MGWCC #241

crossword 5:12
meta about 3 minutes 

hello and welcome to episode #241 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Network Solutions”. this week, matt gives us the following instructions: One of the twelve TV shows in this puzzle’s four theme entries is out of place. Which one is it? okay, so what are these TV shows?

  • {Show about forensic science; Ted Danson sitcom; It’s been set on Vanuatu, Palau and Fiji} CSI/BECKER/SURVIVOR.
  • {“Empty Nest” spinoff set in a hospital; Classic western; First network web-only series, named for a computer keyboard key} NURSES/BONANZA/CTRL.
  • {Show about a gigolo; 1980s game show hosted by Alex Trebek; Prison show with Edie Falco as a guard} HUNG/BATTLESTARS/OZ.
  • {Jennifer Garner played a CIA agent on it; Robert Blake title role; Sitcom set in Minnesota} ALIAS/BARETTA/COACH.

those really are the only four theme answers, but they each clock in at 17 letters, necessitating this week’s oversized grid. anyway, i realized well before i was done filling in the grid that these particular shows were chosen in this particular order to spell out the relevant network abbreviations:

  • CSI, BECKER, and SURVIVOR are/were all shows on CBS
  • NURSES, BONANZA, CTRL (the last of which i’ve never heard of): NBC
  • HUNG, BATTLESTARS (another new one for me), OZ: HBO

(no FOX? if you’re willing to drop leading articles, the X-FILES would have been an interesting choice for this theme. to be fair, all of the actual shows chosen had one-word titles, so there’s a certain elegance in keeping it that way, rather than cheating slightly by dropping “the”, to say nothing of the hyphen.)

anyway, the nature of the theme was entirely obvious, and the only time-consuming aspect was doing the research to figure out which show was on the wrong network. it turned out to be battlestars, which aired on NBC, not HBO. so that’s our answer.

easy meta, but with the 17×17 grid and “only” four theme answers, matt did a really nice job with the fill this week. scanning it over, i don’t see a single abbreviation in the fill (depending on what you think of AEIOU, perhaps), and only {1970s actress ___ Stark} KOO looks like a stretch.

some of the good stuff:

  • {“Impression, Sunrise” impressionist} MONET. the painting that gave its name to the most beloved art movement in history. i like it much better than, say, kandinsky’s der blaue reiter.
  • {She’s beaten Venus in six Grand Slam finals} SERENA. tennis is back! as i write this, the australian open first round is being played in melbourne.
  • {Meal on a skewer} KABOB. i had this as KEBAB then KEBOB. any way you spell it, though, yum.
  • {Great Dane?} is CANUTE, saxon king of denmark (and norway, sweden, and england) in the 10th century. i just love the names of those pre-norman kings. canute’s father was sweyn forkbeard, whose father in turn was harold bluetooth. canute’s son and successor was hardecanute! how can you not love a name like that?
  • {Acts like a toady} SNIVELS. great word.
  • {Animal that’s one letter off from a river} RHINO. the rhine, of course.
  • {Movie with the line “I find your lack of faith disturbing”} STAR WARS. yes! great scene.
  • {Precious name of Starbucks’ in-house bottled water brand} ETHOS. heh, did not know that, but it deserves to be roundly mocked.

that’s all i’ve got this week. next week, who knows if i will be in any condition to solve the MGWCC, let alone blog it, after the weekend-long puzzle orgy that is the MIT mystery hunt. at least matt has promised to extend the deadline a day this year.

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14 Responses to MGWCC #241

  1. Matt says:

    561 right answers this week, out of 580 total.

    That’s exactly why I didn’t pursue the X-FILES / FOX route — the hyphen didn’t bother me but the “The” did.

  2. Mike L says:

    FOX would have broken the symmetry of the meta too: the others are pronounced as initials: “aitch bee owe,” but Fox is just a word that happens to have three letters. BTW, the writeup has a minor slip-up: “ALIAS, BARETTA, COACH: CBS” lists the wrong network.

    Also, I totally need to hook up with a MIT team next year. I’ve never done one, but sorely want to.

  3. Lois says:

    I just want to say that although I was too stupid to get even an easy meta like this one, the puzzle itself was really enjoyable. As Joon said, Koo Stark was the only real obscurity (for me, at least), but it was gettable from the crosses anyway. The rest was so good.

  4. Scott says:

    I actually remember Koo Stark!

  5. klew archer says:

    Should have been bonus points for anyone who could remember the name of BARETTA’s cockatoo, I didn’t.

    In honor of the KEBAB controversy:

  6. jimmy d says:

    re: Koo… me too!!

  7. Mutman says:

    I liked the fact that researching all those shows was not really necessary. If you were around in the 80s, like Matt and I, you could be pretty certain that HBO — one of the original pay cable stations — was not airing game shows. So picked I that.

    And is it just me or does Alex Trebek always have a snarky look that says he knew the answer to those questions on Jeopardy! without having been given the answers?

    • Howard B says:

      “What is, (as you know of course), yes he does?”
      (you meant, he knows the questions to the answers without being given the questions – since he already reads the answers as the host… it’s so confuzzling. I think I’ll just watch “Wheel” now).

  8. jefe says:

    Incidentally, the central B in HBO is the only one of those four networks, all with central B’s, that doesn’t stand for Broadcasting.

  9. pannonica says:

    With ––IN– placed, it seemed obvious it was SWINE/SEINE; only with further crossings did I tease out the RHINO/RHINE.

  10. Martin says:

    Koo Stark had some notoriety in the 70s (and the 80’s too, I think). She’d been in a few soft core porn films, and had dated Prince Andrew. Needless to say the British tabloids had a field day with this at the time.


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