Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ratings: a bit of good news for Craig

Craig Ferguson got some badly needed good news from the Nielsen folks for the week of October 6-12. Otherwise it was flat to down for syndie game shows. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down a tick
Jeopardy 6.2 - down a couple ticks
Family Feud 5.8 - flat, is this a blah week or what?
Millionaire 1.9 - down a tick for the put-upon Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - up a tick and Craig will take what he can get

Terry Crews did manage to make the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers, even if he slipped out of the twos in household ratings. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.1M, Jeopardy 9.3M, Family Feud 8.5M, Millionaire 2.6M. Even in a blah week, the numbers for the top three look good compared to most broadcast and cable shows.

In the first week of the new schedule that has the game show Interwebs upset, GSN did great total day numbers. All that Harvey Feud all over the place didn't hurt at all. 345K/293K viewer averages prime time/total day for the October 13-19 week. The network ranked 41st and 32nd in the windows. The total day rank is as high as I can remember for GSN.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mr. Monopoly comes to the blog

There's really no excuse for this blog entry, except I like the picture of Billy Gardell with Mr. Monopoly.

As readers of this blog know, Gardell will host Monopoly Millionaires Club, debuting in February in syndication and on GSN. A bunch of state lotteries are backing the project, and they started selling tickets today for a weekly Monopoly game drawing every Friday. So naturally they kicked off the festivities with a Times Square bash.

One thing is certain: the new game show won't scrimp on prize money. State lotteries are notoriously flush with cash. They rake in gazillions every week. I have no idea how interesting the gameplay on the TV show will be, but some contestants will no doubt go home a lot richer.

I also like the giant shoe Billy is holding. Though it seems a little big for the board, even if the board is jumbo-sized itself.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy new year 1965

Another slow news weekend, another trip to the YouTube What's My Line channel.

We're now into 1965 on the channel, with the January 3 episode. Yes, fans of the show can't avoid the grim knowledge that this is the last year of Dorothy Kilgallen's life. She doesn't look too fragile on this episode, though her appearance had been getting more worrisome for a while. Buddy Hackett is a guest panelist, and he's very funny on the ep. He's a little more restrained than usual, which works fine.

But semi-regular Martin Gabel gets off the line of the night, with a dig at wife Arlene Francis' expensive tastes. This leads to some marital sparring. The mystery guest is Jason Robards, and Buddy Hackett guesses him in a hurry.

A historical note: the first contestant is a young English woman named Sue Huxley. Martin Gabel wonders if she's related to the famous Huxley family, and she turns out to be the granddaughter of biologist Julian Huxley and the grand-niece of novelist Aldous Huxley. She's also about to marry an American. The panel stumbles around and never guesses that she breeds cattle.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

All in?

In 2011 GSN's High Stakes Poker succumbed to ever cheaper production values and the Feds' crackdown on online poker. The show was always a favorite of the poker media, and for quite a while garnered excellent numbers for GSN.

In fact, before Skin Wars came along, HSP was by far the network's most successful foray into non-traditional programming. Although the show was as close as you could get to a traditional game show without actually being one.

Now a couple poker sites are getting excited about a possible return of High Stakes Poker to our little game show network. I'm doubtful about the possibility, though I was always a big fan of HSP. Sure, GSN posted (and then took down) a video asking for input on the show. But market research doesn't necessarily translate to programming.

More importantly, the TV poker boom expired long ago as the novelty wore off and the Feds got cranky. Yes, GSN could always try to reflate this soufflé. At a time when a What's My Line remake may be in the works, anything might return from the television dead. But I'll believe it when I see the first flop.

Another bit of GSN news: the network has apparently dumped Shop Til Your Drop (no great loss, IMO) and replaced its weekday 5:00 PM runs with syndie Deal or No Deal. That's what the online schedule says, though I haven't gotten any new advance schedules. The network is always making last minute changes, as noted in the sidebar.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Zonkapalooza

For all the arguments that people (including moi) have about them on the Internet, game shows are still fun.

Even the LA Times, not known for chuckles, gets into the mood with this sweet article on Let's Make a Deal's zonks and the guys who create them. Turns out that more than a little technical wizardry goes into those goofy things which show up when contestants least want them. There's even a $200 prize for the best staff-suggested zonk each season.

The chief zonk maker is a guy named Timothy Feimaster, who loves his work because he gets "to play with toys all the time." A team of specialists collaborate on building the bizarre contraptions, some of which originate from ideas submitted by the show's viewers.

If you're wondering how the show defines a great zonk, it's something that Wayne Brady, Jonathan Mangum and Tiffany Coyne can play with onstage. But they have to be careful. Sometimes the zonks get out of hand, like the "two-seater red helicopter car, on three wheels, with a propeller on top." Brady tried driving it but almost crashed the thing into the sound booth.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Old fave

Rambling through Game Show Confessions, I came across this reminder of one of my old favorites. Not only did it feature the super-competent Mark Walberg, but Russian Roulette offered the best contestant exits in the business.

There was also some trash talk between the contestants, a fearsomely dark set, and a bonus round to die for (and often to fall for). And yeah, the theme music was okay, too.

The show vanished after a couple seasons and never really prospered in reruns. It may have been a little too in-your-face for GSN's grandmotherly audience. But nowadays everybody seems to be looking for a game show format to revive in syndication. Well, the trapdoors are waiting.

Walberg would still be perfect as the host, and he could be available. They got him for that airplane show, after all. It's easy for me to bet other people's money on a game show venture, but Russian Roulette might prosper nowadays.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Syndie talk

A TV News Check story covers the field on current and possible future developments in game show syndication.

I learned some things I already knew, like a What's My Line remake may be in the works. And I learned a few things that surprised me, like Sony is pitching a syndie Mind of a Man. As badly as the show crapped out on GSN, I'm mildly surprised Sony is trying to sell it to anybody.

The story goes downbeat on prospects for Celebrity Name Game and Millionaire. Readers of this blog know that the weekly numbers haven't been thrilling for either show. But I wouldn't hang the crepe just yet. Let's give both shows a little more of a chance.

TV News Check also takes note of Monopoly Millionaires Club, due to arrive in February 2015 from a state lottery near you. The hour-long effort is sure to get some play on weekends, thanks to the big lottery money.