I'm writing this review at halftime of the Packers-Seahawks game. Still 30 minutes to go, but it looks an awful lot like the Pack's going to the Super Bowl. Hope the Pats get there also!
This puzzle left me a bit cold. The theme is fine, as far as it goes. Twenty letters of four-letter words, differing by only one letter each time, with clues that attempt to make sense of the tortured results. The best one is KIDS/KISS/MISS/MOSS/MOST: at least it makes grammatical sense. On the other side, WILT/WILL/FILL/FULL/FUEL? It just doesn't parse. And LOUD/LOUT/LOST/LAST/CAST is just nonsense.
Once I understood the theme, figuring out the words was enjoyable in a Games magazine sort of way. The problem from a crosswording standpoint is that the extremely long entries are the only passage from one section to another. In fact, until I gathered what the trick was, I was essentially filling in random clues that I could just get, rather than doing what makes crosswords fun; namely, crossing words. It's the old problem of dividing a (large) grid into tiny 5x4 or 4x4 mini-puzzles.
And I suppose it would have been better if the remainder of the fill was anything to write home about. But instead we have Lena OLIN, Sheriff LOBO, NOTI, ISL, HULL, ALAW, ENOS, and a host of others, too numerous to enumerate here.
Clues I did like? 90D: Non-PC person (MACUSER). That's good stuff. Three different "This and that" clues, (1D, 12D, and 34D), leading to BOTH, OLIO, MISC. Unfortunately, the latter two are really things I'd rather not see in the puzzle. I enjoyed 52A: Word after camper or before Camp's (VAN). I also liked 29D: Bombay and Boodles (GINS), but what's with the unnecessary plural?
SAABS? That's what we're all doing with a puzzle like this.