Saturday, January 31, 2015

A long list

I've often advertised my indifference to The Price is Right and shopping games in general. But this is a full-service game show blog. So I'll do my duty and note the latest meme bouncing around the game show Interwebs. That would be the all-inclusive, once-in-a-lifetime, all-expenses-paid definitive ranking of the TPiR pricing games.

Of course, the ranking is not really definitive or even close, as a bunch of commenters have trashed all or part of it. But I have to give the author a little credit. It's not easy coming up with something to say about seventy-five different games.

I'll save you the agonizing suspense and reveal that his number one pick is...gasp...Plinko. Frankly, discs bouncing around a lot of pegs and landing in one slot or another isn't my idea of must-see TV. But even this sour TPiR non-fan has to admit that the top pick is obvious.

After that, who knows? You could quibble for years - and some probably will - over a 75-item ranking. At least there are pretty pictures of all the games.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Game shows are fun, after all

Now that I've found Cash Cab on Nuvo TV, I've been watching a lot of the money-dispensing trips through Manhattan. One late afternoon my wife came home, plopped hard into her chair in the den, and watched Ben Bailey and friends for a while. Finally, she said that the show was the first good thing which had happened to her all day.

Some days are rougher than others. But the incident reminded me that game shows are supposed to be enjoyable. Our little genre doesn't specialize in sorrow and travail. These are goofy games designed to keep people's minds off their troubles...at least for a half-hour or so.

Sure, Cash Cab lands near the top of the genre, with interesting questions, appealing NYC street scenery, and a gifted host who seems like a natural behind the wheel and with a quip. A lot of game shows get tedious or even obnoxious, and then your troubles don't seem so far away. But a well-designed game can help viewers forget some of the dreariness that clings to anybody's life.

So thanks for the quizzical trips though Manhattan, Ben and company. You deserved all those daytime Emmys.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

So cute

Some stories are so insanely sweet, nobody can resist. Not even sour old me.

The Price is Right is running a crossover with Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. Which is the network's annual answer to, well, that overhyped football game. Frisky young canines frolic on a sort of football field in an orgy of unrestrained preciousness.

A clip from the cuddly crossover proceedings on TPiR has appeared at the Entertainment Weekly site. A puppy named Drew Carey - would I lie to you? - steals the show with clever bidding and his adopted family. Of course there's a pitch for animal adoption and, I guess, spaying and neutering and whatnot. Somewhere out there, noted animal rights activist Bob Barker must be smiling.

By the way, we're looking into adopting our third Labrador Retriever. We've had a black Lab and a yellow Lab, so a chocolate critter would complete the trifecta. But we're not too persnickety about coat color.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ratings: syndie soulmates slide

Pat and Vanna and Alex have seen better weeks. After big jumps in the previous week, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy both gave up part of their gains during January 12-18. On the plus side, Millionaire got some badly needed good news. TV News Check posts the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.2 - down eight ticks after a jump of sixteen ticks the week before
Jeopardy 7.1 - down five ticks after its own jump of eight ticks the previous week, to land just behind the Sony compadre
Family Feud 6.6 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.9 - up a tick to an eight-week high, as a press release gushes
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat

Pat and Vanna still led all syndies in viewer average, so it wasn't all grim news. And Jeopardy's weekend repeat got into the top 25 chart at TV by the Numbers. Wheel of Fortune 11.8M (weekend repeat 5.2M), Jeopardy 11.1M (weekend repeat 3.7M), Family Feud 9.8M, Millionaire 2.7M. That's a pretty good number for Terry, and he'll take it.

Pawnography gets a marathon tomorrow (Thursday 1/29) on History. The numbers keep coming in just fine. 1.8M for the latest new eps to lead all cable game shows easily.

GSN enjoyed a nice January. 403K/328K/452K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended weekday prime time. Got all that? The network ranked 38th, 31st and 34th in the windows.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ridiculous finishes

So I settle in to watch the soulmates tonight, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

And absurd things occur at the finish on both shows. On Jeopardy an obviously superior contestant blows away the competition and is heading for an easy runaway win...until the final Double Jeopardy clue. It's a Daily Double, and one of his competitors (the defending champ, by the way) hits a true daily double to make Final Jeopardy meaningful.

FJ is a ridiculously tough clue about the Oscars. None of the three gets it right. So what happens? The defending champ bets $0, which wins the game by one (1) dollar over the guy who had stomped the field throughout almost all of the show. An utter swindle.

As if that wasn't enough, a contestant then comes from behind in the speedup round on Wheel of Fortune when Pat Sajak hits $5,000 on the final spin. She goes to the bonus round and faces this puzzle after picking her additional letters: ----L- S-A-.

Piece of cake, right? Out of nowhere she guesses "bubbly soap." And naturally the wild blue guess is right. She takes home almost eighty grand in cash and prizes.

Sometimes I think the shows are rigged. They're not, of course. Pat Sajak has said that he's still too young and pretty to go to jail. But jeez louise...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ancient rumor finally comes true

The rumor has kicked around forever, but Chain Reaction is finally returning to GSN with a new 40-ep season. They haven't announced the host. I'd say there's a 100% chance it won't be Dylan Lane, who I actually think got dumped on a little unfairly. Vincent Rubino, with some game show cred, is the showrunner.

The repeats of the two old seasons have always gotten good numbers because the show is highly resistant even to GSN levels of rerun abuse. I used to plead for a new season on the GSN board. Even got to be a cranking bore about it. So I'm a happy camper right now.

I hope they don't screw around with the front game at all. It's pretty near perfect, IMO. The bonus round has always been a problem, so maybe they can come up with a few good tweaks (as opposed to a few good men). Rapid-fire speed chains might be one possible format.

This show has a surprisingly long and complicated history, dating all the way back to the Bill Cullen original in the 1980s. Nice to see it get another chance, especially after the rumors have swirled and swirled.

UPDATE: A casting call has gone out. Teams of two instead of three. Hm, hope this doesn't mean a lot of mucking around with the front game.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

GSN and Buzzr, cont.

A few more thoughts on the announcement last week of Fremantle's own game show network, Buzzr. I quote from my maunderings at Game Show Paradise...

Other poster: Obviously [Buzzr] is still not going to be all oldies all the time, and I do hope nobody seriously believes this will be the case. That's simply not going to happen.

Absolutely agree that it won't be all oldies all the time. The channel wouldn't do enough business. The question is what Fremantle can put on the channel and will put on the channel.

We've got a pretty good idea that Harvey Feud will show up sooner or later, and I wouldn't be floored to see fairly recent TPiR and LMAD. My guess is that these shows, if and when they do turn up on Buzzr, will easily outrate the oldies (duh) and Fremantle will go the GSN route of more and more new stuff. But I may be a tad cynical here. Anyway, I expect mostly the old library at Buzzr's debut.

Oh, one other thing. This idea has been percolating for a while. In a story from 2009 Fremantle exec Cecile Frot-Coutaz talked about using the library: "Fremantle also is mining the company’s vast Goodson-Todman game show library. GSN has the rights to air a few titles, but Frot-Coutaz’s team is working on a separate project to make classics available to viewers."

The talk picked up over last summer as Fremantle put the Buzzr channel on YouTube, with a modish Family Feud. So the idea has been kicking around for years. The availability of digital subchannels made it feasible.

I posted at Game Show Network News that this is the biggest thing to hit GSN in a long time. It's obviously not the most pleasant thing. Who really likes competition? But it may spark some change at the network to fend off the upstart. Trouble is, I don't think the change is necessarily going to be popular with classics fans.