Since I have "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" set on "keep until I delete," I was worried my TiVo had backed up completely, but there were still other shows recorded. I watched and erased all the MGC's since 11/30 (fast-forward made it fairly quick), so now there's lots more room.
I was going to say no one I know was on MGC in all that time, but it turns out that "Kathy" in the December 13 show is Tablesaw's mother. Unfortunately, WNBC preempted about 2/3 of it with a weather report. And wait, there's Andrea Michaels (published crossword constructor) on 12/19.
You'd think an actual crossword person would be a lock on this show, but the game design doesn't always ensure that. Andrea was a spoiler who advanced to the front row, but was forced to take the bad podium. While she had many correct answers, her opponent was racking up cash and then hit an unusually easy Crossword Extra with a 7-letter word missing only one letter. The guy just missed the final puzzle (by misspeaking the spelling after temporarily getting stumped on a hard crossing) and still won more than $10K.
Before the spoilers arrived in that game, there was the definition, "State of society characterized by a breakdown of social norms" (7 letters). No one got it and the answer was supposed to be ANOMALY, but the definition perfectly fits ANOMIE and is a huge stretch for ANOMALY.
In another show, one poor guy started answering "Port city of south central Ukraine" (_ _ E _ A) as ODESSA and realized it was too long. The answer was the alternate spelling ODESA (groan). This is in MW Geog but still, very nasty.
One man was mysteriously identified only as "Boris" even though the other contestants had last names.
There were a lot of bad final rounds with constant passing, and repeatedly asking for the same clues and (surprise) still not knowing the answers. A few people knew what they were doing, and actually considered the crossing letters before passing.
Playing along at home, it's very easy to misspeak when spelling out loud ("B-A-S-E-T, I mean D!"), and this often happens to the actual contestants. No way around it; spelling needs to count.
Fast-forward was also helpful in watching "That's the Question" (see scrambled letters, answer question, FF, repeat) and the Radio City Christmas Show which I'd already seen live. The channel didn't change correctly for a "Cheerleader Nation" (which I may have already seen anyway), but it was OK for everything else I watched so I hope that was just an anomaly. Or is it an anomie?