After a move into a new studio the past few months, a local TV game show will spell out a whole new era starting next week.
“Sqrambled Scuares” will begin its fourth season since relocating to the Grand Strand after more than a decade in North Carolina.
Drop in to watch filming, among the audience, 7 p.m. Thursdays starting March 10, in Barefoot Landing, on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach, to the left of Candy Mike’s, near the Alabama Theatre. Contestants for every show are chosen from everyone who turns out each night; no tickets or reservations are required, and admission is always free.
Watch the weekly episodes, which reflect the half-hour they take to film live, at www.sqrambledscuares.biz, with replays Mondays-Fridays of the latest taping, starting March 21, on two local access cable channels – 6 p.m. on Time Warner Cable channel 47, and 7 and 10 p.m. on HTC channel 4.
Standing last weekend amid the color cube-filled floor and wall, Buzz Berry, the show creator and host, said the two people who play are the stars, vying for points, cash, and a profusion of prizes from sponsoring merchants across the Strand, north and south, ranging from dinners out to car washes.
The contestants face off in two rounds by choosing from any of 16 numbered blocks – 10 points if revealing consonant, 20 for a vowel, and some possibly with bonuses, others with a “misser,” or loss of turn – with hopes of finding letters to piece together the name of someone, something or someplace. However, each letter is placed on the board in its respective word by the order in which it was picked, not where it belongs in the sequence.
The winner with the most points advances to the “Super Sqramble,” with 60 seconds to decipher another word, for more cash. Yet, this is where the runner-up stays on stage, with the chance to gain one more shot, should the counterpart fail to compute the word. So, if the successor masters it in 10 seconds, he or she takes home half of that cash prize in consolation.
The show’s new home site will look similar to what viewers know, only that the contestants and Sqramble board have swapped sides, and the squares and word boards themselves are digitized, with nothing that Berry has to turn physically to find out the respective letters and prizes, or place on the puzzle display.
Berry said the game blends “luck, strategy and skill” to play, all in the name of fun, for contestants, as well as audience members and viewers, the latter of whom also have a chance to win prizes by entering their name and contact information on the show’s website, which also boasts links to some previous episodes.
A Charleston native, Berry stated his simple goal, to “Spread the happy,” for everyone who watches or plays. He chalked up the longevity of “Sqrambled Scuares” to multiple factors, including its family friendly appeal “for ages 7 to 107” to watch and attend, and the array of those people, from friends, neighbors and colleagues across the community, to the slew of vacationers see a show taping for a special souvenir memory to take home.
Crediting the crew of five individuals who handle the directing and all the audio, camera and technical components, Berry said such teamwork keeps this tradition of a show going, with its “nostalgic broadcast kind of experience,” and with what he has read remains the longest known running local TV game show in U.S. history.
During filming for each program, guests are welcome to peer through a nearby wall’s two corner windows to see personnel at work in the control room, showing the various screens and camera angles juggled to make each show gel.
A fan of such classic game shows as “Password,” “Let’s Make a Deal” and “The Match Game,” and Bob Barker – who spent 35 years as “The Price Is Right” host – Berry said he also expends some free time as an avid skateboarder and surfer.
“I still like finding an empty swimming pool to skateboard in,” he said, eager to hop back into both hobbies since going on hiatus in November to relocate “Sqrambled Scuares” from its first local home, in Myrtle Beach Mall, to get everything — cables, lights and all —primed for action in this new chapter in another community hub.
Audience members sitting in the front row will rest their feet along a row of eight wooden squares saved from the old set: They’re all even numbers, from 2 through 16, too.
With room for about 80 guests in the new site, anyone sitting in the crowd also might a sneak a peek at preparations for a sister game show planned for premiere this summer, as room is made for its set just across the hall. Berry said that stage will comprise three competing couples and three loveseats, in a game that also plays on word spelling: “Holy Matchrimony.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.
If you watch
WHAT: “Sqrambled Scuares”
WITH: Buzz Berry, host
WHEN AND WHERE: Weekly half-hour episodes replayed Mondays-Fridays starting March 21, on two local access cable channels –
▪ 6 p.m. on Time Warner Cable channel 47
▪ 7 and 10 p.m. on HTC channel 4.
TAPED LIVE: Drop in to watch filming, among audience, for free, 7 p.m. Thursdays starting March 10, in Barefoot Landing, on U.S. 17 in North Myrtle Beach, to the left of Candy Mike’s, near Alabama Theatre.