Friday, November 21, 2014

Arthur who? Julia who?

For the last few decades Jeopardy has been advertising the clash between Arthur Chu and Julia Collins in the Tournament of Champions. So naturally they both lost. Quiet guy Ben Ingram took home the quarter mill instead.

The two-day final turned on two clues. Ben was the only guy to nail a very tough American history puzzler in Final Jeopardy on the first day, which gave him a big lead. Then Arthur goofed a gimme Daily Double (he's never heard of "global village"??) on the second day to really set himself back.

But things could still have turned around on the second day's Final Jeopardy. The players got a brutal Shakespeare clue which became a triple stumper. Ben's lead stood up and he won it all.

Ben played politician in his comments during the final. He thanked his fellow champions for being such great people, etc. Mr. Ingram is a lot better in the p.r. department than one of his opponents.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Word of mouth

You stumble across the weirdest things on game show sites. The board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's chews over (appropriate term) this anecdote about contestants' mouths on game shows...

"One very bizarre (and rather scary) story that [British game show host Bob Monkhouse] recounted was that of an American game show host he had met, who apparently refused to read anything about or meet his contestants before the show. Monkhouse asked him what he did if the contestants were getting cocky or talking too much and the American host said that he used the 'mouth tear.' When asked what that was, he explained that he'd put his thumb into the contestant's mouth and grab hold of his/her cheek, but the camera angles were such that it appeared that he was simply putting a friendly hand on the contestant's shoulder rather than grabbing hold of his/her mouth."

The board seems to think the story is pure fiction, and it looks physically impossible to do something like that without the camera catching it. Not to mention that a lot of contestants would have blabbed about such an obnoxious technique.

But if any host might have tried something like it, the board agrees that Richard Dawson is The One. The kissing bandit did have an attraction for mouths on his show. But it's hard to imagine even Dawson trying something so outlandish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy holidays

Next week CBS rolls out Thanksgiving stuff all over its daytime schedule, including The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal. You can expect lots of turkeys, pilgrims, pumpkins, dining rooms, etc.

Game shows get a little giddy around the this time of year, except for stern old Jeopardy. Alex and company just keep grinding through the answers and questions.

Another tradition at this point in the calendar is the holiday marathon. Next week GSN runs skeins of The Chase and Game Show Moments Gone Bananas. They will also show long swatches of Steve Harvey's Family Feud, but the network doesn't need the holidays for them.

A less appetizing feature of turkey week is preemptions. LMAD bites the dust both Thursday and Friday, and TPiR gets the heave-ho on Thursday. We've got parades and football games, folks, so wait until the week after Thanksgiving for regular game show service.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Deadline reports that GSN keeps developing and developing. We'll see if any of the projects surface on our little game show network.

The biggest stir comes from Hellevator, a product of Jason Blum's fevered imagination. Contestants enter a dark warehouse via a mysterious elevator and weird things happen to them. I'm pretty sure all the contestants physically survive, but you never know. GSN is also working on Steampunk'd, which sounds like a Skin Wars spinoff. Artistic types try to turn everyday objects into works of art. I think it's too late for my beat-up Chevy Cavalier.

Other projects include Bingo Bash, based on the online game GSN paid so much for, and Winsanity, where contestants try to organize facts in numerical order. Which is a nice order for facts to be in. Then there's How-To Games, where contestants watch videos and see if they can do what the videos are trying to teach them to do, and Face 2 Face, yet another dating show. The world needs more dating shows, right?

Finally, Danica McKellar (Wonder Years) is officially onboard as the host of the previously announced App Wars. It's Shark Tank for computer apps.

Ratings: Pat and Vanna heart Hawaii

Those gentle Hawaiian breezes wafted Wheel of Fortune (how poetic!) to a season high and number one in household rating and viewer average among all syndies for the week of November 3-9. Put a Hawaiian shirt on Pat and Nielsen swoons. Jeopardy also got good news. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.2 - up three ticks to tower over everybody, including the loud judge
Jeopardy 6.7 - up a couple ticks to a season high of its own
Family Feud 5.9 - down three ticks, not the best week for Steve
Millionaire 1.9 - up a tick and Terry will take whatever he can get
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat as usual

TV by the Numbers has the big three on its chart, but Terry seems to have fallen off the list for good. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.7M, Jeopardy 10.6M, Family Feud 8.6M, Celebrity Name Game 1.7M (from TV News Check). We'll see if Alex gets a boost from the Tournament of Champions in the next reported week. He's doing fine already.

TV Newser reports that GSN really kicked out the jams for the November 10-16 week. 381K/304K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 33rd in the windows. That's the best total day number I can recall for quite a while.

Monday, November 17, 2014

By George

Sometimes there's no excuse for a blog entry, except I just felt like it. This is one of those entries.

I've always liked George Gray, even enough to forgive GSN's wretched Extreme Gong. Okay, maybe I don't like anybody enough to forgive that abomination. But George has always been a competent host and/or announcer. I thought he was a lot more bearable on Weakest Link than the wicked witch, for instance. And he's done a fine job on that shopping game in the morning.

Seems that George is in Miami for a few days, so the Miami Herald took note. The story is nothing special, just a little celeb blurb about Gray as he takes some vacation. George's best TPiR memory? "The show when a woman lost her footing and flew head first towards my crotch, knocking us both down." Of course, YouTube remembers the moment.

I wouldn't mind seeing George get another chance at hosting a game show. The guy is alert, witty and likable. A decent combination, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Martin Short's faux game shows

Martin Short is going down with the ship as the egomaniac game show host on Fox's doomed Mulaney. But Salon caught up with the funnyman to get his recollections of his one year as a Saturday Night Live regular, way back in the show's tenth season. (It's incredible that the thing has hung around for forty seasons now.)

Wouldn't you know, Short's interview goes into huge detail about his most famous game show parody. Maybe he's got the Mulaney flop on his brain. Anyway, Salon questions him extensively about Jackie Rogers Jr.’s $100,000 Jackpot Wad, SNL's now legendary Pyramid spoof. YouTube has the skit's most bizarre moment: "Chocolate Babies."

Short also talks about Pat Sajak. Short's SNL character Ed Grimley was obsessed with the game show host, but Short never actually met Sajak until last year. Turns out that Pat "was hilarious. He was really funny." Well, recently Sajak did have that hilarious moment when he got tired of contestants' horse obsession.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tattling on GSN

At Game Show Paradise there were some of the usual complaints about GSN not running enough old shows. This has been a web staple for as long as GSN and the Internet have coexisted.

At least to some extent I defended the network on the thread. I also had to dump cold water on one suggestion. Some of the comments...

Game Show Paradise poster: GSN puts the [old rarities] shows in terrible time slots.

A story in TV Media Insights says that GSN will show rarities monthly. And the rarities aren't getting a terrible time slot at all. In fact, they're getting a Harvey Feud lead-in on Sunday night, which helped Crosswits pull okay (though hardly spectacular) numbers. GSN just doesn't want the oldies in prime time, hurting the average. If you want the details of the Tattletales eps on November 30, check the schedule at Game Show Follies [okay, a shameless plug for this blog].

Another poster: Suggestion if they wanna dip into the B&W pool. Connie Hines' Dotto episode. The series as a whole was solid (too bad it was rigged) plus a future celeb's playing.

You can forget about GSN ever running a show that's known to have been rigged. They'd have to smother the thing in disclaimers. You'll have to check YouTube for those shows.