is an American television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...
that was based on the Scrabble
Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a game board marked with a 15-by-15 grid. The words are formed across and down in crossword fashion and must appear in a standard dictionary. Official reference works provide a list...
A board game is a game which involves counters or pieces being moved on a pre-marked surface or "board", according to a set of rules. Games may be based on pure strategy, chance or a mixture of the two, and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve...
. The show was co-produced by Exposure Unlimited and Reg Grundy Productions
Reg Grundy Productions was the American wing of the worldwide television production company Grundy Worldwide, which was founded by Australian television producer Reg Grundy. Reg Grundy Productions was responsible for the production of two highly-successful daytime game shows on NBC during the...
. It ran from July 2, 1984 to March 23, 1990, and again from January 18 to June 11, 1993, both runs on NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...
. A total of 1,335 episodes were produced from both editions; Chuck Woolery
Charles Herbert "Chuck" Woolery is an American game show host. He has had long-running tenures hosting several different game shows. He was the original host of Wheel of Fortune from 1975–81, the original incarnation of Love Connection from 1983–94, and Scrabble from 1984–90...
hosted both versions of the series. Jay Stewart
Jay Fix , known professionally as Jay Stewart, was an American television and radio announcer known primarily for his work on game shows. One of his longest-lasting roles was as the announcer on the game show Let's Make a Deal, which he announced throughout the 1960s and 1970s...
was the announcer for the first year and was replaced by Charlie Tuna
Charlie Tuna is the stage name of Art Ferguson , a radio personality based in Los Angeles, California currently working at KRTH-FM....
in the summer of 1985, who announced for the remainder of the original version and the entirety of the 1993 revival.
Two contestants play a crossword
A crossword is a word puzzle that normally takes the form of a square or rectangular grid of white and shaded squares. The goal is to fill the white squares with letters, forming words or phrases, by solving clues which lead to the answers. In languages that are written left-to-right, the answer...
game on a computer-generated Scrabble board. The objective of the game is for a contestant to guess three correct words before his or her opponent. Each word is built on a letter of the previous word (a letter is given on the center of the board for the first word), with all remaining letters blank. The contestants are shown the space that the word occupies, and are told the number of letters in the word along with a clue. A set of numbered tiles appears between the contestants, representing the remaining letters in the word and three additional letters that do not belong, referred to as "Stoppers". Words range between five and nine letters, with the number of tiles always being two greater than the size of the word. If a contestant guesses the word correctly at any time he or she wins the word. If a contestant guesses the word incorrectly, control is passed to the other contestant.
The contestant going first is given the opportunity to guess the word immediately. If he or she chooses not to or runs out of time (the latter case was dropped in 1986), he/she must take two tiles, calling out their numbers and inserting them into a slot in his/her podium. The tiles are translated into letters that the contestant must choose from. A correct letter is inserted into its proper place in the word, giving the contestant another chance to guess. An incorrect letter explodes to reveal a Stopper, passing control to the other contestant. If the contestant chooses not to guess the word after revealing a correct letter, the other letter is automatically tested against the word and either placed or shown to be a Stopper. Once both tiles are used, if the contestant still does not guess the word, he/she takes two more tiles and must place at least one letter. If a contestant gains control due to his/her opponent's first letter being revealed as a Stopper, the contestant keeps the remaining untested letter and chooses one additional tile. The last missing letter of the word is never revealed—contestants must guess the word at that point.
If a contestant finds the third Stopper, his or her opponent has one more chance to guess the word. If no guess is made, or if the guess is incorrect, the game goes to "Speedword", in which letters are randomly placed into the word until either all but one letter is revealed or a contestant hits his or her buzzer to stop the game and guess. If a contestant guesses incorrectly, he or she is disallowed from guessing that word again. If both contestants guess incorrectly, the word is revealed and no points are scored. Beginning in late 1985, Speedword also begins if time is running short and/or if the contestants tied with two words apiece.
Once a word is fully revealed, assuming that it does not result in a contestant winning the game, another word is played, building on a letter from the previous word. If, due to unsolved words, the round extends beyond the normal maximum of five words, sixth and subsequent words are played on a new board. The contestant to go first for the next word is either the contestant with fewer points, or the loser of the previous word if the scores are tied. The first contestant to solve three words wins the game and $500, and goes on to the Scrabble Sprint round.
Later in the series words and clues were sent in from viewers of Scrabble
, and if a clue and word was used, the viewer who sent the word in won a Scrabble t-shirt.
In the first two weeks of the show, a cumulative money pot was used in the crossword game instead of awarding $500 to the winner. Each correctly placed letter added $25 to the pot, while letters in blue squares scored $50 and letters in pink squares scored $100. The prize for winning the game (guessing three correct words) was the value in the pot, and the Sprint Round was played for triple the pot's value.
After the first two weeks of the show, the pot was eliminated and the cash prize for winning a game became $500. Beginning in October 1984, the blue and pink squares then became bonus squares: If a contestant revealed a letter in one of these squares and immediately guessed the word, he/she was awarded an instant cash bonus of $500 or $1,000, respectively. Additionally, if a new word was being built upon a letter occupying a bonus square, the contestant in control could win the bonus by immediately guessing the word without any additional letters. Originally, Woolery handed contestants the money in regular $100 bills, one at a time; later, he handed out blue and pink colored bills called "Chuck Bucks", using the appropriate color for that square. Beginning in 1986, the bonus rule was added to Speedword, provided a contestant guessed the word right after a letter was placed into a bonus space.
For the 1993 version, money won from bonus squares was added to the Bonus Sprint jackpot instead of being awarded directly to the contestant.
For three months in 1985, contestants not only had to guess each word correctly, but also had to spell the word one letter at a time. Similar to the format used during the first two weeks, each correct letter added money to a pot: Regular squares added $50, blue squares added $100, and pink squares added $200 (later $500). In one episode, two contestants repeatedly failed to spell the word "mosquitos" correctly, despite knowing it was the correct answer. This rule was abandoned by the fall of 1985.
In the Scrabble Sprint round, the winner of the Crossword game (now the "challenger") faces off against the show's reigning champion. He/she is given a set of three words. At the start of each word, the host reveals a set of blanks corresponding to the number of letters in the word, gives a short clue, then starts a timer, which counts up from zero. Two letters are shown, and the contestant must choose one to place in the word. There are no Stoppers in this round; all letters shown are in the word.
When the contestant thinks he or she knows the word, he/she must hit a plunger to stop the clock and give an answer. If correct, the contestant moves on to the next word. If the contestant guesses incorrectly or takes too long, he/she incurs a ten-second penalty and play continues on the current word, until all but one letter is revealed. At this point, the contestant may take up to five additional seconds to hit their plunger; if they still cannot guess the word, a make-up word is added to the set.
Play continues in this manner until all the words in the set are guessed. The challenger's total time now serves as the time for the champion to beat. The champion is given a set of words, each word the same length as the challenger's corresponding word. The clock counts down from the challenger's posted time, with all other rules remaining in effect. If the champion successfully completes all three words within the challenger's time, he/she wins the round. If the champion fails to beat the time, the challenger wins and becomes the new champion.
In its original format, the Scrabble Sprint round was played between the winner of the Crossword game and the returning champion. The challenger selected one of two envelopes (pink or blue), containing three words each. The challenger established a time that the champion had to beat using the other set of words. During the first two weeks, the prize for winning the Sprint round was triple the pot from the Crossword game. After this point, the prize became a flat $1,500.
Originally, contestants chose one of the two letters randomly shown, followed by the other, before the display was refreshed with two new letters. The rules were then changed so that only one letter could be selected at a time. The unchosen letter disappeared from the display, and two new random letters were shown.
If a champion won five Scrabble Sprints in a row, that contestant won a $20,000 bonus. A ten-time champion won a second $20,000 bonus and retired undefeated, with a guaranteed minimum total of $55,500.
Beginning in March 1985, both contestants played the same set of three words. The challenger played first while the champion was isolated backstage so they could not hear or see gameplay. After the challenger established the time to beat, the champion was brought back on stage. In later episodes under this format, the number of words played was increased to four.
At this time, the prizes awarded to five- and ten-time champions were changed: A five-time champion had their total winnings augmented to a flat $20,000, and then a flat $40,000 for winning ten games.
On December 29, 1986, the format changed again. Two Crossword games were played each day with the champion playing in the first game. The challenger in that game played first. The winner from the first half played Scrabble Sprint to establish a time using four words. The second Crossword game featured two new contestants, with a coin toss determining who went first. The winner of the second Crossword game then attempted to beat the time set during the first half of the show using the same four words. The winner of this format became that day's champion, received $1,000, and played the Bonus Sprint round.
The Bonus Sprint round, also introduced on December 29, 1986, played very similarly to the Scrabble Sprint round. The contestant had ten seconds to solve two words of at least six and seven letters in length. Successfully guessing both words awarded a jackpot which began at $5,000 and increased by $1,000 every day until it was won. An incorrect guess resulted in an automatic loss, since the ten-second penalty rule was still in effect. Win or lose, the champion returned the next day for up to five days maximum.
When the series returned in 1993, the Bonus Sprint jackpot began at $1,000. Additional money was only added to the jackpot if a contestant landed on a blue or pink square in the Crossword game and solved the word immediately, adding either $500 or $1,000, respectively. No cash bonuses were given directly to contestants in this version; all bonuses went into the Bonus Sprint jackpot.
The pilot was taped on March 8, 1984 at NBC Studios in Burbank, hosted by Chuck Woolery with Rod Roddy
Robert Ray "Rod" Roddy was an American radio and television announcer. He is primarily known for his role as an offstage announcer on game shows. Among the shows that he announced are the CBS game shows Whew!, Press Your Luck and The Price Is Right. On the latter two, Roddy appeared on camera on...
announcing. The set was the same for the most part with a faster chase-light sequence, a superimposed logo (instead of the onstage logo in the series) and included a few gameplay differences.
Two contestants, one a returning champion, played the crossword game. Whomever accumulated the most money after four words won the game. Each letter revealed was worth $25. Colored squares added extra money in addition to the $25; blue squares were worth $125 ($100 + $25) and pink squares were worth $225 ($200 + $25). On the fourth and final word of the game, the dollar values doubled ($50 for white squares, $250 for the blue squares and $450 for the pink squares). The contestant who guessed the word won the money in the pot for that word. The contestant who won the most money faced the contestant with the fastest Scrabble Sprint time of the week, and whoever guessed four words in the fastest time possible at the end of the Friday episode won $25,000 in cash.
Future game show contestant coordinator Laura Chambers competed as a contestant on the pilot, and "won" the $25,000 bonus in the Scrabble Sprint. Chambers had previously appeared as a contestant on Sale of the Century
Sale of the Century is an American television game show which debuted in the United States on September 29, 1969, on NBC daytime. It was one of three NBC game shows to premiere on that date, the other two being the short-lived Letters to Laugh-In and Name Droppers. The series aired until July 13,...
as well as Tic-Tac-Dough
Tic-Tac-Dough is an American television game show based on the pen-and-paper game of tic-tac-toe. Contestants answer questions in various categories to put up their respective symbol, X or O, on the board. Three versions were produced: the initial 1956–59 run on NBC, a 1978–1986 run initially on...
, and later became an on-air personality for Game Show Network
The Game Show Network is an American cable television and direct broadcast satellite channel dedicated to game shows and casino game shows. The channel was launched on December 1, 1994. Its current slogan is "The World Needs More Winners"...
from its launch in 1994 until 1997.
A pilot of Scrabble
was taped for syndication on August 1, 1990, hosted by Los Angeles personality Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards is an American television personality on Los Angeles, California, morning shows, including AM Los Angeles, Two on The Town, and Good Day L.A....
. This version never made it to air.
Another version, entitled Scrabble Challenge
but with rules more similar to the board game rather than the 1980s version, was planned exclusively for GSN with host John O'Hurley
John George O'Hurley is an American actor, voice actor, and television personality. He is known for the role of J. Peterman on the NBC sitcom Seinfeld and was the host of the game show Family Feud from 2006 to 2010.-Early life:...
. A second pilot was later filmed, hosted by Lisa Kennedy Montgomery
Lisa Kennedy Montgomery is an American political satirist, radio personality, and former MTV VJ...
. Neither pilot made it to a series.
Over the years, Scrabble
had several special weeks, including Soap Week
(which featured some soap opera stars from Days of our Lives
Days of our Lives is a long running daytime soap opera broadcast on the NBC television network. It is one of the longest-running scripted television programs in the world, airing nearly every weekday in the United States since November 8, 1965. It has since been syndicated to many countries around...
, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is an American television soap opera, first broadcast in the United States on NBC on July 30, 1984, and last aired on January 15, 1993. The show revolved around the eventful lives of the wealthy Capwell family of Santa Barbara, California...
and other soaps), Teen Week
, College Week
, and others, as well as two Tournaments of Champions
(February 1985 and May 1986), at least one Tournament of Teen Champions
(1986) and a $100,000 All American Tournament
Once in 1987, and again in 1988, the series aired "Game Show Hosts Week
". Participants for the first such week were Peter Tomarken
Peter David Tomarken was an American television personality primarily known as the host of Press Your Luck.-Early life:...
, Marc Summers
Marc Summers is an American television personality, comedian, game show host, producer, and a two-time talk show host. He is best known for hosting the Nickelodeon game show Double Dare and currently hosts Unwrapped on The Food Network.- Early career :Summers was born Marc Berkowitz in...
, John Davidson
John Hamilton Davidson, Sr. is an American singer, actor and game show host known for hosting That's Incredible!, Time Machine, and Hollywood Squares in the 1980s, and a revival of The $100,000 Pyramid in 1991....
, Tom Kennedy, Bill Rafferty
William "Bill" Rafferty is a comedian and impressionist who hosted the game shows Every Second Counts , Card Sharks , and Blockbusters .Rafferty was born in Queens, New York...
, and Jamie Farr
Jamie Farr is an American television, film, and theater actor. He is best known for having played the role of cross-dressing Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger in the television sitcom M*A*S*H.-Early life:...
. The latter two returned in 1988, joined by Vicki Lawrence
Vicki Lawrence is an American actress, comedienne, and Billboard Hot 100 #1 singer, who was frequently a game show panelist in the 1970s and 1980s...
, Jim Lange
Jim Lange is a former American game show host and disc jockey. He was particularly well known to listeners in the San Francisco and Los Angeles radio markets with stints at several stations in both markets, racking up over 45 years on the air...
, Wink Martindale
Winston Conrad Martindale , known professionally as Wink Martindale, is an American disc jockey and television game show host.-Radio:...
, and Jeff MacGregor.
Summers hosted during the 1987 week when Chuck Woolery played segments of the game (and earned $12,000 for a home viewer).
Episode status and reruns
All episodes still exist. FremantleMedia
FremantleMedia, Ltd. is the content and production division of Bertelsmann's RTL Group, Europe's second largest TV, radio, and production company...
Hasbro is a multinational toy and boardgame company from the United States of America. It is one of the largest toy makers in the world. The corporate headquarters is located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States...
(who holds the US and Canadian rights to the game itself) currently own the rights to the series as well as any future revivals. Reruns aired on USA Network
USA Network is an American cable television channel launched in 1971. Once a minor player in basic cable, the network has steadily gained popularity because of breakout hits like Monk, Psych, Burn Notice, Royal Pains, Covert Affairs, White Collar, Monday Night RAW, Suits, and reruns of the various...
from September 16, 1991 to October 13, 1995 (with the exception of a brief period from February 6 to April 14, 1995). The short-lived 1993 revival has not been rerun since cancellation.