CHANGE OF PROGRAM

New York Times, Sunday, May 25, 2014

Author: Dan Schoenholz
Editor: Will Shortz
Dan Schoenholz
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215/5/20109/14/20160
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9244200
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1.63220

This puzzle:

Rows: 21, Columns: 21 Words: 138, Blocks: 72 Missing: {JQ} This is puzzle # 13 for Mr. Schoenholz. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Dan Schoenholz notes: This was a fun puzzle to create, kind of a personal journey through a lifetime of TV watching. From a construction standpoint, I got lucky: nine theme answers based on well-known shows that just happened to ... more
Dan Schoenholz notes: This was a fun puzzle to create, kind of a personal journey through a lifetime of TV watching. From a construction standpoint, I got lucky: nine theme answers based on well-known shows that just happened to break into symmetrical pairs plus a 15-letter central entry. The fill also seemed to come together more easily than usual. May your solving experience be just as smooth and enjoyable!
Jeff Chen notes: Today we get TV shows with one word homophonically changed, thus CHANGE OF PROGRAM. I liked the fact that Dan chose a wide variety of shows from all walks of life. A soap opera, a sci-fi, a sitcom, a drama — ... more
Jeff Chen notes: Today we get TV shows with one word homophonically changed, thus CHANGE OF PROGRAM. I liked the fact that Dan chose a wide variety of shows from all walks of life. A soap opera, a sci-fi, a sitcom, a drama — something for everyone. Except CHAMPIONSHIP BRIDGE with Groucho Marx, that is. Harrumph.

Dan does a really nice job with his spacing today. Note how little overlap there is between most themers? At least two rows between, ideal for a 21x. The closest he gets in the vertical direction is some overlap between DAZE OF OUR LIVES and THE EX FILES, but that's only a mere three letters.

So why doesn't every Sunday constructor do that? The way Dan manages it is that he puts two themers running down, TWIN PEEKS crossing DAZE OF OUR LIVES (and MIAMI VISE crossing AWL IN THE FAMILY). This type of interlock isn't always possible, especially given that many puzzles don't allow a lot of flexibility in choosing a theme set. It's fortuitous here, because it allows him to work in nine meaty answers but still retain great spacing. Very nice job in layout.

The one drawback is that I'd expect those areas with crossed themers to be the roughest places to fill. Any time you cross entries like that, you introduce an extra set of constraints into a grid skeleton. And for me as a solver, I had a difficult time in the NE. The partial A WAVE isn't bad in itself, especially given a surfing-related clue (I love to surf (badly) when I can). But surrounded by RVER and I NEED (sorry LL Cool J, even you can't save that) and GELEE made for a rough patch to complete.

All in all, I think it was worth it, in that the rest of the puzzle came pretty smoothly to me. An ACU here, a ST LO there, that's certainly a passable level of glue. Made for a relatively hiccupless solve. Nice.

Overall, the straightforward homonym theme will likely appeal to a big chunk of Will's solving community. It was a little too straightforward for my personal taste, but I often remind myself that while I tend to like complex, meaty themes, a (great?) majority of Will's audience prefers simpler puzzles. And while I personally love a heavy dose of twisty wordplay clues, there are many solvers out there who like puzzles with less playful cluing. I often have to remind myself that I'm NOT representative of the majority of the NYT's solving audience.

Finally, when you make a silly mistake by putting in SECTS SIN THE CITY (now THERE'S a show I would watch!) it's hard not to smile.

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© 2014, The New York TimesNo. 23,574
Across Down
1. Part of a rainbow : INDIGO
7. Blanket : SMOTHER
14. Rear admiral's rear : STERN
19. Invader of 1066 : NORMAN
20. Comment upon heading off : AWAYWEGO
21. Catch ___ (surf) : AWAVE
22. Like farmland : ARABLE
23. Stoners' memoirs? : DAZEOFOURLIVES
25. ___ New Guinea : PAPUA
26. Freud disciple Alfred : ADLER
27. Coaches : TRAINERS
28. Leverage in divorce negotiations? : THEEXFILES
30. Mixologist : BARKEEP
32. Went from black to red, say : DYED
33. Home with a view : AERIE
34. Whinny : NEIGH
38. Sound in a hot tub : AAH
41. Mallard relative : TEAL
44. Berth : SLIP
45. Theater opening : SCENEI
46. Dumbstruck duo? : THEAWEDCOUPLE
50. Moolah : SHEKELS
51. Blemished : MARRED
52. Admit (to) : COP
53. Calculus calculation : SLOPE
55. Makes the connection : SEES
56. Zero-star movie : BOMB
57. Balkan capital : SOFIA
59. ___ Beach, Fla. : VERO
61. Susan of "L.A. Law" : DEY
62. Tale of metropolitan religious diversity? : SECTSANDTHECITY
67. Word before or after "down" : PAT
70. Yam or turnip : ROOT
71. They're big in barns : DOORS
72. Huskers' targets : EARS
75. '12 or '13, now : ALUM
77. Western followers? : POSSE
80. Wire service inits. : UPI
81. Some lapses : ERRATA
83. Like many men's ties : STRIPED
85. Grant Wood portrayal? : AMERICANIDYLL
88. "The Canterbury Tales" inn : TABARD
89. Yemeni port : ADEN
90. Wrapped (up) : SEWN
91. Conciliatory gesture : SOP
92. Kitchen drawer? : AROMA
93. Some sites for sightseers : RUINS
94. Eke ___ living : OUTA
97. Maltreated : ILLUSED
99. Having trouble slowing down? : BRAKINGBAD
105. Like radon among all gaseous elements : HEAVIEST
108. Popped up : AROSE
109. "Appointment in Samarra" novelist : OHARA
110. Cobbler's heirloom? : AWLINTHEFAMILY
113. Bet : STAKED
114. Aplomb : POISE
115. "Spamalot" writer and lyricist : ERICIDLE
116. Forward : RESEND
117. Heavens : SKIES
118. Clear-cuts, e.g. : DENUDES
119. Off course : ASTRAY
1. Not on point : INAPT
2. Jones of jazz : NORAH
3. Hang (over) : DRAPE
4. Saturated : IMBUED
5. Samsung smartphone : GALAXY
6. With 10-Down, certain punch : ONE
7. Marshy lowland : SWALE
8. Features of many kids' place mats : MAZES
9. Legal hearing : OYER
10. See 6-Down : TWO
11. Star of reality TV's "The Girls Next Door," briefly : HEF
12. Immodest display : EGOTRIP
13. Oscar nominee for "The Wrestler" : ROURKE
14. Highlight : SALIENCE
15. Double takes? : TWINPEEKS
16. Gutter site : EAVE
17. One with a home away from home : RVER
18. Crime-fighting Eliot : NESS
20. Extra: Abbr. : ADDL
24. Actress ___ Dawn Chong : RAE
26. Mentored, e.g. : AIDED
29. Celebrated : FETED
30. Poe poem, with "The" : BELLS
31. "The Tempest" spirit : ARIEL
33. Hieroglyphic symbol : ASP
35. "___ Love," 1987 LL Cool J hit : INEED
36. Stylist's goop : GELEE
37. ___ fit : HISSY
38. Rest stop convenience, for short : ATM
39. 1956 Gregory Peck role : AHAB
40. "Don't be a ___!" : HERO
42. Confronts : ACCOSTS
43. Certain back-scratcher : LOOFA
45. "The Rapture of Canaan" author Reynolds : SHERI
47. See 49-Down : ARMS
48. Big name in barbecue grills : WEBER
49. With 47-Down, angry : UPIN
50. Building needs, informally : SPECS
54. Not straight up : OVERICE
57. Tolerated : STOOD
58. Focusing problem, for short : ADD
60. Ferrell's cheerleading partner on "S.N.L." : OTERI
63. Dealt (with) : COPED
64. A musical might be on one : TOUR
65. Neighbors of Navajos : HOPIS
66. Sale site, maybe : YARD
67. Popular pre-marathon meal : PASTA
68. Wedding site : ALTAR
69. Engine booster : TURBO
73. Tropicana Field team : RAYS
74. W.W. II invasion site : STLO
76. Tight spot in South Florida? : MIAMIVISE
78. ___ Hawkins Day : SADIE
79. Correct : EMEND
81. Taedium vitae : ENNUI
82. View from Lake Como : ALP
84. Relatives of turtles : PRALINES
86. Neon frame? : ENS
87. Stirred : AWOKE
89. Spare : AUSTERE
93. In a hurry : RUSHED
95. Govt. securities : TNOTES
96. Left open-mouthed, say : AGHAST
98. Rent : LET
99. Wedding sight : BRIDE
100. Fancy wheels, familiarly : ROLLS
101. "... so long ___ both shall live?" : ASYE
102. Part of an old military alphabet : BAKER
103. Big band's booking : ARENA
104. Pops : DADDY
105. Comes to pass, old-style : HAPS
106. "Star Wars" furball : EWOK
107. Others, to Ovid : ALII
108. In : AMID
111. End of un film : FIN
112. Puncture preceder : ACU
113. Mme.'s cousin : SRA

Answer summary: 8 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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