Sunday, April 26, 2015

The genre gets no respect

Some writer for Conan O'Brien has complained about the "game-show-ification" of his beloved late night talk shows. A couple of TV critics chew over the comments.

Along the way the critics point out how Jimmy Kimmel played Family Feud with the Avengers cast when they might have been three (or four or ten) sheets to the wind. Then they sort of blame it all on Jimmy Fallon for playing too many games with his guests.

To give the critics some credit, they don't seem to think that having celebs play game shows late at night is a threat to western civilization as we know it. But the original whine about game shows only proves that our little genre really doesn't get much respect. Apparently there's supposed to be some pure and holy version of late-night comedy not defiled by silly little games.

To be nastily honest, I'm bored stiff by most talk shows...daytime, nighttime or any time. Watching canned chatter about the same old topics is not my idea of compelling TV. So if game shows invade late night talk, it's just fine with me. No matter how much a Conan writer whines about it.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Odds on

This site proves that you can get odds on anything. Even the Daytime Emmys, which most people probably don't know still exist.

In case you're interested, and I know you are, the latest odds on best game show host are Steve Harvey 8/11, Craig Ferguson 14/5, Todd Newton 6/1, and poor Pat Sajak 33/1. The oddsmakers just don't like the Wheel guy. Maybe they have trouble with word puzzles. The odds on best game show: Jeopardy 1/3, Family Feud 4/1, The Price is Right 20/1. The oddsmakers must not like shopping, either.

Do these odds reflect anything real? I doubt it. The great American unwashed are not wagering gazillions on game show categories in a hopelessly obscure show biz awards show. In fact, the handle on the sixth race at Podunk race track probably exceeds the total betting on the Daytime Emmys.

I wonder if you can get odds somewhere on the winner of Monday's Jeopardy. Probably.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Declaring a noninterest

The Brits like to "declare an interest," which means owning up to a partisan or financial interest in a dispute before commenting on it.

Fair enough, so it's time for me to declare a "noninterest" about all my game show comments on this blog and elsewhere. The issue has become important, believe it or not, because a few people seem to think I have some kind of magical control over GSN. Except I literally and absolutely have nothing to do with GSN beyond the weekly schedules they send to me.

In fact, now and then I've been offered a chance to interview people in the game show business or participate in conference calls with them. I've always declined because I want this blog to remain strictly an outsider's fan site.

This may seem overly scrupulous. But I'm afraid that if I get close at all to people in the game show industry, I'll find myself consciously or unconsciously influenced in my comments. It's a lot easier and simpler for me to stay impartial when I have no relationship to game shows or the people who work in them.

So if you want somebody to get GSN or any other game show outfit to do something, I'm not your guy. And if you want somebody to blame for what GSN or any other game show outfit does, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ratings rumpuses

I get ranted at disagreed with on Game Show Network News. It's a lot of fun...

Other poster: DEAR CASEY ABELL MAYBE YOU NEED TO BE FIRED ALSO YOUR PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CANCELLING THESE WONDERFUL CLASSIC GAME SHOWS [ON GSN].

Ever heard of turning off your caps lock key? I can't get fired from GSN because I don't work for GSN. I don't have anything to do with GSN or their programming decisions. I couldn't get a show taken off GSN if I wanted to, which I don't. The only connection I have with GSN is the weekly pdf schedules they send to me (along with a zillion other people).

Another poster: Casey, talk to me in about 6 months and we'll see if you're still on your know-it-all high horse.

I can guarantee that I won't be on a know-it-all high horse because I'm not on one right now. I'm only pointing out the facts: GSN just had its most-watched quarter ever. Sorry, but that's what the Nielsen Company says, not my high horse (or low horse).

Second poster again: Let's talk again on 10/1 and discuss ratings, shall we?

Sure. I follow GSN's ratings regularly. Although the only thing that could probably have real impact on the ratings between now and 10/1 would be losing the Harvey Feud lease. Which I don't think is going to happen, but we'll see.

I'm a little slow, so I finally caught on to what you were talking about. You must think that Buzzr will have a big impact on GSN's ratings. Well, that's always possible but I think it's unlikely.

Throughout the day GSN faces competition from syndie and broadcast game shows that are much higher-rated than anything on GSN itself. Even a relatively low-rated syndie like Celebrity Name Game regularly gets a million and a half viewers or more, a far higher number than GSN ever gets. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy pull 10-12 million viewers day after day, week after week.

If GSN can withstand much tougher competition like that, I doubt that a digital subchannel with limited distribution like Buzzr, offering little or no first-run material, will have much of an impact on GSN's numbers. But who knows? Time and the Nielsen Company will tell.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Buzz about Buzzr

Fremantle's Buzzr channel on YouTube continues to put out snippet-length versions of various game show formats.

The somewhat alarming screenshot shows a taping of Buzzr's Beat the Clock. I'm not sure exactly what the stunt is, but it looks like one of the more obscure pages in Joy of Sex. The contestants and host are the usual young'uns, as Buzzr on YouTube tries to appeal to the elusive 18-49 demo.

Meanwhile Buzzr's TV subchannel readies its launch on June 1 with completely different material. The TV operation will specialize in old game shows, though there are rumblings that some of the YouTube videos could eventually surface on TV.

Just what the TV version of Buzzr will show remains something of a mystery. As this thread on the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's discusses, nobody has seen a prospective schedule for the channel. (Warning: the thread rapidly runs off into the usual slanging match about irrelevant topics.) The typical web story about Buzzr TV talks in generalities about Match Game and Password and To Tell the Truth and, well, you get the idea. Oldies galore.

I'm not sure if my cable provider here in the DFW area will pick up the subchannel. Here's hoping. I'd like to see what they run out there.

UPDATE: Beat the Clock goes up on Buzzr's YouTube channel on April 28. You can watch a promo if you want to.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ratings: Pat and Vanna break the tie

Wheel of Fortune inched back into first place in the syndie game show derby for the week of April 6-12. But Jeopardy was only a tenth of a point behind. They're neck and neck down the stretch, as Tom Durkin might say. TV News Check has all the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up a couple ticks to lead all syndies
Jeopardy 6.5 - up a tick to fall just short of the leader
Family Feud 6.0 - down three ticks, not the best week for Steve
Millionaire 1.7 - up a tick from an all-time low as Terry gets ready to depart
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat

Pat and Vanna also led all syndies in viewer average. The latest from TV by the Numbers: Wheel of Fortune 10.8M (weekend repeat 4.3M), Jeopardy 10.2M (weekend repeat 3.4M), Family Feud 8.9M. The big three game shows took three of the top four slots.

TV Newser says that GSN scored what have become their normal good numbers in the week of April 13-19. 401K/302K/439K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 40th, 31st and 37th in the windows.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tell me sweet little lies

From To Tell the Truth and even earlier, game shows have had a thing about lying. Maybe it's because we all do it, with or without a twinge of guilt.

The latest in the prevarication sub-niche of our little genre is GSN's Lie Detectors. I just watched the debut and I'm here with the review. The Cliff Notes version is that it's not the best and it's not the worst in the fibbing category. The show just sort of sits there in the middle of the lying pack.

Three comedians tell tales about this and that to a studio audience and only one of them is the real Dr. Seuss, the other two are impostors...oops, I'm channeling TTTT again. Anyway, only one of the comics isn't lying, and the audience votes on which one it is. Sometimes the audience is right and sometimes they're wrong, which you would expect.

The final round brings the best truth-detector up from the audience for a game all their own. The comics again go through their maybe-fibbing routines and the civvie has to pick the non-liar. In the debut ep the civvie goofed, but I goofed right along with him. Which shows that I'm a sucker for a good story.

The main problem with the show is that the pace seemed to lag. The audience just sat around while the comics did their shtick. There wasn't any back-and-forth questioning like on the show I've already mentioned a couple times. The good thing is that the stories were occasionally funny, and the comics - all of them unknown to me - were likable enough (as Obama once said about Hillary).

Rolf McManus hosted competently but rather blandly. Lie Detectors was an okay way to pass a half-hour but not very memorable or suspenseful. One grace note: at the very end of the show they paid homage to TTTT with a will-the-real-truth-teller-please-stand-up moment. The producers couldn't resist.

UPDATE: Lie Detectors lays a Nielsen egg with 282K total viewers, 51K 18-49. Not much by GSN's recent standards for the late afternoon.