Friday, May 26, 2017

I can name that tune in 1.42 seconds

Just watched the debut of Beat Shazam, Fox's computerized reincarnation of Name That Tune.

To kill the suspense, I liked the show more than I thought I would. Sad confession: I was never a big Name That Tune fan, because I'm not the most musical guy on the planet. In fact, my singing voice can neuter dogs from thirty feet away. But Beat Shazam kept up such a brisk pace of song-guessing that I got into the swing (couldn't resist) of things. Of course, the older the song, the better my chance of guessing it. I'm a certified old person.

Three teams of two contestants competed. They were gradually whittled down to a final pair who faced off against the dreaded Shazam itself. I'll spoil things a little by revealing that the final pair didn't take it to the limit but walked away from the last song, which could have doubled their winnings. Turns out they knew the tune. Cue the sorrowful irony.

Jamie Foxx hosted in an enthusiastic manner. I got a little annoyed when he indulged in some mildly racial banter with one team of contestants, but he didn't push it too far. A while back there was a rumor that Meghan Trainor was "in talks" to co-host. The talks apparently didn't progress, because October Gonzalez showed up in the role. She provided some eye candy and a bit of dancing and otherwise didn't get in the way.

Empire's Terrence Howard also turned up briefly in a plug for the Fox show. The network has to do some business here. Next week I'll take in Fox's Love Connection and blather about that remake.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blotto about Plinko

With nothing better to do, the Internet likes to go nuts about record wins on game shows.

Considering some of the other stuff that inspires insanity on the net, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Today The Price is Right gave the net nerds something to get really goofy about. Ryan Belz of Millerton, PA set the new record on Plinko, landing three of his chips in the top slot on his way to $31,500. Ryan went suitably crazy, as did the studio audience and various tweeters.

It's not the cash amount, which is rather modest compared to many, many game show hauls over the years. Instead, as several have intoned, it's the game itself that counts. Plinko has already spawned a high-tech (and high-payout) knockoff in The Wall. So it's nice that the time-honored favorite has produced its biggest winner yet.

Various web pundits have weighed in, with one calling Ryan the "God of Plinko." He's a very happy Plinko player, no doubt.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

7 in 30

Today I was watching a rerun - sadly, that's all there is left of the show - of the doomed Celebrity Name Game. And speaking of doomed, the second contestant in the bonus round was left with the impossible task of nailing seven clues in the allotted thirty seconds. Her partner had bombed pretty badly in the 45-second part of the round and had only gotten three clues.

Everybody including the civvies, the celebs, Craig Ferguson, the studio audience and even clueless moi knew that the second contestant had no chance. But then it dawned on me. Why was the job so impossible? On the old Dick Clark Pyramid (which CNG rips off in a lively manner) people used to nail seven clues in thirty seconds routinely. Often the front game ended 21-21 because they got every clue.

Older-is-better fans would explain this by saying that contestants, along with everybody and everything else, were better back then. The real explanation, of course, is that Dick Clark's Pyramid featured much easier clues. The screenshot shows "London Fog," for instance, which would have been off the difficulty scale for the old Pyramid.

Which makes the disputes over the "best" time limit for Pyramid (and Pyramid clones) pretty silly. It all depends on how nasty the showrunners get with the clues. Celebrity Name Game is a syndie show in the gazillion-channel universe. They have to guard the prize budget, so the clues turn a lot trickier than back in Dick Clark's era.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ratings: syndies slip and slide

Spring has sprung and the ratings are tumbling. Syndie game shows weren't immune to the trend. Everything was down except for the one show where it doesn't matter any more. TV News Check brings the unhappy household ratings...

Family Feud 6.2 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.6 - down a couple ticks, be like the soulmate!
Millionaire 1.5 - down a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat, as if it's still important

From what I can tell, the jury remains out on ABC's Match Game. There's conflicting info on the web about the show's fate, but the numbers were unimpressive at best for the show's second go-round. ABC's version wasn't nearly as bad as some other re-dos of the classic, so I hope it scrapes through to a renewal.

More of the same for GSN. 349K/253K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 36th in the windows.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Purchasing power

Now that I mentioned Buzzr yesterday, I happened to be watching a Match Game '75 ep on the diginet today. A guy maxed out on a round and won $5,600. ($100 for the front game, $500 for the top prize in the audience match, and $5,000 for matching Richard Dawson on "Dragon FLY.")

I've whined here and there about the shrinking value of cash prizes over the decades. As it happens, the government - having engineered all those years of relentless inflation - has now provided a helpful "inflation calculator." Sweet of them. You can learn how much your money has shrunk over time.

By an odd coincidence, the max prize in this February, 1975 ep of Match Game was worth about $26,000 in today's dollars. Which happens to be not far from the max amount on ABC's current version of the show.

Needless to say but I'll say it anyway, prizes on other shows haven't always kept pace with inflation. One of the most glaring examples is the pity five-bucks-a-point for contestants who bomb on Family Feud's fast money round. Come on, guys, spring for a few extra dollars.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dishing up Buzzr

Oldies diginet Buzzr has taken a big step forward: a deal with Dish satellite service.

Subscribers can now watch Buzzr on channel 245. The most recent estimate I saw for the diginet's actual household reach was 33 million from Fremantle veep Jennifer Mullin last October. With the Dish deal - couldn't resist the alliteration - Buzzr has upped its reach toward the magic 50 million mark.

The linked Facebook post speculates that Buzzr doesn't get any per-subscriber money from Dish. This seems likely because Buzzr is such a narrow niche network. The extra households are no doubt worth plenty to Fremantle.

Maybe I'm just imagining it, but the ads on Buzzr seem to be getting a bit more mainstream. This could mean that more advertisers are willing to look at the diginet, at least those who don't mind an obvious old skew in the audience. Infomercials have come to Buzzr, so I assume that it's starting to generate a few more bucks for Fremantle.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Load up on charisma

Done it a few times before, so I just decided to write about the most recent game show item I ran across in Google News.

At least the title was interesting. Charisma lands local family on Feud. Maybe the show has installed charisma detectors and this bunch set them off big time. They're the Griffin family from St. Joseph, MO, and they're "kind of a thing." Turns out they were the right thing for Family Feud.

The Griffins went through the usual cattle call audition. Over two thousand families turned out for the round-up in Kansas City, and they got winnowed down to about 600 in the first cut. A mere 19 actually made it to a taping.

The biggest challenge? "Figure out which personalities were the biggest and which ones were the best and which ones were made for TV...and not too hot for television." I dunno, Feud likes it hot. I think that last remark was ironic (wink).

The family hints that they did pretty well on the show. Especially with the answer about the "construction worker and lipstick on his tools."

Friday, May 19, 2017

World tour

Sony is going mobile with Jeopardy. They just released Jeopardy World Tour, which lets you play on iOS and Android mobile devices anywhere in the whole wide world.

Sadly, you only get a "shortened version of the traditional Jeopardy experience." But when you're on the go, who has time for an entire half-hour (minus commercials)? Meanwhile, stodgy old me will still just sit in front of the big screen and miss the clues along with ten million other viewers.

Sports Jeopardy has been mobile for a while, according to the linked story. Also, soulmate Wheel of Fortune boasts of no less than a "series of mobile games." You might call it the world series, right?

These games allow players to celebrate their love for each show in between episodes, and they may encourage users to watch more of the original shows, as the series are kept top-of-mind. This sounds like the usual puffery. Though I will say that mobile Alex looks pretty much like the real thing (see screenshot). Maybe they should have a version with the long-lost - and briefly returned - mustache.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Do not disturb

I wasn't going to write about the Great Memo Rumpus concerning Family Feud's Steve Harvey. But then I wasn't going to start a game show blog, either, and it's been seven years now.

Anyhoo, if you glance at the entertainment news at all, you know that media mogul Steve got trashed for a memo he sent to his staff. He's tired of getting interrupted all the time, and he's gonna get really p.o.ed when it happens.

To be honest, the memo could have been worded a little better. There will be no meetings in my dressing room. No stopping by or popping in. NO ONE. Do not come to my dressing room unless invited. Do not open my dressing room door. IF YOU OPEN MY DOOR, EXPECT TO BE REMOVED.

Okay, removed to where? Death row? Harvey got mocked and slammed for his imperious attitude toward the people he employs. There have been some counter-arguments, though, expressing tepid support for the put-upon Steve.

This all sounds like the diva drama that Richard Dawson used to generate on Feud. Maybe there's just something about that show which makes the host a little touchy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

No joke

This is not an Onion spoof. Snoop Dogg will host a rewind of Joker's Wild on TBS.

To be fair, the Snoopster has shown up on game shows before, most notably The Price is Right (see screenshot). But as a TBS exec says: "When you hear the words 'game show host,' Snoop Dogg probably isn't the first name to pop into your head." Well, no, but Drew Carey wasn't necessarily the first name, either, and he's done okay on TPiR.

The linked story makes it sound like the reboot won't be too close a copy of the hoary original. The new version "will feature giant dice, playing cards, streetwise questions and problem solving." Yeah, but will the joker show up? I hope so.

TBS has tried a few original game shows in recent years, with little success. They probably looked at the ABC reboots and figured that a tried and true format might be the best idea. The linked story has the obligatory reference to Jack Barry and the rigging scandals. At least Snoop won't have to worry about that issue.