Friday, March 16, 2018

Legalities and technicalities

Alert readers - and I know you're all alert - will recognize this entry's title from the final note at the bottom of this blog. As everyone knows, game shows have lots of rules. Buzzr has even made a promo from various well-known game show hosts reciting some of the rules of their formats.

But there are even more rules behind the scenes, like the eligibility rules for contestants. A story about the Wheelmobile rolling into the Raleigh-Durham area has quite a few do's and don'ts for wannabe Wheel of Fortune contestants.

Some of the requirements are obvious, like 18 years of age and no close connections to the business. (Game show bloggers are still welcome, it seems.) But the rules for previous game shows are a little quirky. Any previous appearance on any version of Wheel disqualifies you. A turn on "another game show, dating-relationship show or reality show" in the past year also knocks you out. Three turns in the last ten years is another no-no.

Finally, there's the catch-all "producer's discretion" clause. They can refuse a wannabe contestant for any reason, and that's tough. Life is tough.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Anything sets off Twitter

Isn't Twitter wonderful? We can now get excited about any freakin' thing that happens in pop culture.

Sorry for the italics. But as so often happens, Twitter exploded this week over some silly thing or another. This time it was an appearance on Jeopardy by Paris Themmen as a contestant. If the name doesn't ring a bell - as it didn't with me - you must not be a Willy Wonka fan. In 1971 Mr. Themmen played Mike Teevee in the movie.

He didn't mention this movie role on Jeopardy, but ever alert tweeters still recognized him. A typical reaction: SO ARE WE JUST GUNNA ACT LIKE THAT ISNT MIKE TV FROM WILLY WONKA ON #JEOPARDY RIGHT NOW?! [caps in the original]

Don't worry, plenty of other tweeters recognized the guy and commented about this momentous event in the history of the world. Sadly for Mr. Themmen, he ended up with the two-grand consolation prize as the second place finisher. He's not in show business any more, except when he questions the answers on Jeopardy.

UPDATE: But wait, there's more! Mr. Themmen's wife of four years was a two-time Jeopardy champ. Will the pop culture thrills and spills ever end?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Guess what, another reboot

A couple days ago I suggested NBC might look at other game show formats. I thought The Chase might be a good idea.

So much for my ideas. NBC's sister network for the stock market beat, CNBC, will reboot Deal or No Deal. It's a homecoming of sorts because reruns of the show were an audience pleaser on CNBC a long time ago. In fact, DOND was the network's highest rated show for a while.

It's also another entry in a long line of recent game show reboots, as several pundits have noted. Network execs are as risk-averse as most of us, and a proven format will always have a safety-first appeal. CNBC has long been rather schizo in its programming. When prime time rolls around, the cable net ditches its daytime financial news for reality shows and similar entertainment. Howie and friends should fit right into that prime time environment.

The press release promises some tarting up of the old format. Even in its first run on NBC from 2005 to 2008, Deal or No Deal tried a lot of gimmicks to spice up the basic suitcase-opening game. We should probably expect more stunts and tricks on CNBC this fall.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ratings: sweeping with the syndies

There were all sorts of renaming shenanigans with syndie game shows this February. So the comparisons of this year's sweeps to last year's are at least a little suspect. But for what they're worth, TV News Check has the changes from the previous February...

Family Feud 6.9 - didn't rename and down five ticks from last year
Jeopardy 6.8 - did rename and up a couple ticks
Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - flat
Millionaire 1.8 - up a tick from last year, part of the pattern that got it renewed
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - wasn't around last year

GSN keeps getting a bigger audience. 464K/300K viewers prime time/total day for the week of March 5-11. The network ranked  33rd and 27th in the windows. No wonder they're not changing the schedule. GSN got 131K/72K viewers prime time/total day in the 25-54 demo.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Twenty more walls

The Wall has performed decently for NBC. Maybe not blowout numbers, but nowadays you don't sniff at any show that can stay clear of the dreaded "fractional" in the 18-49 demo. Chris Hardwick and his Plinko knockoff have also been getting five or six million total viewers, which ain't bad for today's shriveled broadcast nets.

So it's not an enormous surprise that NBC has re-upped The Wall for another twenty episodes. Our little genre's famously low production costs no doubt played a part in the decision. Once you've built the big you-know-what, you just have to dole out some prize money to keep the eps coming.

NBC has already renewed Ellen's Game of Games, so the peacock net (Variety speak!) may want to look at other game shows. There are a few interesting possibilities out there. Like that big know-it-all guy who still turns up in reruns on GSN. Civvie contestants have a tough time chasing him down, if you get my drift.

UPDATE: It's not NBC but close. Sister network CNBC will revive Deal or No Deal. A long time ago, DOND reruns were the biggest ratings getters for quite a while on the financial network. Howie and friends will join the prime time lineup in the fall, along with other non-financial-news efforts like Shark Tank and The Profit.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Relaxed retiree

My usual Google News search on game shows turned up an article called "10 Reasons You May Love Being Retired."

I had two thoughts when I saw the entry. One, I'm retired and so far it hasn't been too bad. And two, does everybody know that game shows skew old? Anyway, the article ran through various pluses about the supposedly golden years. Less stress, more sleep, comfortable clothes, etc.

And sure enough, there was the game show reference. You can turn in late and sleep in to enjoy whatever you like the next day. Sip your coffee in your pajamas while watching your favorite morning news program, talk show or game show.

Indeed, GSN and the cable news channels apparently attract retirees by the zillions, judging from the networks' median viewer ages. It's just a little scary how these demographic facts have seeped into the public mind. A few decades ago hardly anybody outside the TV business had even heard of demos. Nowadays the Internet has spread the numbers far and wide.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Kid stuff

A couple of kid game shows are ready to frolic this month.

Nick rolls out - or splatters out - Keep It Spotless, which definitely does not live up to its name. Judging from the promos, kids get enough paint dumped on them to apply several coats to the Statue of Liberty. To point out the obvious, it's a goofball stunt show, not unlike a number of previous Nick efforts. We'll see if it keeps the audience amused enough.

At the opposite end of the kid spectrum is NBC's Genius Junior. No paintballs here, just a lot of challenging brain teasers. You can even be a "super brain," which sounds like future grandmaster material. The kid's calculating ability in the linked video is almost scary.

My kid game show dream is a reboot of Legends of the Hidden Temple. That's nowhere in sight, even if we did get a so-so TV movie.

Friday, March 9, 2018

GSN complaint department

Now and then I rummage through the blogroll to see what's happening at all those links.

Game Show Live takes time for some complaints about GSN and, guess what, Steve Harvey gets a drubbing. Nobody calls him perverted, though. The Nielsen Company calls him a winner, and that's why GSN uses his show a lot. The network is rolling right now with the all Steve prime time. Life is tough, no?

Another complainer moans about Cash Cab in the afternoon instead of Chain Reaction. If you can't stand Ben Bailey and one of the best game shows ever, life is really tough. Dylan Lane and company are still on the network, anyway.

Somebody else wants Shop Til You Drop back on GSN. They acquired the show in 2013 but it didn't work very well. STYD is a mediocre effort at best, though it does offer decent pace. Another poster asks for Millionaire at night. They gave it a try but the show hurt the prime time numbers.

Let's see, what else. Oh, Winsanity has a fan! A hardy admirer wants the show to return. Good luck on that one. The numbers went south in a hurry. And there's a dump on GSN's pillarbox format for some older shows. I blogged about this a while back. It's an unavoidable artifact of old 4x3 shows on new 16x9 networks. There's not much anybody can do about it.

Meanwhile, GSN is very happy with the status quo, thank you. They just sent out an unchanged pdf schedule for March 19-25.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Perversion on the airwaves!

Hadn't stopped by Game Show Paradise in a while, so I went to its most honest thread: "Why Hate Harvey Feud."

I call it the most honest thread because it really does lay out the older-is-better approach to game shows more directly than almost any other thread on the oldies boards. It's all there: the dumping on a current show, the longing for the pure and holy past (of the kissing bandit, chuckle, chuckle), the whining because game shows aren't like they were three or four decades ago during the golden age.

One oddity in the thread is the use of "perverted" to describe Steve Harvey's Family Feud. So let's go to the dictionary, or the Merriam-Webster site. Perversion: an aberrant sexual practice or interest especially when habitual. I don't know how "aberrant" Feud is, but I do know there aren't any sexual practices going on, at least in front of the cameras.

If this is perversion, it's perversion lite to the lightest degree. If we're going to have perversion, for crying out loud, let's make it a lot more intense than just a few teensy-weensy naughty jokes. What kind of measly watered-down perversion is this?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mo' money for HQ

I've learned that nothing gets less reaction on this blog than posts about HQ, the online interactive game show.

But what the hey, the biggest game show story today is how HQ has scored $15 million in venture capital. Lots of pundits are hoping that the new money will mean less lag and bigger prizes for all the HQ-ties out there. More than two million quizzer fans tuned in on Sunday night.

Unlike the Oscars HQ is getting a bigger and bigger audience, not a smaller and smaller one. A Tech Crunch story speculates on the show's future, and the writer sounds mostly hopeful. Imitators have swarmed to the online universe, of course, but Scott Rogowsky and company have stayed a step ahead so far.

One more note: there were some nasty stories a while ago about one of the show's creators. As so often happens, the stories were long on anonymous sources and short on verifiable details. I thought the campaign was mostly just a media black ops effort, and it doesn't seem to have affected the show's search for investment money.