 1987, Super Sloppy Double Dare ran for a while, taping in New York City. These episodes ran on the weekend rather than during the week. More of these Super Sloppy episodes were made in 1989, though they were filmed in Philadelphia and Orlando. You may recall Double Dare 2000, which lasted about a year back in 2000. The popularity of Double Dare extended beyond the show itself, and there was a board game, a computer game for Apple in 1989, an NES game, some VHS tapes, and even a lunchbox. Other countries had versions of the game show as well, including Australia (1989-1992), Brazil (1987-2000), and the UK (1987-1992). Lastly, the show has been parodied and featured numerous times in other media, such as Robot Chicken, The Simpsons, and even Ghost Dad.

The game: A toss-up game opened the half-hour episode. Two pairs of kids were playing against one another - a blue team and a red team. Family Double Dare consisted of of two kids and two parents on a team. Whichever team won the toss-up was asked the first trivia question. They could answer it for $10, or dare the other team to do so for $20. You were supposed to "dare" them if you didn't know the answer, but also when you thought they didn't know... that way they could turn it back and "double dare" you for $40. At that point you could opt for the challenge instead. In my opinion, the strategy of this part wasn't appreciated by most of the kids. If they knew the answer, they'd just give it and get $10, instead of hoping the other team would "double dare" you and you could win $40 for the same question. Values doubled in the second round of questions. The physical challenges varied wildly, from trying to see how many balloons you could stuff into a jumpsuit your partner is wearing to trying to get x amount of a substance into a specific container. If you failed to complete the challenge, the other team got the points and were asked the next question. After both rounds, the teams won whatever money they had earned, and the team with the higher amount went on to the Obstacle Course. The team were given 60 seconds to find and grab as many orange flags as possible. Each flag was hidden in a different obstacle, and team members alternated going after each. They won a prize with each flag grabbed, and could ultimately receive a vacation, or in some instances a car. 

Notable changes to the way the game is played: The values of the questions and toss-up rounds changed throughout the various incarnations of the show. For instance, Family Double Dare in the 90s and Double Dare 2000 gave $25 for a correct trivia answer, meaning $100 could be won in a "double dare." Also in 2000, almost every physical challenge was based on a 30-second limit. In the second round of 2000, there was a "Triple Dare Challenge" where you could win more, but the challenge got much more difficult as well. They also called the final challenge The Slopstacle Course.

Special contestants:
Super Special Double Dare took care of this one. Cast members of Clarissa Explains it All were on it, plus some NBA All Stars, among others. Weird Al and Lou Ferrigno have also been on the show.

Favorite Rounds: Obstacle Course!! It was just really fun to watch the kids (and their parents on those episodes) run through and do crazy things and search for flags through piles and mounds and puddles! Here's an example of an obstacle course from Family Double Dare:

My take: When I was a kid, I wouldn't have wanted to be on it, for the reasons I outlined above. But now, heck yeah! I'd love to try this out! I'm a little torn as to who I'd choose as a partner... Heather, my roommate from graduate school, would be a great choice. She doesn't give up and is always ready to dive right in. Had this been ten years ago, my clear choice would've been my friend Jessica, with whom I had many of my first "it's okay to be messy" experiences. My other contender is BK, as we've actually done an obstacle course together, though it was nothing like the kind they have on the show!

Did you ever watch Double Date? Did you see more than one version of it, like Family or 2000? Who would you partner with if the show was still on the air and you were competing?
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1 comment:

Kyla said...

I have always thought that Double Dare was a fantastic show. I always wanted to be on it or take part in messy games. If I could choose my partner, I would have to choose my brother, Jon. Jon and I have done silly competitions together like kickball, annual dodge ball tournaments, and huge slip 'n slides events. My friend Bert would also be a good choice based on our past experiences being teammates in other physical activities and games and we dare each other to eat the most ridiculous concoctions, half the time throwing up after.