Saturday, December 10, 2016

Three for the money

Three new entrants in our little genre are about to take their bows. ABC's Big Fan, NBC's The Wall, and Spike's Caraoke Showdown. So the natural question is which has the best chance to succeed.

The natural answer is to wait for the numbers from the Nielsen Company, but that's so boring. Let's try some cheap and easy prognostication, based on the trailers and other info already out there on the web.

All three of these shows seem to have some plusses. The Wall has, well, the wall, which has entertained people in a lower tech version for decades on The Price is Right. Big Fan has celebs galore and the endless allure of celeb-worship. Caraoke Showdown has more than a passing resemblance to James Corden's late night segments, which have racked up impressive YouTube stats.

But what any new show really needs is gentle comparisons to other shows on its network. The cancellation bear effect, in other words. By this standard, Craig Robinson's karaoke project looks to have the easiest ticket to success. It takes a lot fewer viewers to survive on Spike than on a big four broadcast network.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Physical therapy

So my physical therapist shows up for the first at-home appointment after I get back home from the hospital.

We're chatting about this and that and my wife tells him that I write a game show blog. Which gets him smiling and asking about that LeBron James show with the big wall that sort of looks like...and here he trails off, but I'm guessing he means Plinko on TPiR. Sure enough, I tell him that I've written a little about the show on the blog already.

After he leaves I rustle up this sizzle reel from the show, and The Wall is certainly a tall sucker, much like its executive producer. The likeness to Plinko is painfully evident, and CBS is probably doing a slow burn over the sincerest form of flattery. You might call it Plinko 2.0, a souped-up electro-whiz-bang version of the simple little thingie on The Price is Right.

Hosted by Chris Hardwick, the show gets its first sneak peek December 19. Your faithful game show blogger will be watching and reporting.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ratings: sweeping with the syndies

This week TV News Check does its round-up of sweeps numbers for syndie shows.

November sweeps this year ran from October 27 to November 23, for those keeping score at home. Family Feud was the number one game show. I've often whined about the unfair comparison between Feud's many daily runs and Wheel of Fortune's single run. But Steve continues to produce impressive numbers. Meanwhile, Chris Harrison also can be happy about his ratings. All the household averages with changes from last year...

Family Feud 6.7 - up three ticks
Wheel of Fortune 6.2 - down eight ticks
Jeopardy 5.9 - down six ticks, the Sony soulmates have seen better sweeps
Millionaire 1.6 - up three ticks with better timeslots and a steady hand from Chris Harrison
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - up a tick, like it matters any more

GSN endured a so-so week for November 28-December 4. 367K/252K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 42nd and 38th in the windows.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

While I was gone

While I was on my winter medical vacation, the biggest game show story was the surprising cancellation of Celebrity Name Game after three seasons. Sure the show regularly trailed the field among syndie gamers, but the numbers were hardly terrible compared to other genres. In the latest available week, Craig Ferguson and buddies had actually scrambled to a season high.

The show couldn't have been that expensive. Prize money was chintzy and the top prize was tough to get. The celebs on the show were not high up the alphabet lists, and Craig himself hadn't moved into the later expensive years of a host's career on a show.

All the execs involved made the usual noises about how great the show was and how great Craig was and how greatly they believe in the format. So everything is great except the show is dead. I really liked the lively Pyramid knockoff, and at least it had three good years.

By the way, school's been out for the last couple weeks in the comments on this blog. For the most part the comments have been reasonable and civil, but there have been exceptions. I run a loose ship on comments, anyway, but I'll be watching things a little more closely now.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Just a brief note literally from an IPad as I lie in a hospital bed. The worst is definitely past, and I'm well on the way to that fabled total recovery. The details are not germane to the blog, and HIPAA is invoked. Let's just say that if the situation wasn't life threatening, it was a helluva lot closer than I wanted. Extensive emergency surgery was required. My enormous thanks to all the superb medical professionals who got my unruly system back on track.

I expect to resume blogging within the next five to seven days. See you then.

UPDATED UPDATE: Well, I changed my mind about HIPAA. Seems like weird theories grow on the web in the absence of full facts. I warn readers that the facts here are not for the squeamish.

Last Thursday I developed sharp pain in my abdomen. I also had a lot of gas, and not sweet smelling gas, either. Things got worse over the next several days. Finally I was retching uncontrollably and vomiting what looked like liquid excrement.

What had happened was that a small hernia had opened in my abdominal wall. A part of my small intestine had gotten caught in the opening, producing a complete blockage. With no way to rid itself of the poison, my body was ejecting excrement back through my stomach and up the esophagus.

Monday night my wife and I went to an emergency room. The capable staff quickly diagnosed the problem from x-rays and cat scans. I was ambulanced to Lewisville Medical Center and scheduled for emergency hernia repair.

Luckily the surgery was successful. (If it hadn't been successful, I wouldn't be blogging now, would I?) Again, many thanks to all the great people who got me through this literally rancid experience. And thanks for the concern and good wishes from readers. For better or worse - and I know that opinions differ - this blog will soon resume normal business.

One other thing. Just be happy I didn't include any pictures with this post.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

GSN daytime

I'm pretty lazy today, plus I'm not feeling too good, either. So I'll just reprint a post from Game Show Paradise about the ratings for GSN's new daytime lineup...

Douglas Pucci provided the numbers for the new shows on GSN's daytime schedule for November 21. WoF isn't doing well at all, though it doesn't look bad compared to Window Whatever (faint praise). The other shows are so-so. None of the shows get any 18-49 viewers, but that's pretty normal for GSN daytime.

GSN 11/21, in total viewers (adults 18-49)
10:00a Whammy 202K (27K)
11:00a Wheel of Fortune 149K (25K)
11:30a Wheel of Fortune 161K (22K)
12:00 Wheel of Fortune 146K (16K)
12:30 Wheel of Fortune 177K (19K)
3:30 Chain Reaction-Catherwood 295K (29K)
4:00 The Chase 239K (23K)

UPDATE: As I mentioned, I'm having some health problems right now. So I won't be updating the blog for the next few days.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Movie review

Just watched the Legends of the Hidden Temple movie. It should have been subtitled: Catalog of References to the Game Show.

Which is fine with me, because they're referring to the best kid game show ever. The story of the movie is simple: three terminally cute kids run through the hidden temple. Along the way they meet every bit of the old game show you can imagine, from Kirk and Olmec to the scary temple guards to the green monkey (who swipes every scene he's in).

The movie's production values are decent, though the CGI effects aren't the best ever. The target audience of kids and their parents will enjoy the thrills and spills, and there's even some coy humor. Like all the kids on the game show, the kids in the movie have a tough time assembling the silver monkey from those three little pieces. Kirk has trouble himself with the gadget at the end of the flick.

There's a heavy hint of an upcoming sequel, but the movie never tips its hand about a possible revival of the game show itself. That's what we would all like to see, right?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sneaky peekie

Like a few other people, I'm going to be out of the house when GSN runs its sneak peek of Divided today at 7:00 PM Eastern. So I won't be able to review the show. But that didn't stop me from blathering about it on Game Show Paradise. Not much can stop me from blathering on and on about any subject...

Divided has featured briefly in a few GSN promos. They list it as "coming in January." I'm sure we'll see much heavier promotion as the official premiere date gets closer. I assume they're slipping in the sneak peek today to see if it holds the audience during the Harvey Feud marathon. They probably want a read on how the show can perform without much promotion.

I wrote a blog entry about the sneak peek quite a while ago, when I noticed it on the ScreenerTV schedule. At first I thought it was just a blooper, but it looks like the sneak peek is really gonna happen.

As for GSN only caring about "reality trash," I don't think that's true at all. I do agree that GSN worries too much about younger demos, which has led to some bad programming decisions. But if they can lure the young'uns with traditional game shows, they're perfectly happy to do it. That's why Idiotest keeps getting renewed with only so-so total viewer numbers.

Speaking of reality trash, non-game show Window Whatever is getting horrendous numbers. 155K total viewers and a 0.02 18-49 rating for the November 22 ep. Look for this thing to disappear in a hurry. GSN's reality shows have crashed and burned lately, unless they've got naked girls.

UPDATE: Guess what. I managed to squeeze in a viewing of the Divided sneak peek. Long story short: I liked it. Four contestants have to agree on answers to tricky questions while the clock and their prize money tick down. This leads to spats and whines, but things never got too far out of hand on the sneak ep.

A bespectacled (?) Mike Richards took time off from his TPiR and LMAD showrunner duties to host. He refereed the spats pretty well and kept the show moving. The half-hour length worked to hold my attention. It's a lot better than window decorating, anyway.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Odd bit of Jeopardy history

Remember Ben Ingram?

If the name doesn't ring a bell, Ben was the Mr. Nice Guy Jeopardy contestant who won the 2013 tournament of champions. This was one of the more anticipated T of C's ever, because the other two players in the final were Julia Collins and Arthur Chu. They had racked up winning streaks of twenty and thirteen games. Ben was no slouch himself with an eight-game win streak. But the Julia-Arthur clash was sort of matter vs. antimatter, fan favorite vs. fan, well, not so favorite.

In the tournament final Julia was never a factor and Ben edged out Arthur, much to many viewers' relief. Now Ben Ingram's girlfriend, Liz Hutchens, will take her own shot at the answer and question game this Friday. She's a registered nurse in Pineville NC, and like all Jeopardy contestants, she's keeping mum about the results ahead of the broadcast. "All I can say is I hope everyone enjoys the episode."

She also says she didn't feel any competition with her famous (in Jeopardy circles, anyway) boyfriend. She did feel like she was playing against the buzzer.

UPDATE: Liz did a bit worse than Ben. In fact, she finished third with zip in the bank. Can't win 'em all.

HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: In the sidebar I've added links to the ScreenerTV schedules for GSN and Buzzr. As always, the schedules are subject to last-minute changes. All times are Eastern.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Making Olmec come alive

As everybody knows by now, Nick '90s nostalgia has burst all bounds, blown past all barriers, and generally gotten out of hand.

With the Double Dare special and the Legends of the Hidden Temple movie this week, Google News is getting stuffed - no Thanksgiving reference intended - with Nick stories. Aging millennial writers are reliving the glory days of their childhood, when they plopped themselves in front of boxy TV sets and watched Olmec and the green slime. One of the more interesting items is an interview with Legends showrunner Scott Stone.

Scott has some funny stories about how they brought Olmec to semi-life. Hint: it was all very low-tech. He also addresses the mini-controversy about the show being "rigged" to produce few winners. He says they really wanted more kids to make it through the Temple Run. But the poor young'uns would freeze up on the way and get too scared of the temple guards to do things right.

There's an intriguing tidbit about a new game show in development at Nick, but he gives no details. Finally, he has a tip for any kid game show. "Try to create a show where [kids] get to do what they do every day at school, but get prizes for it." Legends did that very well, which is one of the reasons it's the best kid game show ever.