Monday, April 30, 2012

People will talk

A new link has shown up in the blogroll, the nicely named Slow Boat to the Land of Parting Gifts.

Greg Palmer, a North Carolina State student and fervent game show fan, interviews various folks in the business. Right now he's getting some buzz for an interview with Roger Dobkowitz, longtime producer on The Price is Right and other shows.

Roger dishes dirt on Gene Rayburn, who apparently had a rocky relationship with the Dob. As you might expect, that has set off some chatter on the game show Internets.

But Greg's blog offers a lot of other interviews as well. I like the chat with Todd Newton, for instance, especially when Todd challenges Greg's opinion that Whammy was a failure. After all, Whammy's still on TV, albeit in reruns.

Hope you enjoy the interviews, even if the blog is overloaded with videos. My browser has a little trouble with the site. But the difficulties are minor, and it's fun to read the comments from people who try to make a living in our little genre.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sympathy for Carrie

By now you may have figured out that I'm not the most popular guy with some posters on the GSN board. My loudest detractor sums up the case against me, but also takes a swipe at somebody else...

Other poster: You know you're wrong, so you have to run to your little blog and take cover. If it wasn't for the fact that you post the PDF's before Alex does, I don't think many would visit that blog of yours. All it is is you taking potshots at us, The Game Show Forum, and Buzzerblog. Seriously don't know why Carrie over at likes your blog.

Just to pick up on this item, because I want to defend Carrie Grosvenor (not that she needs defending).

First, it's, not Carrie runs a very good game show blog at the site. She also runs "Reader's Choice" awards for game shows. Both years that she's run the competition, my blog has been nominated as one of the five finalists in the best game show fansite category. The excellent Game Show Newsnet won the category both years, by the way, as the site notes with understandable pride at the top of their web page. My site lost badly both years, which will make some folks happy (wink).

But Carrie is not showing any unfair favoritism to my site with those nominations as a finalist. The nominations are decided by the votes of her readers. My site just happened to land in the top five each year. Carrie has told me that some people in the game show business seem to like my site. Some e-mails I've gotten support that idea. But Carrie doesn't pick the nominees. Her readers do. I'm very grateful that they've made my site a finalist both years.

Anyway, now you know the rest of that story.

GSN ratings chatter

GSN recently sent out a press release with some (selected) good ratings news. Conversation ensues on the GSN board...

Other poster: GSN has released official numbers on some of their ratings on their corporate page. The press release states that the $25,000 Pyramid hour on Saturday, honoring Dick Clark saw ratings up 32% from regular episodes that air now. On Sunday, April 22, Harvey Feud at 5:30pm received 587,000 viewers, and 5th Grader later that night at 8pm received 742,000 viewers, a 6-year network high.

Sooner or later we'll see the entire week of April 16-22 from Douglas Pucci. Frankly, the press release tells us nothing we didn't already know. Jeff Foxworthy and Steve Harvey are the stars of the network. Well, duh. And I'm not sure but I think Behind the Blank, the Match Game documentary, might have gotten the big number back in 2006. I vaguely remember a press release about it. (Well, now I'm not so sure. Behind the Blank ran on GSN less than six years ago.)

Another poster: The last two things to get over 700K+ viewers on GSN were Behind The Blank and The Tonya Harding Anything to Win.

Wrong. The first Bob Eubanks ep of GSN's Newlywed Game on January 7, 2010 got 718K viewers. That was the last published 700K+ number on the network. Baggage and Family Feud occasionally came close in subsequent published weeks. Baggage got 690K on November 17, 2010, for instance.

But a lot of weeks went unpublished since January, 2010. So there may have been later 700K+ numbers we don't know about. Maybe the most remarkable recent ratings performance was a regular episode of Wheel of Fortune which somehow pulled 672K viewers at 2:00PM in the afternoon on Black Friday, November 26, 2010. That's a little better than GSN usually does at 2:00PM (wink).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Last rites

Don't want to beat a decomposed horse. But just to wrap up the thread on the GSN board about my various crimes and misdemeanors against classic game shows...

The more strident posters have accused me of cowardice, obnoxiousness and "knowing that I'm wrong" about the tendencies of the GSN board when it comes to pre-1990 game shows. The less strident posters have agreed with the indictment of yours truly but said we should let just the subject rest. Which I'm certainly happy to do on the board itself.

But this is my blog, and here I can write what I want. And I honestly don't understand how anybody can deny the truth of what I said in my original post on Harvey Feud. If GSN suddenly leased hundreds of new episodes (in terms of recent network use) of pre-1990 shows and gave them many more timeslots on the schedule, the GSN board would go bonkers with joy.

I'm not saying that's terrible, or even very noteworthy. It's just a fact, given the preponderance of classics fans on the board. It's exactly what did happen when GSN recently leased hundreds of new eps of Super Password and Password Plus and gave them twenty slots per week.

When other posters on the board haven't merely dismissed me as stupid or wrong, they've argued that sometimes the GSN board has been generally happy about the network leasing newer shows. Or that the board has often complained about GSN's overuse of the same seasons of older shows.

Well, fine. But none of that contradicts my argument: the GSN board would be overjoyed to see hundreds of new eps of classic shows get much more exposure on the network. Which is all I said in my original post, and which is almost trivially true. And with that obvious truth, I'll pronounce last rites on the subject even here on the blog.

Wheel rolls on

When Wheel of Fortune taped some episodes recently in Oregon, Pat and Vanna both sat down for interviews with local affiliate KDRV in Medford.

Mr. Sajak's effort included a denial that he's considering retirement any time soon. There's been a little chatter around the game show Internets about Pat possibly packing it in. But he sure didn't sound ready to go gentle into that good game show night. In fact, he enthused about the job which leaves him the self-proclaimed least busy man in show business.

Vanna said that the real work lies in the preparation for the show, not the actual letter-touching duties. She also talked about her clothes a lot. We're up to 5,400 gowns on Wheel and counting. She wore "eco-friendly green" dresses during the Oregon tapings. No, that doesn't mean the dresses were all dyed green. They're biodegradable or something.

Vanna did offer the secret to her successful partnership with Pat. They don't work together every day, or anything close to every day. After all these years, that probably does help.

Friday, April 27, 2012

It gets old

Crossposted my recent entry about Steve Harvey's new GSN timeslots to the network's Internet board. Man, I should have known better. Cries and whimpers ensued about what I thought was a throwaway line in the post.

Some folks went ballistic because I said that nobody on the GSN board would complain if pre-1990 shows were getting additional timeslots for new (to recent GSN use) episodes.

As Mr. Jefferson once said, this truth is self-evident. The GSN board is full of older-is-better fans who regularly lobby for more old game shows on the network. They would go into rapture if GSN gave more timeslots to 300 new eps of pre-1990 shows, as the network is doing with its 300 new episodes of Harvey Family Feud.

But apparently, these fans of older game shows don't like anybody pointing out that, well, they're fans of older game shows. One of the cheerier types even told me: "Would you shut up with that." I dunno, maybe the love of old game shows is the love that dares not speak its name. Or it sure doesn't like anybody else speaking its name.

Funny thing, I'm a fan of the old shows myself, and I've blogged about them plenty. A reader even got p.o.ed at me when I mentioned that a planned 24-hour marathon of radio re-creations of game shows didn't include any 1950s black-and-white classics.

It's the life of a blogger. You catch hell from all sides. But it's fun. Really...I think.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Been there, done that

Finally went to Syfy's website for the first episode of Total Blackout.

The idea is simple: a semi-gross Beat the Clock played in pitch darkness. They borrow the trapdoor exit gimmick from Russian Roulette, too. I've always had a weakness for stunt games, so I'm not gonna slam this one too hard. And I was happy the grossness quotient was kept under reasonable control. The worst thing the contestants had to do was stick their hands into a box full of cockroaches. That's almost pleasant compared to Fear Factor.

There are three rounds, with the lowest-scoring contestant literally falling down the hatch after each round. Jaleel White hosts competently at best. His voice has always lacerated my eardrums, but he can't help that. The pace is not breakneck, with lots of taped comments from the contestants used as padding. Prize money is cable-chintzy, five grand to the winner.

By now you may have guessed that Total Blackout offers little that hasn't been seen before on the shows I've already mentioned...except the creepy darkness. And once the darkness gets old, after five minutes or so, the show feels like a complete retread. Total Blackout isn't terrible. It's just the same old stuff.

UPDATE: SyFy likes the ratings in the dark. Total Blackout pulled 1.33 million total viewers and 678K of those 18-49 folks so loved by advertisers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Use it or lose it

GSN just sent me new schedule pdfs for the next couple weeks. Surprise, surprise, Steve Harvey's Family Feud gets another hour every day at 11:00PM.

This set off predictable whines on the GSN board about Harvey Feud getting used too much. If the show dated from before 1990, nary a complaint would be heard on the board. But we'll leave that aside for the moment. What's really strange is that folks apparently think cable networks should refrain from riding their biggest ratings-getters for all they're worth.

What else is GSN or any other cabler supposed to do? When a show starts monopolizing a network's top rating slots, of course the show's gonna get more timeslots. And more timeslots after that.

There's a reason that History runs Pawn Stars ragged. The show happens to be splattered all over the top cable ratings. Nobody should expect GSN to show any more restraint in its use of Harvey Feud.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Syndies: a couple creep up

Not much happened with syndicated game show ratings in the week of April 9-15. A couple of the shows did inch up, as TVNewsCheck reports...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up a couple ticks, Pat and Vanna will take it
Jeopardy 5.5 - flat
Family Feud 2.9 - flat
Millionaire 2.6 - up a tick, inches closer to Feud

TV by the Numbers says all four shows made their top 25 syndie list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.3 million (weekend repeat 4.9 million), Jeopardy 8.6 million, Family Feud 4.2 million, Millionaire 3.5 million. Yeah, the demos skew ancient but the total viewer numbers don't look bad at all.

Meanwhile, Douglas Pucci posted the GSN viewer numbers for the April 9-15 week. More bad news: 273K/212K prime time/total day averages. Jeff Foxworthy and Steve Harvey remain the stars of the network, dominating the top slots.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adventures of a blogger

Got into a long tangle with a reader the other day. If you search far enough back on the blog, you'll find it. The details are unimportant, except that I eventually coughed up fifty bucks for the American Cancer Society.

But enough about my good works, which ain't much, believe me. At one point in the tangle, the reader complained that bloggers hide out behind their monitors and criticize everybody else.

Which is a fair enough complaint. But if you're going to run any kind of halfway interesting blog, you can't be a 24/7 Pollyanna. That gets old fast and boring faster. You have to mix in a little vinegar to keep the salad tasty. (Far-fetched food analogy, I know.)

But all's well that ends well. A good cause got fifty bucks and the blog survived another day. I'll resume my usual bitchiness tomorrow.

UPDATE: In other blog news I've added Hollywood Junket to the blogroll. The site does a fine job covering game show development.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Biblical proportions

A faux tweet noted GSN's "coming this fall" web page for its new Bible-based quizzer, American Bible Challenge. Some chatter ensues on the GSN board...

Other poster: GSN is already promoting the show, even though a premiere date is not set up yet.

Guess they liked the pilot. I put a faux tweet on the blog about the web page.

Other poster: Well, I'm guessing there will be five one hour pilots. For GSN's sake, I would air them Monday-Friday at 8pm.

I doubt they did five pilots. One is the usual norm, to see how the show runs. If they like the pilot, they don't waste time shooting more of them. They just go into regular episode production. Now if they don't like the pilot, the show can get stuck in development hell forever. Which wouldn't be a nice place for a Bible show.

By the way, if you want to read the Hollywood Junket account of the pilot taping, try this link. There were three teams of three contestants, from various religious groups. Of course, Jeff Foxworthy hosted. The gameplay description...[several rounds of Bible questions, with a genuine pastor as the judge.]

Another poster: This game show sounds like an interesting one. I'll try it out. Sounds like a decent show finally.

My only issue is the extremely specialized nature of the quizzer. Will people who don't have much interest in religion or the Bible bother with the show? Oh well, it may be a good fit for GSN's audience.

UPDATE: Now GSN says the show is "coming this summer." Guess they really liked the pilot.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A couple of big stories

Two game show news items have furnished the last two blog entries. I comment a little more about both on the GSN board...

Other poster: GSN will be airing an hour of Donny Osmond Pyramid [Saturday 4/21] at 1PM where Dick Clark is the celebrity guest.

I've posted the new pdf schedule at the blog. The Donnymid episode numbers are 1097 and 1095, and the other celebs are Betty White and Coolio.

Another poster: They've had these episodes the whole time and have never showed them even once?

I'm pretty sure that GSN has shown the Dick Clark eps of Donnymid. Hey, you can watch Dick Clark and Betty White on Donnymid any time you want on YouTube.

Another poster: Discovery cancelling Cash Cab was a poor decision. It's like FOX cancelling American Idol.

If Cash Cab got anything remotely resembling American Idol's ratings, it would still be running and it would be all over prime time on Discovery. The show was never a big ratings hit. As Josef Adalian delicately puts it: "Because it usually aired outside of prime time, Discovery never made a big deal out of the show's Nielsen ratings, but TV insiders clearly loved it."

I liked it, too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wave bye-bye to the taxi

As a faux tweet sadly noted, Cash Cab has picked up its last fare. Discovery has sent the only cab which pays you to the Nielsen chop shop.

Should have suspected the worst when Cash Cab Chicago, employing another cabbie instead of the rubber-faced Ben Bailey, flopped with a thump. Even the New York original was never a huge hit. It only developed the ominous "cult following", which is code for so-so (or worse) ratings. The show also developed a couple of well-deserved Daytime Emmys for Ben the comical cabdriver.

Cash Cab was notoriously cheap. A couple thousand bucks was big money for the game. Many contestants went home (or actually into the streets) with nothing at all except that famous cab their ten minutes on TV. The questions also tended to get a little hoity-toity, as you might expect from the occasionally pretentious Discovery. Lots of academic stuff.

But I still couldn’t resist the wisecracking Ben and the sometimes grimy NYC street scenery. The contestants usually seemed to have a good time, even when ejected into the unforgiving highways and by-ways. And I always cheered when contestants went for the double or nothing at the end of the journey.

Take the risk, folks. You still got a free cab ride, after all.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fluffmeister and proud of it

By now a zillion words have splattered on the web about Dick Clark's death at 82 from a heart attack. I don't have much to add, beyond the obvious fact that the guy was really, really good at what he did.

You may not think that what he did was very important, and you may be right. Clark himself had no illusions. He commented about one of his productions: "There's no redeeming cultural value whatsoever to Bloopers, but it's been on for 20 years. It's a piece of fluff. I’ve been a fluffmeister for a long time."

His game show resume, of course, begins with Pyramid, one of the genre's classics by any standard. It's almost intimidating to watch him on the show because he was so flawless. Even when he screwed up, he recovered brilliantly. Sometimes I thought he intentionally screwed up once in a while just to make himself look a little more human.

Clark was a terrific businessman as well, as most everybody has noted. He made no bones about his liking for the finer things in life, and he was very good at getting them. In his later years he battled back courageously after a crippling stroke and earned some grudging respect from even his harshest detractors. R.I.P.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sort of powerful

My ambivalence about Jeopardy tournaments is on record. Except for the Tournament of Champions, I'm not crazy about the stunts.

So it's with some trepidation that I blog about the "Power Players" week taping this Saturday in Washington, D.C. for May 14-18. If you're expecting Obama and Romney, you'll be disappointed. The powerful contestants are mostly the same media folks you've been watching for years, like the pictured Chris Wallace. Nothing wrong with media folks, of course. Some of my best friends are...well, actually that's not true.

Anyway, the full list: CNN's Anderson Cooper, former L.A. Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Fox News' Chris Wallace, comedian Lewis Black, CNBC's David Faber, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman, former White House press secretaries Robert Gibbs and Dana Perino, BBC's Katty Kay, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell and Chuck Todd, CNN's Lizzie O'Leary, Dr. Mehmet Oz and the Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page.

Lewis Black, Dr. Oz and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? They may be power some alternative power universe. If you want the real Washington power types, you can check C-SPAN.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Syndies: big two decline

The big two among syndicated game shows found little joy in the latest week. TVNewsCheck offers the less than thrilling news for the week of April 2-8...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - also down a couple ticks in sympathy with the soulmate
Family Feud 2.9 - flat
Millionaire 2.5 - flat

TV by the Numbers says all four shows made their top 25 syndie list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.9 million, Jeopardy 8.6 million, Family Feud 4.0 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. At least Meredith's numbers are looking a little better in recent weeks.

Monday, April 16, 2012


At BuzzerBlog Alex Davis waxes nostalgic about Whammy, GSN's remake of the 1980s Press Your Luck. I'm frankly not a big fan of either show. As Alex concedes, the format is just pushing a button at random.

But many game show fans on the Internet would never consider Whammy a worthy successor to Press Your Luck. Older-is-better runs deep on game show Net boards, and Whammy is a mere whippersnapper at ten years old. Maybe by 2030 the show will get some respect around the boards.

This tendency plays into the silliness lately heard about Steve Harvey's supposedly naughty Family Feud. Game show fans haven't suddenly turned super-prudish about a show with no sex or violence at all. It's just that Harvey Feud hasn't been around for very long. So it can't possibly be as good as the time-dusted Dawson and Combs versions. The older-is-better folks have to find something on Harvey's show to complain about.

Of course, in every era they've made some good game shows, some bad shows, some fair-to-middling shows. Older is not necessarily better or worse. It's just...older. Sorry to state such a thuddingly obvious fact, but on the game show Internets the reminder is necessary.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This and that about Family Feud

Another lazy Sunday, so I'll crosspost some of my chitchat from the GSN board. Steve Harvey, Richard Karn, Richard Dawson. It's a Family Feud thing...

Other poster: When you look at GSN's historical numbers, Harvey Feud in its debut two weeks didn't do as fantastic as the premiere of other shows. Obviously, originals like The Newlywed Game and Baggage both attract 500K+ viewership every night a little while ago, then when Karn/O'Hurley, Deal or No Deal and 5th Grader were new they were both getting higher ratings then Harvey. At least the show isn't bombing on GSN, but the "sex sells" mentality will continue on the network.

It's the cancellation bear idea from TV by the Numbers. When you and another guy are running from a hungry bear, you don't have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the other guy. As long as Harvey Feud outruns the other shows on GSN, it will take over the network, regardless of the absolute levels of its ratings. And Harvey's top showings in the latest week got over 400K viewers, anyway, which is just fine by any standard on GSN.

Another poster: Karn has them [detractors] because he was a sucky host.

I think Karn was an excellent host on Feud. Friendly, unpretentious, likable, much wittier than he'll ever get credit for around here. A lot of folks agree with me. That's why his version of Feud continues to get some of GSN's best numbers after years of grinding abuse (five of the network's top twenty slots in the latest week, for instance). Too bad his version doesn't date from before 1990. He'd get a lot more respect on these boards.

Yet another poster: If somebody really wants to hear why I don't like Richard Dawson, I will gladly explain.

Dawson's Everest-sized ego was always in evidence. But at the top of his form he had plenty to be egotistical about, because he was a superb host, IMO. He could improvise with the best of them, he interacted very well with contestants, and he effortlessly weaved through gameplay technicalities.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More fainting over Steve

Funniest thing on the GSN board in a while is the rumpus over the evil Steve Harvey and his corruption of America's youth. I put in my own "change for a ten"...

Gee, I guess we're gonna have to ban the "prostitution" episode of Dawson Feud, when Richard asked everybody if they had change for a ten. (A YouTube moment, by the way.) This Legion of Decency crusade against Harvey Feud is getting downright funny.

Legion of Decency crusader: Did Dawson ever go around saying "Man Berries"...Even someone as close minded as you can't say that those aren't pushing the envelope on a Family oriented Game Show. If you had kids, would you want them to be hearing these kinds of answers?

Another, more rational poster: True, but Richard went for the joke, and it was a reference to the act of prostitution. I'm not saying what happened on this recent episode is any better, but Dawson shouldn't be let off the hook just because it's "classic" Family Feud or because he's the almighty Richard Dawson.

You're right, of course, but that's exactly why the Dawson incident is gladly accepted on this board, while the Harvey incident is just so shocking (har-dee-har-har).

The rational poster again: Considering the fact that ratings for the show keep going up, I don't think that many people are getting up in arms about what is being said.

Oh, it's just a tiny number of posters on Internet boards. Family Feud's audience doesn't mind at all. Exactly the opposite, in fact. Harvey has attracted many more viewers to the show. That's why he earned a renewal through 2015.

Even the TV raters give Harvey a TV-PG rating, same as Karn and O'Hurley. Not to mention that GSN's viewers have almost immediately made Harvey Feud the most popular show on the network, with six of the top ten slots in the latest week.

By the way, the term "man berries" did make me faint dead away. But I somehow revived. As for my kids, believe me, they saw and heard a lot more explicit stuff in their school sex-ed classes. Maybe we should ban those suckers. They've got pictures of the man berries!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mother country

I’ve often tweaked BuzzerBlog’s Alex Davis for his “British are better than us” devotion to game shows from across the pond. Alex doesn’t use that tag line so often any more. Maybe he got tired of the jabs from me and others. But his fondness for Brit game shows burns on brightly, as anybody can see from BuzzerBlog’s frequent entries on them.

My grumpy old self is neither an automatic admirer nor detractor of the Mother Country’s products. When the Brits come up with a terrific format like Millionaire, well, congrats to the Queen’s sometimes restive subjects. But they make their share of stinkers, too, along with a bunch of so-so efforts.

What bugs this unreconstructed Yank is the reflexive belief that Brit game shows must somehow be better or classier or just generally more swell than our feeble endeavors in the colonies. The idolization of The Cube really gets my goat. I’ve seen a fair amount of the show on YouTube, and it’s an okay ripoff of Beat the Clock.

But lordy be, the show takes itself so flipping seriously. Not to mention a glacial pace that makes most tortoises look like the Roadrunner in an all-out beep-beep scamper. Minute To Win It got dumped on as an inferior substitute for the august British production, but I liked the less pretentious doings of Fieri and company.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The amateur

Yesterday I got a very nice e-mail invitation from an MTV staffer to interview Jon Gabrus, host of their game show The Substitute. I politely declined. At least, I hope I was polite. Nothing against the show, which is relatively intellectual by MTV’s flexible standards. I did post a faux tweet about The Substitute’s second season.

The reason I gave for my refusal is that I’m busy enough with my day job, which is true. This blog is a very minor (and strictly non-paying) sideline, and I don’t want to make it into a time sink. But my more genuine reason was to keep my amateur, outsider status.

What if Mr. Gabrus started telling me, let’s say, interesting things about his producers or MTV execs? Not that he would ever do something like that, of course. But I don’t want even the remotest possibility of getting drawn into insider stuff. Receiving press releases and GSN schedules in my e-mail is about as far as I want to dip my toe into the actual game show world.

I’m just a fan. And a hopeless amateur. So while I certainly appreciate the news items in my inbox, I’ll pass on interviews and such. Besides, I want to maintain my independence, so I can make rude comments about MTV’s intellectual standards. As I just did in this entry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Syndies: Jeopardy steps up

TVNewsCheck says Jeopardy moved up nicely in the week of March 26-April 1. Otherwise, the news for syndicated game shows was more muted. The household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.7 - up four ticks, take that, Pat and Vanna
Family Feud 2.9 - flat
Millionaire 2.5 - up a tick

TV by the Numbers lists all four shows in their top 25 parade. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.4 million, Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 4.1 million, Millionaire 3.4 million. Not a bad week as we head into warmer weather.

Douglas Pucci has put up another set of GSN viewer numbers, for the week of April 2-8. It was another forgettable week with 257K/208K prime time/total day averages. The network has found a winner with Steve Harvey's Family Feud, though. He's all over GSN's top shows.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Not so respectable

The recent death of Mike Wallace got obituary writers to mention his long-forgotten career as a game show host and player. This story reflected the general tenor of the comments on his game show life. Wallace "clawed his way up" from a career in game shows to nobler things, like annoying people on 60 Minutes.

In fact, I like how the obit writers dumped on Wallace's game show appearances. It reassured me that the genre hasn't gone respectable. That Peabody Award for Jeopardy worried me a little, as I blogged a while back.

Game shows are nothing if they're not downscale and unpretentious. They're just people playing silly little games for some cash or prizes. Sometimes the cash gets pretty big, but the games aren't any less silly. Nobody will mistake these shows for high culture or most any culture.

Culture? We don't need no stinkin' culture on game shows. Even if John Daly used to wear a tux on What's My Line, which always bugged me a little.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


A thread on the GSN board considers the unthinkable: what will eventually replace The Price is Right? Sooner or later, the show will head for Nielsen boot hill, right?

Of course, one response defiantly proclaims that the show "will never die." Well, sorry, but at some distant time it will die. Everything does, including the Sun and the Moon and the stars.

Most folks on the thread think that CBS would just turn the hour back to its affiliates, or expand its morning news show still further. Although I'm not a particular fan of the show, I have to admit that the idea of TPiR just...not existing is kinda weird. Almost like TV itself suddenly packing it in. "That's all, folks, no more television."

After all, as ancient as I'm getting, The Price is Right predates my earliest memories. Seems a little silly that a show based on guessing prices could last, in one version or the other, for a half-century now. But then again, a show based on guessing people's jobs lasted a quarter-century.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Those pesky GSN numbers

If it's Saturday morning, it must be time to chew over GSN's latest numbers. The week of March 25-April 1 was an April Fools joke for GSN, as I comment on the network's Internet board...

Really bad week with 257K/206K prime time/total day averages. Harvey Feud didn't even do as well as I guessed. Not one episode got into the 400Ks. But only one show on the whole network got one ep into the 400Ks, and just barely at that.

Other poster: I had a feeling that Harvey Feud was going to do well. It falls in line with what the GSN populace has been watching. New classics.

"New classics?" I guess they're newer than the old classics. Anyhoo, NewNeko will faint over this, but I agree with him! GSN should acquire very recent eps of successful game shows. Trouble is, even Harvey Feud didn't get blowout numbers. It certainly performed well by GSN standards, but not spectacularly. Still, recent game shows look to be the way to go. Now tell that to the folks planning the reality slate.

UPDATE: As noted in a faux tweet and the pdf schedules, GSN will dump Dancing With the Stars effective the April 16-22 week. That should improve the total viewer numbers, anyway. The schedule will now be all traditional "shiny floor" game shows, despite the upfront presentation of a bunch of reality shows in development.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Risk aversion

Happened to watch an episode of 5th Grader yesterday on GSN. The contestant, a professional poker player of all people, carefully worked his way up to five hundred grand.

The show then gave him the usual option of trying for a million bucks on one more question, or leaving with the half-mill. Missing the question would cost the contestant all but twenty-five grand.

Unlike some of the other money tree shows, 5th Grader at least reveals the subject of the Big Honking Final Question. This time it was "U.S. History," which the poker player said was his favorite subject in school.

But he didn't have the courage to test his favorite, and quit the game with the half-million bucks. Sure enough, when the question itself was revealed, he knew instantly that Alexander Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury.

Utility theory had nailed him. That's fancy talk for a half-mill bird in the hand is worth (in this case literally) two half-mills in the bush.

My business (insurance) is dependent on utility theory to keep folks paying premiums because a major uninsured loss would be too much to bear. And utility theory also keeps contestants from risking money to make more money, even when the odds are favorable...much to the relief of game show accountants.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Somewhere I once commented that a show got a Peabody Award for being so damn boring. You might say I don't have much patience with highfalutin awards like the Peabodys.

So I look in Google News and see that Jeopardy has won, you guessed it, a Peabody. I don't want to sound churlish about Alex and company getting honored. But game shows appeal to me exactly because they're down-and-dirty everyman stuff. If I want pretension, I'll try PBS documentaries.

At least this probably won't start a trend. It's really hard to imagine Baggage or Family Feud getting a Peabody. I doubt the judges care much for embarrassing secrets in suitcases or a hundred people's thoughts on a good fruit for pastries.

Now I don't mind the Daytime Emmys for game shows. After all, the Daytime Emmys are very low-rent awards. Lately, they're getting to be pretty low-viewership awards, too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Syndies go bland

Not much movement either way for syndicated game shows in the week of March 19-25. TVNewsCheck brings the uninspiring news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - down a tick but still leads all syndies in household ratings
Jeopardy 5.3 - down a tick, just like the soulmate
Family Feud 2.9 - up a tick, bucks the trend
Millionaire 2.4 - flat, to round off a blah set of numbers

When TV by the Numbers lists the viewership averages, your helpful blogger will post 'em here. If I had to guess, I doubt Meredith will make their top 25 list.

Guess what. She made the list! The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.7 million, Jeopardy 8.1 million, Family Feud 4.2 million, Millionaire 3.2 million.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guess a number for Steve

At Marc Berman's TV Media Insights, Douglas Pucci runs daily guessing games on ratings for various shows. The game for March 28 included the highest viewer number for Steve Harvey's Family Feud debut on GSN. Which occasioned a comment on the GSN Internet board...

Douglas Pucci ran a daily game on Marc Berman's site to guess the highest total viewer number for Harvey Feud's March 28 debut on GSN (among other ratings). Still unresolved who won it. If I had to guess, I'd say something like 475K.

Other poster: I'll say 350K. That's a substantial jump you are guessing.

The game was for the highest number. I think at least one of the eps will sneak into the 400Ks. So did just about everybody else who guessed. One player picked 514K. Maybe we'll all be wrong.

Meanwhile Douglas has posted the GSN viewer numbers for the week of March 19-25. Weekly averages were 283K/211K prime time/total day. Pretty bad, as usual for the past several weeks.

UPDATE: Everybody was too optimistic. Steve's top episode got 390K. He still was all over the top shows on GSN for the week of March 26-April 1.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Family Game Night folds?

Reposting an item I put on the GSN board about Hub's leading game show...

Don't usually spend much time on Alex Davis' BuzzerBlog Twitter feed - I already know how wonderful Brit game shows are, not to mention ice hockey - but I happened to glance at it today. And I saw this:

Hearing that The Hub will not renew its game show Family Game Night.

Anybody heard anything about this? The Hub said March 1 that Family Game Night had been renewed for this fall's 2012-13 season. Anybody heard about a change of mind?

UPDATE: Another poster on the GSN board questions: Could that be an April Fool's joke?

Alex posted it on March 30. A premature April Fools joke (wink)?

No foolin'

The April Fools joke is that there's no April Fools entry on the blog this year. Unless you think all the entries are pretty foolish. (And you may be right.)

Instead, I've noticed that the blog is climbing towards its thousandth entry. This post is the 953rd to be exact, as actuaries like to be. Kind of hard to believe that I've found nearly a thousand different things about game shows worth a full entry. Not to mention the hundreds of items that have gotten brief notices in the faux tweets.

By and large, game show blogging has been very enjoyable. I'll admit that sometimes the effort to post something or other gets a little annoying. But it's good for me somehow, just like Latin in high school.

The blog does give me a sense of freedom I don't get on Internet boards, where I have to obey the rules and mind the moderators and not get into overly ridiculous fights with other posters. (I can endure the just plain ridiculous fights.) The blog really does feel like my personal little corner of the Internet, where I get to be my own moderator.

So thanks to Google for the free use of their facilities. Even if they're collecting information on me.