It’s funny. A game show involving a huge slot machine and cartoon images of the Devil doesn’t sound like anything you’d want your kid watching…and you’d be wrong. “The Joker’s Wild” had big success with several special weeks for children on the CBS run of the series, and Barry & Enright Productions, sensing another chance to pull a few more golden eggs from their goose, spun off the children’s games into a new weekly series, seen in primetime in a few markets and Saturday mornings in others.
The new version was called “Joker! Joker!! Joker!!!” after Jack Barry’s call when a contestant was lucky enough to spin such a combination. Barry also claimed that this version of the show had more Jokers on the wheels than the adult version, which I’m inclined to believe having seen a few episodes.
Kids played for $100 and $500 savings bonds in the main portion of the game, played just like the adult version, with the winner’s parents playing the bonus round for cash and prizes like circus passes, bicycles, and trips to Disneyland. The series was also one of very few kids’ game shows to have returning champions. The series wasn’t a hit, it was gone after a single season, but it did pump out a home version.
This one is similar to the series and to the adults’ home version, right down to the same boring black-on-yellow number cards. They did bother to tweak the cards with the cartoonish Joker of the kids’ version being used instead of the playing card-style Joker of the adult version. Unlike the series, played for points converted to savings bonds, the kids are playing for cash all the way. (Play money is pretty boring, but how crappy would a play savings bond be?)
The adults’ and kids’ versions both adapted a new bonus game, with money instead of devils by the time this was released, and this edition reflects that, with dollar amounts ranging from $25-$200 printed on the non-Devil cards. Reaching $1000 or more wins the home player a $5000 bonus (the actual series usually offered half that to the young winners in the end game).
the cheap and dull appearance of the materials, there’s one other problem. The
show naturally depended on pop culture for a lot of its question material, and
as a result, a number of the questions are now completely obsolete. The game
book page above has aged pretty well, but generally speaking you'll get a
lot of blank stares if you play this one. The age recommendation on the box says
my nephew is eligible to play, but I doubt he knows who Freddy “Boom-Boom”
Washington is, and I’m really sure “Na-noo, na-noo” doesn’t mean anything to him
either. If you see this game at a flea market or on Ebay, it’s good for a game
show collector’s home museum, but other than that, it’s actually pretty limited
in its usefulness.