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Series / Scrabble Showdown

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It's Scrabble as you've never seen it before! Except for that other show...

Another original game show on The Hub, following in the footsteps of Family Game Night. This time, it's the crossword game you've played all your life, but never quite like this.... or quite like that, either. Scrabble Showdown features two teams of two competing in various Scrabble-themed minigames for a chance at a trip anywhere in the world. Multiple games were used, much like Family Game Night (in fact, one of their rounds, Scrabble Flash, was brought in for this show), so things were varied. The games in Round 1 and 2 included:

  • Scrabble Knockout: The inverse of the '80s Scrabble Sprint. The team is shown a word with three extra letters inserted, and the parent tells the kid which ones to remove, one at a time. If the kid picks a correct letter, the screen freezes and they have to hit a plunger to reset and replay the word. The faster time to solve five words, or the most solved in one minute, wins the round.

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  • Scrabble Babble: Kinda like Pyramid and the "Turnabout" bonus round from Child's Play, in that a parent is shown a word with one letter missing; they have to decide on a fitting word and describe it for the kid without saying it. Once they get the word, they get a word with one more letter until they hit seven letters total. Whichever team gets five words faster or the most in a minute wins.

  • Scrabble Scream: One team member unscrambles part of a word, and the other has to unscramble the rest to make a complete word- all while screaming. Again, the faster time to solve five words or the most words solved in one minute wins.

  • Scrabble Slam: One player hits a button to set the clock at a random time from 10-30 seconds, but none of the players knows how much. A four-letter word and a spare letter appear on a screen, and each team member uses the button to "slam" the spare onto one of the letters to form a new word, passing control to the next player in line. The player in control when time runs out is eliminated; last team standing wins the round.

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  • Speedword: Used only in one episode, it bears no relation to the 80s Speedword (which was just a generic Speed Round). Instead, five letters are displayed on three rows of connected tracks (three spaces each on top/bottom rows, two on the middle). The parent calls out a three-letter word, and the kid has to spell it on the bottom row by sliding the letters. Both teams use the same set of letters, and the second team is isolated while the first one plays. The faster time to make four words, or the most words formed in 60 seconds, wins the round.

For each game won, one of the teams then gets a prize. They then move on to round 3: Scrabble Flash, where one team is isolated while the other uses five oversized Scrabble Flash cubes to make words of three or more letters. They score one point per letter; high score wins the round.

The final round, Scrabble Lightning, is similar to the Crossword round in the '80s series. First, 16 Scrabble tiles are placed onscreen and are randomly flashing; this is the amount of Bonus Tiles a team has collected (two per win in Rounds 1 through 3). They hit their buzzers to stop the randomizer and are awarded the total value of all the tiles they light as a head start. A scrambled word appears on an oversized Scrabble gameboard and a punny clue is given. The first team to buzz in and answer correctly gets the board's value of that word (which can be doubled or tripled if a letter is on a double or triple word score space). The first team to reach 100 points wins the game and a trip.

The show had big names working on it behind the scenes; Pat Finn co-produced through his "Rubicon" production company; serving as producers were game show Ascended Fanboys Mandel Ilagan (who created the pricing game "1/2 Off" for The Price Is Right), and John Ricci Jr. (who created his own pilot, Combination Lock, and frequently works with Wink Martindale), plus Cindy Clark (daughter of Dick Clark); Sande Stewart, son of the legendary Bob Stewart, and Steve Ryan, creator of Blockbusters and the rebuses for Classic Concentration, served as creative consultants. The show ran for 30 episodes, from September 2011 to April 2012.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: Scrabble Lightning.
  • Bonus Space: The "Bonus Scrabble Tiles" and the double/triple score spaces in Lightning.
  • Home Game: At least half the minigames were based off Scrabble variants sold by Hasbro.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Randy Thomas (she normally does VO work for award shows and was the voice of the Hooked on Phonics "1-800-ABC-DEFG" commercials).
    • Game Show Host: Justin Willman; a magician who had previously hosted Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, and The Hub's HubWorld newsmagazine program, and would later host the 2014 Disney Channel revival of Win, Lose or Draw.
  • Product Placement: The show is all about Scrabble and its seemingly endless variants.
  • Sound Proof Booth: Used for Scrabble Flash and Scrabble Speedword. The second team waits offstage while the first plays.

This show provides examples of:

  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Red and blue, though it was primarily limited to the nametags the teams wore. (Compare that to the 80s series, which took the pink and blue color scheme from the game board and applied it liberally.)
  • Minigame Game: Essentially this.
  • Mythology Gag: During Lightning, the words would have their spaces on the board outlined by a red box before the letters popped in- much like how the words appeared in the 80s series.
  • Scenery Porn: The set was pretty cool-looking, with lots of monitors, including bands that stretched across the perimeter and scrolled words, as well as Flash style cubes strewn about.
  • Scrabble Babble: Averted, like in the 80s show.
  • Spin-Off: The Scrabble Flash minigame was originally used on Family Game Night, and was imported wholesale (it was removed from FGN as a result).
  • Spiritual Successor: To the 80's Scrabble game show (especially concerning Knockout and Lightning); thanks to Sande Stewart, some of the minigames are a bit influenced by Pyramid. The way each team got their Bonus Tiles in Lightning, meanwhile, evokes the Master Puzzle from Break the Bank (1985)- hit the buzzer to stop the shuffle and see how many rectangular objects you can get (Bank Cards there, Bonus Tiles here).