Thursday, November 23, 2017

Griffin and Woolery all over again?

HQ is just getting hot as a mobile-app game show, and already the creator and host are tangling in a Griffin-Woolery spat.

It started with a Daily Beast article on the viral sensation, which is drawing live audiences of over 100K for each day's trivia fest. One of the show's creators, Rus Yusupov, went nuts over Daily Beast's chat with HQ host Scott Rogowsky.

It's not like Scott said anything revealing or even very interesting. But Rus got bonkers and even talked about firing the popular host. Which produced a yellfest on social media, where Scott happens to be very well liked as Quiz Daddy, among other terms of endearment.

Yusopov started backing down in a hurry, and everything seems smoothed over for now. At the moment it doesn't look like "Rogowsky left HQ" will replace "Woolery left Wheel" as a game show Interwebs catch phrase. But stay tuned for more drama.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

No respect, I tell ya (cont.)

Former teen idol David Cassidy has died at age 67. Which makes me reluctant to write this entry, because I'm about to criticize him.

Don't worry, I'll keep the criticism mild. When a well-known celeb dies, I usually check IMDb to see if there are any game show entries on the resume. Sure enough, there was a week on Hollywood Squares for David Cassidy in 2003. And there are photos (see screenshot) to prove it.

I might have made a faux tweet about the appearance and let it go at that. But then I ran across this interview with Mr. Cassidy in 2006. He had less than flattering things to say about Donny Osmond hosting Pyramid.

Cassidy points out that even Donny Osmond, who was perhaps the biggest challenger to Cassidy's teen idol throne in the 1970s and who also went on to Broadway with "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," is now a game show host. "Donny is a very talented guy, but ..." Cassidy says. "I've been offered to do things like that. It's not about TV and making money for me. It's about doing what I love to do, and I just haven't had any interest in doing things like that.

So it's okay for David Cassidy to do Hollywood Squares but not okay for Donny Osmond to do Pyramid. Our little genre will never get much respect, and we might as well live with it. R.I.P. David Cassidy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ratings: syndies get happy, especially Alex

The week of November 6-12 was a great one for syndie game shows. Jeopardy pulled into a tie at the top with the first week of the T of C. But Steve and Pat and Vanna were hardly disappointed with the numbers. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.7 - up four ticks
Jeopardy 6.7 - up a whopping seven ticks to a season high and a tie with Feud
Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - up five ticks to its own season high
Millionaire 1.7 - up a tick
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - flat in the basement

Paradise Run is down some in its third season, but still lands comfortably above the million mark. A fourth season doesn't look out of the question.

GSN continues to show better numbers for November. Maybe the consistent prime time lineup is paying off. The network got 356K/255K viewers prime time/total day for the week of November 13-19. GSN ranked 36th and 33rd in the windows.

Game of older life

Normally I try not to pay attention to legal disputes involving our little genre. But this case is something out of the ordinary.

Cable channel The Hub (now Discovery Family) briefly ran a kids game show in 2011-12 called Game of Life. Hosted by Frank Nicotero, far better known for the late lamented Street Smarts, the show originated from the familiar board game.

Since lawsuits never cease, there's now a legal case over who created the board game that spawned the TV show. But here's the kicker. The disputants are all very elderly. In fact, the judge in the case "ordered a bench trial due to the advanced ages of the witnesses."

On one side is Robert Klaman, 95, usually credited for inventing the board game in 1959. On the other side is Lorraine Markham, widow of Bill Markham, who she alleges should share in the credit (and his estate should share in the royalties) for the game. The linked story doesn't give Mrs. Markham's age, but I assume it's not much less Mr. Klaman's.

The current owner of the board game, Hasbro, is siding with Mr. Klaman. But it's nice to know that lawsuits can go on right into your nineties. That's something for us all to look forward to.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Kindly dentist

Usually I put contestant stories in the faux tweets, unless it's somebody who wins the T of C or just misses a million bucks. But this story about Ruben and Sandy Mora on The Wall caught my eye. Because Ruben is that contradiction in terms, a kindhearted dentist.

Yes, I'm only joking...sort of. I just got finished with a dentist appointment last week, which fortunately involved nothing worse than a cleaning. But we've all endured those wonderful life-changing moments in the chair of pain.

To be fair, Dr. Mora does a lot of charity work, and that's why The Wall picked him for minor fame and possible fortune. The charitable dentist allows: "My goal is to get people out of pain." Maybe he selected the wrong profession.

Of course, the Moras can't say how they did on the show, which runs this Wednesday. Sandy says their children's dream vacation is a holiday at a Nickelodeon resort in the Dominican Republic. Hope they copped enough money to give the kids their wish.

By the way, the linked story says The Wall will be back "officially" in January, after a couple eps over the next few weeks. NBC wanted to get the Moras on the air for Thanksgiving, because they couldn't resist the saga of a sweet-natured dentist.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Death to GSN

The oldies boards have long specialized in fantasy schedules for GSN. You can probably guess what the schedules look like. There are always lots of obscure moldies from three or five decades ago, along with permanent banishment of Satan incarnate, Steve Harvey. (By the way, was Steve the daddy of Rosemary's baby? Sometimes the game show Interwebs seem to think so.)

It's futile to point out that these lineups would remove most of GSN's audience, revenue and executives. The oldies boards wouldn't mind all three getting the heave-ho, especially the last one. But I still have to smile over the latest effort at a GSN death schedule. The poster announces at the start that reality shows are verboten, which means no more Amazing Race or Skin Wars. The first has been gone for a decade and the second vanished many months ago, so that part of the dream has already come true.

Funny thing, the poster includes the U.S. and Brit versions of Gladiators on the dream lineup, though their place in our little genre is at least disputable. (I regard them as more of what Sports Illustrated used to call trash sport.) In fact, the current GSN schedule is wall-to-wall traditional game shows. No Gladiators or other questionable stuff in sight.

Of course, Steve Harvey is gone from the dream, although Gene Rayburn and friends on Match Game also get the pink slip. But Match Game '90 earns a slot on the schedule, so go figure. And there's the usual collection of aged obscurities, like Wordplay and Go and Debt. Woolery Wheel of Fortune also gets a weekday slot, which would grind the twenty or so eps into rerun dust in a hurry.

All in all, it's a great schedule to reduce GSN to somewhere around 90th place among cable networks. Just above the Tennis Channel, maybe.

UPDATE: The real GSN schedule seems to have scrapped the return of Winsanity on November 27. The network posted the news a while back, but Donald Faison and friends are nowhere in sight on the now released schedule for that week. Who knows when, or if, the show will actually resurface? The numbers fell off a lot in the second season.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Glad it's a two-day final

Buzzy Cohen has a quarter-million reasons to be grateful that the final of Jeopardy's tournament of champions is a two-day event. Because the first day was a bust.

Buzzy scored exactly zero (0) dollars in the first day of the T of C finale. Okay, he was up against tough competition, but that was little consolation. He recalls that the wait between tapings of the two episodes was not a happy one for him.

Going backstage after Game 1 there was definitely a little pit in my stomach at first. I was consoling myself saying, "Alright, well you won $50K, that's nothing to slouch at." A few folks on the crew were trying to help me not get too down, but after a little moment I just said "Well, you can't have a Cinderella story if you're already in first." I was kind of joking, but I think it helped me reframe the situation to my advantage.

Also helping was a crusher Daily Double win in the second ep, along with a brutal Daily Double loss for second-place finisher Alan Lin. Those pesky doubles do tend to play a big part in the outcome. Pre-tournament favorite Austin Rogers went away with the fifty grand third-place prize. Which is okay for third place on a game show.

"We were all champions already, so any outcome was just gravy," reflected Austin philosophically. Sometimes it pays to be philosophical about our little genre.

Friday, November 17, 2017

I can't stand zucchini, either

By now the game show Interwebs have moped and moaned over the near-miss on Wednesday's Wheel of Fortune.

Grandpa and granddaughter Frank Harary and Laurel Haim narrowly missed out on the million bucks. BAKED ZUCCHINI nailed them in the bonus round. Since Frank was such an appealing grandfatherly sort, the sympathy has really flowed.

I'm not completely heartless - some rumors on the Internet notwithstanding - so I can condole with the unlucky duo, too. Not to mention that zucchini really sucks and baking the stuff doesn't help. But some of the web commentary has gone blotto.

For instance, this entry on SB Nation - isn't that a sports site? - soars way over the top. The writer tries to pin the blame for the sad loss on...Pat Sajak? The host's alleged misdeed was pronouncing the given letters R S T L N E too quickly.

Oh, please. Everybody knows that WoF spots you those letters in the bonus round. So when Laurel got stuck on "fried" as the first word in the puzzle, it was hardly Pat Sajak's fault. She happened on "fried zucchini" after time expired, but by then of course it was too late. And she was still wrong, anyway.

Yes, it was depressing when Pat opened the folder and revealed that the duo had missed out on the million. What can you say? Sometimes the rules work against likeable contestants.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Depths of YouTube depravity

Sometimes you just gotta suck it up when you're a full-service game show blogger.

It ain't always Jeopardy and What's My Line and Pyramid and other high-class stuff from Griffin and Goodson and Stewart. Sometimes you gotta go to the depths, the abyss, the circles of hell, the metaphysical abomination that is...the cheap Internet game show.

All right, once in a while the shows are sort of fun. You Posted That is from a YouTube channel called Smosh, which I had never heard of but then I don't spend most of my life on YouTube. I tried the first episode and lived to tell the tale, or at least write the blog entry.

Three online "celebs" I had also never heard of conspired with a host, announcer and musical team - all of whom, wait for it, I had never heard of, either - to play games with their old social media posts. For instance, they tried to fill in blanks in various tweets that they wrote four or five years ago. This sounds like a laugh riot, no?

Well, sometimes it was a bit humorous. Like when one of the contestants decided to play Goodson and critiqued the scoring system. He got docked five million points when he goofed a question. The eventual winners wound up dancing with their future ghosts. The spirits seemed to enjoy the party.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

HQ the review

A faux tweet noted that live mobile-app game show HQ is piling up impressive audience figures. Since I'm a full-service game show blogger, I figured a review of the show was in order.

Fortunately, lots of players have uploaded episodes to YouTube, so I could sample here and there. What I saw was an entertaining interactive quizzer that gets the job done in thirteen minutes or so. The money isn't big - on one ep sixteen lucky winners went away with $78.13 each - but I don't care about that. The idea is to spend a little time with trivia.

Scott Rogowsky hosts in a thumpingly emphatic manner, which might get wearying for a half-hour and unendurable for an hour. But it works for a few minutes, though some of his material sounds scripted and corny.

The 12-question quizzer starts easy and gets tough fast, as the assembled multitudes are winnowed down to a select few. (Don't worry, there are second chances for the vast majority who goof a question or four.) To avoid mass googling, there are only a few seconds to respond to each query. On the eps I watched, I knew some of the more classical stuff but flunked badly on recent pop culture. I'm an old fart, after all.

If HQ's success continues, you can expect more live game show apps to invade the field. I don't know how such a format would work on TV, where interactivity has been an elusive goal for the genre. But I wouldn't be surprised to see somebody try, sooner or later.

UPDATE: Maybe HQ really has arrived. The show has spawned its first laughable deep-think piece, on a site called The Outline. A writer named Molly Sauter offers a mostly sour take on the quizzer, along with profound thoughts...

Everything about HQ, from its push notification demands for attention to the flat plasticky graphics to the well-groomed holoman at the center feels like a gloss on complicated questions about how we want to interact with technology and how we want technology to interact with us.

Good golly, Miss Molly. That's like, heavy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ratings: syndies slide

It was a drab week for syndie game shows. You'd think the numbers would start to pick up as we head into the peak viewing months. TV News Check has the dreary household ratings for the week of October 30-November 5...

Family Feud 6.3 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 6.0 - down a couple ticks before the T of C starts
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down only a tick, which is okay this week
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - flat, which is good because this show doesn't have many ticks to lose

A couple of cable notes: last Wednesday (November 8) BET's Face Value tumbled to 196K total viewers. I'm not sure if that's a new low, but it ain't good. Meanwhile, GSN's Divided scored 300K viewers at midnight. That's okay for a show that its own network seems to dislike.

Overall, GSN perked up a bit for the week of November 6-12. 351K/261K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 36th in the windows. Best prime time numbers in a while.