Cross Words for Crosswords
I hold out fervent hope that if Merv Griffin had not
succumbed to cancer earlier in the year, he would have had a heavier
hand in the creation of the game show bearing his name. The show gives
the impression of an unfinished project; many aspects should have been
ironed out during testing and others should have been tossed completely.
The most prominent problem is that the player with the
most money "in their podium" at the end of the game is the winner. I
know, what else are you going to do, right? Almost all game shows work
like that. The problem is that on at least two occasions, a "Spoiler"
(Three other players who are competing for a front row position) have
won the game by solving the last clue of the game and inheriting the
I have heard three people tell me that this is a great
mechanic, that it provides excitement in that anyone can win at any
time. I say baloney. I want the best player to win, or to have the best
chance to win. The Spoiler Snipe completely sucks that away, because
money won stays at the podium where it was earned. The easy fix would be
to have all five players with a score, and only those with the front row
spot can win.
The "money going to a podium" mechanic sounds all the
more absurd when a "Crossword Extra" is "discovered" by one of the
players (and that's another thing: the bonus clues aren't discovered at
all, they are assigned to pre-planned clues in the game.). For the
"Extra," the player bets any or the entire total in that podium on a
sight-unseen clue. So, in effect, it's a Daily Double without having the
category knowledge beforehand. But why bet a bundle of cash when anyone
can swoop in on the next clue to steal the prime position.
Having sat through a handful of episodes, there are more
things wrong with Crosswords than there are good things. The players
don't pick the next clue; they are led down the path by host Ty Treadway.
The "Crossword Getaway" bonus seems slapped on in order to earn a bit of
extra money for copy reading. The game is a muddled mess, with spoilers
having to wait until the down front players have a chance to play. The
host, the aforementioned Treadway, has an uneven cadence that makes him
difficult to listen to on a good day.
There are few bright spots; sometimes the clues are
interesting, and the bonus round (the winner tries to fill in all
remaining clues in the puzzle) provides a bit of tension. But by and
large, Crosswords gets too many things wrong to be worth your time.
Twelve letters, $300; he has a Gmail account where you
can drop him a line if you disagree. (Travis Eberle).