July 06, 2019


(CBS, September 30, 1961-June 16, 1962)

Heatter-Quigley Productions

Monty Hall – The Mayor
Eileen Barton – Assistant Mayor
Kenny Williams – Town Crier, Constable

            Video Village was an American television game show produced by Heatter-Quigley Productions, coming out hot on the heels of the quiz show scandals that revealed many game shows had been rigging their results. The show was designed as a “living board game”, where two contestants were the pieces that moved around a game board as dictated by large six-sided die in a cage rolled by their partner (usually a spouse).

Temporary host Red Rowe by the dice cage with the contestants.

            The “game board” was designed to look like a small town, of which the host, Jack Narz, was called The Mayor, and his female assistant, Joanne Copeland, was called the Assistant Mayor. There were three sections called streets: Money Street, which had spaces that awarded the players small cash prizes; Bridge Street, which ended in a bridge where a certain number had to be rolled for them to cross; and Magic Mile, which ran by five “storefronts” that awarded prizes to the player who acquired those stores’ keys. The winner was the first player to reach the “Finish” space and was allowed to play the next game. Both contestants got to keep their earnings.

A view of the "streets" and jail.

            There were several special spaces on the board, which changed throughout the show’s run. Amongst them were “Bus Stop”, “Do it Yourself” and “Take a Chance” which had the player who landed on them draw a card and follow the instructions on it, or to pass the card on to their opponent in the hopes that it would be something to hinder them. “Ask the Council” saw the player being asked a humorous question, winning cash if the audience, acting as the council, was inclined to agree with their answer. “Intuition” saw the player having to determine four facts about an audience member whose voice was heard from off-stage, winning money for every right answer or the person winning money for every wrong answer. “Finders Keepers” gave the player a random prize. “1-2-3-Go” caused a player to remain stranded on that spot until the die read 1, 2 or 3. “Exchange Place” forced the player to trade places with their opponent. “U-Turn” had the player spin a version of the die that allowed their opponent to move the number of spaces shown. “Safety Zone” meant a player was safe from any kind of penalty their opponent could impose on them (like via the aforementioned cards). “$25 or Free Turn” gave the player a chance to get a cash prize or another roll of the die. “Jail” was a cage made of soft bars at the end of Money Street that the player had to go into until they accurately guessed whether their next roll was an odd or even number.

Forced to move back a space.

            Video Village debuted on CBS in primetime on July 1, 1960 and daytime on July 11, running concurrently until the nighttime version was cancelled on September 16. Narz departed the show for personal reasons and was replaced by Red Rowe for a week until Monty Hall took over permanently on September 19.  A short while later, Heatter-Quigley moved production of the show from New York City to CBS Television City in Hollywood, California where the die was replaced by an electric randomizer. Eileen Barton also replaced Copeland as the Assistant Mayor, however Kenny Williams stayed on as the Town Crier (aka the show’s announcer). Because both Hall and Barton could sing, a “Village Bus” (a golf cart) was added where Hall and Barton would take the players at the end of a match back over to the start while singing “The Village Bus Song”. All other music was provided by a band led by Sid Wayne.

Hall with Barton and Williams.

            The following year, the Video Village franchise was expanded with a spin-off: Video Village Junior (sometimes known as Kideo Village). The gameplay was exactly the same as the original version, except the contestants were kids and their partners were one of their parents. Williams also doubled as the town Constable. Video Village Junior debuted on September 30, 1961, airing on Saturday mornings. However, both versions of Video Village would end up cancelled halfway through 1962; with Junior ending one day after the adult version on June 16. A similar show, Shenanigans, also produced by Heatter-Quigley, began airing on ABC Saturdays in 1964.

The "Village Bus" ending a match of the Australian version.

            Junior had a longer lifespan overseas. An Australian version was made by Crawford Productions and ran from 1962 through 1966. A similar concept would later be used in Canada for The Mad Dash from 1978-85. Unfortunately, it’s believed that almost the entirety of both Video Village runs have been destroyed due to the studio practices of wiping. Because recording materials were so expensive and costly to store, and there was a belief that nobody would ever want to see them again after their initial broadcasts, studios were more inclined to erase them and reuse them on future productions. The only known surviving episodes are the second and final nighttime episodes, the 500th daytime episode, and the third-to-last episode of Junior. 

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