Warm up your buzzer hand and work on your words folks, there’s a new game in town.
Sqrambled Scuares, a scrambled word game which pits local contestants against one another in the pursuit of points, prizes and cold hard cash, will begin filming this week.
The first episode of Myrtle Beach’s very own game show will film Friday night, with subsequent episodes taping each Friday night at 7 p.m. at the brand-new Sqrambled Scuares studio, located inside Myrtle Beach Mall, 10177 N. Kings Hwy.
“I think there are a lot of people who would love to be on one of these national television game shows and unfortunately the chances of that happening are pretty slim, but here’s an opportunity to do much the same thing and have some fun doing it,” said creator Buzz Berry.
Taking its cues from classic games shows from Concentration to Wheel of Fortune and everything in between, Sqrambled Scuares has been honored by Better Homes and Gardens for its old-school appeal.
“They noted us for ‘nostalgic broadcast experience’ right under the Grand Ole Opry,” said Berry. “ I never really thought about it before that but that’s really what we provide is a broadcast experience where folks can sit and watch a television game show come to life right before their eyes.”
What began in 1999 as a spark in the mind of a TV and radio broadcasting veteran, has over the past decade racked up more than 450 episodes.
“I was working at a radio station and I just noticed how much people loved calling in for prizes and saw how much they loved hearing themselves and others on air and just thought ‘You know, that would work terrific on television,” said Berry.
During its 13-year run Scrambled Squares has broadcast 10 seasons on air in Boone, Wilkesboro and Hickory, N.C., and along the way has become what Berry calls “the longest running local game show in TV history.”
“I realize that’s quite a bold statement and I really would not mind if someone called me on it, but I’ve searched and searched and really have not been able to find another local show that’s run any longer than we have,” he said.
According to Berry, who also serves as the show’s high-energy host, each taping is run through like a live broadcast, with a six member crew, including a producer, camera operators and a female co-host, Sarah Oberst. Each 30-minute episode will be able to be seen on delay weeknights at 7 p.m. on HTC Digital Cable Channel 4 and on-demand online at www.sqrambledscuares.biz.
In the past, contestants signed up online and were chosen weeks or months in advance, but Berry says that with the move to Myrtle Beach, it only made sense to allow audience members to sign up on the spot.
“We invite anyone who comes out to sign up for a chance to be on the show. About 10-15 minutes before we’ll announce the contestants, get to know them a little better and then we’ll start the show,” he said.
Although there is a screening process for contestants, Berry says it basically just consists of making sure contestants can speak clearly, see the board clearly and understand the host’s instructions.
He hopes the change in sign-up will help open the show up to more visitors looking for free entertainment during the high season and also draw interest among locals while the show is still getting its feet wet locally.
“For years I have thought the Grand Strand would be the perfect location, because folks are coming here looking for fun and want to be part of fun. Even many residents are here simply because this is a fun place to be,” said Berry.
It’s that word — which Berry uses regularly in describing his creation — that seems to capture the essence of what Sqrambled Scuares is all about.
“From the studio audience, to the contestants, to the folks watching at home and playing along, I think the word ‘fun’ can’t be used enough,” he said.
According to Berry, the game itself is a fast and challenging competition between two contestants who use strategy, skill and a good helping of luck to try and unscramble the names of a celebrity, place, title, event or thing.
Each contestant begins the show with 100 points, which can be used strategically while they alternate in picking numbers from a wall of numbered squares or placing letters from previously revealed letters.
Behind the chosen squares are local prizes, extra points, and letters that are used in the puzzles. Contestant receive 10 points for each consonant and 20 points for each vowel in addition to other wild cards and bonuses such as “doublers” (double points), “two-fers” (additional turns), “missers” (lose a turn) and more.
“There are a lot of different things hiding behind each of the squares,” said Berry.
Once a letter is revealed, it’s then placed onto what’s called the “Descrambler Board” in the word that it belongs to but not necessarily in the correct order.
The first contestant to reveal and unscramble an entire set of Sqrambled Scuares with the correct answer, wins the prizes they revealed during that game and they also steal 100 points from their competitor.
After two puzzles, the contestant with the most points wins a cash prize and a trip to Super Sqramble where they have 60 seconds to unscramble a 9-10 letter word with clues from the host.
“A lot of game shows only the winner gets a chance at the bonus round, but we don’t say goodbye to the other contestant. In our game each person gets a chance at Super Sqramble and that’s really exciting for them and for the audience,” said Berry.
Beyond just providing fun and excitement for local folks during the show, Berry says a big part of the Sqrambled Scuares model is based on getting involved with events, groups and businesses throughout the community.
“We tend to use the show to draw attention to community events and nonprofits in the area. We’ll do special shows to highlight things that are happening within the community, because that’s a big part of what this is all about,” he said.
It’s this involvement that helps Berry and his crew stay grounded and serves as a reminder of who they are producing the show for.
“I may be the constant of the show, but we’ll never forget what the show is really about and that’s local folks,” he said. “I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it’s true for us. It’s really about the local community and embracing that part of what we do.”
For more information on Sqrambled Scuares visit sqrambledscuares.biz.