I wanted to create an article like this for a while, but this is my inauguaral blog post, and I thought I'd make it on a topic that is often talked about in the WoF community.
For those of you that are reading this and are unfamiliar with the earlier days of the show, many years ago Wheel of Fortune used to have returning Champions. The Daytime version of the show had them for its entire run, and the Nighttime version had them from September 1989 to June 1996. Champions could return up to 3 days. The addition of returning champions was probably one of the best additions to the nighttime version of the show, and should still be around today.
Returning champions allowed people watching at home to learn more about the players, and their personalities. The one and done model that the show follows today really doesn't let the viewer at home know much about the contestants who appear on the show. All we get is a condensed interview, and maybe a couple interactions with Pat, but nothing beyond that. The contestants don't ever really get a chance to settle in and loosen up and reveal their personalities and their potential as players like they did in the past because of the time restrictions of a 30 minute show. If they had 3 nights, we saw them, and got to know them a little better. If a contestant was good, naturally we would want to see more of them. That way of operating was far better than barely getting to know three new people on each show.
The excitement factor is reduced when you have three new players, because you don't get to see big wins that exceed six figures all too often. The show should reward players who play the game well by bringing them back and allowing them to play for more cash and more prizes.
Part of the rationale for eliminating the returning champions format was the idea that skill was not always reflected in the scores of those who played the game well. It may be true that not all contestants who are good players are necessarily rewarded for their efforts due to the factor of luck in the game (it's called "Wheel of FORTUNE" after all), but if you have a decent strategy, then you're far more likely to win than someone who goes in blind with no strategy at all. If you go back and watch some of the older shows, you'll find most three day champions had a solid strategy. (Ex: Buying vowels, Calling sensible letters that have a higher chance of being in the puzzle, Buying Vowels, having a letter selection strategy for the Bonus Round, being mindful of spin strength, Buying vowels, etc...) You will always have some players that win with sheer dumb luck, but it's definetly much easier to win with strategy. Strategy comes into play now more than ever with the Toss-Up puzzles that were not part of the game during the era of returning champions.
One of the real reasons the returning champions are gone is because the show tapes out of order. If the 3rd week of the season is taped first, and then the 1st week of the season is taped second, then that makes it impossible to have returning champions. The solution to this is simple: Tape episodes in order. Really. That's it. If you want a certain week to air first, then why not just tape it first? That would be the most logical solution, and if Wheel's sister show Jeopardy! is capable of it, then why not Wheel? Another thing is the 6th episode weeks, where there is a 6th taping in one taping session. Since only 5 shows air a week, that leaves one episode left over. Once they have 5 tapings with a sixth episode, all they do is put together those 5 extra episodes from 5 different taping sessions together into one week like a mangled jigsaw puzzle, which is why you see a different set every day during those weeks. If the show eliminated those 6th episodes, all they would need is 5 additional taping sessions in one season, or have days where they taped 10 episodes. Those two simple things would allow the show to have returning champions again.
I'm hoping that if you're reading this, you'll tell me that I'm making sense. I'm hoping that you're going to tell me that I'm not crazy, and that I'm making good points... right.... Right?.... RIGHT???!!! I'm not crazy, I swear! Anyway, now that I've regained my composure, leave a comment in the section below to tell me what you thought of this post, and what improvements are needed for my next blog post. Your feedback is much appreciated.