Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ratings: good week for Steve and Craig

The November 9-15 week was a nice one for Family Feud and Celebrity Name Game. Things weren't so great for the other syndie game shows. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - down four ticks but still in first
Family Feud 6.6 - up three ticks to take second place from Alex and post a new season high
Jeopardy 6.4 - down a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.3 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - up a tick to get out of solitary confinement in the basement

Some people get p.o.ed when I remind everybody that Wheel earns all its numbers from one showing each day, while other shows benefit a lot from multiple daily runs. So I'll remind everybody again.

The Chase got 555K viewers in its latest run on November 20. That's down some from the first two weeks of the new eps but still impressive. A renewal looks likely but there are issues. The show skews old and GSN might decide that they have enough episodes on the shelf.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Game show connections

Game show relationships seem to turn back in on themselves sometimes. This item about Carmen Sandiego from The List brought to mind a few connections.

First, The List itself was part of Scripps' effort to replace Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune on their TV stations, including WMAR in Baltimore, the source of the linked story. The other show used as a replacement was, you guessed it, a game show called Let's Ask America. Remember it? The show suffered through three so-so rated seasons before expiring this year. The List continues on Scripps stations somehow, maybe because it's so cheap. All the show does is run lists of factoids about pop culture memes. Like Carmen Sandiego, for instance.

The most obvious connection is the PBS game show based on Carmen's geographical exploits. The List says that Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego was the network's first and longest running game show. Even this non-fan of geography can agree that there have been worse efforts for kids in our little genre. Wikipedia says 295 episodes appeared over 1991-95. The show won some Daytime Emmys and even, ahem, an august Peabody award.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


All right, I know that game shows get no respect.

Our little genre is the Rodney Dangerfield of the TV world. With the possible exception of Jeopardy, which picks up Peabody awards and other highfalutin' kudos nobody cares about, game shows regularly get drubbed as mindless fodder for stupid viewers. I know it's silly of me to get exercised about the obnoxious put-downs from elitist critics. But now and then the snobbery still ticks me off.

Case in point: this asinine article from a TV critic in Buffalo named Jeff Simon. The larger point of the dumb and dumber column is to extol Stephen Colbert as a deep thinker with a brilliant guest list, which I think is ridiculous to begin with. Colbert is an unfunny ideologue whose dull show is sinking like a sped-up Titanic in the ratings. CBS has gotten so desperate about the disaster that the network is even giving Colbert a post-Super Bowl slot in a frantic effort at revival.

But leave all that aside for now. The really galling idiocy from the article: "Jimmy Fallon's insistence on mounting the night-time relocation of a daytime game show has become close to unwatchable to me however much he, as Leno used to, leads the ratings race."

In fact, Fallon's game show segments are a whole lot more bearable than the musings of a TV critic who wants to be an intellectual but doesn't have the cerebral cortex. You'd think this genius might ask himself why Fallon leads in the ratings. It's because his game shows, and the rest of his program, entertain people.

What a novel concept. People enjoy watching game shows. No wonder snooty critics hate the genre.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Food guessing

Took a look at the Buzzr channel on YouTube today to see what those silly Fremantle kids are doing now.

As I noted a while back, Fremantle has apparently decided that it's too expensive to create any more new versions of old game show formats. You have to pay for sets and writers and hosts and all that other stuff. Maybe you don't have to pay very much, but it looks like Fremantle doesn't want to spend a dime on the channel.

So they're spending a nickel apiece on very brief videos with goofy games played in people's apartments...or on the roofs of their apartment buildings. The latest effort is Guess This Food. The name pretty well tells the story. Blindfolded contestants have to guess which food they're holding in their hand or tasting very gingerly.

The host is, of course, a YouTube kid that nobody's ever heard of. His name is Dominic DeAngelis, and he appeared as a contestant on Buzzr's versions of Family Feud and Beat the Clock. That was back when Buzzr was doing real game shows. The contestants are fellow YouTube kids that nobody's ever...well, you get the idea.

The video lasts four minutes and looks like it cost four cents (not even a nickel). A commenter questions plaintively: "When are the new seasons of Family Feud, Beat the Clock, Password, or Celeb Name Game coming back???" The obvious answer: when Fremantle decides to spend a little money on new seasons. Which may be never.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jim Perry 1933-2015

Sad news today. Jim Perry, host of Card Sharks and $ale of the Century among other game shows, has died at age 82 after a long battle with cancer.

Jim Perry doesn't often turn up in those lists of great game show hosts that appear now and then on the Interwebs. But he was always a solid, competent, reassuring presence on the sound stage. Well known in Canada, Perry hosted shows on both sides of the border, including a very long stint (1974-89) on Definition. He also hosted the Miss Canada pageant from 1967 to 1990. The unflappable emcee never lacked for work.

After hosting the short-lived U.S game show It's Your Move in 1967, Perry hit it big in the 1970s and 1980s with Card Sharks and $ale. His Wikipedia bio notes his funny turn as a celeb player on Family Feud in 1983. Richard Dawson coaxed a reply from Jim about mouthwash.

Jim Perry more or less retired after a few gigs in the 1990s. He settled in Oregon with his wife June. R.I.P.

UPDATE: On his Facebook page Wink Martindale has announced that he will post five rare eps of Jim Perry's $ale on YouTube. I assume GSN and Buzzr TV, both of which run Jim's Card Sharks regularly, will also do some kind of tribute.

T of C report

My favorite philosopher once said that it ain't over until it's over. Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions final ain't over yet. But the scores at halftime look pretty conclusive. JBoard.tv offers the grisly details...

Kerry Greene: $3,400
Matt Jackson: $3,000
Alex Jacob: $29,600

Uh, gulp. This looks like Watson's runaway against Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. I thought Matt Jackson was the odds-on favorite. Until he ran into a force of nature and former poker player named Alex Jacob.

Alex (not Trebek) has two big things going for him. He's unbelievably fast on the buzzer, repeatedly beating even the super-swift Jackson. And he's not afraid to go all-in on the Daily Doubles. He used two huge wagers to build his lead. Then he bet nothing in Final Jeopardy and watched his opponents lose big on the tough clue.

Jacob's Wikipedia article features a hilarious picture of him with the Jewish afro to end all Jewish afros. But there was nothing funny about his play yesterday. Of course, his high-wire strategy could backfire in the second half of the final today. I'll update this entry with the results.

UPDATE: Alex (not Trebek) cruised to another big win in the second half of the final to cop the $250,000 grand prize. He nailed one more of his patented all-ins on a Daily Double and left his outmatched opponents far, far behind. Alex (the real Trebek) called it the T of C's most dominating performance ever.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Newlywed Game sells chicken

Today I could write about GSN's upcoming Winsanity, but I figure Scott Rahner has that covered from seven different angles on Game Show Network News. (He does.)

So I'll post about a KFC ad campaign. But it's not just any ad campaign. First, it's in Britain, though I wouldn't be amazed to see a similar commercial here. Second, it's Christmas themed and kind of sweet. And third, it's got a game show angle.

A Newlywed Game angle, to be exact. Pairs of supposedly real best friends - that's what the linked story says - play a goofy version of Bob Eubank's old chestnut. If they "win," an offscreen extra drops a piece of chicken into their Xmas bucket. In the screenshot a couple girls are matching up their common interest in boys. You can catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree in the background.

There are more sentimental matchups, which a cynic might condemn as a crassly commercial tug at the heartstrings. But what the hey, we get all sorts of crass commercialism during the holidays, so it might as well be commercialism with a game show accent.

One more note. The Colonel himself made a memorable pair of game show appearances on What's My Line and I've Got a Secret. You can watch here and here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Another Feud whine

Any reader of this blog knows that I have little patience with the Victorian maidens who get their knickers in a twist over the mildly off-color material on Family Feud.

But now somebody has combined the prudery with a weird ethnic grievance. This column by a Portales, NM resident moans: "Over the past two decades, I've only seen one or two Hispanic families on Family Feud." Oh, really? A simple Google search rounded up plenty of YouTube clips of Hispanic families on Feud. Just for funsies I took a screenshot of one of them. The idea that Feud is excluding families of any ethnicity is beyond stupid.

To give the columnist credit, she admits that she might be wrong about the alleged ethnic snub. But then she goes on to faint over a question on Feud about, gasp, Viagra. Why, it's like nobody's ever heard of such things...except in the bazillion ads every day for ED drugs.

To top off the all-round brilliance she then mopes - get this - that we never hear about Hispanics playing chess. Somebody tell her about José Raúl Capablanca, who was only one of the most famous world chess champions of all time. Or Leinier Domínguez, currently in the top 30 worldwide.

She finishes with a plug for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Hope she doesn't get p.o.ed that there aren't enough Hispanics in the T of C.