The YouTube Files – Scrabble USA.

Scrabble (NBC, 1984-1990, 1993)

I thought that it was about time for me to review another American game show, because they’re just so great aren’t they. This one caught my attention because this is based around Scrabble, the word game that people enjoy playing around the world, although this TV version was somewhat different from the traditional board game format.

The host was Chuck Woolery (a veteran who has hosted many game shows over the years). This began with people shouting the name of the show in a similar style to Wheel Of Fortune, and there were also plenty of flashing lights and podiums that turned around for no reason, which is always nice. The format did change, but mostly was something of a cross between Cross Wits and All Clued Up.

Two contestants took part. They were given a cryptic clue to a word that was between five and nine letters long, with only one letter revealed. This would either be horizontal on vertical on the board. They can take two tiles from a choice which is always two more than the letters in the word. They place them in a slot, and then these letters are revealed. They then pick one to put into the word, and they can guess if they like (and there were various bonuses on offer).

But they should beware, because if they pick a letter that isn’t in the word, it is a “stopper” (similar to what would be called a whammy or a stinger in similar shows), and they lose their turn. How annoying. If all three stoppers are played, and the word still hasn’t been guessed, the remaining letters (except one) are revealed. They buzz in if they know, and whoever gets it right wins that round (games would straddle if they ran out of time).

Another round is then played, with the next word connecting with wherever the previous one is on the board. The first to win three rounds, goes through to the bonus game which was the Scrabble Sprint, to play the defending champion. Again, a clue was given to a word with a particular number of letters in it, and after the clock started, they picked various letters (no stoppers at this stage). Buzz in and get it right, and the clock stops.

If their opponent can guess the same amount of words in a shorter time, they win, but if not, there’s a new champion. Contestants could return several times, and some won five-figure sums. There were also special themed weeks, including college students taking part, and even on one occasion, other game shows hosts. Scrabble ran for almost a decade, and confusingly, a board game of this version was released.