Sunday, July 31, 2011

One show and only one show

Been a while since I visited Matt Ottinger's Invision board. But when I stopped by yesterday, an interesting thread had begun. The topic: "If you could pick one show, and only one show that GSN has shown in the past that you would like to see return."

As you might expect on Matt's board, almost all the answers were oldies from the '70s, '80s, even earlier. Press Your Luck, The Joker's Wild, Now You See It, Password, Tic Tac Dough, etc. You get the idea. Matt's board is a redoubt of the older-is-better crowd among game show fans. That's a picture of Bill Cullen on the masthead, after all.

My pick is getting some age on it, too, but it doesn't go back quite that far. I tipped it off in my earlier post about a similar format from Israel. Yep, it's my long-lost love Russian Roulette.

The show combined tough questions, an interesting challenge format, a great exit gimmick, a super-competent host, and an enormously suspenseful bonus round. What's not to like? It sure beats Tic Tac Dough, anyway.

Sadly, GSN did try repeats of the show a few years ago and they bombed. GSN's audience has moved on. They're big fans of shows like Richard Karn's Family Feud. I can understand that. On Karn Feud a laughing Richard walks onto a brightly colored set. The contestants shake hands, treat each other with respect, and play a fun little game that doesn't require a postgraduate degree.

On Russian Roulette an unsmiling Mark Walberg appears on a dark, foreboding set. The contestants trade trash talk, challenge each other with hard questions, and whoop it up when their opponents fall through the floor.

So which show is more likely to appeal to GSN's grandmotherly audience? That's an easy question, Mark. But at least I can remember Russian Roulette fondly and check some of the videos at YouTube.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Comedy makes us laugh

As noted in the faux tweets a while back, TeenNick has started a post-midnight block of 1990s shows. This set off some comments on the GSN schedule board about the initially good ratings for the block compared to GSN's numbers. Some of my doodlings on the topic...

Other poster: I'm not sure about the nostalgia part. But it's "Teen" Nick. In a literal sense, their audience is 13-19. And they somehow find more eyeballs late at night than GSN can, whose age demographics aren't quite as defined. I find that quite ridiculous.

I agree that nostalgia is playing very little part here. The ratings Douglas posted show that most of TeenNick's audience after midnight (and probably before midnight, too) is teens 12-17. After all, the teens 12-17 rating is often four or five times as high as the adults 18-49 number. Many of those teens weren't even born when these shows originally ran, so they can hardly be all that nostalgic about them. Nostalgia is not noted as common in teenagers, anyway.

By the way, the novelty looks to be quickly wearing off. For the latest published day (Wednesday 7/27) the average viewership for the '90s block was down to 332K, compared to 490K on the first day, Monday 7/25. The teen audience is notoriously fickle and already seems to be moving on. It will be interesting to see what happens if Douglas keeps publishing the numbers.

And I still think that comedy, in general, has much wider appeal than game shows. That's why there are a lot more comedy shows on a lot more networks than game shows. So it doesn't stun me that comedy gets better ratings. TBS and Comedy Central have been getting better numbers than GSN for a long, long time...despite the fact that comedy networks have a lot more competition in their genre than GSN has in its.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No longer standing?

Just saw lots of twittering on Alex Davis' account about the possible demise of NBC's Who's Still Standing. There was a burst of publicity several weeks ago about Ben Bailey hosting the Israeli import for NBC. But deathly silence has now fallen.

Some speculate that alleged injuries to contestants dropping though the holes may have nixed the project. GSN's Russian Roulette supposedly had such a mishap years ago, but that didn't halt the show's two-season run on the network. Maybe the NBC suits just looked at the footage and didn't like what they saw.

Or maybe the show will turn up one of these days, after all. I'm biased on this one, because I still carry a torch for my long-lost Russian Roulette. I'd like to see what NBC would make of a similar format.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summertime blues

Summer tryout It's Worth What tanked in its second outing last night. That brought to mind all the summer game shows which have come and gone over the past decade or so. Some of the shows have lasted pretty well, like Wipeout. Most of them have flamed out, though, and maybe Cedric's effort will join that undistinguished list.

Of course, the summer game show of all time, or at least recent times on American broadcast TV, was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. When Regis and his money tree debuted on August 16, 1999, game shows in broadcast prime time had been extinct for oh so many years. The fifties scandals and a general prejudice against the genre had banished big-money prime time shows seemingly forever.

But never underestimate the power of a good format. The Brit import smashed through The Nielsen Company and became the phenom to end all game show phenoms. A nasty fall followed a few years later, though the syndie version has survived to this day. More importantly, the show led to a resurgence in broadcast game shows, as networks stopped turning up their noses at the genre.

Will any other summer game show ever catch fire like Millionaire? Oh, maybe, one of these decades. Sadly for Mr. Kyles, it doesn't look like It's Worth What will turn the trick.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Syndies: twin towers loom

For the week ending July 17 the twin towers got more towering and none of the other syndie game shows did much. TVNewsCheck presents the bi-level news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - up a nice four ticks
Jeopardy 5.3 - up a little nicer five ticks
Family Feud 2.7 - flat but at a season high
Millionaire 2.2 - off a tick
5th Grader 1.1 - flat as it plays out the string
Lyrics 0.9 - flat and saying good-bye

TV by the Numbers actually posted the viewership averages quickly! Good for them. The numbers: Wheel of Fortune 9.9 million (weekend repeat 5.0 million), Jeopardy 8.1 million, Family Feud 4.1 million. Meredith just slipped out of the top 25.

GSN made TVNewser's top 40 cable network list in prime time for the July 18-24 week, with a 334K viewership average. Best average in a while for our little game show network. Would be a lot better without the Drew-ish carnage on weekends.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A certain age

Happened to catch one of Lingo's 89 daily reruns today. Love the show but the schedule is a joke. Anyway, the contestants on this episode were all ladies of a certain age.

To be more blunt, the women on one team were in their forties and the ladies on the other team were in their sixties. Or at least that's how it looked to my not-so-gallant eye.

Which shouldn't be a big deal. But it is. Game shows are often so afraid of skewing old that they discriminate almost blindly against older contestants. Yes, I'm obviously biased on this issue. After all, I'm approaching my sixtieth birthday later this year. And I've ranted on age discrimination in game shows before. Lingo is a particular offender in my opinion because longtime host Chuck Woolery got the heave-ho from the new season solely due to his age.

But at least the new season was not afraid to put on a couple contestants from the far side of the almighty 18-49 demo. So maybe I'll cut Lingo a little slack from now on. By the way, the sixty-somethings were hardly shocked by the show's occasionally off-color humor. Some posters on the GSN boards have gotten the vapors because the show sometimes uses words that Queen Victoria might have frowned on.

But the older ladies just laughed off the mildly risque stuff in their episode. Good for them.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another lost weekend

The weekend numbers continue to come in lousy for GSN. After Douglas posted the Saturday July 16 ratings, I yelped on the GSN Schedule board.

Saturday 7/16 just went up and prime time was about as bad as expected. The averages: 155K/199K prime time/total day. Improv-a-Ganza and poker did a number on the, er, numbers. Top ten...

3:30PM Family Feud (O'Hurley) 443
10:30AM Family Feud (O'Hurley) 351
11:30AM Catch 21 329
3:00PM Family Feud (Karn) 327
4:00PM Newlywed Game 310
12:00PM Million Dollar Password 304
11:00AM Newlywed Game 298
10:00AM Chain Reaction 292
6:30PM Lingo (Engvall) 290
9:30AM Whammy! All New Press Your Luck 269

Bubble show was 7:00PM Lingo. O'Hurley had a nice day on what was not a good day overall for the network. Things just hit the wall at 8:00PM thanks to you-know-what. Well, at 2:00PM, too. Maybe syndie Deal of No Deal can help a little in that slot. And at 4:30PM Love Triangle crushed the network. It was hard for GSN to get anything going for the day. At least weekend warriors Regis and Whammy delivered.

Other poster: Also, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to cut back the Lingo marathon by two episodes or so. It didn't bomb, but it wasn't that great either.

Frankly, Engvall wasn't the problem. He got the three best numbers from 4:30PM on. Total day would have looked even worse without that admittedly overdone two-hour marathon. Improv-a-Ganza and Love Triangle just hammered the network in the afternoon and the schedule never really recovered. And things completely collapsed when Drew hit again at 8:00PM, followed by poker.

Morning and early afternoon were fine, and the Karn-O'Hurley-Sherri combo recovered some ground after 2:00PM Improv-a-Ganza. But it was tough to keep things going. That's why Drew has now been replaced at 2:00PM.

It's getting harder and harder to justify any but the most limited slots (or any slots at all) for Improv-a-Ganza and High Stakes Poker. GSN might as well go with basically their weekday schedule on weekends...except for the current weekend morning and early afternoon sched, which is performing pretty well. Late night needs to be fixed on both weekdays and weekends, mainly by getting rid of Improv-a-Ganza and poker.

But the gloom on weekends shouldn't obscure the fact that GSN has now recovered pretty nicely on weekdays, except for the obvious late night problem. Things are looking a lot better compared to when Drew and Wendy were killing weekday prime time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Radar on Match Game

Match Game used a bunch of semi-regulars (hm, sounds a little suspicious) in its 1973-82 run. One of the most memorable was Radar O'Reilly from M*A*S*H, a.k.a. Gary Burghoff.

The show handed Burghoff the large task of replacing Charles Nelson Reilly for several months in 1974-75. Reilly was wasting time in Neil Simon's forgettable and forgotten God's Favorite. After a few overanxious missteps, Burghoff figured out that Match Game was an ensemble show. He started picking his spots more carefully and earning his keep.

His best bit might have been "coming on down" after Johnny Olsen's booming invitation. Burghoff also picked up, wouldn't you know, a wicked Reilly imitation. Gary used it to very funny effect when Charles came back from that play everybody has forgotten.

Burghoff chipped in more guest turns on Match Game after Reilly took back his usual top right seat. Wikipedia says he piled up 248 eps in all, and I'm not going to count them on the episode guide to check. Gary lists several other game shows on his resume, but Match Game was always his best gift to the genre.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Donny's ba-a-a-ack

Hollywood Reporter says Donny Osmond will host the CBS pilot of Brit import Secret Fortune. I blogged about this show a while back. Basically it's Deal or No Deal with 24 envelopes instead of 24 suitcases...and no models.

I've gotten into a few Internet spats over Donny's hosting skills. I thought he did a fine job on Pyramid in 2002-04, now familiarly known as Donnymid. The Daytime Emmy nominators agreed with me and gave Donny a nom for best game show host in 2003.

Others apparently think he's too plastic or cute or smarmy. I agree he can get a little oily, though he has a good enough sense of humor to avoid the worst. Donnymid got decent numbers in its two seasons and should have been renewed for a third. But for some reason Sony axed the show in favor of a talker that quickly expired.

Donny is plenty competent and can run any show efficiently. I'd like to see Secret Fortune get to air, just to watch him in action again. Truth to tell, I'd like GSN to rerun Donnymid again. The show pulled okay ratings for the network a few years ago.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marry Sherri

GSN will run a cute gimmick on its Newlywed Game episodes August 8-12. That happens to be the week leading up to host Sherri Shepherd's qualification for her own show. Yes, Sherri's getting hitched (for the second time) on August 13. So GSN sent her out onto the New York City streets to get marital advice. The pearls of NYC wisdom will run before the final round of play on Sherri's show.

When GSN fired Carnie Wilson and brought on Sherri to host Newlywed Game, I got an unmistakable sinking feeling. I was afraid Sherri would talk and talk and holler and holler and just ruin the interaction with the contestants. By and large, my fears have proven unfounded.

Sherri is still emphatic but does know how to dial it back and let the show breathe. So Newlywed Game generally doesn't get overwhelmed with too much host and too little of everything else. The show has prospered as a result, though an experiment with an early weekday timeslot fizzled badly.

Sherri still spends lots of time in the daily top tens on GSN, though the numbers have naturally softened since her debut. GSN's notorious brand of rerun abuse will grind down the best of 'em. Anyway, best wishes to Sherri for happiness in her second try at matrimony.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fairly worth-y effort

I've already advertised my dislike of pricing game shows. So there's a natural bias when I review It's Worth What. But cross my heart and hope to die, I really didn't think the show was that bad. I'll admit, it's not my sub-genre and things move a little slow and I get bored with pricing things. But the items on display were so exotic and, well, downright fun, that the show passed my time pretty pleasantly.

I tried guessing along for a while and even nailed the muscle car instead of the Miss USA crown. By the way, Miss USA herself was definitely one of the most exotic and fun parts of the show. They didn't let her say anything, though. But then I wiped out on the Australian cockatoo and stopped trying to figure out what was worth what.

Mr. Kyles did a decent job as host, enthusiastic but not too florid. The contestants were reasonably clued-in and didn't scream all the time. And the set is a dream, full of nooks, crannies and goodies. I don't think I'll become a hopeless fan, but there are worst things to watch on TV.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Syndies: Steve romps

Syndies moved around and about in the week ending July 10, but Steve Harvey was the biggest winner. TVNewsCheck presents the glad tidings for the now Atlanta-based Family Feud.

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - off a tick
Jeopardy 4.8 - off a couple ticks
Family Feud 2.7 - up a couple ticks to a season high
Millionaire 2.3 - up three ticks, not a bad week for Meredith, either
5th Grader 1.1 - up a tick, as if it mattered any more
Lyrics 0.9 - flat as it bids farewell

TV by the Numbers has gotten pretty lax about the syndie viewership numbers. If they post 'em, you'll see 'em here. If they don't, you won't. Simple, no? Meanwhile, I blathered about the most recent GSN numbers on the network's schedule board...

With Monday 7/11 at 365K/258K viewers prime time/total day and Tuesday 7/12 at 338K/262K, the July 11-17 ratings week got off to a pretty good start for GSN. The network managed to climb onto TVNewser's top 40 cable network list for the week, finishing 39th in prime time with an overall 320K average. That's about as well as GSN ever does on the list. GSN didn't make the total day list due to poor late night results, which in turn are due to you know what.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Priestly game show hosts

Game show comparisons have now reached new levels. Heavenly levels, in fact. An English columnist remarks that priests have become game show hosts.

Truth to tell, St. Peter, I blogged a while back about a genuine-article priest who hosts a kids game show on a local cable network in New England. But back in old England, the columnist was upset that a priest officiating at a wedding "addressed the bride and groom as 'guys' and the congregation as 'folks.'" The priest also cracked jokes and announced: "What Paul is harping on about in the Bible is love." These comments called game show hosts to the columnist's mind, though I don't necessarily see the connection.

After all, if Anne Robinson had conducted the nuptials, she probably would have asked the bride and groom: "What on earth do you see in each other?" But as I've said too many times, game show comparisons are naturals for writers wanting to sound funny or folksy. It's swell that the comparisons have arrived in theological precincts.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Name that name

As noted in the faux tweets, the Cox-Arquette project Celebrity Name Game taped its pilot for CBS on Friday. Hollywood Junket reported on the show's format and personnel.

As you might guess from the name of the show, the contestants have to name celebs based on clues to their identities. The idea sounds pretty simple, which is what good game show ideas should be. There are several rounds to the show, but they're just variations on the single theme. Two teams of three contestants compete. Each team includes a celeb and a couple civvies. The celeb players on the pilot were Kevin Connolly (Eric Murphy on Entourage) and Jayma Mays (Emma Pilsbury on Glee).

The set is a living room complete with book shelves, a couch, and a phony fireplace. Hey, I don't care if they play the game in a taxi with Ben Bailey. Speaking of the host, he's Craig Ferguson and Hollywood Junket thinks he does a really good job. "Extremely great" is how they put it, as opposed to non-extremely great. They quote a few of his quips, which do seem reasonably witty, as opposed to unreasonably witty.

Other notes: the show played an audience participation game between rounds, David Arquette doesn't act crazy and still seems to get along with Courteney Cox, and much of the humor derives from the celeb players twitting other celebs. We'll see if CBS picks up the pilot.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Lost weekend

GSN has been stinking up the weekend ratings, thanks to a couple shows with improvised comedy and Texas hold 'em. On the GSN Schedule board I offer some typically dour comments on the latest published day.

Saturday 7/9 just went up, and it was bad as the weekends usually are. Viewership averages were 131K(!)/208K prime time/total day. GSN has to find something better for Saturday prime time than Drew and poker. Top ten...

12:00PM Million Dollar Password 365
3:30PM Family Feud (O'Hurley) 344
7:00PM Lingo (Engvall) 332
7:30PM Lingo (Engvall) 325
6:00PM Lingo (Engvall) 322
11:30AM Catch 21 321
6:30PM Lingo (Engvall) 317
11:00AM Newlywed Game 315
4:00PM Newlywed Game 314
5:00PM Baggage 283

Might call it Engvall and friends. I hate that two-hour marathon of the already overused Lingo, but it delivers numbers. Might as well put it in prime time. And look at Regis, after all these years.

With nine shows at 300K+ the day wasn't doing bad at all (except for Improv-a-Ganza's usual dump at 2:00PM) until you know what happened at 8:00PM. I know the show cost a lot, but sooner or later you just have to eat the money and shelve the improvisers. And poker should get an hour or two post-midnight at most. Time to thank High Stakes Poker for its yeoman service in the past and move on.

Other poster: Love Triangle isn't really doing that badly in the ratings.

Bugs me to say it, but I agree. The show is no hit but it's not a disaster like Improv-a-Ganza.

Personally, I can't stand the dumb talky-talky-talky of Love Triangle. Improv-a-Ganza seems a little dull to me but not horrible. Apparently GSN's audience finds Wendy more tolerable than Drew, though. I guess Love Triangle looks a little like a game show, while the improv comedy just looks like a boring standup routine.

The only reason Improv-a-Ganza stays on the schedule is its high cost. The financials would look awful if GSN axed the show without amortizing the cost over some advertising revenue. But maybe it's time to eat the lost money.

UPDATE: Douglas has developed a habit of putting up the numbers at 3:00PM Eastern. Sunday 7/10 was great by recent weekend standards: 366K/256K viewership averages prime time/total day. The top ten...

9:30 PM Lingo (Engvall) 472
10:00 PM Lingo (Engvall) 447
10:30 PM Lingo (Engvall) 413
9:00 PM Lingo (Engvall) 357
3:00 PM Family Feud (Karn) 346
3:30 PM Family Feud (O'Hurley) 342
6:30 PM Family Feud (Karn) 337
4:00 PM Newlywed Game 330
10:30 AM Family Feud (O'Hurley) 307
11:30 AM Catch 21 304

Blowout day for Engvall in prime time, though he didn't do nearly as well in the afternoon. Go figure. Karn and O'Hurley showed up as usual. The day crashed after prime time thanks to you know who. Though to give Drew his due, one of Improv-a-Ganza's runs did get 288K. Terrific by the show's usual standards.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Priced out of the market

With It's Worth What about to debut, I'll grumble a little about my tepid reaction to pricing game shows. Basically, it stems from my dislike of shopping. Wouldn't you know, the monitor on one of our computers at home just went kablooey. So now I'm gonna have to drive to some store somewhere and look at monitors and prices and buy one of the suckers. Ugh. I got better things to do, like sit around and do nothing.

So when a show wants people to estimate prices for whatever merchandise, I get reminded of shopping. And that's not a good reminder for me. Even if the merchandise is outlandish stuff like a live tiger or a vintage sports car or an Elvis jumpsuit or some of the other strange items promised in the promos for It's Worth What.

This odd quirk of mine also explains why I've never gotten interested in the great-grandaddy of all shopping games...well, you know it, the one with the now skinnier Drew Carey. Hard to believe, but The Price is Right spawns endless yelping on the Internet. Nuclear war regularly threatens to erupt between Drew fans and Bob Barker fans.

Sorry, but I do not care [emphasis in the original]. I hardly even watch the show, much less want to join in a Net holocaust over who hosts the thing better. Just give me a quizzer. Or a word game. I'll even take the silly stunt shows. But you can keep the merchandise.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Syndies wilt in summer heat

Syndicated game shows started showing the inevitable signs of wear and tear as summer deepened. People got places to go and things to do, and they don't watch as much TV. The bad news from TVNewsCheck for the week ending July 3...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.0 - down five ticks, a nasty tumble
Family Feud 2.5 - down a tick but still looking pretty good
Millionaire 2.0 - down three ticks, will it slide into the ones?
5th Grader 1.0 - down a tick as it plays out the string
Lyrics 0.9 - flat as the weeks dwindle down

When the guys at TV by the Numbers post the viewership averages, I'll put 'em up.

The latest network and GSN numbers are in the sidebar. Our little game show network hit a rough patch on the Fourth of July (too many cookouts and fireworks) and on the Fifth of July (too much Casey Anthony). But things seemed to have gotten back to normal.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Worth it?

The media whirligig continues for It's Worth What, due on NBC July 19. In the linked video, host Cedric (the Entertainer) Kyles offers some interesting comments about running a game show. It's not a standup routine where you can just get as wild and crazy as you want. On a game show there are rules, and the host has to keep the game on something near the straight and narrow.

Pricing games have never been my fave, but this show at least offers a really slick set. Lots of goodies nestle here and there in what looks like a very high-rent garage sale. The contestants in the video seem a little excitable, but that's what contestants are selected for.

I'll definitely give the show a look, if only to see that chair which Queen Elizabeth did something in. Cedric is a little coy on the activity involved. Royal shenanigans? And an earlier story mentioned a tiger in a cage. Growl.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gunfire is so real

Repo Games showrunner SallyAnn Salsano is talking up the return of the game show to Spike TV tomorrow. As noted in a faux tweet one of the episodes will include the shooting incident where fortunately nobody was hurt.

Salsano expresses no regret to about the gunplay, as you might expect from the exec producer of Jersey Shore. SallyAnn sounds quite chipper about the little unpleasantness, in fact:
We've never had a situation quite like this one, but obviously we take precautions. That being said, it is a dice throw. But we are really well prepared and ready to go. See the people are upset -- but a lot of the people are excited. Ninety-nine percent of people in this situation have a "story" about why their car shouldn't be repossessed. And that's part of the fun -- hearing the stories they're concocting as to why. Win or lose, when we leave the house every single person is happy we came.
Well, at least one person wasn't completely overjoyed, especially after he was taken into custody.

Believe it or not, Repo Games is not as bad as Salsano makes it sound. The questions are really easy, so the contestants have a decent chance to keep their car from getting repossessed. But I still feel a little queasy about making a game show out of people (possibly) losing their automobiles. I'm just an old fuddy-duddy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Primeval Lingo

A few comments on the GSN Schedule board insist on how good the original 1987 Lingo was. This is just the usual older-is-better chatter you see so often on Internet game show boards. The original version did introduce the basic gameplay, which was and remains rock-solid. But otherwise the format left a lot to be desired.

Michael Reagan was a competent host at best, and co-host Dusty Martell was way too loud and big-haired. (Okay, it was the eighties.) The bonus round lasted forever and the show generally moved like molasses. No wonder Lingo died after a single season. Not to mention that the show went bust and stiffed some contestants of their winnings.

But you don't have to take my word for it. Sample an episode yourself. The ep definitely shows promise, but it would take a lot of format tweaks before Lingo went on to bigger and better things.

By the way, on the latest published day July 3, Bill Engvall's Lingo took four of the top ten slots in GSN's ratings, including number one. And the contestants didn't get stiffed, either. To show what a blowout week it was for Engvall, Lingo took eighteen daily top tens in the latest ratings period June 27-July 3. Richard Karn's Family Feud was second with sixteen. Though Karn did get two number ones compared to Engvall's one.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Somehow the GSN Schedule board wandered into a discussion of rigged game shows from the 1950s. My contribution to the edifying subject...

Other poster: While we are dreaming, it would be amazing if we could see the old $64,000 Question. I don't know if they even recorded those.

Another poster: I doubt GSN would ever show it, but there are several videos of the show on YouTube. I just searched "$64,000 Question" and they came up.

The videos are funny and kind of creepy at the same time. Knowing that the game was rigged from top to bottom makes the viewing experience...let's say, a little strange.

Some rigged Twenty One videos are also available at YouTube. I used a screenshot of Charles Van Doren from one of the videos in a blog post about the Our Little Genius rumpus.

And needless to say but I'll say it anyway, GSN would never run a game show which was known to be rigged. Even when they've shown pilots of shows, they've hit the tapes with disclaimers about possible "arrangement" of some gameplay. I hate to think how many disclaimers would get slapped onto $64,000 Question or Twenty One.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Metaphor alert

I'm going bilingual here, which may not be a good idea. That's the logo for the Bank of Moscow, which is getting bailed out by Russia's central bank. And you thought bailouts only came from Washington.

And you may be asking what the hey the bailout has to do with game shows. Well, as the linked story notes, Bank of Moscow is a main sponsor of Russia's long-running game show, What? Where? When? ABC looked at a version of the show for American consumption, but it seems to have died in development hell.

The story kicks off with a lame reference to the bank's bondholders asking the same questions as the game show. I've seen this before, as I've posted in the faux tweets. Lately, too many items from political, legal and financial pundits have lumbered through such game show comparisons. A presidential debate, a murder trial, a bank bailout, everything seems fair game for the Great Game Show Metaphor.

Writers are trying to sound folksy, I guess. Game shows are such low-rent, aw-shucks programming that writers figure some arcane subject will sound friendlier if they can smuggle in a comparison to Family Feud or Wheel of Fortune. And to tell the truth - no pun intended - maybe the wheel has landed on bankrupt for that bank in Moscow.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tale of two contestants

The Google news cache coughs up this rather routine contestant story about Paul Wampler. He's a software designer who racked up $74,002 (don't forget the two bucks!) on Jeopardy. Well, after the tax man turned up, it was about $45,000. Still a nice haul.

Paul sounds like a sensible sort who won't squander the loot. His toughest question on the show concerned Peyton Manning. I'm not much of a football fan myself, so I might have been stumped, too. Paul read Ken Jennings' book Braniac and actually corresponded with the 74-episode champ.

The news cache also offers a cautionary tale about the know-it-all gadget which defeated Jennings. Yep, Watson is back in the news - did it ever leave? - as a possible...I'm not kidding...telemarketer. Yikes, what a comedown! Last I heard Watson was going to revolutionize medicine. Now it's just going to peddle cosmetics, or whatever else telemarketers telemarket.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Syndies smile sweetly

TV audiences are supposed to decline in summer, but syndicated game shows bucked the trend in the week ending June 26. Even Pat and friend are smiling about the ratings. Broadcasting & Cable spreads the good counter-seasonal news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.2 - up three ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - does the soulmate one better, up four ticks
Family Feud 2.6 - up a tick to season high
Millionaire 2.3 - up a tick
5th Grader 1.1 - flat as the daylight fades
Lyrics 0.9 - up a tick as night gently falls (getting poetic, ain't I?)

When TV by the Numbers puts up yada-yada, I'll post the numbers yada-yada. They've been talking about getting the viewership averages up tomorrow, but we'll see.

The averages have arrived: Wheel of Fortune 9.8 million (weekend repeat 4.1 million), Jeopardy 8.5 million, Family Feud 4.0 million. Steve Harvey is climbing up the list, so good for him.

Broadcast game show ratings for the current week are in the sidebar. The numbers generally look decent, though not gigantic.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

GSN number-palooza normal?

Been a while since I did a detailed entry on GSN viewer numbers. Meanwhile Douglas has been busy posting every day.

So I decided to stop being lazy and take a look at a day's worth of stats. Let's review the latest published day, Tuesday June 28.

1) It's back to the future or forward to the past. The day's prime time/total day viewership averages of 364K/257K looked more like first quarter numbers. That was before Improv-a-Ganza and Love Triangle bollixed things up. Ejecting Drew and Wendy from prime time has done wonders, or at least helped some.

2) The top ten were the usual suspects: O'Hurley, Sherri, Jerry, Engvall, Karn. Catch 21 and my long-lost fave Chain Reaction also put in appearances.

3) Drew still hurt late night. The double run at 11:30PM is probably not long for this world's schedule.

4) Engvall Lingo's ridiculous rerun schedule is beyond a joke even by GSN standards, but the show somehow withstood it. Four of the absurd six runs pulled 300K+, and the prime time average certainly benefited.

5) Chuck didn't perform well in the noon hour, but this was an exception to recent trends. In fact, the entire pre-2:00PM schedule looked pretty peaked for some reason. But the network made hay from 2:00PM to 11:30PM with a 336K average for the nine-and-a-half hour window.

6) Best pre-1990 show was Card Sharks at 10:00 AM with 229K. But this fell below recent morning standards.

UPDATE: Couple of funny tweets from BuzzerBlog's Alex Davis, considering the Tuesday numbers...

GSN ratings post-Improv-A-Ganza came out. Lingo isn't doing much better. Week-to-date ratings are just 52K viewers better.

Can the fanboys finally admit that the new version is doing poorly (no fault to Bill Engvall who does fine).

Well, check these numbers...
Tue June 28 8:30 GSN Lingo (Engvall) 356
Tue June 21 8:30 GSN Drew Carey's Improv-a-Ganza 114

Now to give Alex his due, I don't expect Lingo to more than triple Drew's numbers every day. But something had to be done about Improv-a-Ganza destroying the prime time averages. In the June 20-24 week Drew dropped, on average, 35% of Lingo's lead-in at 8:30PM. On a couple days he dropped more than half the lead-in. Of course, this also contributed to Wendy's disaster at 9:00PM.

ONE MORE UPDATE: Engvall copped four of the top ten slots on Wednesday June 29. Yep, Alex, the show is doing awful. In a way, I'm conflicted. I like the new Lingo so I'm happy it's performing so well. But I hate to see GSN rewarded for such obnoxious abuse of a 40-ep run.

Meanwhile, Improv-a-Ganza continues to destroy late night. That 11:30PM double run must go and will go.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dobie, dobie-doo

Now that I've defended the new (see below) I'll recall a little of the old on a slow holiday weekend. Happened to catch a couple Match Game episodes today with Dwayne Hickman of Dobie Gillis fame. For you young'uns out there, Dobie Gillis was a 1959-63 sitcom that anticipated some of today's dramedy efforts.

Dobie was a bemused teenager who, in Wikipedia's words, "aspired to have popularity, money, and the attention of beautiful and unattainable girls." Of course, these dreams were usually frustrated, and Dobie shared his grief with beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, played by real-life beatnik (right down to the drug busts) Bob Denver.

Hickman wasn't the best guest player on Match Game, but he managed a good line now and then. On one of today's eps he fired off "learner's permit" for something you wouldn't want to see in an airline pilot's pocket. After Dobie folded, Hickman's acting career stagnated. He eventually moved behind the camera as a director and a CBS programming exec.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In defense of the new

One feature of the GSN Internet boards gets, uh, really old. It's the constant complaining that old game shows are always better than, or more moral than, or classier than, or somehow just more swell than new game shows.

I've mostly given up on this stuff. Figure it's just background noise. And if it stays on the GSN Classics board, it's sort of okay. But sometimes the noise gets too loud. And when a whining thread hit the GSN Schedule board - titled "Sick of being treated like a dumb, horny seventh grader with a short attention span" - I finally had enough...

Other poster: What is GSN giving us now? Games that celebrate being stupid and juvenile and that treat the audience like idiots who need constant revving up and penis jokes in order to be entertained. Lingo used to be a good show. I keep trying to give the new Lingo a try, but nearly every puzzle is designed with seventh grade humor about penises and boobies and references to bodily functions.

I like the new Lingo, Baggage and Sherri's Newlywed Game. If that makes me a a dumb, horny seventh grader with a short attention span, so be it. Queen Victoria croaked a while back.

Of course, the content on GSN is very mild. No violence, no sex scenes, just a little risque talk. I'm not getting my knickers in a twist over it. One thing, though. If a few mildly off-color jokes on Lingo give you the vapors, please avoid Game of Thrones. You will faint dead away.

There was plenty of risque humor on Match Game. But I guess that show gets grandfathered in. Older is better, older is better, older is better.

Another poster: I would rather see GAME shows on here. Not LOVE shows. Was GSN so desperate for ratings when Newlywed Game, Baggage and Love Triangle came on?

Newlywed Game and Baggage ain't game shows? Then neither were the old Dating Game and Eubanks Newlywed Game.

Eubanks' old show is another risque effort that gets grandfathered in. In fact, this thread has nothing to do with a little slightly off-color humor. It's just the usual older-is-better stuff these boards specialize in.

If you don't like modern-day TV, fine, go watch old stuff. But please stop implying that anybody who enjoys more recent shows is a braindead horny seventh-grader. That's just goofy.

I'm as much of a classics fan as anybody else around here. I watch the old shows, blog about them, enjoy them. But I don't think people are oversexed cretins just because they like, say, Engvall Lingo. Which happens to be a terrific game show with great play-along value, a competent and funny host, and an often suspenseful and competitive format.

No wonder it was number one with GSN's audience on the most recent published day.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sentimental journey

Nice to know I'm not alone in my trips through YouTube for ancient game shows. This columnist also reminisces about the clips waiting for sentimental journeyers. Only he has a personal link. He was in the studio audience as a nine-year-old for Charles Boyer's mystery guest appearance on What's My Line in March, 1957.

That would make the columnist a couple years older than me. With the big Six-O bearing down on me this year, the journeys to the past keep getting more sentimental. There's an obvious reason for this but I try not to think about it too much. If I make it to my parents' average, I still have a quarter-century left to rummage though YouTube, anyway.

I wasn't ever in the studio audience for a game show. But as a real little kid I did make a trip to Cincinnati's WLWT studios for a live broadcast of Midwestern Hayride, a country-western music show. Like everybody else, I was amazed at how little the studio seemed compared to the grand vista on TV.

The entry below mentions Rod Serling, who worked on Midwestern Hayride as a writer before his Twilight Zone fame. Funny how things go around and come around, even on a little game show blog.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Unrequited love

Most game show fans have a neglected favorite, a particular show they love but which never seems to get enough respect. The Rodney Dengerfield show, you might call it. Mine is GSN's remake of Chain Reaction, and I've blogged about it before.

In fact, I've made myself a bore on the GSN boards about the show, constantly begging the network to tape some more episodes. Even after barbaric rerun abuse Chain Reaction delivers good numbers for GSN. It's dirt-cheap, entertaining, popular...oh, I'm making myself a bore again.

So far GSN has left my love for the show unrequited with a new season. But I was happy to see a couple recent news items that mentioned Chain Reaction. This story from a Maryland news site profiles Jeff Amoros, a successful Jeopardy contestant who also won $7,500 on Chain Reaction. That's good money by GSN standards, and it shows that a contestant can succeed at both my favorite types of game shows, quizzers and word games.

The other item is an offbeat Movieline story about five actors who might play Twilight Zone's Rod Serling in the upcoming biopic. Number five on their list is, you guessed it, Dylan Lane. The story identifies him as the host of "Game Show Network’s fine, canceled revamp of the ’80s game Chain Reaction."

Yes, sadly the show was canceled. But it's still mighty fine.