Bullseye is an American game show that aired in syndication from September 29, 1980 to September 24, 1982. Jim Lange was the host, and the program was produced by Jack Barry and Dan Enright. Jay Stewart was the announcer for the first season, and Charlie O'Donnell announced for the second season. The series' executive producer was Ron Greenberg.
Two contestants, one a returning champion, competed. The game began with the champion stopping three spinning windows, set up in a triangular fashion, by hitting a plunger in front of him/her. The top two windows contained eight different categories—four in each window—with dollar amounts ranging from $50 to $200, representing the value of each question in the category. The bottom window was the contract window, and displayed numbers from one to five as well as a bullseye.
When the windows stopped spinning, the contestant chose either of the displayed categories, and had to fulfill the contract by correctly answering the number of questions indicated in the contract window. Each correct answer added the dollar value of the category to a pot. The bullseye represented an unlimited contract, which allowed the contestant who spun it to continue answering questions as long as he/she desired. If a contestant answered incorrectly at any point, the opponent was given a chance to take control of the contract with a right answer. An incorrect answer on a bullseye immediately ended the contract, but the opponent could still take control by giving the correct response. If both contestants missed the same question, it was thrown out and control reverted to the contestant who had originally tried to answer it. The contestant who completed the contract could choose to bank the money in the pot and give up control of the next spin to the opponent, or leave the money in the pot and spin again.
Originally, the first contestant to bank $1,000 or more won the game. During the two-week period of November 24 to December 5, 1980, the same amount won by a champion in the main game would also be donated to a children's charity. To ensure the charities would receive more money, the question values were doubled to $100 to $400, with a total of $2,000 or more needed to win, and these increased amounts remained in place for the rest of the series.
Contestants kept any money banked during a game, regardless of the outcome, making Bullseye one of the few Barry & Enright shows to allow losing contestants to keep winnings from the game.
Since the champion always spun first, it was possible for him/her to win without giving the challenger an opportunity to play. If this happened, the challenger returned to play again in the next game.
As was the case with most Barry & Enright game shows, a contestant won a new car after every fifth victory.
The champion advanced to play the bonus round, referred to as "Bonus Island." Once again, the object for the contestant was to use his/her plunger to stop the spinning windows. For this round, however, the windows contained various dollar amounts ($100–$150–$200 originally, later increased to $100–$200–$300 during the fifth week). All three windows also contained bullseyes, and one contained a lightning bolt.
The contestant's task was to spin three bullseyes, which resulted in an automatic win, or survive a particular number of spins without having the lightning appear. With each spin, whatever money the contestant accumulated was added to the pot for this round. Originally, if a bullseye appeared, the contestant had the option to freeze that window and put it out of play; this option was later removed and a window was automatically frozen after a bullseye appeared. A contestant could choose to stop at any time and keep the accumulated money, but if the lightning appeared, he/she lost the round and the money. The location of the lightning was not revealed until after the round was over, so the contestant had no way of knowing whether it had been put out of play behind a bullseye.
Spinning three bullseyes awarded double the money in the pot, or $10,000 (originally $5,000) if the contestant did so in a single spin. Surviving all spins (originally ten, later reduced to seven) awarded either $5,000 or the total amount in the pot, whichever was greater. The contestant also won a prize package, usually worth between $2,000 and $4,000, by either spinning three bullseyes or surviving the required number of spins. Except for the Celebrity Bullseye episodes (which did not offer a prize package), the same prize package was at stake throughout a particular episode until won.
The show featured a bombastic music package from Barry and Enright's in-house music composer Hal Hidey, including a main theme strongly reminiscent of the Santa Esmeralda disco hit "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," which had been used itself on the pilot. An eerie sound effect was used while the swirls were in motion, as well as during the window reveals following a bonus round win.
Bullseye first originated from stage 4 at NBC Studios in Burbank, California, where Wheel of Fortune was taped at the time. In 1981, production of Bullseye moved to Studio 31 of CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California. Later that same year, production of Bullseye was moved to Television City's Studio 33; the show briefly returned to Studio 31 in early 1982, but returned to Studio 33 for the remainder of its run.
On December 7, 1981, the show changed its name to Celebrity Bullseye and featured celebrity contestants playing for their favorite charities. The celebrities played a best two-out-of-three game. A $500 value was added to the main game, the categories were no longer announced by Lange before the game began and most questions were multiple-choice, containing three possible answers.
Celebrities who played included Max Gail, Harvey Korman, Tina Louise, Greg Morris, Doug Davidson, Roxie Roker, Rue McClanahan, Diane Ladd, Richard Kline, Gloria Loring, Patrick Wayne, Lynn Redgrave, Jerry Mathers, Meredith Baxter-Birney, Ernest Borgnine, and F. Lee Bailey.
All episodes exist, with reruns airing on CBN Cable (1982–1984) and USA Network (April 1, 1985 – June 26, 1987) with GSN doing so in more recent years (as recent as November 2007 for a "Viewers' Choice" marathon).