Thursday, December 13, 2018

Get ready to match the stars again

ABC's Match Game will return with another season January 9.

The linked story cattily notes that the new go-round of the ancient format will be "returning Alec Baldwin to prime time on ABC after his eponymous talk show crashed in the fall." No, "eponymous" is not a synonym for "lousy." Though in the case of Alec's talk show, the latter adjective would be well deserved.

It looks like Baldwin's latest brush with the law - a punch-up with another motorist over a parking spot - will not affect his hosting duties. He's done well on Match Game, and by and large the reboot has hewed closely to the timeless format. ABC's rewind has certainly been watchable. It may be the best effort yet to revive the legendary 1973-82 version.

Unlike ABC's Sunday slate of game shows, which easily won their night in the ratings wars during the summer, Match Game didn't win much of anything during the warm weather months. For its ten eps from June through September, the show averaged 3.46M viewers with a 0.64 18-49 rating. Not boffo numbers, even by today's lowly broadcast standards.

But so far ABC's 2018-19 season has been a sea of ratings woe, with big drops in viewers and demos across the sorry board. So Match Game's summer numbers don't look so awful to harried ABC execs. Welcome back, Alec and friends.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Buzzr gets noticed

It's nice when Buzzr, our little oldies diginet, gets some attention outside the narrow confines of the game show Interwebs.

I had never heard of the 2 Paragraphs site, but I assume they limit their stories to two paragraphs (duh). Sure enough, that's the length of their rewrite of a press release from Buzzr about the diginet's Betty White Christmas. I got the same release in my inbox, and the linked story gives me an excuse to rewrite it myself.

Come to think of it, the 2 Paragraphs site probably imposes a word limit as well. Otherwise they could dawdle along for two 10,000-word paragraphs, which would pretty much defeat the purpose. Anyway, the site counts 8 days and 71 episodes of Betty in such Buzzr staples as Match Game, Tattletales, Password Plus and Super Password.

I don't know if there are any "fresh" episodes of these shows in the stunt, as the oldies boards like to call them. (For the uninitiated, "fresh" means eps that haven't turned up on Buzzr in its three-and-a-half-year history.) But Betty's game show appearances are always worth watching. Today I caught one of her zillion Match Game turns on GSN. As usual, the other panelists were riffing off her love for animals. Some things never change.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ratings: syndies rebound from turkey overload

As always, Thanksgiving week was soft for syndie game shows. So there was a big bounce back in the week of November 26-December 2. I should say the top three bounced back. There wasn't much happening for the bottom two. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Jeopardy 6.4 - up nine ticks from turkey week and into first place
Family Feud 6.3 - also up nine ticks for a second-place tie
Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - another nine tick rise, it's the thing this week
Millionaire 1.7 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - flat, a big surprise

As I said in a comment on a previous entry, America Says has averaged around 450K viewers for its last three prime time runs (December 5-7). Maybe GSN has finally found a way to lessen their reliance on Harvey Feud.

Overall, GSN's prime time numbers perked up from the previous week. The network drew 376K/255K viewers prime time/total day for the week of December 3-9. GSN ranked 36th and 32nd in the windows.

Monday, December 10, 2018

GSN and kids

A thread on Game Show Paradise actually bashes GSN! Yes, I know it's hard to believe that an oldies board would bash the cable network, but it did happen.

All right, I'll go easy on the sarcasm. Of course, GSN is not beloved on the oldies boards because it mostly runs game shows with less than twenty years of dust on them. But this particular thread dumps on GSN for its "Kids Zone" of children's shows which ran in the late 1990s.

I can barely recall the Kids Zone, except that it seemed mostly dull. GSP seems to think the Zone was just awful because, well, they usually think GSN is just awful in general. This is the board that once went nuts because they thought GSN was going to run Toddlers and Tiaras.

One poster is really out to lunch, though, on FCC rules and regs...

I think GSN's Kids Zone block was originally designed to meet U.S. Government laws requiring networks to air the bare minimum of three hours of educational/informational programming for younger viewers on a weekly basis. Even though I am not a fan of many game shows designed for younger audiences, I am quite shocked that GSN decided to drop E/I programming for children from its schedule by the turn of the millennium, given the FCC's ruling regarding children's educational programming which has been in place since the 1990s.

I'll leave aside how "quite shocked" this guy is. But I can say that he's flat wrong on the FCC mandate. The requirement for three hours of kid shows only applies to over-the-air broadcast television, not to cable. That's why, say, Playboy TV has never had to break into its usual offerings with children's shows.

The rationale for the FCC has always been that the so-called public airwaves need protection from whatever nefarious forces which bureaucrats might see, or imagine they see. Cable operations don't use those airwaves, so they were never subject to the three-hour kid show mandate. Wikipedia has all the legalistic details.

Anyway, GSN mostly gave up on kid shows after 2000. By then so many kid-centric cable outlets had sprouted that network execs probably figured GSN was never gonna draw much of a rugrat audience. Of course, those cable networks for kids, along with endless children's material on the Internet, make the FCC mandate on over-the-air TV networks silly and obsolete.

But the regs are still there for anybody who uses the sacred public airwaves. It's notoriously tough to kill guvmint regulations of any kind. That's why Buzzr still trots out three hours of kid material - wholly unrelated to game shows - every weekend.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Mustache news

Now and then a mustache turns into big news on Jeopardy. It's usually Alex Trebek's forays into facial hair that draw attention, but not last week.

As a faux tweet noted, retired Allegheny County, PA detective Dave Leffler showed off his lengthy whiskers Monday through Friday. His run finally ended on an opera clue, which (believe it or not) I knew. The ex-cop won't forget Aida any time soon, but he has over a hundred grand to console himself with.

The linked story says that Dave worked sex crimes and fugitive cases for nearly thirty years as a patrol officer and then detective. The mustache looks like it's been developing for almost as long.

Dave gave a long interview published before his final episode aired. He made what he had to know was an ironic remark about the "dreaded opera category." He also talked about the audition process and production protocols on Jeopardy. But things really perked up when he spoke eloquently about his years as a cop. I started to think that Investigation Discovery might want to check him out as a second Joe Kenda.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sports, real and fake

A couple of sports-related items popped up in Google News about game shows. Okay, one item was about sports and the other was about, let's say, performance art.

The real sports story was yet another reminder of the Red Sox World Series win this year. As a confirmed hater of the Sox and Yankees, it pains me that Wheel of Fortune had to dredge up hurtful memories that were just starting to heal (see screenshot). Maybe we'll get lucky and Boston will lose a hundred games next year. That's wildly unlikely, but hope springs eternal.

The less, er, serious "sports" story concerned pro wrestler Mick Foley. A Jeopardy clue referred to his infamous (in wrestling circles) "Mr. Socko" stunt. I had to brush up on my feeble knowledge of pro wrestling to understand the reference, but Wikipedia came to the rescue. Mr. Foley was so delighted with his Jeopardy moment that he tweeted out his glee. Nice to know that he's a fan of the only game show with a Peabody.

Though pro wrestling and Peabody Awards don't seem to fit together.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tale of two shows

Already did my weekly ratings report, but the stats for December 5 were notable enough to merit their own entry.

The news was very good for two game shows in the cable wars. Deal or No Deal debuted on CNBC to terrific numbers by the network's standards. The 8:00 PM episode checked in with 796K viewers and a 0.18 18-48 rating. The following ep at 9:00 PM did even better. 865K viewers and a 0.21 18-49 rating.

These numbers compare to CNBC's prime time average of only 242K viewers last week. Yes, DOND more than tripled the network's usual audience in the peak viewing hours. If Howie and friends can keep up anything like the debut ratings, CNBC execs will be falling over themselves to renew the show.

I was a little down on GSN's America Says in the weekly report a few days ago. But December 5 proved to be just fine for John Michael Higgins and company. The perky Family Feud knockoff drew 472K viewers and a 0.06 18-49 rating. Those are the best numbers I've seen for the show in any time slot, and they compare nicely to GSN's 336K viewer average in prime time last week. Okay, America Says didn't triple the network's usual average. That might be a bit too much to ask.

Maybe it took a while for GSN's prime time audience to get used to any show besides Steve Harvey's Family Feud. Or it might have just been a random upturn. But an audience pushing a half-million - even for only one ep - can't hurt the future prospects of America Says.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

New year, baby!

Fox has announced that Steve Harvey will anchor their New Year's Eve bash.

Last year's NYE effort by the Family Feud host brought some cackles on Twitter about his fashion choices (see screenshot) and some more substantial criticism over a few racial remarks. But as usual in TV land, the Nielsen Company had the last word. Harvey and co-host Maria Menounos, who will also return to the show, drew record numbers for Fox's NYE to-do.

For those who don't remember or never knew, Steve Harvey officiated at Maria Menounos' wedding on last year's bash. I doubt that she'll get married again, but maybe the Feud master will preside over another couple's nuptials. Or maybe not. Let's just hope the weather is a little warmer and Steve can wear something less goofy. The mammoth white coat and hat have got to go.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ratings: syndies sweep downwards

Sweeps months are supposedly not that important any more. Some reports say that Nielsen is "sweeping" all the time. No matter. TV News Check still reports the year-over-year changes for syndies in the November sweeps. And if you follow TV ratings, you know that the numbers keep declining year after year. All those alternative media outlets...

Family Feud 6.3 - down a couple ticks from November 2017
Jeopardy 6.2 - also down a couple ticks from a year ago
Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - down a tick from last November
Millionaire 1.6 - flat, which is not bad nowadays
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - flat at the unchangeable number

GSN had a forgettable week for November 26-December 2. 336K/252K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 39th and 31st in the windows. I'm afraid that personal fave America Says is hurting GSN's prime time ratings. Sigh.

Some good news on Bob Barker

After all the depressing medical news about The Price is Right icon Bob Barker lately, there are some better tidings. He recently put in a Skype appearance on the show for his 95th birthday.

The linked story runs through the litany of health issues for Mr. Barker over the past few months and years. Such problems are hardly unexpected for a 95-year-old, but it's good that he was able to show up on TPiR, admittedly only through a webcam.

Closer, the site with the bubbly article about Bob's appearance, is the "nice" publication in the National Enquirer empire. So they conclude their story with this rousing finale...

In our opinion, Bob looked better than ever on Skype despite his recent health issues. Here's to many, many more birthday celebrations for him on The Price Is Right!

Happy birthday, Bob.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dealing again

Finally got around to watching the sneak peek of the rebooted Deal or No Deal on the NBC web site.

For the most part, the episode was just like old times. Howie was a little older and now bespectacled, but he still looked to be in fine fettle. The models were as beauteous and well-coifed and well-dressed as ever, and the contestant was the usual nutcase risk-taker.

Well, Luis Green was beyond a nutcase. After spurning multiple six-figure offers with only one real case left in play, he finally faced an offer of $333,000 and only two cases: $5 and $750,000. Just to make things more excruciating, the show had wallowed in his life story. Luis was adopted at age 12 after shuffling through several foster homes. With the familiar This Is Your Life sentimentality from the original, the show had hyped the suspense to the maximum.

And you guessed it, star-crossed Luis left the show with...five bucks. Which just proves that after all the hype and buildup and gush, Deal or No Deal comes down to an unsentimental fact. You can wipe out big on the ultimate risk/reward show.

The sneak peek performed reasonably well for NBC. 5.32M viewers and a 1.0 18-49 rating. Nowadays broadcast networks don't turn up their noses at such numbers. We'll see how the show does in its usual slot on cabler CNBC.

UPDATE: TMZ couldn't resist bugging Luis for his family's reaction to the massive fail. His wife took it in stride, more or less, but his mother "is still taking the loss hard."