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Based on the board game of the same name, this NBC Game Show hosted by Chuck Woolery, famous for Wheel of Fortune and Love Connection, featured contestants trying to navigate a crossword puzzle-like board, forming words and winning cash and prizes.
Unlike the board game, however, the contestants did not form words themselves; instead, the words were pre-generated and as on Wheel the contestants had to provide the correct letters and guess the word. To do this, players were given a vague, punny clue (see above quote for example), then they would draw from a rack of "tiles", each representing a letter from the word (along with three "Stoppers", which didn't appear in the word), choose one of two letters to place within the word, and try to guess the word once the letter's position was revealed. A Stopper would end the player's turn.
Another difference from the board game was that letters had no value in themselves. The pink and blue Bonus Spaces on the board could be worth bonus cash to a player who correctly solved the word immediately after placing a letter on a colored square. The first player to solve three words...all together now...won the game...
...and would go on to a "Sprint" round, where they tried to solve four words quicker than their opponent (the returning champion in later years) by picking one of two letters in the word at a time (no Stoppers in this half of the game). Whoever won the Scrabble Sprint would attempt a Bonus Sprint, where they had to guess two words in 10 seconds to win $5,000, increasing by $1,000 each time it wasn't won.
The series originally ran from 1984 to 1990, then returned briefly in 1993 as part of an hourlong block with Scattergories.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- Big Win Sirens: The stock "NBC sirens" were heard for $20,000, $40,000, Bonus Sprint and Tournament wins.
- Bonus Round: The "Scrabble Sprint" (and later, the "Bonus Sprint").
- Bonus Space: Blue and pink spaces, which awarded $500 and $1,000, respectively, during the best-known format. On the game board, they were placed where the "Double Score" and "Triple Score" spaces were in the board game.
- Home Game: One was released by Selchow & Righter in 1987, called TV Scrabble. A board game of a game show of a board game. Adaptation Decay, much?
- Home Participation Sweepstakes: Many over the course of both versions, generally resulting in Speedword being played before either contestant got two words.
- Progressive Jackpot: Used in the Bonus Sprint.
- Speed Round: "Speedword", played at three different times:
- When all three stoppers had been drawn for a word.
- After a 2-2 tie.
- Whenever time ran short.
- Whammy: Stoppers.
- April Fools' Day: On the April Fool's Day 1989 episode, Chuck walked out and recited his Wheel opening spiel, complete with "once you buy a prize, it's yours to keep" and the Wheel puzzle reveal chimes.
- Berserk Button: Don't solve a puzzle if there's a pink or blue square open and only one Stopper left.
- The Chew Toy: The show's head writer, Gary Johnson. Whenever an unusually bizarre clue came up, Chuck would ask, "This is another one of Gary's [clues], isn't it?" More often than not, it was.
- Companion Cube: On one episode, the game board started sliding back during a round. Once the technicians fixed it, Chuck told the board, "Sit! Stay!"
- A Day in the Limelight: During a special week where various game show hosts (including Jamie Farr, who never actually hosted a full-time game show and was promoted as being host of NBC's Double Up, which ended up not selling) played for home viewers, Chuck played several games with Marc Summers as host; in one game, Chuck won $12,000.
- Freudian Slip: "All righty, let's recrap the scores... recap them, actually."
- Grand Finale: The 1990 finale ended with Chuck thanking the staff and crew for the past six years, followed by a $6,000 Sprint win. The champ, George Sealy, came back to defend his title when the series returned in 1993.
- Halloween Special: With the contestants dressed in costume. This would usually be the basis for the one-phrase introductions Charlie Tuna would use at the beginning of each round, such as "He's a real Bozo; she'll move her tail for you." for a man dressed as a clown and a woman dressed as a cat.
- Hurricane of Puns: The clues for the words.
- In Name Only: The mechanics of the game show had very little to do with the board game itself.
- Obvious Rule Patch: For three months in 1985, the contestants had to spell the answers. This may be one reason why it didn't last long.
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The contestants' nametags.
- Scrabble Babble: Sorry, averted. However, the Scrabble game show sometimes used proper names, which are forbidden in the traditional game.
- Spiritual Successor: Scrabble Showdown on The Hub, with the "Scrabble Lighting" round featuring similar gameplay (complete with punny clues).
- Stage Money: On the original series, Chuck would walk to the contestants and hand out bonus money if they answered correctly after hitting a pink or blue square. The bills were printed with his picture and referred to as "Chuck Bucks." In 1993, the money just went into a pot for the Sprint.
- Take That: On the 1990 finale, after the second word, Chuck wondered whether he had been cancelled and the show was all right.
Chuck: I kept telling 'em, "Look, find somebody else to do it, it'll be a huge hit. Look what happened to Wheel!"