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Scrabble (1990)


Producer: Reg Grundy/Group W
Host: Steve Edwards
Announcer: Charlie Tuna
Taping Info: August 1, 1990
Made it to Air: The long-running NBC version was cancelled shortly before this pilot was shot. This pilot was meant for a syndication run that never materialized, although this set was used for the 1993 revival. GSN has also attempted Scrabble-based games that have not made the channel.

The original version of Scrabble was a solid performer for most of the 1980s on the NBC daytime lineup. By 1990, NBC was revamping its daytime lineup and replaced it with reruns of 227. Feeling the show still had legs, Reg Grundy decided this would be a chance to take the show into syndication. For whatever reason, the host torch was passed from Chuck Woolery to local L.A.-personality Steve Edwards.

This pilot starts with something never seen on any version, an voiceover with a bickering couple going through recreational choices before deciding on Scrabble. I guess Patti Deutsch needed the work. The sax-laden theme leads to a less Miami Vice-like set and pretty much a copy of the 1993 set.

Game play is just like any other version, with two players trying to guess words on a Scrabble board one letter at a time. One minor difference was not only did each individual word have a clue, but the entire puzzle had a theme (e.g. "History"). Players still selected "tiles", although the tiles were now virtual. Making an appearance as one of the words to guess was "Godiva", the official trivia answer of game show pilots.

Other quirks of the main game remained the same, $500 for solving on a blue letter, $1,000 for solving on a pink letter. If neither player could sweep three words, speed rounds were used to determine the winner, who received a token $500.

The bonus structure was also identical to the format the aired show had upon cancellation. The winner of the main game was timed on his or her ability to guess four words raging from six to nine letters. A second game was played, and the winner of that game tried to beat the first player's time. The better time won an additional $1,000.

The player with the better time got a chance at the Bonus Sprint, which involved the winner trying to get two words in 10 seconds. A successful Bonus Sprint won the player the rolling jackpot, which started at $5,000 and added $1,000 per each day not won. In either case, the player returned the next day.

Other than the grating voice of Steve Edwards, nothing terribly wrong this pilot. However, with the crowded 1991 syndication field, and the failure of the 1990 field on station managers' minds, I can see why this didn't see the light of day.

This pilot has been viewed 9457 times since October 6, 2008 and was last modified on Dec 14, 2009 22:13 ET
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