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A timeline for Season 17 of Wheel of Fortune, which aired in first-run from September 6, 1999 through June 2, 2000.

Season ChangesEdit

  • The opening graphics are changed again. The intro starts out with a flyover of the new Sony Pictures Studios complex, starting through the gateway, which has photos of Pat and Vanna (Vanna on the left, and Pat behind the previous season's logo on the right), before the gate opens, a spark flies out, explodes to a flashback clip, and then swirls into multi-color sparks to form the 1997 logo which starts on the Wheel's center. A white spark causes the words to fly out and stack-up in two-row form, with the normal looking "O" in "of". The logo used in the intro now has a graphic of the Wheel around it; this graphic is rather inaccurate, as it has no Bankrupts, and it keeps the $250 spaces even after they are removed. In fact, the Bankrupt between the orange $900 and purple $500 is replaced by the sparkly green $1,000. Each word shines as shouted in the chant, before zooming into the center to cut to the studio. Sometimes, there's a text "17th ANNIVERSARY" below the "WHEEL of FORTUNE" logo
  • Around this point, the video screen generally stops showing the Wheel in mid-spin.
  • WebTV introduces an interactive element that allows users with WebTV to play along with Wheel and Jeopardy! from home, indicated by a "WebTV interactive program" bug at the top of the show.
  • Harry Friedman retires as co-producer, and joins Merv as co-executive producer.
  • Pat's wardrobe sponsor changes yet again, to Bill Blass' Menswear.
  • The Wheel's pegs are upgraded, a fact which Pat notes twice on the season premiere. These new pegs make the Wheel spin very tightly and loudly.
  • The contestants' arrows are redesigned slightly to have a more curved appearance on each side.
  • After each special space's description (Jackpot and Prize Wedges), each wedge zooms out from the sponsor video and flips over to reveal the wedge.
  • At this point, the promo for the show's website is still the same as it was in early 1999.
  • An episode sometime this season has the only confirmed use of Phrases.
  • Throughout this season, many two-word bonus puzzles display on only one line instead of the usual two.

September 1999Edit

  • On September 6, Around the House debuts in Round 4. For this season only, its category wipe is a drawing of a house.
  • During the week of September 13, the Wheel prizes consist of four trip-vehicle pairs: a trip to New Hampshire with a Saab, a trip to Québec City with a Mercedes Benz, a trip to Seattle with a boat, and a trip to Vermont with a Mustang, plus the $25,000.
  • On September 13:
    • The Prize is a Sony entertainment system including a WebTV; footage of the prize includes two people playing the unit's interactive Wheel of Fortune game.
    • For the third known time, a contestant solves incorrectly on the Jackpot wedge.
  • The weeks of September 20 and 27 are done at Universal Studios in Orlando. This is the last time until March 2009 that a road show occurs outside of November, February, or May sweeps.
  • On September 23:
    • There is a rare instance of a Puzzler longer than the puzzle before it: in this case, the Round 1 answer SWIMMERS is followed by a Puzzler of BACKSTROKE.
    • The Round 2 puzzle GINGER MARY ANN & THE PROFESSOR (Classic TV) is followed by a trivia question asking for the name of the charter boat on Gilligan's Island. David provides the correct answer of S.S. Minnow.
    • The second Bankrupt on the orange-yellow $300 is not on the Wheel when Round 4 starts as a regular round.
  • As of September 23:
    • The Puzzler graphic still looks the same as it did on June 12, 1998.
    • "Bonus" categories are still worth $2,000.
  • September 27 is Family Week.

October 1999Edit

Preview

Gameplay Factor: Zero.

  • On October 1, there is a $13,300 Jackpot win.
  • Several changes are made on October 4:
    • The Preview Puzzle debuts.
    • The three $250 spaces are replaced: the orange-yellow $250 becomes $500, the purple $250 becomes $600, and the orange $250 becomes $800. As a result, $300 is the lowest value on the Wheel. Pat and Vanna discuss this change on the 8th.
    • The Final Spin now has $1,000 added to its value.
    • The digits on the wedges now have a white outline, as does the lettering on Lose A Turn.
  • October 1 and 4 have two very similar Bonus Round answers: A DAY OFF and A WEEK OFF, respectively. The former is also the first known instance of a bonus puzzle without RSTLNE in it since I DO in March 1996.
  • Presumably by this point, the value of "bonus" categories is increased to $3,000.
  • October 4 is Great Outdoors Week.
  • On October 5:
    • No vowels are bought in Rounds 1 and 4.
    • The Round 2 puzzle JESSE VENTURA ELECTED GOVERNOR (Headline) is followed by a trivia question asking for the name of the state. Jay provides the correct answer of Minnesota.
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are played entirely by the contestant who began them.
    • Six rounds are played.
    • Round 5 and the Bonus Round are Person.

November 1999Edit

Puzzler with Purple Banner
  • By November 2, the Puzzler graphic changes to a purple banner with light-purple lettering reading "$3,000 PUZZLER", which wipes to the puzzle board and settles (as just "PUZZLER") in the top-left corner of the screen.
  • The weeks of November 8 and 15 are taped at Madison Square Garden. Among the montage shots in the intro is one where Pat, Vanna, and Alex Trebek are seen ringing the opening/closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange during the week of November 8.
  • Durring the weeks of November 8 and 15th, The Preview Puzzles are revealed in many different places in New York instead of the Puzzle board.
  • On November 8:
    Regis & Kathie Lee Preview Puzzle
    • The Preview Puzzle is presented on the set of Live with Regis & Kathie Lee by that show's staff, who hold up cue cards with the letters on them; Regis and Kathie Lee also announce the puzzle instead of Vanna. The full answer, BROADWAY, is also revealed in this fashion.
    • The Round 2 Prize is a $2,500 certificate for FAO Schwarz.
    • Contestant Roy mispronounces the fifth word of the Round 2 puzzle PETER PIPER PICKED A PECK OF PICKLED PEPPERS as "pack", but her answer is accepted.
    • The Preview Puzzle and Round 3 are Show Biz, the only known duplication of that category until February 2017.
    • Romy sweeps the game (except for the Puzzler) and wins an Audi in the Bonus Round.
    • In the final segment, Pat and Vanna show off the prop $25,000 envelope with flashing numerals.
  • On November 11:
    • The Rockettes stand beside the puzzle board during the Preview Puzzle.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 2.
    • In the Speed-Up, contestant Joe calls two repeated letters in a row, neither of which are acknowledged by Pat as such, although Joe acknowledges the second one himself.
    • Later in the Speed-Up, there is a very well-known incident where Joe guesses A GROUP OF PILL-PUSHERS on the puzzle A GROUP OF WELL-WISHERS. After laughter and applause from the audience, the cameras cut to Pat, who says "Good night, everyone!" and then yells, "This is Wheel of Fortune, Joe!" This clip has been seen on several retrospectives and blooper specials.
    • Four turns later, David gives an incorrect answer with only vowels remaining. Before Chandra's turn, there is an abrupt cut to Pat telling her that only vowels remain while the "only vowels remain" beeps (which are almost never used in Speed-Ups) sound; Chandra then solves without guessing a vowel.
  • On an episode from the week of November 11, Alex Trebek makes a cameo after the puzzle BE SURE YOUR RESPONSE IS IN THE FORM OF A QUESTION to promote Celebrity Jeopardy!, which was also being taped at Madison Square Garden at the time.
  • November 15 is Best Friends Week.
  • On November 15, the original Round 3 (SOFT PRETZEL VENDOR) is thrown out due to Pat accidentally crediting a team with a right answer when they said SALT PRETZEL VENDOR.
  • On an episode during the week of November 15 (likely the 16th or 17th):
    • Against current practice, the buzzer sounds after the yellow team gives a wrong answer in Round 1.
    • Round 2 is the first known instance of Slogan not using its bonus question due to the product name being part of the answer (LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR STATE FARM IS THERE).
    • The blue team sweeps the game but loses an electronics package in the Bonus Round.
  • On November 19:
    • The New York Subway reveals the Preview Puzzle.
    • The Round 2 puzzle LAVERNE DE FAZIO & SHIRLEY FEENEY (Classic TV) is followed by a trivia question asking what is their first job. Corey and Christine do not provide the correct answer of brewery.
    • The Round 3 prize is a $7,500 certificate to Pizza Hut.
    • The president of Pizza Hut appears in the closing segment, and during the credits, all of the audience members are given pizza.
  • November 22 is the first NBA Week, with basketball star/civilian teams. For the next several seasons, the NBA week is always the first week of Summer reruns.

December 1999Edit

Puzzler with Pink Banner
  • By December 3, the Puzzler wipe changes again to gold-on-pink; the wipe is otherwise identical in movement to the previous one.
  • On December 3 (taped August 26):
    • The Prize is a Sony entertainment system including a WebTV; footage of the prize includes two people playing the unit's interactive Wheel of Fortune game.
    • There is a $9,200 Jackpot win.
  • All five Bonus Rounds are won on the week of November 29.
  • December 13 is the last Puerto Rico Week.
    • On at least one episode from this week, the Bonus Round window is rectangular and much larger than usual, allowing Pat to be seen within it; he is also visible in the shot of the board when the puzzle is solved.
  • On December 14, there is an $8,700 Jackpot win.
  • By December 27, the website promo at the end of the show becomes a "Play Online and Win" promo, with the music now lasting the duration of the chant.
  • December 27 is the first Retro Week, which pays tribute to the shopping era. Several changes are made for this week only, including:
    Retro Week Preview Puzzle
    • The Preview Puzzle is a freeze-frame of a trilon-era puzzle. After Vanna walks out, she reveals its answer on the current board.
      • Monday: IT'S SHOWTIME from the Radio City Music Hall episode of November 22, 1988
      • Tuesday: MARSHMALLOWS from a Norfolk episode in May 1995
      • Wednesday: BIG AS LIFE from March 17, 1995
      • Thursday: RUBBER DUCKY from an episode circa 1991
      • Friday: IN MINT CONDITION from September 21, 1994
    • The standard opening includes a retro Bonus Round win: an episode with the diamond contestant backdrops on the 27th, an October 1983 show (Bob/Pearl/Carmen) on the 28th, two clips from the ceremonial 3,000th episode (a male contestant wiping his head and a lady winning a Land Rover on October 8, 1998) on the 30th, and the September 4, 1995 show on the 31st.
    • Following the chant, Charlie's intro is "Look at this studio, full of fabulous prizes, exotic trips, and this classic 1965 restored Mustang convertible, just waiting to be won tonight on Wheel of Fortune! And now, here is your host: Pat Sajak!" A new piece of music accompanies this intro.
    • As Charlie says "tonight", the intro from a 1983-84 episode appears (with the original "Changing Keys" dubbed over), which continues through Vanna's introduction before wiping to Pat and Vanna discussing the special week.
      • On the 28th, the clip is from October 1983 (Bob/Pearl/Carmen), while the 29th is from September 1984 (Anita/Paula/Wayne). The latter inadvertently leaves in both a reference to Jack Clark and a few seconds of "Changing Keys".
    • The set has 1970s flower-power decor, a ceramic Dalmatian, and a smaller replication of the 1983-89 turntable.
    • The contestant video wall shows the 1992-96 backdrops.
    • A Shopping wedge is used in place of the regular Wheel Prizes, allowing the contestant to "shop" for one of three prizes (each represented by props on the mini-turntable); one of the prizes during the week is a home-entertainment package, the TV of which shows an opening from the early 1990s. The wedge uses a drawing of a ceramic Dalmatian. If a Shopping wedge is picked up, the player is shown in an insert at the top-right corner over the choices, as was the case on at least the 1974 pilots.
    • Three of the episodes have a puzzle whose category is appended with a decade: 70's Song/Artists [sic] on the 27th, 60's Event on the 28th, and 80's Headline on the 30th. The former two are in Round 1, while the latter is in Round 2.
    • Another classic clip is shown just before Round 3: a sign-off by Pat and Vanna (possibly from daytime, as nighttime rarely used "tomorrow" in the 1980s) as "Ken" and "Barbie" on the 27th, Vanna's entrance from her 1982 audition on the 28th.
  • On December 27:
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Contestant Brad sweeps the game and wins a Route 66 trip in the Bonus Round.
    • Around the House makes its first known appearance in the Bonus Round.
  • On December 28:
    • A "null" cycle is edited out of the Jackpot round, as referenced by Pat saying "Natalie, try it again." despite it being her first aired turn. Pat also mentions the Jackpot to contestant Gary, but the value is muted likely to avoid any aired inconsistencies. Perhaps in relation, the Jackpot display uses smaller, thinner numbers than usual.
    • Richard Simmons appears in the final segment. He promotes his syndicated series DreamMaker, which is canceled by the time this episode airs.
  • On December 30:
    • The Round 2 puzzle FIRST FEMALE U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE APPOINTED is followed by a trivia question asking for the person to whom the puzzle refers; contestant Kathleen does not provide the correct response of Sandra Day O'Connor.
    • The third- and second-place contestants have $12,400 and $28,766 respectively.
    • Contestant Jeff wins with $30,000, all claimed in the Speed-Up.
  • On December 31, both Rounds 1 and 2 are completely filled in before being solved.

January 2000Edit

  • Sometime this year, contestant auditions begin to be held via the Wheelmobile.
  • January 3 is Hawaii Week, taped in Culver City.
  • January 10 is the first Big Money Week.
  • January 17 is Ultimate Adventures Week.
  • On an episode from the week of January 17:
    • The preview Puzzle and Puzzler (Round 1) are Person, while Round 4 is People.
    • In Round 2 contestant Eric fills in the entire puzzle HOCKEY HALL OF FAME INDUCTS WAYNE GRETZKY by himself. Interestingly, the round includes an intact "null" cycle (an incorrect B from him, followed by a Bankrupt and Lose a Turn from his two opponents). Later in the round, he mis-solves with only the Z missing, then turns in his Free Spin to spin again and call Z before solving correctly.
    • In the break before Round 4 (which begins as a Speed-Up), the blanks for the puzzle CO-WORKERS are accidentally revealed after the contestants are asked to turn back around and face the puzzle board. As a result, the stage manager then informs everyone that the puzzle has to be changed. Contestant Pat informs C.C. of this issue and says that he thinks the answer is CO-WORKERS. Once taping resumes, the same puzzle is inexplicably put back up; C.C. calls R on her first turn and solves right away. The length of the puzzle also suggests that Rounds 1-3 ran overtime.
  • January 24 is NFL Players Week.
  • January 31 is Las Vegas Week, taped in Culver City.

February 2000Edit

  • February 7 is Soap Opera Stars Week.
  • The weeks of February 14 and 21 are taped at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. During these weeks, the nametags use a thinner font than usual, and the letters are not outlined; these same nametags were used on the New York episodes earlier in the season.
  • During the week of February 14:
    • Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters perform as a house band.
    • Clips are shown of an international adaptation during Pat and Vanna's chat: it is known that Australia is featured on Monday and Turkey on Wednesday. Additionally, the respective version's hostess is in the audience.
  • On February 14:
    • David Hasselhoff makes a cameo appearance.
    • There is an $8,750 Jackpot win.
  • On February 15:
    • Wolfgang Puck makes a guest appearance after the puzzle STOP YOU'RE MAKING ME HUNGRY.
    • Contestant Kara sweeps the game (except for the Puzzler) but loses a Mitsubishi Montero in the Bonus Round.
  • On February 17:
    • A spin is edited into Round 2, contestant Paul lands on the blue green $500, also part of the $5,000 wedge is visible in full screen format.
    • The $10,000 wedge reveals part of the orange yellow $300 and covers part of the red $600.
    • Martha Stewart makes a guest appearance after the puzzle MARTHA STEWART LIVING.
    • The second place contestant has $16,300.
  • February 21 is College Week. During this week, Grambling University's marching band is present.
  • On February 22, the Preview Puzzle and Round 1 are Event, while Round 4 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
  • On February 25, contestant Angelika sweeps the game and wins a Volkswagen in the Bonus Round.
  • During the weeks of February 14 and 21, all ten winners are female.
  • On February 29:
    • The red contestant is named Abe Lincoln.
    • Contestant Donna wins despite failing to claim $24,300 in Round 2.

March 2000Edit

  • On March 1:
    • The Round 2 puzzle THE SHEEP'S IN THE MEADOW THE COW'S IN THE CORN (Quotation) is followed by a trivia question asking for the fictional character of the nursery rhyme. Michael provides the correct answer of Little Boy Blue.
    • There is a $7,550 Jackpot win.
    • Rounds 1 and 3 are played entirely by the contestant who began them.
  • On March 8, Round 1 is THE MATCH GAME (even though "The" was only in the title of the original 1960s series and not the more familiar 1970s incarnations), followed by a Puzzler of GENE RAYBURN. After the round, Pat gives a tribute to Rayburn (who died the previous November) and mentions Game Show Network. A clip of Match Game is then shown going into the first commercial break.
  • On March 9, contestant Kelly spins over the Final Spin bells. She is allowed to complete her turn, after which Pat does the Final Spin.
  • On March 14, when the $25,000 prize is announced after the last round, Vanna motions to a $25,000 graphic instead of using the envelope.
  • On March 20:
    • The Gift Tag debuts on the red $900. The first one is for Art.com.
    • An animated bumper is added following Round 3.
  • On an episode around this point, the bonus puzzle CATCH A POP FLY is inaccurately categorized as Event, as opposed to using "catching" or the category Phrase.
  • On another episode around this point, the bonus puzzle CANDLEWICK is misspelled (it should be two words).

April 2000Edit

  • On an episode from the week of April 24, the theme (Wheel Across America) is misspelled "Amercia" on one of the on-screen graphics.

May-June 2000Edit

  • The weeks of May 1 and 8 are the WheelOfFortune.com Sweepstakes, sponsored by EarthLink. During these weeks:
    • Round 3 is a "Dot com" puzzle, which may be entered through the show's website for a chance to win prizes sponsored by various websites. Among the prizes are $25,000 cash from USABancShares.com, trips from Marriott's Vacation Club.com, and other prizes sponsored by Sprint PCS and The EarthLink Mall.
    • EarthLink also sponsors the Wheel Prizes.
    • The set has computer-themed decorations, including a giant computer.
    • Possibly because of the "Dot com" puzzle, the Jackpot is moved to Round 2 for these two weeks only.
  • On May 18:
    • The shot of the Round 1 puzzle is different than usual when it is solved: instead of cutting from the contestant area to a full shot of the board, the camera pans over to it. As a result, the board's left side is cut off and no chyron is present when the answer fills in.
    • The Wheel Prize is a DVD collection, and the copy is followed by a trailer of For the Love of the Game. Given that this is a movie-themed week, it is likely that all of the Prizes were followed by trailers.
    • The $25,000 envelope has the two-row logo on the inside of its top flap. It is not known how long this lasted, although a likely guess is that it was unique to the latter half of this season.
    • After the previous day's (May 17) episode featured ETCH A SKETCH as the bonus puzzle, Vanna draws a city skyline on an Etch-A-Sketch.
  • May 22 is Family Week. The set is a replica of Universal Studios, interestingly the scene of Family Week earlier in the season.
  • May 29 is Big Money Week, making it the first known regular player week to occur twice in one season. During this week:
    • One of the Bonus Round prizes is an unknown quantity of then-new Sacagawea $1 coins.
    • According to one recollection, the round structure that would become official in Season 18 ($2,500/$3,500/$3,500/$5,000, with the Jackpot back in Round 2) is used for the first time. It is known that the Jackpot was still in Round 3 during the week of May 15.
    • According to another recollection, the $10,000 Wedge is turned upside-down and used as top dollar in Round 4 of at least one episode this week.
  • As of the above week, Fill In the Blank is still in use.

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