Saturday, February 18, 2017

Civvie name game

You know that game show news is sparse when I post an entry about contestants' names.

I saw this story in Google News about the Shaffer family from Illinois, who played (and won) on Family Feud. The caption to the picture in the screenshot: The Shaffer family of Waterloo will appear in an upcoming episode of Family Feud. From left, Tammy Slager, Mary Beard, Kathy Warren, show host Steve Harvey, Nancy Quernheim and Bill Wirth pose during a show taping last year in Atlanta.

So nobody is named Shaffer but the family played under that name. Brilliant me figured that the four female contestants were sisters using their married names, and the male contestant was the husband of another sister. Turns out I was almost right. (Even a blind squirrel...) The story linked to an earlier article about the family, which said that "Shaffer" was indeed the maiden name of the ladies, but the gentleman was a cousin.

I know, this is trivial beyond belief, but I was desperate for something to write about today. There was a puff piece interview with Pyramid host Michael Strahan in People, but it was too fluffy even for a game show blog.

Some more trivia: the guy in the picture, Bill Wirth, looks vaguely like Drew Carey. Just sayin'...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oh jeez, it's just a game show

What is it about The Wall that inspires long, thumb-sucking pieces of deep thinkery on the web?

A while back a cogitating pundit declared the show to be the "most American" game show. I posted an entry which laughed at that exercise in faux profundity. But now The Atlantic comes along with a 2,000-word essay that praises the previous pundit and offers its own "insights" into the fun little show. A sample:

NBC's massive, money-mongering wall suggests, on the one hand, the teeming sense of omni-possibility that has accompanied a tech revolution and a century's worth of swaggering American hegemony. But The Wall also suggests, in its "these are deserving people" approach to its mind-boggling financial rewards, a certain fatigue - about politics, about voracious consumerism, about power itself.

Stuff like this gives me more than a certain fatigue - about babbling pundits, big long words, and blasts of hot air from tireless hot air purveyors on the Interwebs. The Wall is just a game show, for crying out loud. Take your "omni-possibility" and "voracious consumerism" elsewhere. There must be a lot of academic journals which would love such rubbish.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shuffle up and deal on Buzzr

Have no idea if this is real or just a quirk on the ScreenerTV schedules. But that web site is now showing a major shakeup in the Buzzr weekday schedule starting February 28. So far the prime time schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday of that week is up on ScreenerTV (all times Eastern)...

Tuesday Feb 28
8:00 PM Let's Make a Deal
8:30 PM Let's Make a Deal
9:00 PM Tattletales
9:30 PM Tattletales
10:00 PM Press Your Luck
10:30 PM Press Your Luck

Wednesday Mar 1
8:00 PM Let's Make a Deal
8:30 PM Let's Make a Deal
9:00 PM Tattletales
9:30 PM Tattletales
10:00 PM Super Password
10:30 PM Super Password

No word yet on what happens the rest of the week. There are plenty of other changes throughout the day. Basically, Match Game and Family Feud get cut back a lot. Maybe Fremantle execs really are tired of complaints about overuse. Other shows slot in here and there with no apparent pattern, except the three black-and-white stalwarts (TTTT, WML, IGAS) always stay together.

You can check out the schedule here. We'll see what happens as more days are added to the ScreenerTV listings.

And in some real game show Kremlinology, the Buzzr web site is now showing more recent color versions of To Tell the Truth in its banner. A hint of things to come?

UPDATE: I posted this entry on Game Show Paradise and got a little skepticism. My reply...

As I said in my original post, I have no idea if the ScreenerTV schedule is accurate or not. It's kind of hard to imagine the site just coming up with an entirely different schedule out of nowhere. And Fremantle has been hearing from media types - though not the game show Interwebs - about the Match Game/Family Feud overload.

That said, I haven't gotten any press releases from Buzzr about a schedule change. Usually, a lot of stuff from the diginet lands in my inbox about anything new or different. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATED UPDATE: I'm starting to think this is just a goof on ScreenerTV. As another GSP poster noted, the schedules have the current weekday schedule all the way through March 17. So it looks like the current lineup will endure for a while.

UPDATED UPDATED UPDATE: Yep, the new schedule was just a temporary goof by ScreenerTV. The site now has the current schedule for as long as the eye (or the web site) can see. We're not done with the Match Game/Family Feud overload.

Top ten

A reporter for the local news site in Fenton, MI had some time on her hands. Looks like things aren't hopping in Fenton lately.

So she wrote a long article on how game shows are always popular. Well, sometimes they're more popular than other times. The reporter even got a bunch of quotes from Fenton residents about game show history. "I'm enjoying the revival of Match Game. It was stupid in the '70s and it's stupid now, but they've hit just the right nostalgic note to make it kitschy fun."

The Match Game revival isn't setting the Nielsen world on fire, as I noted a few days ago. And the "stupid" talk oddly echoes Gene Rayburn's confession that MG was a "silly" game. But the 1973-82 version is still the best game show ever and that includes everything.

The reporter concludes her story with a list of the top ten game shows: Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Match Game, The Price is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Hollywood Squares, Password, What’s My Line, Newlywed Game. She belongs on Game Show Forum with her collection of oldies.

My own top ten from a while back included Cash Cab, Lingo and The Chase. I wonder if the reporter has even heard of these shows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mark this game

A thread on Golden Road asks which former pricing games should be brought back for an all-retired ep on The Price is Right.

A couple posters, not surprisingly, take the chance for a jab at Drew Carey. They want Barker's Markers - or Make Your Mark as the game was retitled after Barker's own retirement - to make a comeback. The reason is a notorious incident where Drew screwed up the rules.

It was the October 16, 2008 ep, as explained on U.S. Game Shows Wiki and stored for posterity on YouTube. The producers decided to let the screwup stand in the playing of the game, but then retired Make Your Mark after the episode.

Naturally, the Golden Road posters want some embarrassment for Drew if the game ever returns. "Let the producers take a jab at Drew for messing up the rules." "Shorter game, plus drilling Drew." This is the board that pines for Bob, after all.

I dunno, the game is pretty simplistic and hardly the most entertaining thing ever on TPiR. But from the Golden Road point of view, it would be a nice way to remind everybody that Drew isn't perfect. He might even get some humor out of a one-time return.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ratings: blah week for syndies

There wasn't much movement for syndie game shows in the January 30-February 5 week. And what movement there was, was down. TV News Check has posted the less than lively household ratings...

Family Feud 7.4 - down a couple ticks for all those daily runs
Wheel of Fortune 6.9 - down a tick
Jeopardy 6.7 - flat
Millionaire 1.8 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - flat, it was that kind of week

GSN has started plugging Divided as their new "hit show." The quizzer has produced decent ratings and demos, even if "hit" is a little bit of an exaggeration. But it's been so long since a new original on GSN even pulled okay numbers, that I can pardon the network for some puffery.

Meanwhile, GSN had some other news to be happy about. 468K/320K viewers prime time/total day for the week of February 6-12. The network ranked 30th and 29th in the windows. Best viewer totals and ranks in a while.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Size matters

A while back a cyncial critic proclaimed The Wall to be the "most American" game show. It's so big and flashy, after all.

Turns out that bigness and flashiness are features, not bugs. In a Parade interview host Chris Hardwick reveals that the sheer size of the show got him hooked. "When I was a kid, I watched a lot of game shows. And all those shows were big and flashy so I always wanted to do a big, flashy game show."

He's certainly getting his wish with the jumbo-sized, whiz-bang version of Plinko. Chris immediately qualifies his admiration of the sheer scale of the show by plugging the "very intimate" relationship between him and the contestants. (He put it that way, not me.)

This got me thinking - dangerous, I know - about my own preferences in game shows. My all-time favorite, Match Game, was hardly that big and flashy, unless you find flash in orange shag carpet. Some other shows on my recent top fifty list were also kind of quiet and small-scale. But I listed some pretty loud and elaborate ones, too. Variety is the spice of game shows.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Musings about Alex

I just love long deep-think pieces about game shows. Critics get all philosophical and faux insightful about our little genre.

The latest example is this essay on a site called Ringer (no, I've never heard of it, either). A bemused critic named Claire McNear says over and over again that Alex Trebek gets disappointed when contestants don't win enough money on Jeopardy. That's after she says Alex may be a robot. She embeds eleven (11) YouTube videos to prove her case.

Well, Claire, Alex probably does get a little bummed when nobody wins big money, like the infamous triple-zip finish in the screenshot. As you note yourself, game shows like to give away big prizes to keep the audience entertained. But I don't know that this "insight" is worth 1,233 words and 11 videos.

Along the way, Claire McNear also says that Pat Sajak shows "chivalrous pride in his charges' victories" and Steve Harvey is "like a golden retriever who's just caught a ball." First time I ever heard Steve compared to a golden retriever. I think he's more like a sheepdog, rumpled and a little exasperated as he herds his players through the surveys.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Final match?

I'm starting to wonder how long audiences will be getting ready to match the stars on ABC.

Nielsen is frowning on the alphabet net's (warning, Variety speak) reboot of the greatest game show ever. The ratings for the latest Match Game ep on February 8 were noticeably anemic compared to the rest of ABC's Wednesday lineup. The cancellation bear smells blood...

ABC shows with total viewers and 18-49 ratings, Feb 8
The Goldbergs 6.1M 1.8
Speechless 5.5M 1.6
Modern Family 7.3M 2.3
Black-ish 5.3M 1.5
Match Game 3.5M 1.0

You don't have to be a math wiz to spot the weak sister in this bunch. Match Game also lagged behind all the other broadcast networks in the 10:00 PM hour. As if that's not enough bad news, Match Game is ABC's worst performing game show, too. Even To Tell the Truth, not a Nielsen star by any means, is faring better.

I gave the show a mostly favorable review, and I still don't mind ABC's reboot. Alec Baldwin's version won't make anybody forget the 1973-82 classic, but it's far from terrible. Still, I have to wonder if Baldwin himself may be putting off some viewers. Although he's kept reasonably calm on Match Game, his otherwise abrasive personality and well-known political views could be alienating part of the potential audience.

Baldwin himself sounds bored with the show. In an interview with Esquire - the web site still exists though NBC has put the unwatched cable network out of its misery - he says the MG gig "was not something that's on my bucket list." They're paying this guy two hundred grand per ep?

Friday, February 10, 2017

From pageant to TPiR

If there's anything the Internet likes, it's a beauty pageant contestant on a game show.

Come to think about it, a beauty pageant is sort of similar to a game show. Except you don't have to know trivia, guess words, survive stunts, or price the next item up for bid. But it's still a competition, after all. I'm a little surprised that Game Show Newsnet - which covers just about every other kind of competition imaginable - doesn't cover pageants. Maybe beauty pageants are too politically incorrect for the site, which leans to the left.

But such considerations don't bother local web sites, which are more than happy to brighten up their pages with attractive contestants. (I plead guilty to the same offense.) So several New Jersey sites are featuring Kaitlyn Schoeffel, who won big on The Price is Right after competing in the Miss New Jersey pageant.

It's a nice story about Kaitlyn and her boyfriend deciding on a whim to stand in line for TPiR tickets, and then scoring a big payday. She doesn't claim any particular expertise in pricing merchandise. "I guess it was beginner's luck."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tale of two originals

GSN has paired its two first-run originals, Divided and Idiotest, on Thursday night.
So far the news on the shows is pretty good but a little mixed. Or maybe more than a little mixed. The two shows might meet different fates. As I say on Game Show Paradise...

Divided is sure doing better than Winsanity or Hellevator or Window Whatnot, to mention GSN's other recent originals. The total viewer numbers aren't wow level but probably okay. Idiotest has earned several renewals with similar viewer numbers. The decline in the 18-49 demo is ominous, though. It's clear that Divided is skewing older than Idiotest, and that could be the kiss of Nielsen death.

I like Divided myself, but it's a serious quizzer that mostly lacks the humor of Idiotest. Or the humor is of the grim kind, when sour contestants burn through all their money.

So I get the feeling that Divided is poised on the bubble. Idiotest, on the other hand, looks like it could get still another season. It's a good show, maybe taken too lightly by me (among others). I'm not a big fan of Ben Gleib's often sarcastic hosting style, but he's kept Idiotest going for four seasons now. A lot longer than most of GSN's other originals, anyway.

UPDATE: Idiotest stages a cute stunt with four of Ben Gleib's ex-girlfriends as contestants. GSN puts out a bit of video.

RATINGS UPDATE: Wouldn't you know, Divided bounced back for its latest eps on February 9. One episode got 413K viewers and a 0.11 18-49 rating. More numbers like that and a renewal is assured.