Friday, April 29, 2016

Our friendly competitor

Mike Brannen, an exec producer on an Albuquerque morning TV news show, copped $117,500 on Wheel of Fortune last night.

Congrats to Mike for the big win, but here's the thing. He works for KOB, the local NBC affiliate in Albuquerque. And Wheel of Fortune runs on KRQE, the CBS affiliate. So the folks at Mike's station were in the strange position of plugging a show on their crosstown competitor. They did their duty by Mike nonetheless. After all, it had to be the biggest thing to happen around KOB in quite a while.

I guess Mike only got onto the show because he didn't work for a TV station that carries Wheel. Otherwise, hints of a fix would have been too obvious in an industry still haunted by all that unpleasantness back in the 1950s.

By the way, Mike Brannen had a viewing party with family members in Chicago and Wisconsin via FaceTime. "They were serving Vanna White Russians and Pat Sajak and Gingers." I'll drink to that.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

ABC revives 'em all

I'm starting to think that ABC believes their real competitor is GSN, or maybe Buzzr. After reviving Pyramid and To Tell the Truth, now comes news that ABC will reboot Match Game with Alec Baldwin (?) as host.

The network has ordered ten eps for a June 26 debut after Celebrity Family Feud and the Pyramid rewind. I'm not sure about Baldwin as the host, but maybe he'll keep his less likeable qualities under control. He's donating his salary - supposedly one of the highest ever for a game show host - to his wife's art charity.

No post-1982 revival of Match Game has ever worked well, for the obvious reason that the 1970s version casts such a huge shadow. We'll see if this effort by ABC fares any better than the 1983, 1990 and 1998 shows. The 1973-82 Match Game is my favorite game show ever, and that includes everything. It's great to see ABC try the ultimate revival. Good luck to them.

Renewing the world

In what has become a stylized annual ritual, CBS has renewed its entire daytime lineup, including game show stalwarts The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal.

About the only variation this year is Not Safe for Daytime, "an edgy new series of digital videos on its YouTube channel that highlights and promotes CBS Daytime's popular programs." So far the channel has produced seven videos, including this parody of a Carl's Jr. hamburger ad. I'm sorry to report that the parody features a soap star - and not Drew Carey - taking off his shirt. But sooner or later Drew will probably show up in one of the videos (with his shirt on, most likely).

LMAD and TPiR are up slightly from last year in total viewers, so both shows may well be around forever and ever, or at least for quite a while. Kind of hard to believe that Wayne has been doing his show for seven years now, and Drew for nine years. Time flies when you're having decent ratings.

The soaps and the talker also got renewals. They keep sudsing and chatting along, too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Teachers and power people

All those eps that Jeopardy taped in D.C. are about to show up on the screen, just in time for May sweeps.

First is the teachers tourney starting May 2. The main point of this exercise, besides plugging Sony's deep love for educators everywhere, is to pick an entrant for the tournament of champions, the only Jeopardy stunt that means much.

Next is the power players week beginning May 16. Some of these power folks don't look all that almighty to me. There are some comedians, for instance, both in and out of politics. But the names may attract a few extra viewers.

In unrelated Jeopardy news, a much-hyped contestant named Jerry Vinokurov sadly faltered on his first (and only) episode. Jerry had compiled a sensational record in Quizbowl competitions, but as the posters on point out, Alex's quizzer is a different animal.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ratings: syndies barely budge

It was same old same old for syndie game shows in the week of April 11-17. Most of the syndies were unchanged, and the shows that did change hardly moved. TV News Check has the flatline household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - guess what, flat
Family Feud 6.5 - up one entire tick
Jeopardy 6.0 - down one entire tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - flat
Millionaire 1.3 - flat

The press release with the reality lineups on The Price is Right's upcoming prime time specials also had a bit of TPiR ratings news. The show is averaging about five and a half million viewers so far this season, up a smidge from the previous season. That's a decent number for any time of day, but it's great at 11:00 AM.

The reality is right

CBS has released the names of the reality contestants appearing on The Price is Right's prime time specials May 23-25.

The three reality shows are lined up this way on the TPiR specials: Survivor, Big Brother and Amazing Race. The host of each show will also turn up as part of the fun and frivolity. I'd like to tell you a bunch of fascinating stories about the various contestants, but I have very little idea who they are. I'm just not much of a reality TV fan. But the idea is to get true-blue reality fanatics to sample a game show for a change.

I do recognize James Huling in the screenshot of the Big Brother housemates. He took a turn on Easiest Game Show Ever, the little-watched Pop effort. James was only so-so at pop culture trivia. We'll see how he does on pricing games.

It's a nice way for CBS to plug its daytime game show behemoth and its prime time reality stalwarts. All these shows have been on forever, so a little crossover action can't hurt.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Higher lower

As a faux tweet noted, today Buzzr is launching a to-do over the Bob Eubanks version of Card Sharks.

The biggest news is that the diginet - often slammed for repeating the same game show episodes ad nauseam and ad other places - will dust off 50 "new" eps of Card Sharks over the next few weeks. Bob Eubanks will also do a twitter q-and-a session with fans of the game show oldies subchannel.

I might as well confess that Card Sharks, in whatever version, has always bored me. Acey-deucey seems like the dumbest card game this side of Go Fish. The game doesn't get any more appealing when it's tricked out with TV trappings and lots of prize money.

But who cares about my opinion? Card Sharks survived through several versions and a lot of seasons, so somebody out there liked it. And with the recent spate of game show revivals, it's not wildly out of the question that we'll again see the big cards getting dealt somewhere sometime.

For those who prefer the original Jim Perry version, fear not. GSN is still running it five times a week.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Not senile

A pop culture q-and-a column gets an interesting query. It's really interesting for me because I happen to be 64 years old.

I’m 61 years old, not senile by any means. I seem to remember Joe Garagiola and Vin Scully both having game shows on the air at one time. No one else my age seems to remember this. Please tell me I'm right.

Dear Questioner, I'm pretty much your age and I remember the two legendary baseball broadcasters hosting game shows. In fact, the late Joe Garagiola hosted several shows in our little genre, most notably To Tell the Truth (soon to be revived on ABC with Anthony Anderson). Scully doesn't have nearly as extensive a game show resume, but he did host It Takes Two, a short-lived effort in 1969-70.

The answer man in the pop culture column provides all this trivia. And speaking of senility, both Joe and Vin remained (credibly) active into their eighties in baseball commentary.

The funniest story about either gentleman's game show exploits comes from It Takes Two. As part of his hosting duties, Vin Scully opened the trunk of a car that the show was using as a prop for a particular question. Unknown to Vinnie, the crew had put a gorgeous young lady bereft of clothing into the trunk. (The camera was focused on the front of the car, needless to say.)

The unblushing naked maiden gazed longingly at Vin, but he didn't turn a hair. He just picked up the question card, gently closed the trunk, and went on with the show as if nothing had happened. Curt Smith tells the story in his book about baseball broadcasters, Voices of the Game.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pyramid fossilized?

At what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, they're cooing over ABC's Pyramid reboot.

Several posters have attended the show's tapings and have nothing but good things to say. Given the well-known preferences of the board, this can mean only one thing. The producers have frozen the format in time, and ABC's "new" version is a DNA-match to the old Dick Clark version.

Which is hardly terrible, of course. The old version was one great format. That's why GSN also did a paint-by-numbers revival that copied the old show slavishly. I can't blame ABC too much for trying this approach.

Just one thing, though. GSN's version expired after one season of so-so ratings, though reruns continue to grind away on weekday afternoons. My guess is the been-there-done-that effect. Viewers saw exactly the same thing as the old Dick Clark reruns and thought, why bother? Sure, the oldies board to end all oldies boards prefers Pyramid's format to be dipped in liquid nitrogen and kept eternally frozen. But is this the way to develop a new fanbase in 2016?

I always liked how the Donny Osmond version of 2002-04 wasn't afraid to tinker a little with the classic format (though the winner's circle sneak peek in the first season was a big goof). Apparently there ain't any tinkering going on in ABC's rewind. Let's just hope that the Celebrity Family Feud lead-in does the trick for the old format.