Game Shows Wiki
Bill Anderson
Debralee Scott & Charles Nelson Reilly
Gene Wood
Spell Binders.jpg
Unsold Pilots for NBC Daytime: 8/14 & 16/1978
Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions

AUDIENCE: "S-P-E-L-L, spell!" GENE: "It's time to spell out the answers on Spell Binders! And here's the star of Spell Binders, Bill Anderson!"

Spell Binders was an unsold show that focused around spelling.


The game was played with two competing teams (consisting of one celebrity & one contestant) in a competitive word game.

Main Game[]

The main game was a two-leveled game.

Free for All[]

The first level was called "Free for All" and featured a clue plus the first letter of the answer, with additional letters revealed in order if nobody buzzed in. Each answer can be a word, name, or phrase (multiple word answers were not separated by spaces). Any player could buzz in when they thought they knew the answer. If the player who buzzed in was incorrect, the similar player on the other team (if a celebrity buzzed in, the other celebrity participated) would be given an additional letter and this would volley back and forth until a player answered correctly. The first team to score three words won $50 and played level two.

Level Two[]

In this round, one of the players went into an isolation booth while the other player tried to come up with three words that fit a category, such as "things you lick" or "Words associated with Johnny Carson". When that player was done, the isolated player was then brought out, and was given five chances to guess the words. The first player gave letters in each word one at a time until one of the three preselected words was guessed or a fifth letter was given. If fewer than five letters were given, the team could try for the other two words. Each word is worth $50. On the fifth letter, the other team could gamble on whether the winning team could use that fifth letter successfully. If the gamble worked, the gambling team got $100. Otherwise, the winning team got double the current word value ($100 instead of $50 in round one).

The process continued (playing "Free for All" then Level Two) with values increasing for each new round by $50. The first team to score $500 or more, or the team in the lead when time is called if no one has $500, wins the game and moved on to the "Lucky 7" round for an increasing jackpot.

Lucky 7 (Bonus Round)[]

At the start of "Lucky 7" (not to be confused with The Price is Right pricing game or the bonus round from another failed Mark Goodson pilot called On a Roll of the same name), the winning contestant was isolated while both celebrities remained on stage. They were asked a Family Feud-typed question and they each gave one answer. Then they alternated asking the audience for five more answers for a total of seven. The stars are allowed to reject any one answer and replace it with a new one. When all said & done, the contestant returned to play the round. The winning contestant had one minute (60 seconds) to try to guess those seven previously given words, one at a time. The player was shown the first letter to the first one, and was shown additional letters every second only when requested by the player up until there were two letters remaining. Each correct word was worth $100 to the contestant, and getting all seven won the jackpot (which started at $5,000 plus $1,000 for each time not won) and the audience members who's answers were used split $500 between them.


Taping Location[]

NBC Studios, Burbank, CA


It was at one point considered to replace the short-lived soap opera For Richer, For Poorer (originally titled Lovers and Friends) on NBC's daytime lineup, but it got lost to the 1978 revival of Jeopardy!. It was also at one point considered replacing the short-lived talk show America Alive!, but lost out to Password Plus and All Star Secrets.


Steve Ryan


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Spell Binders - The Game Show Pilot Light

YouTube Videos[]