When a TV show covers something you know, you usually get to detect how careless they are with details. Either the writers are ignorant, or they figure the public will be, I reckon. And you certainly see me doing some picking apart of such things here – such as when I pulled apart the crossword puzzle on Lost. So I owe it to the TV powers that be to point out when they took the effort to get it right.
Last night’s The Simpsons was on a crossword puzzle theme. Throughout it, there were crossword puzzles. And… they were real crossword puzzles! There were real words, interlocking. They weren’t misdesigned blobs of letters, with two-letter words. Now, it doesn’t actually take a lot of work to do that, particularly when there are only a couple of specific words that you need in the grid. Reasonably affordable software can do the heavy lifting for you. (Writing good clues, that’s more effort.) But most shows wouldn’t bother, wouldn’t even ask a crossword person who could tell them that.
And then, to top it off… they presented something tricky. There’s a novelty crossword puzzle, something trickier to build, and easier to want to cheat on. Yet there it was. With a full set of clues. And though I’ve not reviewed it frame by frame, just checking a little of it convinces me it was all real. A quality Sunday novelty puzzle.
So it wasn’t really a surprise when the episode closed with a credit for Merl Reagle, the most respected U.S. crossword designer going, for crossword design. Kudos to The Simpsons for taking that step.
Then today, I discover the Merl matched the airing of that with a Simpsons-themed Sunday crossword… which, for the rest of the week, you can find here. (There’s one small problem with the generally strong online crossword software they’re using — if you think there should be a punctuation mark, use the letter A.)