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Monopoly (game show)

Created by Merv Griffin
Written by Sharon Safianoff-Jones
Directed by Kevin McCarthy
Presented by Mike Reilly
Kathy Davis
Kathy Karges
Michelle Nicholas
Narrated by Charlie O'Donnell
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 12 (+1 pilot)
Producer(s) Burt Wheeler
Location(s) Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Merv Griffin Enterprises
King World Productions
Original channel ABC
Original release June 16, 1990 (1990-06-16) – September 1, 1990 (1990-09-01)

Monopoly is an American television game show based on the board game of the same name. The format was created by Merv Griffin and produced by his production company, Merv Griffin Enterprises.

Monopoly aired as a summer replacement series on ABC along with Super Jeopardy!, a special tournament edition of Griffin's popular quiz show. Monopoly premiered on June 16, 1990, and aired following Super Jeopardy! for twelve consecutive Saturday nights until September 1, 1990.

Former Jeopardy! contestant Mike Reilly was chosen to host the series, with Charlie O'Donnell as announcer. Three separate women, Kathy Davis, Kathy Karges, and Michelle Nicholas, served as the co-host/dice roller.


First round

Three contestants played, each represented by a color (red, gold, and green).

In the first round, the players attempted to take control of the various properties on a giant Monopoly board. To do so, they had to solve crossword-style clues. The first letter of each answer was given to the players, and each side of the four-sided board, referred to as "blocks" (with the block containing the five properties between the Go to Jail corner and "GO" referred to as the "high rent district"), had a different starting letter for clues. Each clue was a toss-up, and answering correctly won money equal to the value of the property, from $60 for Mediterranean Avenue to $400 for Boardwalk. Answering incorrectly deducted that value from a player's score. In the event that all three players failed to answer a clue, the property value was cut in half and another clue was read.

Each color group, referred to as a monopoly, had to be controlled by one of the players before play moved on to another. Once a player controlled a monopoly, the total monetary value of its properties was added to his/her score. The lowest monopoly value was $120, which was for Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues. The highest was $920, for the three-property monopoly consisting of Pacific, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania Avenues.

In the event that more than one player controlled the properties in a monopoly, a series of tossup clues were played. If only two players were in the battle for control, the player with the most properties only had to answer one question correctly while the other had to answer two (unless it was either the Mediterranean-Baltic or Park Place-Boardwalk monopoly, in which case the first player to answer the tossup correctly took control of the monopoly). If all three players were battling for control, the first contestant to answer the tossup challenged one of the other two players, with the one that went unchallenged forfeiting their property to the challenging player. The first contestant to answer two clues correctly won control of the monopoly.

Big Money round

During the commercial break following the completion of the first round, the players used the money they had earned to build houses and hotels on their properties. As per traditional Monopoly rules, each house was worth $50 regardless of property value while each hotel was worth $250 and each property had to be built on evenly. Like in a regular Monopoly game, the amount of houses and hotels on each property determined the rent value for the property, which corresponded with the value of each clue for the round.

Once the players' construction purchases had been revealed and the corresponding cost deducted from their scores, play resumed. Starting at "GO", an indicator light would move clockwise around the board. The number of spaces it would move at any given time was determined by a pair of oversized dice that were rolled by the show's hostess. Any time the indicator light passed "GO", each player would receive a $200 bonus.

If a property was landed on, announcer O'Donnell would announce the rent value of the property based on its house(s)/hotel (or the initial rent value if the property had none) and host Reilly would read the clue to the contestant who controlled it. Answering it correctly added the rent value to the player's score. If not, the player incurred no penalty and the clue became a tossup for the other two players with the same rules as before (an incorrect answer would cost one of those players money).

Along the way, the indicator light could land on any of the other squares laid out on the board. These were played in the following manner:

  • Utilities (Electric Company and Water Works): a tossup clue was asked with the value determined by multiplying the roll of the dice by $100.
  • Railroads: if the indicator light landed on one of the four railroads, players got the chance to "ride" the particular railroad to a monopoly and initiate a "hostile takeover". A tossup was asked, and the first player to answer the clue correctly chose one of his/her opponents' monopolies to take over.[1] The indicator light then moved to the first property in the chosen monopoly and the player looking to take it over faced a series of up to three clues unopposed (depending on how many properties were in the monopoly), with each correct answer advancing the indicator light to the next property in line. If the player managed to successfully take over the monopoly, its combined value was added to his/her score and any houses or hotels built on it became his/her property. A wrong answer ended the takeover attempt and the player had to pay the corresponding rent to the owner of the monopoly, based on where the indicator was when the wrong answer was given (for example, if the player missed a clue, the indicator was on Boardwalk, and a hotel was on the property, $2000 was deducted from the his/her score and given to the controlling player.)
  • Chance and Community Chest: played as in normal Monopoly, with each card having bonuses, fines, or movement instructions on it.
  • Tax Spaces: if the indicator landed on the Income Tax square, each player lost ten percent of their score. The Luxury Tax square cost each player $75 if it was landed on.
  • Free Parking: a tossup was asked and the first player to answer correctly won $500 plus whatever money that had been collected from taxes and fines up to the point that Free Parking had been landed on. Once a player won the money, Free Parking reset to $500 and began accumulating again.
  • Go To Jail: if the indicator landed on this space, it moved to the "In Jail" space and each player had $250 deducted from their score as bail money.

The second round was played until time was called. Once it was, each player had their houses and hotels sold back to the bank starting with the player with the lowest score when time ran out. Each house and hotel was sold for the same value it had when purchased, meaning $50 was paid for each house and $250 for each hotel; for instance, if a player controlled two three-property monopolies and all six properties had hotels built on them (even if that player did not originally build them and had acquired the properties in a hostile takeover), $1,500 was added to his/her score. Once all three players sold their houses and hotels back to the bank, the player with the highest score won the game, kept his/her money, and advanced to the bonus round.

Bonus Round ("Once Around the Board")

In the bonus round, the night's champion tried to complete one clockwise circuit around the giant Monopoly board on stage without going to Jail. The champion was given five turns to accomplish this.

Before the round started, the champion was forced to pick four spaces on the board that would cause him/her to go to Jail if they were landed on; with the normal Go to Jail space on the board, this meant that there were a total of five spaces on the board which the champion could not land on without penalty. One of these spaces was placed in the maroon/orange block, one in the red/yellow block, and two in the green/blue block.

Once the champion set his/her Go to Jail spaces, he/she began the circuit from "GO" and rolled the oversized dice. As long as a Go to Jail space was not landed on and the champion had turns remaining, he/she was given a chance to quit and take $100 for every space passed or continue to roll. The champion could earn extra turns by rolling doubles at any time.

Play continued until the champion passed "GO", landed directly on "GO", landed on any of the five Go to Jail spaces, or ran out of turns.

If the champion managed to pass "GO", he/she won an additional $25,000. Landing directly on "GO" doubled the prize to $50,000. Landing on any Go to Jail space ended the round and the champion won nothing additional. The $100 per cleared space was awarded if the champion ran out of turns before reaching "GO" and completely avoided a Go to Jail space.

Production information

Merv Griffin created the series and served as executive producer. Monopoly was paired with Super Jeopardy! for its 12-week run on ABC.

Coincidentally, host Mike Reilly competed on the television game show Jeopardy! in 1989.[2] Reilly later worked as a waiter before being selected a year later by producer Merv Griffin to perform as a contestant on the pilot for Monopoly.[3] After the pilot with Peter Tomarken as host was taped, Reilly was selected as host.[4]

International Version

A Welsh version of the show, hosted by Derec Brown aired on S4C for a brief period in 1992.


  1. ^ "Monopoly". Monopoly. 11 August 1990. American Broadcasting Company. 
  2. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television. Penguin Books. p. 565. ISBN 9780140249163. 
  3. ^ Lipton, Lauren (1990-06-16). "Reilly's Monopoly on Cockiness". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  4. ^ "He's passed go and collected much more than $200". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1990-07-08. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 

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