Top Card
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Top Card
Top Card
GenreGame show
Created byAllen Reid
Mady Land
Directed byKen Vincent
Presented byJim Caldwell (1989-1991)
Dan Miller (1991-1993)
Blake Pickett (1989-1991)
Paige Brown (1991-1993)
Narrated byDon Dashiell
Brad Staggs (substitute)
ComposersMike Johnson
Allen Reid
No. of seasons4
Executive producersAllen Reid
Mady Land
C. Paul Corbin for TNN
Running time30 Minutes
Production companyReid/Land Productions
Original networkTNN
Original releaseApril 3, 1989 (1989-04-03) -
March 26, 1993 (1993-03-26)

Top Card is a game show that aired on TNN and produced by Reid-Land Productions, replacing TNN's original game show Fandango. The show aired from April 3, 1989 to March 26, 1993 and was based on the card game Blackjack.[1]

Jim Caldwell was the original host of Top Card, with Blake Pickett serving as his hostess. The two remained until the beginning of the series' third season in 1991 and were replaced by Dan Miller and Paige Brown. The announcer for the show's entire run was Don Dashiell, with Brad Staggs substituting for several weeks in the third season.

Top Card was replaced the Monday following its cancellation by 10 Seconds, a music-based game show which was also hosted by Dan Miller.


Three contestants, one usually a returning champion, competed in a question-and-answer game. Originally, the questions were varied as to their subjects, but by the third season they were strictly music based.

Main game

Three rounds were played, with nine cards hidden behind categories on a three-by-three grid. The outer eight spots on the grid displayed specific categories while the one in the center was a Wild Card category which could be about anything.

Each question was a toss-up question and buzzing in with a correct answer awarded the contestant a playing card that was behind the category. The player could then choose to take the card and its corresponding value or reject it and take the top card from an oversized deck of cards. Cards numbered two through ten were worth the face value in points, with kings, queens and jacks each worth ten. Unlike in actual blackjack, an ace could only be played for one point and not a choice between one or eleven.

In the first season, if a player chose to take the top card instead of the card in play, the card and category it was behind remained in play. Afterward, the card was taken off the board regardless.

If at any point during the round a player felt he/she had a high enough score to stop and not risk busting, he/she could elect to "freeze" and stop playing while the other player(s) continued the round. If one of the other two players passed the frozen player's score, that player was given the option to freeze and the first player returned to the game to try to top the other player's score.

Play in the first round continued until either of the following things happened:

  • one player reached 21, automatically winning the round
  • all three players had either busted or elected to freeze, with the highest score (not over 21) winning the round
  • two players busted, with the third player winning the round by default
  • all of the categories had been played, with the highest score winning the round
  • time expired for the round, with the highest score winning the round

In either case, the player that won the round received a prize, which was theirs to keep regardless of the outcome. The winner of the first round advanced to the third and final round while the other two players played in the second round for the right to advance to play the first round winner. Initially, a Wild Card question was asked to determine control, but beginning in season two, the upper left category on the grid was played first. All the rules from before were also in play, with the winner being either the first to hit 21, avoid busting or have the highest score when either all of the categories were played or time was called.

The third round was called the "Championship Round" and played the same way as the second round, with the winner of this round declared the day's champion.

Changes after season one

The number of subjects was reduced to eight and the Wild Card category was replaced by a Top Card question, which could only be played if it was the only remaining category. All questions were about music, with the majority of them country music-based. Also, the cards Ace through 10 were shuffled and placed behind each category but only appeared once. No duplicate cards were found on the board.

Top Card Plus

The champion played the bonus round, called "Top Card Plus", for a chance to win a grand prize.

Season 1

In the first season of Top Card, six grand prizes were available per episode. Three of these were typically cars, two consisted of merchandise such as a piano or fur coat, and one was a vacation trip. The champion drew one of six cards at random to determine the grand prize at stake, after which five cards were drawn from the top of the oversized deck to determine his/her bankroll for the round. Card values were multiplied by $100 and added together, for a maximum potential starting total of $5,000.

Eight of the nine spaces on the board now displayed smaller prizes and their prices, rounded off to the nearest multiple of $10; the center space held a "Wild Card" mystery prize with no displayed value. Each space also hid a card, one of which was a joker that the champion needed to avoid. He/she chose one prize at a time, whose price was deducted from the bankroll; if the card behind it was not the joker, he/she could either accept it or take the top card from the deck instead. If the revealed card would cause the champion to bust, he/she was given the top card by default. The champion could select the Wild Card prize at any time, but doing so wiped out the entire bankroll.

The round ended as soon as the champion did any of the following:

  • Reach 21 exactly: Win the grand prize and all smaller prizes chosen from the board.
  • Bust: Forfeit all prizes.
  • Find the joker: Forfeit all prizes.
  • Choose to stop: Keep all chosen prizes.
  • Fail to reach 21 after choosing the Wild Card: Keep all chosen prizes.
  • Fail to reach 21 and be unable to afford another prize: Keep all chosen prizes.

Champions continued to appear on the show until they either lost the main game or won a grand prize.

Seasons 2-4

In the second through fourth seasons, the champion was shown several cars and picked one to play for.

The object was to reach 21 in four turns or less. This time, in order to claim a card, the champion had to correctly answer a question from one of the eight main game categories. Correctly answering a question won a prize that was revealed after the category selection and the champion was given a choice of either keeping the card or trading it for the top card as before. Answering a question incorrectly gave the contestant nothing.

Once again, the champion won the car and whatever prizes he/she had won by reaching 21. If the champion could not reach 21 in four turns, the round ended. If the player did not bust or find the joker, he/she kept whatever prizes won and returned on the next show.

Consolation game

If the joker was revealed on the first pick, the champion could still win something. The champion chose another prize/category and play continued, with the player still having the choice to either take the selected card or the top card. After that, each card in the deck was revealed one at a time until the contestant was in a position to bust, at which point they could decide to either stop and take $10 a point or continue. If the player reached 21, the player won that selected prize.

External links


  1. ^ Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. p. 230. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes