Wednesday, October 18, 2017


One of the strongest myths on the game show Interwebs is that celebrity versions of game shows are inevitable flops.

One older-is-better guy put it this way: Goodson-Todman learned nothing from Beat the Clock '79 and Password All-Stars. Heatter-Quigley learned nothing from Celebrity Baffle and The All-Star Magnificent Marble Machine. And Barry-Enright learned nothing from Celebrity Bullseye and Celebrity Hot Potato.

And it looks like this poster has learned nothing from Celebrity Family Feud, which just happens to be the most successful game show currently in broadcast prime time. Only I doubt that this poster cares much about any game show from the last thirty years.

My guess is that the strength of the format and the ability of the host count for much more in a game show's success than whether celebs or civvies are playing for the points. Hip Hop Squares has gone to an essentially all-celeb format, and it's done just fine on VH1. (I personally think that civvie contestants should play the game, but that's just my opinion.)

By the way, I really doubt that the oldies boards care much about Hip Hop Squares.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ratings: good week for syndies at the top

The top three syndie game shows all added a few tenths in the October 2-8 week. Nothing spectacular but every little bit helps. There were no changes down below. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.2 - up a couple ticks
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - up a couple ticks into a tie with the soulmate
Jeopardy 5.9 - up a tick
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - flat and still barely visible

Given the un-Funny ratings, remind me again why Celebrity Name Game had to go. At least GSN continued to show better numbers in October. 343K/247K viewers prime time/total day for the week of October 9-15. The network ranked 44th and 36th in the windows.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Swept up in enthusiasm

A faux tweet noted that Fremantle has acquired the rights to Supermarket Sweep and plans to bring the grocery larceny show back to TV markets around the world.

I know about the power of game show nostalgia, but this news set off incredible happy happy joy joy all over the Interwebs. Last I counted, there were more than fifty stories in Google News about the revival, all of them gurgling with bliss. Who knew that there was such pent-up demand for Al Howard's old chestnut from the 1960s (plus the later rewinds)?

This spasm of exaltation from a site called Romper is typical. Supermarket Sweep Is Coming Back, Because Dreams Do Come True. Well, gee, I hope the revival - whenever it arrives - fulfills the writer's dreamy hopes. I liked the show myself, because it spoke to the universal human desire to shoplift and get away scot-free. But I've never had dreams about it.

The linked story hopes that Fremantle doesn't mess too much with the format. As long as the merry thieves get to run wild though a supermarket, most viewers should be happy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

November return

Bouncing back and forth between the Dodgers-Cubs game on TBS - the Cubs lost, yay! - and Cash Cab on GSN, I saw a promo for the return of Winsanity in November.

I guess GSN has to burn off the show's second season sometime. But I wonder if the execs thought about deep-sixing the unaired eps. Winsanity's ratings went downhill in a hurry, which is why GSN pulled the second season. Funny thing, I thought the format for the new season was a definite improvement on the original structure.

By the way, GSN is allowing Cash Cab some Harvey Feud-sized marathons. The taxi quizzer's eight-ep skein on Saturday night occupies all of prime time and then some. Ben and friends must be getting decent news from the Nielsen Company. They're listed for 32 rides on GSN per week for the next couple weeks.

UPDATE: Wouldn't you know, GSN has shuffled the schedule. The Chase now gets weekend prime time slots and Idiotest gets prime time every weekday. Cash Cab still runs a lot on the network, though. Meanwhile, Divided goes into exile at midnight despite good numbers for its latest runs.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Alex chats

With Game Changers debuting October 20 on Buzzr, Alex Trebek is making the media rounds to promote the game show documentary. He talked to the New York Post about the show and various other things.

He says that he doesn't mind the parodies of Jeopardy, such as the SNL spoofs. If they're parodying you, after all, it means you've arrived as a pop culture item. He also thought twelve-time winner Austin Rogers was good for Jeopardy. Some web pundits thought Alex disliked the oddball champ, but Trebek denies any hard feelings.

He observes that people don't quiz him any more to see if he's really a smarty-pants. That apparently happened a lot during his first few years on Jeopardy. One other note: he doesn't answer interviewers in the form of a question.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The host who vanished

Happened to be watching a rerun of Chain Reaction on GSN today when I started thinking deep thoughts, like whatever happened to Dylan Lane?

Turns out that Google doesn't know the answer. Or at least my quick search didn't turn up anything about the Chain Reaction host after 2007. His IMDb page gives his last acting gig as "Justin Carter" on What Goes On in that year. After that entry, it looks like anybody's guess.

I suppose that a more determined search could come up with something about Mr. Lane. I don't think he's gone off the grid and/or into the witness protection program, though I didn't want to pry too much. But he certainly seems to have quit show business.

Dylan got slammed for his stiffish hosting of Chain Reaction, though that hasn't stopped GSN from grinding the 130 eps into rerun dust. He even received a coveted Game Show Garbage induction, which - as so often happens with the site - is ridiculous overkill. He wasn't that bad.

GSN eventually remade the show with a better host, Mike Catherwood. But that version is off the network now, for whatever reason. And Mike is definitely still in show biz. IMDb has him working on a documentary this year.

UPDATE: A commenter tracked down Dylan's Linkedin page. He has definitely quit show business. He now works in renewable energy for GE. He's also got a beard.

SLIGHTLY RELATED UPDATE: Now that I blathered about a GSN original, there's a bit of good news for another one. Divided scored 406K viewers and a 0.08 18-49 rating for one of its runs last night. If the show can stay anywhere close to those numbers, a third season is a lock. And while I'm looking at ratings, Face Value's latest run on BET earned the show's best numbers yet. 359K viewers and a 0.16 18-49 rating. Maybe I was a little too quick to write off the show after poor initial numbers.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quiet, please

Remember Sprout?

You probably don't remember because it was a cable channel that nobody watched. Well, Sprout has now become Universal Kids, which is a brand spanking new cable channel...that nobody watches. Okay, I'm getting a little sarcastic. For the latest week the network averaged 48K viewers. Hey, that's better than the Tennis Channel!

In an attempt to get somebody to watch, Universal Kids has bought a couple game shows from Fremantle. One seems like a quiet version of the other. Let me explain. The Noise debuts October 23, and the format features kids who "complete various tasks without making a sound, with the 'Noise-O-Meter' constantly listening. The less noise they make, the more points they earn."

You may recall the old saying that children should be seen and not heard. Faruq Tauheed hosts the show, and I assume he will make some sound. Meanwhile, the kids version of Beat the Clock - where children can and will make noise while completing various tasks - debuts on Universal Kids next spring.

All in all, I like game shows with sound better than game shows without sound. But there's no disputing tastes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ratings: syndies slip a little

September 25-October 5 was a pretty blah week for syndie game shows. There were little losses here and there but nothing major. The race at the top is very close. The race for last place isn't close at all. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.0 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.8 - flat, which is good for this week
Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - down a tick and just about invisible

GSN got some much needed good news with better numbers for October 2-8. 330K/242K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 43rd and 35th in the windows. Maybe all that Harvey Feud and Cash Cab is starting to pay off.

Not exactly ratings news, but I'll call it "audience response" news. A few posts back I noted that Buzzr was holding off on its schedule for the October 16 week. I figured that Monty's marathons had made the phones ring, so the diginet might be mulling a return of Let's Make a Deal.

Close but not quite. Monty's Beat the Clock comes back to weekday prime time starting next Monday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Merrill Heatter 1926-2017

Various sources are reporting that fabled game show producer Merrill Heatter has died at age 90.

Best known for producing Hollywood Squares along with his longtime business partner Bob Quigley, Heatter's career in the genre spanned over fifty years. He created his first game show, Video Village, in 1960. He and Quigley broke through with the signature hit, Hollywood Squares, in 1965. In one form or another the show has weathered the TV storms ever since, with recent version Hip Hop Squares now running on VH1.

Merrill Heatter's next most successful show was probably the 1970s' Gambit, which much later spawned Catch 21 on GSN. (It reruns on the network to this day.) He had a long list of credits to his name, and there's even a wiki dedicated to Heatter and Quigley's shows. Check the sidebar if you don't believe me. R.I.P.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Money money everywhere

Google News coughs up some odd game show items. This article in a Princeton alumni newsletter, of all things, recalls the ancient Diamond Head Game.

A very short-lived syndie from 1975, the Hawaii-based show featured a "money volcano" where contestants literally tried to grab cash blowing in the wind. That's why the Princeton newsletter is interested in the show. An alum has co-written a book about how people manage or mismanage their money. We're all in a chaotic money volcano, get it?

As so often happens, YouTube offers a fair amount of the show, including a funny clip where host Bob Eubanks briefly thinks he's on Newlywed Game. (He catches his own mistake and laughs about it, as the screenshot shows.) Diamond Head Game got an induction from Game Show Garbage, which makes me think better of the effort than it probably deserves. At least the volcano was fun.

GSN reran Diamond Head Game a couple decades ago. Then it slipped down the memory hole, except for a Princeton alum.