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Jumble


Producer: Hillier Productions/Ronnie Greenberg/Procter and Gamble
Host: Richard Kline
Announcer: Charlie O'Donnell (it doesn't sound like him, but at one point Richard mentions his name)
Celebrities: Bill Kirchenbauer, Alaina Reed
Taping Info: 1988
Made it to Air: Nope
Other Pilots: A pitch film connected with this pilot showed Roger E. Mosley and Rebeca Arthur, so there's presumably one other pilot.

A trend in the late 80's was the living room pilot take a simple game, get some medium-wattage celebrities and play a simple game in a living room set. Jumble tries this premise with a lower budget, so the set is more of a Greenwich Village loft and the celebrities wattage is more at the CFL-level. Unfortunately, Richard Kline is your host.

The game uses the tried-and-true celeb and civilian team, so yet-to-be-irrelevant Bill Kirchenbauer is paired with 227 "star" Alaina Reed. Bill gets the "returning champion", and they are off to split the jobs "yelling" and "spelling". After hearing those jobs at least a dozen times during the pilot, I wanted to "throw up" and "smash the monitor". The yeller's job is to unscramble a word within 15 seconds, just like you see in the Jumble puzzle in the newspaper. The speller's job is irrelevant other than for the comedy of moving around refrigerator magnet letters, since the speller cannot spell anything unless the yeller says it, and the word is considered correct once the yeller says it. A correct word earns a team $50. If a team fails to guess the word, the other team is given a crack at it. If they fail as well, Richard places one letter a time in their correct spot until it is guessed.

The highlighted letters, like the circled letters in the newspaper version, are then brought over to the cartoon puzzle (it's not just Jumble, it's Jumble Plus!). They have a few seconds to guess the punny phrase ("What Does Vanna White Say to the Preacher? Wedding Vowels!"). If they fail to either because of ignorance or a flash of dignity, they retain control of the puzzle. Three puzzles were played, the first worth $250, the second $500 and the third $1,000. Each puzzle had four words associated with it, so it would be theoretically possible but extremely unlikely to win without getting the third puzzle.

The bonus game was more of the same, with the four words now being six and those words having a 60 second time limit. The words would be thematic on this pilot the puzzle was about Siskel and Ebert and each word was movie-related. Any word correctly guessed had their key letters moved over and the team had 15 seconds to guess the puzzle. Winning the puzzle won you a 1989 Camaro, the official car of peaked in high school (Servo, Tom: "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hobgoblins", June 27, 1998).

Typical of a pilot where Ron Greenberg was involved, there was enough extra energy to light a major metropolitan city. The contestants were phony, the audience was way too enthusiastic, and the humor was forced. This was made worse with several pick-ups (audio added during post-production) that Richard had to do to explain a rule or control change, since the energy and background audio would all of a sudden disappear for a sentence. Better celebrities, a better host and a calmer setting, this may have worked, because the play along factor is there.

This pilot has been viewed 7453 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 12, 2009 14:46 ET
Feedback? Contact me at usgs-pilot at the usgameshows dot net domain