FIRST IMPRESSION November 4, 2021

First Impressions: Tug Of Words

Perfectly fine standard GSN fare that takes a little bit to get going but it's tough not to shout along. Watch the first episode inside.

By this point if Game Show Network is coming out with a new show we know how it’s going to go. It’s going to be two teams playing some extremely light and airy game with the winning team getting $1,000 and playing a 60 second bonus round for $10,000 (the GSN Maneuver). You can’t really fault them for this…it’s worked brilliantly for them. The only dud in their group out of the past few years has been Get A Clue. The rest have worked well and the shows have ranged from passable background noise (Common Knowledge) to a genuinely great show (Chain Reaction).

So where does Tug of Words (Monday, November 8th, 4:30PM ET) fall? It takes some time to get going but when it does it’s a good game but not quite at Chain Reaction‘s level. You can check out the first episode here, plus our first impressions below.

A team chooses a base word and host Ahmad Rashad gives a clue whose answer is one (or two) letter(s) away. Each team answers as many as they can within the time limit, moving the flag closer to them with each right answer. The other team then tries their own word. Whoever has the video flag closer wins a separate physical flag, embarrassingly modeled by Ahmad below.

We know, Ahmad. We know.

The day’s champions win $1,000 and play the bonus round. Instead of changing letters the team changes words…they are given two words and each answer forces them to swap out a word. A right answer moves the flag one step closer, but wrong and it moves one step back. Get the flag to space 10 in 60 seconds and they win $10,000.

Tug of Words fits in perfectly with Game Show Network’s other shows. It’s predictable and completely inoffensive fare that has the potential to be captivating when it gets moving. Once we get through the first long act and we start playing with longer words it gets fun. It takes too long to get there but when it get there it carries the same shout-at-the-television vibes as America Says or Chain Reaction. Ahmad does a nice job as host. The only real production criticism is the set looks like the back wall of a Old Navy and whoever thought a set of gray walls would work well should rethink that.

Also if this show gets another season I’d rethink the intro because between the bland looking set and the actual tug of war happening you could tell me that this is a Saturday Night Live sketch and I’d believe you.

Game Show Network has no reason to given their level of success recently but I’d really like to see them try something outside the box just once. The network has a history of off-beat and risky shows that no one (at least as first) would try (Friend or Foe?, Russian Roulette, Cram, The Chase) and they worked out well. So while I do miss things like that I can’t fault them for sticking with what works. Tug of Words isn’t necessarily as captivating or shockingly good as a Chain Reaction but it’s leaps and bounds better than something like a Get A Clue. It’s a quick, light, fun game that makes you shout at the television and doesn’t make you feel gross or tense after watching. It’s what Game Show Network does best recently and it won’t be shocking to see it work here either.

Tug of Words debuts Monday, November 8th, at 4:30PM ET on Game Show Network.