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Money Words

Producer: : Art James
Host: : Mike Darow
Announcer: Bill Wendell
Taping Info: February 8, 1974 at NBC
Made it to Air: No

Wheel of Fortune is pretty much Hangman. Seven Keys and Video Village are essentially Chutes and Ladders. Monopoly is pretty much Monopoly. So why not try to repurpose Battleship? Mike Darow is your host for the game that seemed good on paper (or at least plastic).

Three players face a board unnecessarily adorned with rainbows. This board has been preloaded with eight words on a particular topic (e.g.: Wall Street). These words can either be vertical, horizontal or diagonal, and may intersect. A contest calls out a letter and a number. If that square contains a letter (a.k.a "hit"), the player continues. If that square does not contain a letter (a.k.a "miss"), control of the board moves on to the next player.

Where it gets weird is when a player wants to guess they word. They can guess the word on anybody's turn by simply buzzing in. However, before they say the word, another player may "challenge" the fact that the buzzing in player knows the word. If the player is not challenged, they automatically receive $25, without even having to have the correct answer! If the player is challenged, they then must successfully guess the word. If correct, the guesser gains $25 and the challenger loses $25. If incorrect, the opposite occurs. If the player is unchallenged, he or she is asked for the word after the awarding of the money, and keeps control of the board if correct. Players start the game with $100.

The second and third rounds are lather-rinse-repeat, with the stakes increased to $50 for round 2 and $100 for round 3. The amount of words possible also varied, and the round may end early for time.

The high score after round 3 moves onto "Final Moneyword". The player then asks for letters in this final word (10 letters in this pilot) and can continue until they give a letter that is not in the word. At that point, they try to guess the word for the jackpot ($5,000 base, $500 per show for unclaimed). If the guess is incorrect, the player may buy up to a number of specific letter positions (i.e.: positions 4 and 7) for $100 per position of the main game money in an attempt to double the main game earnings. The number of positions available for purchase is determined by one letter for each $200 earned in the main game. The player in this pilot, with just five slots revealed, managed to pull ANTHRACITE out of his butt to double his main game earnings, minus the purchased slots. Yeah, I'm confused too.

The major problem of the main game was way too many blanks. The player at best had a 50/50 chance of finding a letter, so a lot of lost turns. It would probably work better if a specified number of blanks were revealed before the round started to speed things up and keep the positive chances higher. The bonus game would just be much less confusing if it was just "keep going until two misses". It does have the shout-out appeal, but it just goes too slow and the challenge system is very awkward. Art James, you have sunk my battleship.

This pilot has been viewed 7525 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Aug 16, 2010 22:54 ET
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