“25 Words or Less” Review

Set Design- 7
Gameplay- 10
Show Flow- 10
Potential Viewer Ratings- 7
Play-Along Factor- 10
Host- 9
Overall Rating- 8.8

Premise: Two teams comprised of a civilian and two celebrities compete against each other in a series of three rounds. In the first and second rounds, the cluegiver on each team are shown a list of five answers and alternate wagering how few words they can get their teammates to guess all five answers in 45 seconds starting at around 25 words. The cluegiver who wins their bid must get their team to guess all five answers in the time limit without making any gestures and using only the number of clue words wagered to earn 250 points. Otherwise, the points go to the opposing team. The third and fourth rounds are played the same except the points are doubled to 500.

In the fifth round, the civilian contestants are shown five groups of three words and must build their own answer list by selecting a word from each group. Each trio contains an easy answer worth 250 points, a medium difficulty answer worth 500 points and a the hardest answer are worth 1,000 points. Once the lists have been assembled, the cluegiver has 45 seconds to get their teammates to guess all five answers using only 20 clue words or less. Correctly guessing all five answers wins the team a 1,000-point bonus. The team with the highest score wins the chance to play the bonus round.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.35.34 AM

Should a tie occur, the host will become the cluegiver to the civilian contestants for one final answer. If a contestant buzzes in with the correct guess, they win the game; otherwise, their opponent wins the game.

In the bonus round, the cluegiver has one minute to get their teammates to guess all ten answers in 25 clue words or less. Guessing all ten answers correctly wins the civilian contestant $10,000. Failing to guess all ten wins the contestant a trip as a consolation prize.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.35.20 AM.png

Review: A few minutes after I received the news about the new syndicated game show a month before the series premiere – especially after reading former Millionaire host Meredith Vieira would be taking the helm for the trial run series – my eyes widened with excitement and I was filled with joy and anticipation awaiting the arrival of 25 Words or Less. This is the first series since Nickelodeon’s revival of Double Dare I have genuinely looked forward to watching because it is reminiscent of a bygone era of word association game shows like To Say The Least, Password and The Object Is, which featured intellectually-stimulating and clever, communicative gameplay. My only fear about this show was the execution of format, which was gradually alleviated after watching the first few episodes of this terrific game show.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.35.45 AM.png

On the surface, 25 Words is designed in a simplistic, uncomplicated manner which makes the game easy for anyone to play like most word association games today, such as numerous mini-games on Hollywood Game Night and Celebrity Name Game. However if you delve deeper into the nuanced elements in the format, you will quickly discover the show has more of a multifaceted, deceptively challenging format akin to a Sudoku puzzle. In addition to its frantic, fast-paced gameplay, the word-wagering element to open each 45-second round makes 25 Words more engaging for the contestants and viewers. It’s very interesting, and sometimes amusing, to watch the contestants boldly bid and bluff their way through this portion of the game in an attempt to psych out their opponent by lulling them into a false sense of security or even screw them over by shrewdly forcing a difficult low word bid. Like Jeopardy! and Texas Hold ‘Em, good wagering and a stoic poker face could be crucial factors between winning and losing this word game. This game also subtly borrows elements from Password by barring the cluegivers from using gestures to describe words, and from Celebrity Name Game by throwing in a tie-breaker where the host gives the clues in the same one-word style to the contestants.

Looping back to my fears about the execution, 25 Words did an excellent job of ensuring the format is not tiresomely redundant. I love how the fifth and bonus rounds are slightly altered from the first half of game to increase the difficulty, especially when it comes to the catch-up round. Kudos to the producers for their creativity when conceptualizing the penultimate round of the show. This a la carte round not only allows trailing contestants to make a comeback, it also requires contestants to play more strategically. There are several variables at play when contestants contemplate how they assemble their lists from selecting words based on their teammates’ word association abilities to playing it safe with picking only 250 and 500-point words in hopes of nabbing the 1,000-point bonus to selecting a majority of the dauntingly difficult 1,000-point words to earn a larger payout. Adding seemingly minor details like what the show has done for the fifth round this makes for more exciting finishes that will give you more reasons to stay tuned in.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.47.38 AM.png

Speaking of incentives to watch this show, Meredith Vieira is showing us all once more why she is an excellent game show host and why her irreplaceable presence is truly missed on Millionaire. She does a masterful job of controlling the show whenever the contestants get too excitable and boisterous, and has a warm, endearing demeanor while speaking to the civilian contestants to make them feel more comfortable and relaxed in addition to her a sneaky sense of humor.

Another reason to love this show is – like The Joker’s Wild and Double Dare – no one leaves empty-handed. Losing contestants receive respectable small prizes like a steak restaurant or a LobsterGram gift card and even champions who fall short in the end game walk away with a great trip in lieu of a few hundred dollars. The underappreciated art of consolation prizes is truly a lost one in today’s era of game show. This is the type of generosity rarely seen on most newer series nowadays.

Screen Shot 2018-08-22 at 1.35.54 AM

Overall, 25 Words or Less is a brilliant, well-produced word game that will make you want to buy the eponymous board game which inspired the series. The main appeal of this show is how fun it is to play along at home to see if viewers can match wits or outdo the contestants in giving five and ten-answer lists in the most efficient and abbreviated way possible. Even though 25 Words is sticking around for a four-week trial in a select number of major markets in syndication this time, I’m going to make a longshot prediction that we will see a full season order of the word association game show. This game is seriously too good to pass up.

Stay tuned for new episodes of 25 Words or Less weekdays for the couple of weeks in the following areas: New York at 6:30pm on MY 9, Los Angeles at 2:30pm on FOX 11, Philadelphia at 2:00pm on FOX 29, Dallas at 2:00pm on FOX 4, Atlanta at 2:00pm on FOX 5, Minneapolis at 8:30pm on FOX 9 PLUS, Phoenix at 1:00pm on FOX 10, Orlando at 1:00pm on FOX 35 and Charlotte at 1:00pm on FOX 46.
Check out full episodes of 25 Words or Less on the show’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Screenshots taken from episodes of 25 Words or Less.

24 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary says:



  2. Lynn Pardee says:

    Does a contestant have to have the exact words? I’ve seen plurals added on words and its excepted then I’ve heard right answers and penalties were enforced. Judges need to be carefully listening and being fair to every contestant! I’m a huge fan of the show!


    1. willie clark says:

      Do trip winners have to pay for the own airfare?


  3. Why are the prizes so cheap??


  4. Ericka says:

    I wanted to watch the show today, but that ELISE NEAL lady is dumb as rocks. It’s embarrassing to watch her play, as she makes the dumbest faces as if she’s thinking of an answer. If you think she STINKS as an actress… you should see her on this game… AWLFUL!!!!!! A DISGRACE!!!!!! WORSE contestant EVER!!!!!!!!! Her vocabulary is NON EXISTENT!!!!! She’s just a DUMB ASS!!!


  5. Patricia Bass says:

    I like the game show.But their is a lot of RACIAL PROFILING GOING ON.With the Celebrities.YOU have some celebrities i have witness when their own gets up there.They shows off but when they get a black contestants they can’t guess nothin they become dumb founded.Like on 7th 7 2020 show that aired on More 27 channel that celebrity.Did even try to guess with the black contestants so the white could win.But the black celebrities on the show they play hard they just want to see people win.BUT NOT SOME OF THOSE WHITE ONES.Im not sayin all of them.But it shows up those ones who does the racial profiling.


  6. In the $10,000 round, the contestant should be given credit for a answer uttered after they pass because if they go back to the padded word no one is likely to repeat what they said before.


  7. Lawrence says:

    Too phoney for my liking …artificial laughter and just seems rehearsed to me


  8. Donna Harrell says:

    Please DO NOT allow Russell Peters to play 25 Words or Less. I’ve been watching for a long time now and he us the worst player ever! Please do not allow him to play in the 2021-2022 season…Please!!!


  9. Donna Harrell says:

    I meant to say he IS the worst player ever!


  10. Mar1ah Sensale says:

    There are some contestants who should be invited back because their celebs are so useless giving or receiving that they have NO chance of winning. One of them just says “uh, uh, uh, uh” and repeats what the other celeb guesses.

    Contestants should stop saying “opposite” day or “synonym” night and use their voice. It’s a waste of words.

    And that Meredith is just a wonderfully kind human!


  11. William Cleveland says:

    I hate the new format for the show. You should go back to two contestants and 4 members of the panels. I will not continue to watch the new mess created byn the changes.


  12. Georgia says:

    Love the show! I watch it everyday! But, a new season why can’t Meredith get a new wardrobe? The blazer are continually rotated and some colors look terrible with shirt! Let’s throw blazers out!


  13. Janis Elder says:

    I live in Austin, Texas and watch 25 words or less on the local fox affiliate. Why in the world would you move the time slot for this show from 11:30 pm to 1:00 am? I can no longer watch that showing. I think you don’t care what your viewers want. Thanks a lot.


  14. brian scott heiman says:

    i loved season 1-2 i would work my day around it but season 3 REALLY SUCKS. WHOEVER CHANGED THE FORMAT SOULD BE FIRED ,FIRED,FIRED IT TOTALLY SUCKS !!!!!!!


  15. Sharo says:

    Giving away the game is a really cheap prize. The super fan gets more than the losing contestant.


  16. Denise says:

    I think the prizes are given out wrong, the home viewer should get the thousand dollar if the contestants win or a hundred dollar gift card if they loose, the loosing contestants should get the board-game and the other gifts like the lobster gift card, backpack etc.


  17. Terry Smith says:

    Why just a game for losing game? Awfully cheap! At least a hundred dollars was a lot better! And you got rid of two guest stars!!! What’s up????


  18. ron says:

    Do not like new format with only 2 celebrities Contestants pass too soon , have seen it as high as 19 Two celeberities was much more exciting


  19. Tommy says:

    Cheapest game on the air. They don’t pay for airfare. They give the call-in people crappy gifts and the losing contestants get a board game (yeah. that’s right) and a dopey cheap gift, like mens-only shirts or candles. When your cat knocks over the candle and burns your house down, will they pay for it? Don’t bother with this show, they treat contestants like cattle.


  20. Sharon says:

    I love the show but am tired of same contestants week after week??


  21. Chris says:

    I am tired of Meredith Vieira saying the same words over and over in EVERY SHOW. Can someone PLEASE give her a different Skript. I love the show, but can’t stand her saying the same thing. I can’t believe the budged is so low they can’t afford hiring someone to write a different Skript for the show. Very sad….


  22. Carol says:

    Why do the shows cut off the ending and why do they duplicate the section when the loser has to say their goodbyes
    Can’t you fix it where it doesn’t cut the end of the show and repeat the second contestant leaving.
    We don’t understand. It is like someone didn’t know how to edit the film. The actual show where they were in person on set we got to see the ending of the game show. Thank you


  23. brenda says:

    Please stop contestants from wasting words saying synonym. That’s the basis of the entire game! Saying opposite is great, but saying synonym is a waste of words.


Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.