The theme is a riddle whose answer is a joke-y play on words. Four other answers have three circles in a row. How they make sense relates to the riddle.
18-Across with 50-Across: How can one tell that this puzzle was up all night waiting to be solved? = It has circles under its eyes.
The answers to 14-A, 36-A, 50-A. and 62-A contain the word EYE under which are the circles. (The circle fills have no common theme.)
14A. Like typical law school programs = Three year
36A. “I haven’t made up my mind” = Maybe yes Maybe no
50A. See 18A. = …under its eyes
62A. Tennis players in actions = Volleyers
There was a controversy regarding this puzzle. The Puzzle page is now providing hints for solving what are considered tricky puzzle. While occasionally a puzzle is accompanied by a “Notepad,” it is always of a very general nature. However, in this case, the “hint” outright gave away the puzzle’s theme:
“In today’s puzzle, the word “MAN” can be added outside the left hand side of the puzzle at 20-,
28-, and 46-Across to complete these entries.”
I didn’t know anything about this new feature until I checked my answers with Rex Parker. Obviously, I was able to figure out the trick on my own. I’ll not be looking for these hints because for me, they would ruin the fun and challenge of doing the puzzles.
The clue to the theme answers is provided by 51 Across: Emergency shout… or a possible title for this puzzle. Answer: Man overboard.
20A. Language that gave us “kowtow” = (Man)darin Chinese
28A. Clutch performer? = (Man)ual transmission
46A. Discuss reasonable outcomes upfront = (Man)age expectations
A few interesting answers:
4D. Canadian P.M. Pierre Trudeau’s middle name. Answer: Elliott. An easy one for me.
25D. Baseball Hall-of-Famer nicknamed Knucksie. Answer: Niekro (Phil). Despite being a baseball fan and knowing who he is, it took me literally to the very end to get the answer. The “k” in his name was the last square I filled in. Don’t know why it didn’t come to me sooner.
28D. Funny Tracey. Answer: Ullman. I had trouble getting this one though I did see her occasionally on the tee vee many years ago.
30D. Thin metal sheet. Answer: Latten. This fits my “you learn something new every day” category.