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with Chris Wolvie
You Got My "Wheel of Fortune" in Your "Hollywood Squares"
February 9
These celebrities, all in the game that's just over their heads:

AIR DATES: April 8, 1985 to December 20, 1985
CREATOR: Merrill Heatter
HOST: Peter Marshall

Despite the phenominal (DOUBLE) bombing of "Battlestars", Merrill Heatter had one more attempt at a clone of his beloved "Hollywood Squares". THIS time, he went from nine celebrities to six all the way down to FOUR. He then threw in a word puzzle element and, SOMEHOW, talked the "Master of the Hollywood Squares" Peter Marshall to come out the hole he had been in since "Fantasy" went off the air and help him one more time as "Master of the Blitz Board" (and even allowed him "in association with" credit). The result was "All-Star Blitz"...and it sounds just as desperate a last gasp as one might think.

Two players (including a returning champion) compete. In front of them are four celebrities, each who have a column of "stars" above them designated to them (referred to as the celeb's "top", "middle" and "bottom". The stars make up the corners of six rectangular spaces arranged in a three-by-two formation. Behind each of the spaces is a word or part of a word that make up a phrase (between two and six words, the number of which are only revealed to the TV audience). The object is to figure out the phrase by uncovering the spaces. 

After four (originally two) of the twelve stars are randomly lit (though no more than two lit stars are connected to any one space), the challenger starts the game by picking a celebrity and the star in their column (Ex: "I'll take (so-and-so)'s bottom, please" or "I'll take (so-and-so) in the middle, please"). The host asks a question of the celebrity who gives an answer. The contestant decides if they agree or disagree with the answer the celebrity gives. If they choose right, they maintain control and the star chosen is lit-up. Otherwise, control is passed to the opponent (the star stays lit UNLESS it is the last star surrounding a space; that space MUST be earned and the opponent can either take a question for the same star or guess the phrase).

When all four stars surrounding a space are lit, the word or part thereof is shown. It is possible for more than one space to be uncovered at a time. The contestant in control may choose to guess what the phrase is. If they decide not to guess, the game continues. If the contestant gets the phrase right, they win the round. Otherwise, control passes to the opponent. A contestant may also win by default if they light up the last star on the board, uncovering the entire phrase. The winner of the round starts the next one (and the winner of THAT one starts the third if necessary). First to win two rounds wins the match, wins a prize (that the celebs themselves model) and goes on to the bonus round.

A round cannot be continued in the next episode. Should time run short, the contestant in control is given the option to guess the puzzle. If they don't take it, the puzzle is revealed and a new game starts on the next episode. If they take the option and get it right, they win the round. If they're wrong, the opponent gets the same option.

This time, the champion is TOLD how many words are in the hidden phrase. They then spin a large wheel four times, each "tick" of the wheel moving a lit rectangle among the six spaces. When the wheel stops, the space it stops on is revealed. If the rectangle stops on an already-revealed space, it is considered a "wasted spin". If, after four spins, four spaces are not revealed, the host gives the champion the option to give up the prize they had won in the previous match for one more spin. After all the spins are made, the champ has ten seconds to think about the phrase, while the celebrities write down what THEY think the phrase is. The contestant gets ONE guess at the phrase. If they're right, they win the cash jackpot (started at $10,000 and, depending on when you saw it, was either increased by $5000 for each time it wasn't hit up to a max for $25,000...or increased by $2500 up to a max of $20,000). If they were wrong, they received $250 for each celebrity who got the phrase right.

Four-time champions were retired and replaced by a "champ-elect" for the next game.

Again, what worked for "Hollywood Squares" worked for "All-Star Blitz". The only issue was that the four celebrities had to work twice as hard as anyone on HS. But, bless their overworked hearts, they were in there punchin' every time.

Despite what I thought was an act of desperation on Heatter's part in dragging Peter Marshall into this, Peter took it like a champ. I guess the game seemed familiar enough to him that it wouldn't bother him much. And, let's face it, it WAS nice to see him again, doing what he does best.

And, even for a mid-80s show, the music was pretty people pumped-up for the gameplay. Sadly, I still remember the theme after all these years...but that's a testament to how catchy it was.

Again, the problem with "Battlestars" was the same problem with this one. I understand Heatter wanting to seperate it from HS, but the rules were just a BIT too complicated. The contestant had to do one thing to get towards doing another thing which will, hopefully, lead to doing a third thing to win the round. Obvious, it was Quiggley who was the "K.I.S.S." man of the production company.

Ending an episode by forcing the phrase to be shown one way or another was just plain STUPID. Even "Battlestars" allowed games to carry over from ep to ep. Why the decision was made to change that is beyond me.

The cool thing about HS was the variety of the celebrities. Some celebs wouldn't even be PICKED some days and you'd have to wait for them to be shuffled around Paul Lynde or whoever was Center Square to see if they'd get picked. In this one, the same four celebs all week, cracking at LEAST two jokes per round sometimes. Wore a little thin after a while.

And WTH was it with basing the consolation prize of the bonus round on the celebs' playing the round along with them?! I mean, I don't wanna sound stereotypical but I'm sure SOME of those celebs weren't celebs because of their BRAINS. Why not give it based on the number on spaces revealed instead?

Heatter, we loved ya when you and Quiggly made HS,...but your solo attempts to RE-make it just didn't cut it. The only solace you can take it that "All-Star Blitz" lasted just as long as BOTH versions of "Battlestars" combined. Some people liked it more, I guess. But, no, I doubt anyone would want to see it re-made. They'd rather watch "Hip Hop Squares" than "Hip Hop Blitz" or the like.

NEXT TIME: The one-episode wonder (and its basic cable revival)...

Chris Wolvie gets blitzed every time he posts on Twitter. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisWolvie and e-mail him at