angel IT’S A DILEMMA! demon

This is my TV adaptation of the party game “A Question of Scruples”, with a survey element adapted from Card Sharks. I posted this game some time ago to the newsgroup alt.tv.game-shows. I first came up with the show around 1990 in response to the moral decline of modern society. (Steve Leblang has told me that Sunbow Productions tried in 1991 to adapt “A Question of Scruples” for TV, and still owns the rights to do so. Does Steve know that Jay Wolpert tried to adapt Trivial Pursuit for TV syndication before Wink Martindale produced it for the Family Channel?)


Premise: Two teams (men against women; either three or four players to a team) answer moral dilemma questions, hoping to match the response most often given in a survey of 100 audience members. The only acceptable answers are Yes, No and Depends. (Alternatively, the survey questions could be posted on a special Web site and responses would come from site visitors. In this case, the responses would be expressed as percentage figures.) Each team may include one or two weekly celebrity guests. (Note: The game “A Question of Scruples” allows players to challenge the sincerity of another player’s answer. I have decided to leave that element out of this version.)

Host: I favor a female host (such as Vicki Lawrence-Schultz or Yeardley Smith).

The Set: It’s a Dilemma! uses a simple set, resembling Family Feud. Each team has as many seats as participants, and a three-digit score display (like that used for the Nickelodeon version of Double Dare). Between the teams, a display (either mechanical or electronic) shows how many people in the survey gave each of the three answers: Yes, No or Depends. The host may move freely from one team to the other.

Rules: Before the show, a coin toss determines which team gets the first question. Celebrity guests, if used, are teammates for the contestants. Essentially, a player’s turn proceeds as follows:

  1. The host asks the player a dilemma question, answerable only by Yes, No or Depends.
  2. The player gives one of those three answers. If the player answers Depends, he/she is encouraged to elaborate. (See the example which follows.)
  3. The host reveals how many survey respondents gave the player’s answer.
  4. The player scores that number of dollars for his/her team (double if his/her answer was the most popular).

Example: The women’s team is up and the question is, “You are a tenant in an apartment building. The manager has let the place fall into disastrous disrepair. Do you stop paying your rent and risk eviction until repairs are made?” The player says, “It depends. I would first ask whether the situation is beyond the manager’s control.” The survey results for that question are: 14 Yes, 79 No, 7 Depends. The women’s team would get $7.

The host then goes to the first player on the other team and asks a new question, then back to the next player on the first team, and so on. Teams alternate until time expires; the team with more money advances to the bonus round. Each team keeps its cash winnings, to be divided among its members.

Bonus Round (courtesy of Eric Hines):

The winning team hears one question and, after a 10-second conference, decides which of the three responses — Yes, No or Depends — was the most popular, followed by the second most popular and then the last. The results are displayed — not the actual tallies, but the rankings (first, second, third). If the team is correct in the order of answers, they win $1,000, but if any part of the response is incorrect, they win only $200.

In the second part of the bonus round, the team must determine how many of the 100 people gave one of the three answers, in an attempt to increase their bonus winnings tenfold (i.e., $10,000 or $2,000).

The team must decide which of the answers they wish to try to match, and the host reveals one of the other answers. (Example: The team wants to try to match the NO amount, and the DEPENDS amount is displayed.) The team now has time — maybe another 10 seconds — to make a guess, after which the remaining unselected amount is revealed in dramatic fashion (Host: “In order for your guess of 25 to be correct, the YES amount must be 64, since the DEPENDS amount was 11. Now let’s reveal the YES amount....”) to see whether the team’s winnings are increased tenfold or not!


“A Question of Scruples” is TM & © Milton Bradley
This game is © 1996-–present James H. Vipond
Most recent change: 2014 May 13 | Return to site index