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A lot of people think of ABC's "Password" as the only word association game from game show history. Ah, if they overlook "Chain Reaction", how wrong they are. Michael Davies, the British genius behind "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", has dusted off this old show (it seems that Europe is the new region for game show production companies, think Fremantle Media's "The Price Is Right" and Endemol's "Deal Or No Deal") and brought it back with a new look and feel.
The object of the game is simple. Guess the next word in a series of words, each of which is associated somehow with the word above and below it. Letters are revealed one at a time and teams alternate back and forth until a word is guessed (or completely revealed, unlike the NBC version). Here's an example of a completed chain:
The connections are "chocolate milk", "milk shake", "shake down" (as in shakedown), "down pillow", "pillow talk", and "talk show".
In this new version of the show, each correct guess is worth $100 in on the first chain, $200 on the second chain, and $300 on the third. When a team of three players (usually all friends associated somehow - all childhood buddies, all comedians, etc.) correctly guesses the last word in the chain, they get a chance to play a new feature for this edition, "Speed Chain". The Speed Chain is a miniature chain in which the team has 7 seconds to guess the middle two words of the chain. An example of a speed chain is:
The correct answer for this one is:
A Speed Chain pays at the same value for the preceding words in the chain - not much of a bonus, but some feel the show may make some adjustments during its inaugural run.
A fourth and final chain is played, but unlike the original version, now a player on a team must name a wager (from $100 to $500 of their bank) in addition to selecting where a letter is placed. The team with the highest bank after this final chain is the day's winner and advances to the bonus round.
In the bonus round, as on the original show, two players on the team alternate giving single-word clues to form a question that their now-blindfolded third teammate must guess (after ringing a bell). Seven correct answers in 90 seconds doubles the money won in the main game, while ten correct answers triples it. (The main game money is not at risk.) This is considerably less than the $10,000 originally awarded for a successful run in the NBC version.
Viewers old enough to remember clock radios with flip-style numeric displays or airport information boards with flip-style letters may enjoy the faux-flip-style graphics used throughout the show to display the words (or, like me, they'll wonder why the show didn't just bother getting some real displays!). Those born after 1980 probably won't appreciate the significance of the flip display paradigm; they'll just think it's "cool".
When NBC did the show back in the 70's, the venerable Bill Cullen hosted and celebrities played along with regular contestants. When the show was syndicated (as "The $40,000 Chain Reaction") it appeared to be done on the cheap. Thankfully, Michael Davies & company have given the show a better look, but appear to have skimped on the budget. As the show is running on GSN, that may be the reason.
"Chain Reaction" will have you calling out answers to the TV; it is an eminently playable game. With some adjustments and some larger prizes, the show has the potential to be another word-game hit on GSN, much like "Lingo".
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