Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tidbits

Sorry to remind everybody of my TPiR-indifference again, but I really don't care if they mike the models in the new season beginning September 20. I also don't care if they spruce up Plinko and if Drew is a shadow of his former self. Well, actually I'm glad Drew dropped the weight and now looks a lot like Orville Redenbacher, as Carrie Grosvenor wittily observed. But for folks who do care about The Price is Right there's plenty more at BuzzerBlog about daytime's biggest game show.

Chad Mosher is trying out again, this time for GSN's remake of 1 vs. 100. You can read the entertaining two-part account of his adventures in lala-land here and here. Turns out he really knows his trivia and can toss off a mean interview. We'll hear later if he made the contestant grade.

And wouldn't you know, I happened to spot a link to this humble blog at Game Show Newsnet. Thanks to the folks at the game/reality newscenter for including me on their blogroll. But does this mean I have to go respectable now? Like I can't make up stuff just because it sounds good? And I have to answer my e-mails? And I shouldn't libel anybody who can afford a lawyer?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glimpses and teasers

As the new syndie seasons approach, bits and pieces of the shows are appearing on the web. Our appetites must be whetted, folks.

Alex Davis offers a Millionaire trailer at BuzzerBlog. Meredith assures us that everything will be new, new, new and exciting, exciting, exciting. Well, things will certainly be different, different, different as the show tries to arrest its Nielsen skid. Meredith and friends look rather odd standing in the middle of the arena with no hot seat in sight. What if somebody gets tired and decides to sit on the floor? Is that an automatic disqualification?

Over at about.com Carrie Grosvenor has posted a few photos of Don't Forget the Lyrics, due to arrive September 20. The set looks garish enough, but my vocal talents are so abysmal that singing games have always left me cold. I'll try to catch a few eps of this new syndie, though, just to see if the stripped-down version stands a chance in what will be a pretty crowded market this fall.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tidying up the numbers

To catch up on the week's broadcast ratings, Minute To Win It didn't embarrass itself with the "Girls of Summer" doings. The episodes produced decent and increasing numbers for the three nights.

Monday saw a 1.6 18-49 rating and 5.3 million total viewers, Tuesday a 1.8 rating and 6.1 million, and Wednesday a 1.8 rating and 6.3 million. Not boffo box office but certainly acceptable by NBC summer standards. The silly-haired chef has become a reliable performer for a network that needs all the reliability it can get.

ABC's Wipeout turned in reasonable numbers a bit below the season averages: a 2.7 18-49 rating and 7.9 million total viewers for the Tuesday original and a 1.9 rating and 6.3 million for the Thursday rerun. Again, nobody will swoon over these results but they're plenty good enough to earn the show a fourth go-round next summer.

Doggie style

There's no truth to the rumor that this blog is going cheesecake. But a little skin never hurt anybody, right? That was the idea behind NBC's Dog Eat Dog, a mostly naked rehash of Beat the Clock on steroids which ran for a couple of summer seasons in 2002 and 2003.

The show was an Americanized version of a supposedly more cerebral Brit original. Let's just say the Yank incarnation wasn't big on cerebral, though they actually threw in a simple quizzer at the end of the show for respectability's sake.

Mainly, Dog featured skimpily clad young'uns cavorting through various swimming, climbing, throwing, running, and clothes-shedding stunts. The show usually got the lady contestants bikinied and wet as fast as possible, which was fine with me. A then-blonde Brooke Burns hosted with minimal competence, but who cared?

GSN ran the 26 eps through an endless rerun wringer, much to the consternation of many Internet posters. But I never minded the view, which probably says too much about my unsanitary mind.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Abuse me

The news that GSN will grind the grand total of Million Dollar Password's twelve eps through an every-weekday beating has set off the usual howls about rerun abuse. Regis' other show has performed well for the network, so this ridiculous scheduling was almost inevitable. MDP replaces a similarly abused 1 vs. 100, as GSN readies its own downsized version of the Saget saga.

While I certainly can't defend this nonsense, I can understand it. GSN has lasted through fifteen-plus years of such rerun grinds. The network does it because they can get away with it. Most people have lives, which means not many viewers fixate on GSN 24/7 (or 19/7 minus infomercials).

When viewers do tune in, they have a tough time remembering what happened on any particular episode, even if GSN has pounded it into rerun dust. Contestants blur into one another, outcomes are tough to recall, the ep might as well be new. This explains why GSN has endured and grown while Fox Reality was a quick flop.

MDP offers so few episodes that maybe rerun abuse will finally get too extreme. But I seriously doubt GSN will die of it.

Other poster on the GSN board: Soooo...how long is it before GSN commissions new episodes of [Million Dollar Password] as well?

Interesting idea. It was obviously Saget's remarkable staying power in prime time that convinced GSN to revive 1 vs. 100. Maybe they're trying a similar experiment with MDP. If Regis holds up under such extreme rerun abuse, GSN may figure there's genuine demand for a remake.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Syndies keep napping

Can we just start the new seasons now? Puhleeeze. Syndie game shows are deader in the water than Captain Ahab. Broadcasting & Cable somehow rouses itself to deliver the "news" for the week ending August 15...

Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - flat
Jeopardy 4.9 - lo and behold, up a tick
Millionaire 2.2 - flat
Family Feud 1.5 - flat
5th Grader 1.2 - flat

Get the flat idea? TV by the Numbers offers equally nondescript viewership averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 9.0 million (weekend repeat 3.2 million), Jeopardy 7.4 million, Millionaire 3.1 million. Snooze hour continues.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Meredith maunderings

Meredith Vieira's conference call on Millionaire's overhaul has gotten a bit of media attention. The linked New York Daily News story even refers to her infamous drooling over that Navy pilot early in her tenure. She's backed off from such nonsense nowadays, mainly because it looks creepy and ridiculous.

Apologies for the grumpiness, but if I hear any more chatter about the changes on Millionaire, I might go all William Shatner on the hot seat. Except the hot seat won't be there any more, which seems sad somehow. The randomized shuffle of the first ten questions might make the early rounds more interesting, but it could also lead to a lot of boring bailouts.

Meredith says she was prepared to walk away from the show if the changes got too extreme. Sorry, but even prosperous teevee personalities don't abandon well-paid work in this economy. Of course, she doesn't mention the reason for the changes: those dreary declining numbers from Nielsen.

Meredith also confesses that she's lousy at trivia. But maybe she's real good at hangman and can sub for Sajak once in a while.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The world is not enough

You may have noticed that this blog offers few if any posts on game shows beyond the U.S. You might call this limitation parochial and chauvinistic, and maybe you'd be right. I do list other sites in the blogroll that often run items on game shows around the world...or at least around the anglosphere.

You won't find much at those sites about shows in Uruguay or Malaysia. But Alex Davis at BuzzerBlog, for instance, runs many items on British game shows. In fact, he has a rather obsequious attitude towards the mother country's products, often assuring his readers that "the British are better than us."

No, they're not. But if you want the latest tidbits about the British version of The Cube, Alex is your go-to guy. Many American game shows, of course, are just versions of international franchises which originated elsewhere. Ask Howie or Regis. Mr. Mandel even journeyed to the sets of Deal or No Deal's versions in Estonia, South Africa and the Philippines for a few episodes.

So occasionally I'll take note of a show's offshore roots. But just keeping track of American game shows is enough of a chore for this amateur blogger. For international doings there are many other sites. It's the worldwide web, after all.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Crossing off the words

I've never hidden my soft spot for word games. Well, actually I do hide the spot under my shirt most of the time. Only my really good friends have enjoyed a glimpse of it. The spot is round and dimpled and...uh, let's talk about Crosswords.

Technically, the name was Merv Griffin's Crosswords, though hardly anybody except host Ty Treadway used Mervyn's name. The show expired after only one syndie season in 2007-08, due to sub-one ratings and a general lack of interest. I caught a few eps and didn't mind the basic word game, though the crossword-puzzle format was hardly the most original idea.

The front game suffered from a stately and ridiculous dance of the contestants around the podiums. But the timed bonus round, seen in the screenshot, proved more entertaining. The show didn't offend anybody and was certainly an acceptable time-waster. If you're one of the few with access to the Christian cable outlet FamilyNet, you can still watch the reruns.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Downsized mob

Inevitably, GSN will scale back everything in its remake of 1 vs. 100. What else did anybody expect from a tiny niche network? As somebody said, the smaller scope will no doubt bring catcalls from the game show Internets. And as I said, who in the real world cares about the game show Internets? From my comment on the GSN originals board...

Carrie Grosvenor has posted a lot about GSN's 1 vs. 100. Top prize will fall between 25K and 100K. The mob will be pretaped and brought into the game through digital magic, and most mob members will appear on many episodes, giving them a shot at some real money. The order is for 40 half-hour eps.

And no, Saget is not returning. Carrie doesn't say anything about Arsenio Hall (possibly rumored for the gig by Alex Davis) or anybody else.

In unrelated ratings news courtesy of TV by the Numbers, Wipeout performed just fine on Tuesday with a 3.0 18-49 rating and 8.9 million total viewers. Minute To Win It lagged behind on Tuesday but still got NBC's best numbers in many weeks for the 8:00 PM slot, a 1.5 18-49 rating and 5.2 million viewers. The Wednesday Minute fetched 1.6 and 5.7, not so hot compared to its recent figures on hump day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Minutes galore

Yet another reminder that cheap game shows can appeal to network execs: NBC has ordered 24 more episodes of Minute To Win It. The eps can be used for midseason filler, in addition to the show's plug-in availability on Tuesday and Wednesday and any-other-day for the rest of the summer.

Minute has never scored huge in the ratings, but its moderate numbers cost NBC pennies by teevee standards. The show doesn't betray signs of burnout yet, but we've seen this movie before. Still, I wasn't sure that Guy and friends would reach 42 episodes, so congratulations.

By the way, Alex Davis at BuzzerBlog has confirmed that Sherri Shepherd will take over the former Carniewed on GSN. The show will move to New York to tape the fourth season, which will debut November 1.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Syndies mark time

Syndicated game shows are just hanging around until the new seasons start to roll out September 13. But this blog faithfully records the latest numbers because this blog is a faithful recorder. Broadcasting & Cable brings the news for the week ending August 8:

Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - up a tick
Jeopardy 4.8 - down three ticks to a bad number by Alex standards
Millionaire 2.2 - down a tick
Family Feud 1.5 - flat as we await Harvey (not the rabbit)
5th Grader 1.2 - flat
Deal or No Deal 1.1 - flat and soon gone

Howie really doesn't get such horrendous numbers compared to the other syndies in the second tier. But the ax still fell. TV by the Numbers finally got around to their average viewership figures for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 8.9 million (weekend repeat 4.1 million), Jeopardy 7.2 million, Millionaire 3.1 million. Nothing special, when do those new seasons start?

Sherri and other notes

From the GSN board, in response to a post that the New York Daily News has anointed Sherri Shepherd as the host of Newlywed Game...

The actual item from the Daily News:

"Sherri Shepherd fans are going to have one more show to add to their DVR list very soon. A source tells us The View panelist and actress is 'going into contract' to become the latest host of The Newlywed Game on the Game Show Network. The spunky comedian will be taking over for Carnie Wilson. The singer hosted the game show from April 2009 until the end of its second season, when she elected not to return."

Couple things: Carnie left the show after the third season, not the second, and reports are that she was fired, not "elected" to leave. Her subsequent lawsuit against the network indicates the parting was not amicable. As for Sherri Shepherd, I don't know much about her. Would have preferred Jeff Foxworthy or Bob Eubanks, though.

In other news and views, Minute To Win It is getting the program-it-everywhere abuse that I talked about a while ago. The stuntfest will run three consecutive nights August 23-25 in a "Girls of Summer" extravaganza. I thought such titles were politically incorrect nowadays. Last week Minute's new ep on Wednesday scored a respectable 1.9 18-49 rating and 6.4 million total viewers. The Tuesday repeat got 1.5 and 5.0 million, more than doubling the Tony Robbins flop it replaced.

Meanwhile, Fox is casting the American version of The Million Pound Drop. If you want to drop it, drop everything and apply. And to nobody's surprise ABC has renewed Wipeout for a fourth season. Silly stunts rule, as even the folks at Nielsen agree. Last week the show pulled a 2.6 18-49 rating with 7.9 million viewers, very pleasant numbers for cheap summer filler.

Monday, August 16, 2010

GSN number-palooza part different

A poster on the GSN classics board rustled up a website with monthly analyses of GSN ratings and demos dating back to 2006. The numbers aren't nearly as detailed as Douglas' posts at Mediaweek, and the analyses generally give only month-to-month comparisons. But that didn't stop my number-crunching joy, as I posted on the GSN board...

Other poster: I'm surprised Casey didn't find this site. I think he might like it.

Hey, I love it, and thanks very much for the link. Like you said, the info is a little high-level but there's a lot to sort through. I also ran up against a login screen for a few of the months. But I purely love going through this stuff. One item struck me from the May 2009 overview:

"Strongest Demo is Adults 25-54, with a slightly female skew. However, there are stronger male demos on Mondays due to POKER."

From what I've seen, the female skew is more than just "slight" for the network. But I've seen other sources that verify the male skew for the poker shows, even if they were on Sunday by May 2009, not Monday.

The constant refrain for 2009 before Deal or No Deal arrived: "Staples for the network continue to sustain the primetime line-up: MILLIONAIRE, FAMILY FEUD, and POKER." One currently relevant tidbit from the May 2009 analysis: "NEWLYWED, the classic game show was down -16% this month. CATCH 21 was also down. Its unfortunate since both series premiered last month, and were welcome additions to freshen up the primetime line-up."

Well, you couldn't expect the shows to maintain the big splash they produced in April 2009. But they've turned into pretty reliable franchises for the network, although Carnie might now disagree.

I keep typing more as I go further back in the analyses. A couple personal faves regularly crop up with laudatory comments in 2008: Chain Reaction and Lingo. For instance, the February 2008 analysis notes: "Highly rated programs for the network continue to sustain: MILLIONAIRE, CHAIN REACTION, FAMILY FEUD, LINGO, and HIGH STAKES POKER."

Chain Reaction has shown solid staying power and probably deserved a third season. And don't get me started on Lingo. But that change in administration occurred...

It was probably the younger male demos that got High Stakes Poker renewed by new GSN president David Goldhill. The traditional originals he inherited from former president Rich Cronin never had a chance despite their good overall performance.

Interesting as I go back even further to 2006 that Cronin's blackjack shows performed well. Maybe Catch 21 appealed to Goldhill as a way to sneak blackjack onto the network without just renewing the Cronin originals based on the game. Alfonso's rolling into his fourth season now.

Randomly to a million

After a swirl of rumors and hints, syndie Millionaire has finally unleashed the big, bad rules changes. No, they're not substituting stupid human tricks for the multiple-choice questions. But the money tree is getting a severe makeover. The first ten levels will be randomized, the 50K level will disappear, and the last four levels will (sigh) stay the same.

All the lifelines are gone, as Regis loved to say, except Ask the Audience and a couple Jump the Question goodies. The hot seat also goes away, as Meredith and the contestants will stand up because we're into physical fitness or maybe just leg cramps.

The changes are obviously a response to the show's steadily declining numbers. Millionaire has drifted into the low twos in household ratings and the demos are predictably aged. Will the spruce-up bring better tidings from Nielsen Media Research? Now that really is the million-dollar question.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekending

New seasons of the twin towers kick off on September 13. No huge changes loom for either show. Jeopardy will feature a supercomputer contestant (no, not Ken Jennings) and Wheel of Fortune will offer a thirty-grand slice of the multi-colored pie. Otherwise, the shows will occupy their usual place atop the syndie total-viewers list, though we all know about the wizened demos.

GSN will go HD for many shows, particularly originals, starting September 15. This is no big deal because, except for a few stunt epics, game shows gain little from sharper definition. Do we want to see every last one of Alex's gray hairs? I know, my gray-headed self shouldn't poke fun.

Once upon a time I had a schoolboy crush on I've Got a Secret's Betsy Palmer. Then again, once upon a time that schoolboy could walk to school without wheezing. Anyway, Betsy recently offered her thoughts about the thirty-year-old - making me feel ancient again - Friday the 13th. Her funniest remark:

"Gene Siskel was fit-to-be-tied that I had done this role and wondered how I could let my viewing audience down by playing this murderess. And he told his readers and viewers to write to me to express their displeasure and gave out my home address. Fortunately, he had mistakenly given out my old address from when I lived in California, so I never got a single letter."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sweep the aisles

You may have noted my dislike of shopping shows. But I've always had a soft spot for one show in this niche...or more accurately, one segment of one show. That's the hell-for-leather dash through the grocery store in the final round of Supermarket Sweep.

Most of Sweep always bored me, because it was the same price-the-items guesswork that lulls me to sleep on other shopping epics. But once they unleashed the contestants on the aisles to scoop up anything and everything, I got interested in a hurry. It was really a stunt show at that point, though some knowledge of grocery prices obviously helped.

I remember the first black-and-white incarnation of Sweep on ABC in 1965-67, when the prices were much less inflated. The mad dash through the aisles of a genuine supermarket was the featured round from the beginning. I really haven't seen much of the Lifetime (1990-95) and PAX (2000-03) versions except in occasional reruns, but the berserk-in-the-store finale is still the highpoint of the festivities. It's just that the "store" is on a set. But who cares? The crazy shoppers still have to run like the dickens.

My nerdy self sometimes fantasizes about getting the same chance in a bookstore. Sadly, nobody has ever given me the opportunity.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Polling for gamers

At about.com Carrie Grosvenor has posted a list of ten GSN originals and asked her readers to vote for their faves. I plumped for Lingo, which remains consistently interesting even in its 45,731st rerun cycle. Who can remember all the words?

My second favorite would be Russian Roulette, which has tragically disappeared down GSN's trap door. The network tried reruns a while back and they bombed with an awful explosion. I'm afraid GSN's grandmotherly audience has lost its taste for a literally dark show where contestants whoop it up while their adversaries fall through the floor.

My third fave is High Stakes Poker, which Carrie doesn't even include on her list. She doesn't want to get into the wretched dispute over whether poker qualifies for the beloved "game show" moniker. Hey, if acey-deucey qualifies, no limit hold 'em is just fine with me.

Carrie thinks very highly of Grand Slam and I liked the show, too. There was just a little too much Miller and filler for my taste, though. I have no idea why Carrie put the obnoxious Friend or Foe on the list. That thing merits a dishonorable place in my personal Hall of Shame for horrendous originals. Hollywood Showdown is another odd choice, not obnoxious but pretty dull. Meanwhile, the highly successful Newlywed Game and Baggage don't even make Carrie's list for some obscure reason.

Oh well, you might want to make your preferences known. Few have voted so far.

In unrelated GSN news, I saw an odd comment from Steve Beverly on his Game Show Fix site. Apparently he will appear on some small-potatoes Internet radio show to discuss, among other things, "a prediction that Sony may take GSN down the same path as it has done with SoapNet." Um, what? Sony doesn't own SoapNet. It's a Disney property. And Sony doesn't own much of GSN any more, either - only 35%. DirecTV owns the rest. Very predictably, the prof also wants Bob Eubanks back on GSN's Newlywed Game.

Another GSN note: the network will run a doggy special on August 29, where owners and their canine pets compete for a golden hydrant. At least it'll probably be better than the putrid puppets. Besides the pooches, GSN has started the run of its doubles poker show, replacing the woeful Aussie Millions.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Syndies with a Jeopardy twist

In this week's Broadcasting & Cable roundup Paige Albiniak observes that Jeopardy has crept to within six ticks of fellow twin tower Wheel of Fortune. That's the Trebek epic's closest approach to the top this season. Otherwise, it's summer blahs all round for the week ending August 1...

Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.1 - up a couple ticks to its close encounter
Millionaire 2.3 - up a tick
Family Feud 1.5 - flat
5th Grader 1.2 - flat

The average viewership figures for the top three from TV by the Numbers: Wheel of Fortune 8.9 million, Jeopardy 7.7 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. Same old, same old. Wake me when the new seasons start.

Mob return

The game show Internets are hopping with news of GSN's revival of 1 vs. 100. Alex Davis at BuzzerBlog has hinted at the show's return for a while, and a GSN version does make sense. The NBC eps have performed very well for the Play Every Day network despite a severely limited run. At least this project doesn't cast Wink Martindale in a reality saga with Carnie Wilson and a panel of foul-mouthed puppets.

The casting call specifies little. No info on the host, prize money, set or debut date. But GSN seems to have opted for a strong game show format instead of the recent horrendous excursions into deepest goofball.

Bob Saget would of course be the people's choice to host the revival, but he may hold too big a ticket for GSN. But they paid Springer, so who knows? And Saget doesn't seem overworked lately.

Other poster on the GSN board: I see a big problem on the horizon: When the GSN eps air, and the set is scaled down, and the top prize less than a million (as the article claims), this site will be swamped with posters saying the show is cheap, not as good as the original, a ripoff etc etc etc.

Oh yeah, that's a big problem. Like anybody in the real world cares about the GSN Internet boards.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Steve and Alex show

A couple of stories turned up lately about syndie game show hosts. The Orlando Sentinel unleashed a puff piece about new Family Feud host Steve Harvey onto an unprepared world. Besides repeatedly assuring us that Harvey is a swell guy, hilarious comic and snappy dresser, the story also pushed for more teevee productions to come to beautiful downtown Orlando. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce commissioned the piece.

The New Yorker took a predictably more sardonic view of Jeopardy institution Alex Trebek. Truth to tell, the cynical Manhattanites went pretty easy on Alex and even betrayed a bit of sympathy for the sometimes-maligned answer-reader. At least they slipped in a bit about his charity work. And who knew he could bench-press his own weight!

Oh, a couple other things. There's one more lawsuit against The Price is Right. I knew you would be bored. And Joey Fatone is the new announcer on syndie Feud because Burton Richardson has decamped to the Hub network. I knew you would be more bored.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Off-topic, sort of

Some of the most annoying things on the GSN Classics board are the posts bemoaning the network's supposedly nasty attitude towards old game shows. GSN actually runs thirty hours a week of shows with more than two decades of age on them, but that doesn't stop the complaints. Occasionally the whines spill over into how TV networks in general don't offer enough ancient shows. Of course, plenty of antique teevee is available free on the web for anybody with a halfway speedy connection. Or as I posted on the board today...

Other poster: I wish the kind of classic shows seen on ME-tv in Chicago can be seen everywhere. Especially Maude. And Cagney & Lacey [and One Day at a Time].

Besides the 120 eps of Cagney & Lacey at tv.com, YouTube has a bunch of Maude episodes - I counted about twenty or so but there may be more. Hulu offers fourteen eps of One Day at a Time free. So you can watch hours of these shows whenever you want, without paying a dime and without subscribing to anything.

A lot of old teevee is available on demand at no cost to anybody with a reasonably fast Internet connection. There's no reason to wait around for some TV channel somewhere to show a few eps.

By the way, while I was at YouTube, I watched some scenes from an old war series called The Gallant Men. I still remember this one from my misspent youth. Unfortunately, I had to laugh at how a few outnumbered Americans repeatedly terminated scores of Germans without suffering any casualties themselves. If only the real Italian campaign in WWII had been that easy.

(The image shows an impeccably coiffed actress named Chana Eden - born Chana Mesyngier - blasting away at the krauts on Gallant Men. Naturally, all the krauts croak and she lives.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Launching

New seasons and a new network are launching this fall, and information is dribbling in about them. The Hub network, Hasbro's pushy merchandising venture, will kick off its schedule on October 10 with Todd Newton hosting Family Game Night and Cory Almeida helming Pictureka. Newton brings complete competence and extensive game show experience to the job, though he's been criticized as Mr. Plastic.

Launch dates for new seasons of syndie gamers have now been announced for four shows: Millionaire and Family Feud on September 13, 5th Grader and Don't Forget the Lyrics on September 20. Rules changes are rumored for Millionaire and 5th Grader, and a much discussed host change (and some rules tweaks) will happen on Feud. This humble blog will keep you posted on how the syndies fare week by week.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

GSN number-palooza you name it

Douglas unleashes another pile of GSN viewer numbers for the week of July 26-August 1. Sundry observations and musings...

1) The overall averages were 324K/257K prime time/total day. Nothing spectacular by GSN standards but certainly acceptable.

2) The soon-to-be-disrupted 8:00 PM Feud hour was the biggest winner in prime time with a 371K average. Does GSN know what they're doing by splattering this hour with Alfonso reruns? We'll see.

3) The usual suspects delivered. Jerry averaged 331K for his 15 showings, Howie 305K for his even more ridiculous 26 runs. Carnie also did fine with a 295K average for her 14 slots, though she noticeably lags Jerry, and that may have cost her the gig. Lawsuit, anyone?

4) Speaking of those schedule changes, Karn Feud averaged a whopping 363K for his 4:00 PM hour. Sorry to repeat myself, but does GSN know what they're doing on August 16? The affable Richard even delivered a 255K average in the bleary-eyed 1:00 AM hour.

5) Million Dollar Password chimed in with 338K, not its best showing but quite respectable. And let's hear it for Bob Saget, coincidentally averaging 338K over his eight showings.

6) Poker continues to struggle, especially that miserable Aussie effort. A 189K average for prime time is a shadow of what poker was getting before GSN scrambled the shows.

7) The putrid puppets averaged 182K, which is actually decent by their putrid standards but pretty bad for anything except pre-1990. Speaking of which, the best pre-1990 show was the 12:00 PM run of Match Game at a 240K average. Hooray for the blank.

8) Finally, my personal predilection for afternoon word games was rewarded with some okay news. Chain Reaction averaged 270K in the afternoon, Lingo 309K. Lingo even slipped three eps into the top thirty.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Plug it in

NBC put a show called Breakthrough with Tony Robbins on Tuesday night. If you missed it, don't feel lonely. Just about everybody else missed it, too, so the show broke through to a 0.8 18-49 rating. Which isn't real good even for NBC.

The result? Minute To Win It will plug the Tuesday 8:00 PM slot "for the time being." This may remind you of other game shows plugging other slots on other schedules. Millionaire on ABC may be the most horrid example in recent times. Deal or No Deal on NBC also comes to mind.

Game shows' supercheap production costs have always tempted teevee execs into running off a bunch of episodes and plugging them into any timeslot that needs inexpensive filler. The results aren't always as catastrophic as the eventual Millionaire fiasco, but a show rarely prospers as a result. Quick burnout seems the most common outcome.

But what can be done? Though sometimes a fatal temptation for network schedulers, the low cost of game shows is actually one of the genre's greatest strengths. Ask Wayne Brady. He wouldn't have the Let's Make a Deal gig if the show didn't come a lot cheaper than soaps.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Variety hour

Singalong maestro and goatee partisan Mitch Miller died last Saturday at age 99. It's cruel to say it, but I honestly had no idea Mr. Miller had lived so long. His singalong shows date from my childhood, and I had lost track of him completely since then. At his Game Show Fix site (see the blogroll) Steve Beverly offers a typically exhaustive obituary, and many other stories have appeared in the Google news cache. Mitch Miller guested on a number of now-classic game shows, including What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, The Price is Right, Password and Match Game.

Minute To Win It will follow the time-honored practice of More Eye Candy with a Miss Universe special on August 23. Ten of the lovelies will participate in various silly stunts designed to humiliate and entertain. Even Shandi Finnessey will show up, though without Chuck Woolery. It's a low-cost promotional effort for the beauty pageant, which will air immediately following.

Chad Mosher chimes in with a warning about scams designed to relieve prospective game show contestants of a little cash. It's mostly the same common-sense advice you've seen about Internet scams in general. If it looks too good to be true, it is...and be really careful about handing anybody confidential financial info.

After some contradictory signals GSN has now clarified the timeslots for the new season of Catch 21 debuting August 16. The weekly schedule just released to BuzzerBlog puts Alfonso's first-runs at 5:30 PM with a repeat at 8:30 PM. Some minor shuffles result. Karn Feud is the big loser, dropping one of its afternoon slots and its 8:00 PM prime time run. That what the show gets for generating some of GSN's highest ratings. The new schedule is a little risky, especially because Alfonso recently flopped in the 8:00 PM hour.

TPiR indifference alert: somebody is circulating a rumor that Mike Richards, the executive producer of The Price is Right, will be relieved of his duties. It's just Internet scuttlebutt right now, but you have to expect stuff like this after the Rich Fields firing.

This resolutely nonpolitical blog won't comment on Pat Sajak's forays into very political blogging at ricochet.com. But his Viva Las Vagas? post avoids politics and doesn't avoid humor. Please read and laugh along.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Syndies poke along

Just marking time until the fall debuts, syndicated game shows amble along with blah summer numbers. Broadcasting & Cable tracks the dullsville doings for the week ending July 25:

Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - flat
Jeopardy 4.9 - down a tick, what's wrong, can't keep up with WoF?
Millionaire 2.2 - down a tick
Family Feud 1.5 - flat
5th Grader 1.3 - flat

TV by the Numbers lists the equally unexciting viewership averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 9.1 million (weekend rerun 4.8 million), Jeopardy 7.4 million, Millionaire 3.0 million. Robert Seidman has some fun with how Judge Judy gavels over the syndication world...and clobbers Oprah, in particular.

Sherri talks

Looks like the rumor that Sherri Shepherd and Jeff Foxworthy are in the running to replace Carnie Wilson on GSN's Newlywed Game may have some truth. The somewhat reliable Joe Adalian has posted a note that GSN is talking to Shepherd. Plagiarizing myself from the GSN board...

Joe Adalian reports that GSN is chatting with Sherri Shepherd about taking over the newlyweds. I never watch The View and I've rarely seen Shepherd. So I have no idea how well she would do. Her sitcom on Lifetime apparently failed, which is not encouraging, but I can't prejudge.

Adalian himself seems unenthusiastic. The last lines of his story: "A GSN rep had no comment, except to say that it would announce a host in the near future. So maybe there's hope talks with Shepherd will break down and Bob Eubanks can reclaim his throne?"

Doesn't sound like Eubanks is going to happen under any circumstances. I think Foxworthy would be the safer bet due to his successful game show hosting experience on both Fox and syndication. But GSN may want a female host.

One more note about Shepherd: she appeared on Donnymid three times. So she's been seen on GSN but I don't remember the appearances. She also appeared on Hollywood Squares a lot, but I don't know if those eps have ever run on GSN because I don't watch the show.

Other poster: Does that mean GSN will be moving TNG back to NY? The View tapes in NYC and I doubt Sherri would do the cross-country commute thing to be on both shows.

If she gets the job, yeah, they probably would move the show.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dollar shrink

Governments have inflated away their debts for generations now, and the effects have trickled down to our little game show world. A thread on the Wheel of Fortune forum bewails the apparent lack of inflation adjustments in the upcoming fall season. "Way too many $300s on that wheel right now," grouses one complaint.

Well, that $300 at the dawn of televised game shows in 1950 would equal $2,600 today, according to the invaluable (in definitely non-inflated terms) inflation calculator. That's a pretty good payout by GSN standards. The $10,000 Pyramid at its debut in 1973 would be the $48,000 Pyramid nowadays.

Not quite the million dollar trophy that so many shows offer now, but still a noticeably higher figure. When Charles Van Doren walked away with $129,000 of "winnings" from Twenty One in 1957, he toted almost a million (actually $972,000) in today's withered currency. It works in reverse, too. Who Wants to Be A Millionaire would have been titled Who Wants to Be a $112,000-aire in 1950.

Something to keep in mind when you see lists of all-time winners on game shows.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fleas and minds

The name of GSN's flea market pilot is agonizingly cute: Fleaflip. This La-la Land Times story last March recounted how host Lara Spencer would tape the pilot. Took a while but the taping is finally going forward. The show "pits teams competing to discover and repurpose the best buys -- a concept that Spencer says was inspired by her passion for 'the hunt.'"

My dislike of shopping shows is no secret, so I think I'll pass on this one if the pilot gets picked up. In other game show doings Twitter informs us that the three-day shoot for Million Dollar Mind Game has been completed. This is the Russian What? Where? When? format that ABC is exploring, where six contestants battle through odd clues to get an odd answer. Supposedly the show is tougher than dollar-a-pound steak.