Empty7 p.m. Monday, July 1
This new hidden-word game show from GSN (previously Game Show Network) is refreshing in that it has no seeming reality agenda at all. We don't meet the families of the contestants. There are no alliances or back-stabbing. America doesn't get to vote on who survives to play another day, and the players can't so much as call friends and relatives on the phone for assistance. How utterly retro is that?
All "Camouflage" aspires to is a fast pace and intriguing format, and this it does well. Like "Wheel of Fortune" on steroids, it conceals words and phrases inside puzzles that three contestants compete to buzz in and solve, with point values dropping as superfluous decoy letters are removed.
A generally vague clue is supplied (usually a play on words) to help the players figure things out. The point values rise as the game moves along, and it's sufficiently challenging to keep our attention at home. It's derivative in that "Camouflage" borrows elements from game formats of the past and present such as "Wheel" and the vintage "Concentration," yet it feels sufficiently fresh.
The crossword clues range from general knowledge to pop culture, and host Roger Lodge supplies the requisite smooth, silky-voiced presence. But above all, it's simply nice to watch a game where we aren't obliged to care about the lives of the participants. I think we can all agree that we have enough to worry about as it is.