DAN: "Ground control, ground control, we've enter the Blue zone!" After song: "And here is the host of Test Pattern, our pal, Dan Gallagher!"
Test Pattern was MuchMusic's response to MTV's Remote Control. The show was a points-based contest, with the highest scorer winning a grand prize. There were four five-time champions in the first season. These four contestants were deemed the best contestants that season, and won trips to Las Vegas, Mexico, Jamaica, and Florida. All four participated in a "Tournament of Champions" show in Season 2, for which the grand prize was a home stereo.
The main game featured a "video wall" with a grid of nine windows with television screen facades. Each window concealed a category or other game feature. In each of the two main rounds, contestants would take turns throwing a fake brick at the game board; for most screens, this would reveal a category from which trivia questions would be asked to all three contestants by ring-in format. (Occasionally if a contestant kept missing the board, Dan would ask them which window they were aiming for and would hit it himself.) Each correct answer added points, while each incorrect answer deducted them. Questions in the first main round were worth 10 points, and in the second main round were worth 20 points. The board also concealed mini-games, which that contestant would play, and a "switch" space: this space knocked the player out of the game and switched them with another contestant waiting to play.
The most often categories were:
- S*x (inappropriate for children)
- Things LOSERS/AMERICANS don't know
- Cold Cash – The contestant would be directed to the fridge and pick "Cold", "Colder", or "Coldest" envelope, each revealing a different number of old two-dollar bills. It didn't mean that "Coldest" had the most two-dollar bills and hence, the help from the entire audience.
- Switch – The contestant in the deck would switch with the contestant who revealed the category. However, the contestant who revealed "switch" would get all the profit when the new contestant won.
The show also had a round featuring a large floor-based game wheel with eight mini-games. An audience member was selected to lie on the wheel and act as the indicator, and the wheel with the audience member was spun once by each contestant who would play the game that resulted.
The show had at least two slightly different formats: In one format, the two main rounds were the first two rounds of the game with the board in the second round remaining as it was following the first round; this was followed by the wheel round. In the second format, the first round was followed by the wheel round; the board was reset for the subsequent second main round, including the switch space which was once again available. It is unknown which of these formats preceded which.
The fourth and final round of each game was a lightning round, in which the contestants donned motorcycle-style helmets outfitted with a lightbulb and a button on the forehead. Contestants had to slap the button to ring in. As many questions as possible were asked in the 58-second time limit. The player with the highest score at the end of the round won the grand prize and returned on the next episode. If there was a tie between two players, a tie-breaker question was asked.
Among the mini-games played were:
- Pablo's Hands – The contestant would be blindfolded and have to identify a slimy substance on Pablo's hands by smell, touch and/or taste.
- The Hairy Back Brothers – A pair of large hirsute men would take off their shirts, revealing extremely hairy backs with several band-aids on them. The contestant had to remove a band-aid and reveal a reward or penalty.
The labels on the game wheel, which resulted in random questions or challenges were:
- Test Drive
- The Steve Show – contestants who were named Steve
- Dan's Choice – The host (Dan) would choose any mini-game on the wheel
- Spinner Winner – The audience member in the wheel would win "The Official Test Pattern 2-Slice Toaster"
- Going Going – The contestant would choose an X Y or Z envelope. Dan would then ask a question. A correct answer kept them in the game. A wrong answer meant the contestant had to switch with the on deck contestant. (When a contestant chose "Y" this was usually followed by Dan saying "He/She is choosing Y" followed by the audience saying in unison "because we love you.")
- Guts – The contestant would be directed to a diagram of the human anatomy. On the diagram were three envelopes, each labeled with a different category (usually "Sex", "Music", and "Cheese").
- Free Lunch
- Dance Break – Contestants had to perform an aerobic dance and the best dancer (determined by the crowd applause) scored
- Top 40 – The host (Dan) would be handed a record with a question on it. Dan would asks the contestant the question and if they were correct, they scored points and won the record. If the contestant answered incorrectly, they would still get the record.
- Mystery Potato Head – The contestant would smashe one of five potatoes with a hammer to reveal a prize or point value hidden inside.
- Goofs, Goofs, Goofs
- Paper Boy
- Human Pinata – A staffer would wear a ski-doo helmet, a neck brace, and safety goggles then climb to the top of a ladder. They would hang a brown paper bag from their neck and wait for the host (Dan) to ask the blindfolded contestant a question. If the contestant answered correctly, they would be given a cardboard tube to swing at the "pinata", where they could win the treats inside the bag.
- Bowl & Win – The contestant would be directed to a six-pin bowling alley and be blindfolded. If the contestant made a strike, he/she scored 30 points.
- Hide the Salami – The contestant would be directed to a fridge on-set and had to guess in which compartment in the fridge was a salami on which are points the contestant either added or deducted from his/her score.
One of the most famous prizes on the show was winning a 2-slice toaster, considered by some to be the most sought-after prize on Test Pattern.
Reruns currently air Mondays and Fridays on GameTV. In addition, reruns of episodes from the show's second season also aired during the summer of 2003 on MuchMoreMusic.