Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wanna be a contestant?

TV Insider enlightens us on the perpetual human quest to become a game show contestant.

For the most part the advice sounds like common sense. If you want to get on The Price is Right, be "upbeat and interesting" with the show's contestant pickers. It's better than being downbeat and uninteresting, no? For Jeopardy and Millionaire, brush up on general knowledge so you can pass the contestant exams. For $100,000 Pyramid, know the rules and dress for TV.

Some shows require videos of wannabe contestants, like Beat Shazam. Recent photos are enough for Hollywood Game Night, and pop culture knowledge is also recommended.

All in all, it sounds like you should watch the shows and see if you'd be good on them. You want to win, don't you?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Doing my duty

First, a confession. I never much liked the original Gong Show. It was icky-poo and stupid when it wasn't downright cruel to some of the performers.

Second, a review. I don't much like ABC's revival of the show, either. I won't go into a long dissertation on how Gong Show isn't a real game show, though of course it's not. It's just a talent contest gone nutty. But the show got grandfathered into the genre a long time ago, so I did my duty and watched the reboot's premiere.

Truth be told, I watched ten minutes of it. Mike Myers hosted in an artificial face that didn't move very well. The panelists were three guys who wandered in. The three acts ranged from mildly entertaining to gross to weird.

The sort of entertaining guy played the piano in unusual bodily positions. At least I could recognize the tune. The gross girl put a tarantula in her mouth and played a harmonica. No tarantulas were harmed in the making of this act. The weird guy rode wore an ape suit, rode a unicycle and played the bagpipes...all at once. What talent!

Nobody got gonged, as I recall. For those who like the weird, the gross and the mildly entertaining, this show might be for you. I'll stick to game shows.

The Nielsen Company wasn't overly amused, either. 3.9M viewers and a 0.9 18-49 rating. That might be enough to save Gong Show from the gong, or it might not be. I'm not worried either way.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Wall construction

Variety tells us that The Wall has become something of a franchise.

At least it got a second season. As the linked story says, this is "a rarity in U.S. broadcast — a shiny-floor primetime game show that has earned a second season without being a revival of a classic title." (Since when did "shiny-floor" get to be an often used adjective? I see it all the time now. I'm even starting to use it myself.)

In fact, The Wall returned last night with okay but hardly spectacular numbers, even by the shriveled standards of summertime broadcast. 4.5M viewers and a 1.0 18-49 rating. Sure, anything that doesn't go fractional - another new coinage in show biz speak - in 18-49 is sort of okay nowadays. And The Wall barely managed to avoid that.

Variety notes that the show has spawned several international versions, so no doubt the showrunners are making decent money off the project. One funny line from the story: an exec says The Wall is "an all new, created-from-scratch format." Of course, the show was created from Plinko, but why get persnickety?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brief history

A web site called Paste considers the critical question: Are We in the New Golden Age of Game Shows?

The quick answer is no, because game shows never really went away. But there have been a lot of reboots of ancient formats lately, so deep thinkers everywhere on the web are considering the history of the genre. The linked story goes sort of wrong right away, when it announces: "There was a time when celebrity game shows had an air of high class."

The example they give is What's My Line, which admittedly maintained an almost Victorian air of elaborate politesse. But at the same time I've Got a Secret was putting its celebs through goofy and definitely non-high-class stunts. Today I watched an ep on Buzzr when the panel sang a rock and roll song. Betsy Palmer was very good on the falsetto "yie-yie-yie-yie-yie-yie-yie's."

The story is correct about the genre's famously low production costs, which have always helped game shows appeal to execs looking to trim expenses. But Paste runs hilariously off the rails when it identifies Talk Show the Game Show as a genuine part of the genre.

The story then settles into a long plug for Hollywood Game Night. At least it's a real game show, even if the pop culture obsession gets annoying.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Renewed vigor

To nobody's great surprise CBS has renewed all their daytime shows, including The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal.

The one tiny morsel of speculation bait is the one-year renewal for LMAD, as opposed to two years for TPiR. CBS helpfully points out that Drew draws a lot more viewers than Wayne. 4.84/5.51 million as opposed to 3.05/3.47 million, by the network's calculations.

Does the shorter leash on Let's Make a Deal mean anything? Probably not, because three million daytime viewers in today's gazillion channel universe are nothing to sneeze at, or to cancel over. But CBS execs may be signaling that they would like to see LMAD draw more TPiP-ish numbers.

The talent is all coming back. Drew and Wayne and showrunner Mike Richards will be pricing and dealing for a while longer. Now that I think about it, Mike's Divided will also be returning to GSN.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ratings: syndies barely budge

The week of June 5-11 was almost a non-event for syndie game show ratings. The numbers hardly budged as the summer really kicked in. TV News Check has the boring household ratings...

Family Feud 6.4 - up a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.4 - up a tick, and now for the really exciting news
Jeopardy 5.3 - flat
Millionaire 1.5 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - guess what, flat

ABC won Sunday night with its game show reboots. Celebrity Family Feud led the way with 6.3M viewers and a 1.4 18-49 rating. Feud looks like a staple of summer TV for many summers to come.

For June 12-18 GSN backed off from the previous week's big numbers. 363K/261K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 37th in the windows.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Did this help him host the live TPiR show?

Didn't have much else to do, so I rummaged around the game show Interwebs and found one of the oddest items ever.

IMDb credits Todd Newton, host of Whammy, Family Game Night and countless runs of The Price is Right's live show, with a role on Charmed. For those who don't remember or never knew, Charmed was a Shannon Doherty vehicle on the now defunct WB network. It was a fantasy series about three yuppie witches who stumble through various goofball adventures.

The show was about as far removed from my demo and interest range as possible, so I never saw a minute of it. Until today. I found the episode with Todd's supposed appearance on DailyMotion and blitzed through it, looking for Mr. Newton.

I didn't see him but I did see the role he is credited for. The character's called "Yama" (see screenshot) and he's a demon with a nasty attitude, a black horse, and lots of growls and heavy breathing. I have no idea if that's really Todd Newton on the horse, or if he just voiced the breathing and growls, or if he was actually in the show at all. But would IMDb lie to me?

Well, maybe. But I must admit, it would be nice if this role really is on Todd's resume. He should do one of the TPiR shows in that get-up.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Battle of the network reruns

A faux tweet noted the veritable plethora (R.I.P. Howard Cosell) of game show reruns on the broadcast networks last Thursday night. If you're interested in how the Nielsen Company ruled on the repeat-fest, ABC won with their lineup of Celebrity Family Feud, To Tell the Truth and 100K Pyramid.

It's not like the numbers were sky-high. But the alphabet net (Variety speak!) did take the honors in total viewers and the Sacred Demo. The linked story calls the night "repeat-riddled" and there was hardly any new material to be found on broadcast TV. Still, ABC's game show reboots showed some strength even in reruns, so they've settled in pretty well. Plus they're cheap and quick to make. What's not to like for a network exec looking for summer shows?

The reboot mania continues this week with the debut of Gong Show, hosted by Mike Myers or Tommy Maitland or somebody. I'm tempted to say that ABC's version can only be an improvement on GSN's horrendous remake, but I don't want to prejudge.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Declaration of independence

A couple days ago I got an e-mail invitation from GSN for a personal phone interview with departing president David Goldhill.

Over the years my e-mail inbox has seen a number of such invites to interviews with game show people. I've always declined them, and the latest one was no exception. The reason is simple. I want this to be an independent fan's blog about game shows, without even a hint that people in the business can influence what appears here.

This is nothing personal against Mr. Goldhill or GSN. In fact, I've been pretty gentle on the network lately. I gave a fairly good review to the second season of Winsanity and a more than fairly good review to Emogenius. But I want complete freedom to write what I think about game shows, without worrying that people in the business will cut off my access to them or that they'll stop liking me. (Everybody wants to be liked, no?)

For instance, even in my favorable reviews of GSN's latest two shows, I noted their so-so or worse total viewer numbers. (Though the demos were okay for Winsanity and good for Emogenius by GSN standards.) And when GSN puts out something like Skin Wars - which I didn't much like and which I didn't even think was a game show - I want to feel completely at liberty to express an adverse opinion.

Maybe I'm being silly or over-scrupulous. But I'd rather err on the side of caution. People disagree loudly with my blog posts all the time. Read the comments if you don't believe me. But nobody can ever accuse me of selling out to people in the game show business or allowing them to influence what I write.

Saturday rant

I've been catching a lot of grief lately from hostile commenters. So I'm gonna dump on something besides the hostile commenters, who I've already dumped on.

Doncha just love it when I'm angry? Anyhoo, the TBS reboot of Joker's Wild just put out a casting call. There's nothing particularly wrong with this call, but it does contain a few hackneyed phrases that rub me the wrong way.

Want to compete for a cash prize and have a blast doing it? No, I don't want any cash and I want to be miserable about not doing it.

Think you know pop culture, current events and some history? Oh jeeze, not more pop culture. Why don't you quiz people on microbiology or Plato's dialogues?

Are you upbeat and uber-competitive, with a dynamic personality? No, I'm downbeat, drab and don't give a flying flip about winning. You don't like it? Tough.

THE JOKER’S WILD is Executive Produced by Michael Strahan and Snoop Dogg. Doesn't it sound a little goofy to have a showrunner named Snoop Dogg? His real name is Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Emoji like a genius

Finally got around to watching the premiere episode of GSN's Emogenius.

First impression: it's a goofy but entertaining combo of Idiotest and Pyramid. Which might seem like an odd pair, but you have to watch the show to believe it. I enjoyed the gameplay, even if Emogenius (like Idiotest) is clearly pitched at a much younger demo than grumpy old moi. As we shall see.

The Idiotest part of Emogenius is the use of visual puzzles, those pesky emojis. The first couple rounds of the show featured teams of two trying to guess chains of emojis which added up to Jon Snow (I guessed that one) or other pop-culture people and things (I missed a lot of them).

Pyramid cropped up in the final round of the front game and in the bonus round. In those rounds one team member tried to send clues to their teammate - sound familiar? - but only through, you guessed it, emojis. The show helpfully provided a list of suggestive emojis for the team to use.

Things really got hairy in those rounds. One team had to communicate "Canada" but the sender kept hitting the American flag emoji. Not the best strategy, especially when the show provided a maple leaf emoji, which looked a lot more useful.

All's well that ends well, and the debut ep featured a happily winning team in the bonus round. They went home with ten grand and the thanks of a grateful GSN. Hunter March hosted the proceedings with plenty of energy and the gift of gab.

I said the show aims at the same demo as Idiotest, and the Nielsen Company agreed. The premiere episodes got only so-so viewer numbers in the 300K range but good demo ratings by GSN standards. That's the same combination which has kept Idiotest on the network for years. We'll see if it works for Emogenius.