By
December 21, 1998 12:00 PM

Syndicated (check local listings)

Try speed-reading the disclaimer at the end of each day’s Hollywood Squares: “Contestants are briefed that some celebrities will be provided answers and possible bluff responses prior to taping. In addition, some celebrities may have access to all of the game material.” Our legal department has studied this statement (not really—we’re only bluffing) and interprets it as follows: “When host Tom Bergeron asks, ‘If you are rubbing a stick made from beef fat and wax on paper, what are you doing?’ and celebrity-executive producer Whoopi Goldberg says, ‘You’re rolling Linda Tripp,’ her response may or may not be entirely spontaneous.”

In the good old days of this game show, seen from the mid-’60s to the early ’80s with Peter Marshall as host, it was fun to pretend center-square fixture Paul Lynde always ad-libbed his quips. It’s harder to kid ourselves in the late ’90s, but fans of the format will probably go for this revival featuring Goldberg at Lynde’s spot in the middle of the star-studded tic-tac-toe board. With its often convoluted trivia questions, it’s no Jeopardy! in the IQ department. Sometimes the big challenge is not deciding whether the celebrities’ answers are true or false, but remembering why a certain celebrity is a celebrity. (Luke Perry? Sure. Sarah Silverman? Need a hint.) But the real stars are head writer Bruce Vilanch (also an on-camera player) and his staff of joke-smiths.

Bottom Line: So-so game of tic tac duh

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