Friday, February 23, 2018

Cheesy music

A movie called Game Night is hitting the theaters.

No, the flick doesn't have anything to do with game shows. It's sort of a dark comedy, murder mystery thing. You can read the mostly favorable reviews at Rotten Tomatoes if you want to know more. The stars of the movie are making the media rounds. Several of them gave an interview to a smarmy TV guy.

The reason for this seemingly irrelevant post is that the interview makes a passing reference to "cheesy game show music." I've seen this phrase maybe 44 million times, give or take a million. It vaguely irritates me.

Sure, some game show ditties are a little on the curd-and-whey side. But you could also call them bouncy and upbeat. Doesn't The Price is Right's theme song make you want to stand up and act like a maniac and run down to the stage and knock over Drew Carey? Well, even if the song doesn't do that, it's still an pleasant tune that doesn't hurt anybody, not even Drew.

The "cheesy music" putdown is just one more example of how our little genre gets no respect. I bet Rodney Dangerfield liked game show music. Or even if he didn't, he should have.

UNRELATED UPDATE: Happened to watch an episode of Match Game today on Buzzr, and they kept cutting to commercials at the wrong time. I know this is a bargain basement diginet, but you'd think they could get the timing right on the ads.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Debates in the form of a question

Debates in governor's races draw crowds of literally dozens (slight exaggeration) on obscure public TV stations.

But in Pennsylvania they've hit on a way to try for a few more viewers. They've invited Alex Trebek - he hosts Jeopardy, you know - to moderate a debate between the gubernatorial candidates this fall. Alex is no doubt better known in the state than any of the candidates he'll be moderating.

The linked story says the debate will only last 45 minutes. That seems like barely enough time for opening and closing statements, so I don't know how much of the spotlight Alex will get. The story also quotes Trebek sounding like a guy for all political factions. He's liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican and Independent all at the same time. We don't want to tick off any Jeopardy viewers, do we?

By a not so odd coincidence Jeopardy is prime real estate for political ads. The show skews really old (big news) and that's what you want in politics. Old people are a lot more likely to vote than young'uns. Retirees like moi usually don't have anything better to do on Election Day.

Right now, for instance, there's a primary coming up in my home state of Texas. Sure enough, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are chock full of blurbs from various candidates. Funny thing, the governor's race is a done deal in this blood-red state. The incumbent Republican is spending a lot on ads, anyway.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ratings: little change for syndies

Not much happened with syndie game shows in the week of February 5-11. It was the first week of sweeps but the numbers didn't move a lot. TV News Check has the boring household ratings...

Family Feud 7.2 - up a tick, which is big this week
Jeopardy 6.8 - flat
Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - down a tick to fall just behind the soulmate
Millionaire 1.8 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - flat, ho-hum

ABC has been running Celebrity Family Feud repeats against the Olympics and getting dull ratings. About 3.7 million viewers for the latest runs. Could be worse, I guess.

Pretty much the usual story for GSN. 398K/260K viewers prime time/total day for the week of February 12-18. The network ranked 38th and 32nd in the windows. The prime time (all Harvey Feud) numbers inched up a little, the total day numbers slipped a bit. By the way, GSN is planning no changes to the schedule for the next few weeks, according to the pdfs.

While we're on GSN, they've changed the logo on their channel listings. See the screenshot from Screener TV. Don't know if this new logo will appear everywhere or just on the listings.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Game show corollary

A bit of GSN news: their Cover Story production crew (I assume) has interviewed Wink Martindale.

Don't know if they're planning an episode about Wink himself or a more general game show history. Either way, it's nice to see that Wink may turn up on our little game show network one of these days. But that's not really what this entry is about. I know I'll catch some grief about this, but I've finally decided to post the Abell Corollary to Godwin's Law...

As an online game show discussion grows longer, the probability of a complaint about Steve Harvey approaches 1. If the discussion is about GSN, the probability converges to 1 like a bat out of hell.

The link to Wink's Facebook page offers yet another example of the corollary. You might not think that news of a Wink interview would lead to a complaint about Harvey, and you'd be wrong. A commenter can't resist whining about "too many Steve Harvey Feud episodes."

There may be an additional corollary: Once the complaint about Harvey occurs, the probability approaches 1 that Buzzr will be complimented for running non-Harvey Feud a zillion times a week. Sure enough, that happens with another comment: "That's why Buzzr is good of course [because] they have Dawson and Combs episodes."

But here's the thing. Buzzr is also running Anderson and Karn eps of Family Feud. See the pattern? Dawson, Combs, Anderson, Karn...there's only one more step (O'Hurley) until the unthinkable. HARVEY FEUD ON BUZZR.


A quieter Cash Cab

As I mentioned in previous entries, GSN has now given Cash Cab another hour on weekday afternoons.

For the afternoon run the network has gone all the way back to the original eps of the show from December, 2005. It's always fun to watch the first few episodes of a long-running game show like Cash Cab, to see what if anything changed over the succeeding years. It's even better when the show is one of the all-time greats of the genre, even if Game Show Forum's ridiculous top-50 list somehow omitted Cash Cab. (They did find places for many moldy mediocrities and even a few rigged shows.)

The most obvious difference is that Ben Bailey was much quieter in the first episodes. He didn't exactly melt into the scenery - the guy's six foot six, after all. But he didn't get as animated or sing out "Red Light Challenge" or hunch over and do silly voices when contestants entered the taxi. Of course, on the first few eps he didn't have to try to hide himself at the start of the cab rides. Nobody knew who he was, anyway.

Once the show got established as a Discovery Channel staple, Ben started hamming it up a little more. Can't blame the guy. He had found the gig of a lifetime.

Monday, February 19, 2018

More nostalgia

As usual today I typed "game show" into Google News to see what bounced back at me.

This column from a Louisiana site naively sings the praises of old game shows...on GSN. Oh, if the columnist only knew how our little game show network catches grief from the Internet about those oldies. She happened across 25K Pyramid with Florence Henderson as one of the celeb contestants. I watched the entire show — best thing on TV — and walked away with an empty cup of coffee and a longing for the past.

She then writes about Facebook pages that "devote themselves completely to nostalgia." I guess she doesn't know about that diginet which devotes itself (almost) completely to game show nostalgia. It's true that Buzzr doesn't have Pyramid, though there's no law prohibiting the diginet from eventually leasing a few non-Fremantle shows. Money's probably tight right now.

The column then takes a much darker turn which has nothing to do with game shows. I'll let you read the rest of it if you're interested. But the first part of the column shows how most GSN viewers are blissfully unaware of the Internet wars which are fought over the network.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Rummaging around the game show Interwebs, I came across a minor announcement that Buzzr is back on WBXZ, a low-power station in Buffalo.

You might ask, what's the big deal? Well, it's not a big deal, though the station has a somewhat colorful history. WBXZ has had a tough time even staying on the (low-power) air. The station dropped Buzzr a while back, and then WBXZ went dark completely for a couple months. But now it has returned to broadcasting with the game show oldies diginet as part of the lineup.

The reason I noted the item is that it sparked The Slogan on the Buzzr Facebook page. I hate Steve Harvey. That was the reaction of one poster on the oldies board to the Buzzr announcement. This incantation has become the Cathago delenda est of the oldies boards. Almost any subject, no matter how unrelated, eventually comes back to the Horribleness Of Steve.

It even happens on this blog. Yesterday I jokingly referred to the "gazillions" of runs of Cash Cab on GSN. Full disclosure: the network will run Cash Cab "only" thirty-eight times this week. Let's be numerically correct!

A commenter complained that I never trash GSN for all of the Horrible Steve they run. I pointed out my "Heap of Feud" post last December when I did ridicule GSN, Buzzr and syndication for the heaping helpings of Family Feud they serve.

Of course, what the commenter really wanted was a dump on Harvey himself. I hate Steve Harvey. Sorry, but I think Harvey is a fine host and has done a good job of reviving Family Feud. So sue me. (And, psst, I think that Horrible Steve will even show up on Buzzr one of these days.)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Something to blog about

My wife and I were watching one of GSN's gazillion runs of Cash Cab today. A solo passenger named Sam Meyer started piling up lots of loot on a double ride.

And he kept piling it up, despite a couple strikes along the way. Shameless brag: I guessed "pasha," the correct answer to one of the questions he goofed. Finally, he was faced with the double or nothing bonus question on a kitty of $3,100. Another shameless brag: I knew the bonus answer: "Bonneville Salt Flats". So did Sam, and he walked away with $6,200. Ben Bailey intoned loudly that it was a new record for Cash Cab.

My wife turned to me and said that the win was something worth blogging about. I said that the show was from 2009 (according to the onscreen channel guide), so it was a little late to blog about it.

But then I thought, why not? What else to I have to write about today? Especially when Wikipedia says that Sam's record still stands on Cash Cab. You can watch the bonus question on YouTube.

Cash Cab was notoriously stingy with its payouts. Nobody would ever accuse the show of mo' money syndrome. Match Game used to give away a lot more than $6,200 in pre-inflation money, and the rigged shows of the 1950s ladled out tons more cash.

But Sam still deserves a blog entry. The one great scorer asks not how much money you won, but how you played the game. Right, Grantland Rice?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Plinko stats

Dropped in at Golden Road, the discussion board for The Price is Right. Amid many love letters to Bob Barker - the board is still grieving over his retirement - there was a link to all the stats you could ever want about the show.

Well, you know me. This retired actuary couldn't resist the urge to download the numbers on TPiR's pricing games, and then I started playing games of my own. I rather naively thought that Plinko would be the most played game in TPiR history, and I was naively wrong. Plinko didn't even make the top ten.

Which is a little surprising. After all, Plinko is the iconic game on the show. When they were building The Wall, they didn't say: "Let's knock off Double Prices." But Double Prices is the most played game ever on The Price is Right. Who woulda thunk it?

Plinko did have quite a run from the show's 17th season through the 33rd. It was often the most played game in those years. Even as late as the show's 42nd season it was still the top game for the year. But its use has dwindled over the past few seasons. Maybe the showrunners are getting tired of the bouncing chips.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Enter to win!

If you watch GSN at all, you're probably aware of the network's latest foray into home game interactivity, Daily Draw.

According to the network's web site, the weekday raffles will continue until April 9. It's always a little odd to see anything live (or almost live, as Gong Show would say) on GSN, home of endless rewinds of game shows from near and far. The host of the show is Trish Suhr, who looks vaguely familiar. Wikipedia, ever helpful on pop culture, tells me she's "an American stand-up comedian, actress, television personality, and lifestyle expert best known for her portrayal as the 'Yard Sale Diva' on Clean House."

Have to admit that I never watched, or even heard of, Clean House. The show ran on Style Network, which eventually became Esquire Network, which eventually became kaput. But maybe I've seen Trish somewhere else.

I'm almost tempted to enter the sweepstakes, just to see if GSN would disqualify me as a game show blogger if I ever happened to win. After all, GSN once sent me a bottle of wine as a Christmas present. Conflict of interest! Scandal!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018


By an odd coincidence I ran across a couple of game show scandal stories this morning.

Game Show Garbage, which I hadn't checked in a while, has posted a commentary on supposed scandals in our little genre. A lot of the items concern non-U.S. shows and are thus outside this blog's purview. Some of the items are mildly scandalous and some are just weird or quirky. The writer awards a "scandal or not" prize to each one, if you're interested.

A site called International Policy Digest - an award winner for Most Pompous Site Title - offers pictures from Quiz Show as part of a long-winded denunciation of, believe it or not, fake news bots on social media. I'm losing sleep over this massive threat to the world, the galaxy, the universe. Not to mention that Quiz Show was laughably inaccurate in its deification of Richard Goodwin as the hero of the 1950s rigging scandals. If you're gonna denounce fake news, you probably shouldn't refer to the heavily fictionalized Quiz Show.

By the way, GSN is promising more scandals and mysteries in its Cover Story series next month. I'm sure we'll all be scandalized to the max.