WORDPLAY

Network(s)

NBC Daytime

Airdates

December 29, 1986-September 4, 1987

Announcer(s)

Charlie O'Donnell

Produced by

Scotti Brothers-Syd Vinneage Productions
in association with Fiedler-Berlin Productions and Rick Ambrose Productions

 

(Sample open) "Did Bert Convy have trouble with 'polymath' when he was in school? If Abby Dalton met a 'Grimalkin,' would she ask him for a date? When Bill Rafferty sees a 'brume,' does he start sweeping floors? ...

We'll learn the answers to these questions and many more on television's funniest game show, Wordplay!"
"Liar's Club" turned to a dictionary on this, Tom's final game show.
Two contestants, one a champion, compete with the help of a three-celebrity panel. They face a gameboard with nine obscure words all recognized by Webster's Dictionary.
The contestants alternate selecting words (with the champ selecting first), and the panel gives three different definitions, with funny antecdotes and stories to back up their claim. The contestant chooses which celebrity to believe, and if they're right, they win the desgnated money amount. If wrong, the opponent selects from the remaining two definitions.
 
The dollar amounts start at $25, $50, and $75 in Round One. For Round Two, the amounts not yet revealed are doubled. For Round Three, the amounts not yet revealed are doubled again. How are the values for each word determined? Look at the board as the game progresses.

The first word played is worth $50.

The second word is worth $75 because it hides $25 and it's attached to $50. (A solid gold bar forms between two revealed dollar amounts to show that they are now one collective value after this point.)

On the third word, neither contestant guesses the correct definition, so a block goes up, severing any possible money connections. (So if, for example, a contestant chose the word "ACUMEN" at this point, it would be worth only the money hidden behind it.)

The fourth word hides $100, which is attached to $25, which is attached to $50, so it's worth a total of $175.

The fifth word is connected to every dollar amount revealed so far, so it's worth $275.

 Word Six is connected to every other revealed dollar amount so far and since it hides $300, it's worth a total of $575.

The leader after the Third Round wins the money they accumulated and plays "Double Definition."
Double Definition (called Speedword on the premiere broadcast only, then changed probably when somebody realized that name was taken by "Scrabble) has a grid of 24 boxes. Each box hides two definitions for one word (i.e. "Person's face/Coffee Cup" means MUG) The contestant must complete a path from left to right. If they pass, the box becomes a block and the contestant must build around it.

Every correct answer pays $100, a completed path pays a cash jackpot that starts at $5,000 and increases by $2,500 for every show it isn't claimed.
A really novel show. You really do gather new info from each show; the front game payoff scheme is, I believe, completely unique to this show and creates several different strategies to use for gameplay; and as cheesy as some of the stories were, the writing was really clever because the definitions all sound perfectly believable if you're not familiar with the word being described.
Even though the show had a short life, it's a good way for Tom to go out. The celebrities get all the best lines during the show, but Tom maintains a good chemistry and interacts well with them throughout. He's relaxed now that he's an "old pro" in the field, and his manner showed Tom to be nothing short of... benignant.

Did Tom know this was the end? (840 KB)


 

A great color shot of Tom in front of a giant dictionary. Judging from this and the first photo in the set, I'm guessing "Dictionary" was being seriously kicked around for a possible title when the show was in development.

 

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