July 27, 2019


(NBC, July 10-October 16, 1993)

NBC Productions

Danielle Harris – Co-Host
Tatyana M. Ali – Co-Host

            Brains and Brawn was an NBC game show adapted from a similar European game show created by Pierre Bellemare. Hosted by Fred Davis and Jack Lescoulie, the game pitted two teams against each other comprised of an expert (representing the “brains”) and a professional athlete (representing the “brawn”) for a chance to win prizes worth up to $30,000. The “brains” would answer questions on various topics while the “brawn” engaged in a variety of physical challenges for a total of five rounds. The concept didn’t really catch on with audiences and the show only ran from September13 to December 27 in 1958.

            A mere 35 years later, NBC Productions decided to try it again with the revival Brains & Brawn. This time around, the teams were comprised of three teenagers led by a celebrity captain. The game was broken up into six different rounds. The first round was always the “2-Minute Drill”, where each contestant had to answer as many multiple-choice questions correctly as possible within two minutes by entering their choices into a computer at a podium where they stood. The final round was an obstacle course where the team with the most points was given a head start. Both teams had to traverse one member at a time through several different obstacles to get to the finish line first. They included a tire run, a fire escape ladder on a building fa├žade, sliding down to an air cushion, using an overhead bar to cross over a pit, shoot up a balance beam to a zip line, and riding in a three-seat pedal-driven buggy for a one-lap race.

            In between were a variety of physical and mental games. Amongst them was “Hockey”, which saw players trying to score goals against their opponents’ goalie from a stationary position within 30 seconds; “Match-Up”, where both teams attempted to correctly match up a list of items to a list down the center of a magnetic board (such as matching a star’s name to their TV show title); “Shoot to Kill”, where a team tries to score as many baskets as possible in 30 seconds while a member of the opposing team attempts to block each shot; “Volleyball”, a standard 3-minute volleyball game where teammates were connected together with a bungee cord and played blind over a covered net; “Oddity”, where the teams had to select what item did not belong in a row with the other items presented; and “Swing Shot”, where a team had to shoot their balls through as many holes as possible in 30 second while a member of the opposing team swung on a pendulum in front of them to attempt to block. The team who earned the most points from every challenge earned a one-second head start in the Obstacle Course for every 10 points they led by.

            Brains & Brawn debuted on NBC on July 10, 1993 as part of their Teen NBC line-up. Hosting duties were given to Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who had starred in the show that inspired NBC to focus their weekend programming on teens, Saved by the Bell. His original co-host for the first half of the show’s run was Roseannes Danielle Harris until she was replaced by The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Tatyana M. Ali for the remainder. Ali had appeared previously as a team captain during Harris’ tenure, and was at the time also hosting Name Your Adventure with another Bell alum, Mario Lopez. It was filmed outdoors on the Universal Studios backlot; specifically, in Courthouse Square (best known from the Back to the Future trilogy). The challenge sets were designed by Josee Lemonnier and Ron Olsen, with music composed by Scott Gale and Rich Eames. The show fared about as well as its 1950s counterpart and was cancelled after only 15 weeks.

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