NBC (ended 1993)


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A six-letter word; it's where you go to read all about your favorite TV shows, including Scrabble. The age-old crossword game that everybody loved to play, but never quite like this, came to television in 1984 for a moderately successful six-year run. Here, contestants used punny and double-entendre clues to fill in words on a gameboard resembling the famous Scrabble game. The format for Scrabble (the TV series) was tweaked several times, but one format lasted longer than others, described below: Crossword Round Two Crossword Rounds were played per show, with two contestants competing at a time. The first game had the returning champion played a challenger, while two new contestants played in the second game. In each Crossword Round, a letter "to build on" is placed in the center "starred" space to begin the game, and host Woolery reads a clue, with the number of letters (five to nine) in the word. Example: A nine-letter word - Drunks hate to see pink ones; bargain shoppers hate white ones. Answer: ELEPHANTS.) A pool of tiles, each representing all the letters in the puzzle plus three stoppers (letters NOT in the puzzle) are placed in the rack between the players. The player chosen to go first draws two tiles from the rack and places them in an electronic reader. The player chooses one and, if the letter was in the word, it was placed in the proper spot (following effects denoting its "search" for the correct position). The player could guess the word or place the other tile in the reader; if he/she still could not guess, then they were allowed to draw two more tiles and play continued. That is, unless he/she chose one of the stoppers, which then passed control to the opponent. If all three stoppers are revealed before the word is guessed, a Speedword format is used, where each of the blanks (save for the last one) are filled in at the rate of one every half-second. The Speedword was also played if time was running short. At least one of the tiles in each word were colored (blue or pink), which provided bonuses for providing a correct answer immediately after filling it in. Those bonuses were $500 for the blue space and $1,000 for a pink space. A player also won the bonuses if he/she buzzed in and guessed immediately after the colored space was filled. After each word is guessed (or sometimes not, if neither player could provide a guess after all but one of the letters were shown), a new word was played, building off a letter in the previous word. The first player to correctly guess three words won $500 and advanced to the Scrabble Sprint Round. Scrabble Sprint Round Here, the winner of the first Crossword Round met the returning champion (or second-round winner, if the champion was defeated). The challenger is timed to the tenth of a second for how long it takes him to guess four words (again, five to nine letters, with shorter ones offered first) correctly. There were no stoppers in these words, and a player could choose from two possible letters in the word. All except the last letter were filled in, and a player offered a guess by hitting the plunger in front of him/her. Penalties were assessed for incorrect guesses (10 seconds) or failing to guess (5 seconds). The champion must then beat the challenger's time, playing the same four words. For either contestant, alternate words were played if they failed to guess or were incorrect. The winner earned $1,000 and advances to the Bonus Sprint Round. Bonus Sprint Round The Bonus Sprint Round was played exactly like the Scrabble Sprint Round, except the player had a fixed 10-second limit to guess two words (one six letters, the other seven). Guessing both words correctly won a jackpot that began at $5,000 and increased by $1,000 for each day it went unclaimed. The champion returns to the next show to face a new challenger. Several other formats were utilized during the run, briefly described thusly: * In the Crossword Round, two new players played. Regular tiles for each word were worth $25, blue ones $50 and pink ones $100, with the money added to a "pot." The winner of three words wins the value of the pot and advanced to the Scrabble Sprint Round to face the returning champion. Each Scrabble Sprint Round win was worth $1,500, with five wins amending his/her winnings to $20,000. A 10th win ammended the winnings to $40,000 and retired the player undefeated. * Later, before the longest-lived format was used, the "pot" was scrapped, and players won $500 and $1,000 bonuses for placing letters on blue and pink tiles. A flat $500 was paid to the Crossword Round winner. Scrabble was known for its highly imaginative clues and its extensive use of sound effects (14, according to several sources). That may have helped draw in viewers, but not so much as the fast-paced gameplay. Scrabble fared fairly well against The Price is Right, but eventually, the show surrendered in the ratings. In 1993, Scrabble returned once again, not in encore reruns (as was the case for Classic Concentration) but in a new, cheaper format. The game rules were the same, but smaller cash awards (a $1,000 base jackpot for Scrabble Sprint Round winners, plus extra money added for guessing words on pink and blue squares) turned off many viewers. It didn't help that demographics had changed and many NBC affiliates chose not to air Scrabble, instead opting for syndicated fare such as The Jerry Springer Show. After Scrabble's successor, Caesar's Challenge was cancelled in January 1994 due to failed ratings, NBC was out of the daytime game show business entirely. Scrabble is a registered trademark now licensed to Hasbro, but the original trademark holder - Selchow-Righter - was acknowledged on each show.

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