Thursday, May 31, 2012

Get real, GSN viewers

A faux tweet reminds us of that reality slate slowly working its slouching way toward GSN.

War of the Rose Sisters got a mention in GSN's upfront presentation. But the show is now apparently on track to the network's schedule. At least they've put out a casting call and scheduled taping in June. The project sounds vaguely like a Pawn Stars ripoff, with a couple of auctioneering sisters in Toledo, Beth and Pamela Rose, bidding on items brought in by civvies. But the sisters are supposedly competitors, hence the "war" between them.

Yeah, the idea sounds lame to me, too. I know, I shouldn't prejudge. But GSN does have a history of making bad hash of reality projects like this.

Meanwhile, the GSN Internet board ties itself in knots because not enough old game shows get onto the schedule. Hey folks, you better worry about any traditional game shows getting GSN air time, regardless of production date. After all, this Rose sister stuff is only the first of the reality projects surfacing from the upfront. There's a lot more where this one came from.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Syndies slip

Syndicated game shows edged down in the ratings for the week of May 14-20. TVNewsCheck delivers the unpleasant news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.6 - down a tick in sympathy with the soulmate
Family Feud 3.0 - down a tick in sympathy with nobody
Millionaire 2.5 - down a tick, a bad week all round

TV by the Numbers gets their top 25 syndie list out in a hurry nowadays, thanks to a couple of new employees. All the game shows made the list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.7 million (weekend repeat 4.4 million), Jeopardy 8.5 million, Family Feud 4.3 million, Millionaire 3.5 million. The numbers still look pretty good compared to some broadcast prime time shows.

TVNewser has posted a cable ranker for the month of May (actually, April 30-May 27 in Nielsen months). GSN averaged 282K/231K viewers prime time/total day for the month and ranked 43rd and 41st in the time periods, respectively. So-so, not terrible, not great by GSN standards.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let's sing a deal

The line between talent contests and game shows, always a little blurry, is about to get pretty near invisible with The Winner Is. This project from John de Mol's Talpa Media USA combines a singing contest and deal making abilities. Simon Cowell meets Monty Hall, you might say.

The format description from the Deadline story:
The contestants will be judged by an in-studio panel led by a celebrity judge. After every singing duel round, each contestant will have the chance to negotiate a deal before hearing their fate. If they have doubts about how they have measured up against their opponent, they can leave the show — in exchange for the instant cash that round is worth. But if they’re confident they performed better than their opponent, they can await the jury results to see if they’ve made it to the next round. The amount of money each duel is worth increases with every round.
That would be an easy choice for me, given my singing non-abilities. Any money offered to me would be gratefully accepted. But I can see how things might get interesting for contestants with higher opinions of their vocal talents. Predictably, the top prize is a million bucks.

I've resisted covering talent contests like American Idol on this site, even though you could argue that they're "game shows" of a sort. They're at least competition shows, and some sites like Game Show Newsnet cover them as if they were those famous "shiny floor" game shows like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. (Now that I think about it, the floors are pretty shiny on those shows.)

This new de Mol format sounds like an attempt to bridge the gap between traditional game shows and straight-up talent contests. We'll see how well it works. NBC plans a run for midseason or next summer.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Runs and reruns

On his board Matt Ottinger makes an interesting point about those pesky reruns: "Since game show reruns were an almost unheard-of concept in the 70s and even 80s, there were probably no provisions for them in the standard contracts the artists signed back then."

Hm, I wonder. An entire network devoted to game show reruns probably was a far-fetched idea in the 1970s, though less so in the 1980s as cable began its rise to prominence. But was the entire idea of ever rerunning a game show considered so wacky?

Sure, lots of game show producers wiped the tapes of old episodes right up into the seventies, which meant they saw no future for the shows in repeats. But Goodson-Todman and a few others kept tapes dating all the way back to the fifties. Somebody must have had an inkling that all this product would one day find another use, or re-use.

Like everybody else, I've whined and whimpered about rerun abuse of old game shows on GSN. The grind really gets annoying with short-run shows like Million Dollar Password. But a show can sometimes still pull acceptable numbers even after horrendous rerun cycles. And niche networks like GSN have to pinch every penny. Maybe I'll just have to reconcile myself to that odd concept of rerunning game shows...and even rerunning them into the ground.

UPDATE: Happened to catch Who Wants to Be a Millionaire today. Sure enough, it was a Memorial Day rerun: Jeremy Blais' quarter-million win from February sweeps. Everything gets rerun in the 500-channel universe.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dumb but not down

It wasn't too hard to guess what Game Show Garbage would select as their latest dumb answer of the week. Poor Zach Barron has already gotten 15 zillion minutes of Internet infamy for his massive brain freeze on Wheel of Fortune. Facing MAG_C _AND in the bonus round, he somehow couldn't spit out "magic wand" in those ten excruciating seconds.

But even Game Show Garbage has a heart for poor Zach: "Those who know my writing style well enough know that I usually am one to rip someone 'a new one' for missing the game show equivalent of a slam dunk. But, for once I actually am going to show a little compassion. I actually feel bad for the kid. He played a pretty good game, and simply had what we call in the amateur medical profession a brain fart."

New York magazine got through to Zach on e-mail, and he's taking it pretty well. "In those embarrassing ten seconds getting passed around the web, I abandoned the logic and composure needed to win." Well, yeah. But it's not like he didn't get anything from the show, as the screenshot reminds us.

I usually don't have much patience with ridiculing game show contestants, anyway. If it was clueless moi up there under the lights, I'd goof as bad as any of 'em, probably. Maybe even worse than Zach.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Challenging topic

The GSN board gets into a discussion of the British network Challenge, more or less the equivalent to GSN across the pond.

The thread wanders onto BuzzerBlog's Alex Davis as well. I chip in some mutterings...

Other poster: I don't know what Challenge's schedule looks like as a whole, so I can't necessarily [comment] per se.

It's easy to find the schedule for Challenge. You can check the upcoming week here. Challenge is hardly an all-game-show network. They even run TNA wrestling, for crying out loud, plus some other shows that would have posters around here howling about "reality crap." Like the show about soccer (or "football" as the Brits say).

That said, the network does carry a game show with Jerry Springer! Plus some Japanese game shows (presumably with overdubbing).

As for British game shows in general, they make some good ones, they make some bad ones, they make some in-between ones. Pretty much the same as us hapless colonials. I think Alex Davis' "the British are better than us" shtick on BuzzerBlog is silly, but I'm biased. Alex doesn't think too highly of me, after all.

One other thing: Alex has made his indifference to older game shows plenty clear on a number of occasions. But he did have a kind word for Match Game once. It's apparently his favorite among the classics.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The critics speak!

Nowadays we don't repair to Sardi's to await reviews from the critics. We just ramble through the web.

The comments on MTV2's Hip Hop Squares have been mostly favorable. In fact, the reviews have occasionally turned downright gushy. You could imagine some of them in blurbs on promos. "A wildly entertaining and extremely breezy half hour of comedy" (Entertainment Weekly). "A great look for the music and the culture" (DrJays). [Hip hop's got culture?] "Equal parts shtick and swagger, with an atmosphere of antics that is nostalgically reminiscent of the timeless original, Hip-Hop Squares doesn't disappoint" (The Root).

Naturally, not everybody was so hip happy with the hip hoppy. Aaron the weekly game show blogger turned two thumbs down: "It was just...bad. It failed to be hip or funny or edgy or whatever, but it also failed to be a Game Show Garbage – worthy disaster. It was just...bad and forgettable." My own review, a couple entries ago, voiced relief that MTV2 hadn't trashed the format. You might call the review lukewarm, or maybe a tad better.

The only reviews that literally count, of course, come from The Nielsen Company. So far they like the show, so who cares about picky little naysayers? Even cutesie-pie Kat Graham, a celeb on the first episode, sounded relieved: "It was really fun. There were artists like Biz Markie and Ghostface Killah and there I was, this pop girl coming in. I didn't know if it would be cool or if they'd be nice to me and steamroll over my answers since I was the only girl. But they were so respectful."

What's the world coming to? Respectful hip hoppers?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Who needs ten million people?

As noted in a faux tweet, Scripps is replacing Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy on some of their TV stations starting this fall. Scripps will use much cheaper homegrown shows, including a proposed game show called Let's Ask America.

This may not seem like the shrewdest move. In fact, it may seem beyond stupid and well into the realm of the braindead. After all, Wheel and Jeopardy regularly attract audiences of eight to twelve million. Other stations will no doubt snap up the properties quickly in the affected markets.

The motive is cost-cutting, of course. The two game show giants have gotten more than a tad expensive, and Scripps wants to save a few pennies. But I can't help agreeing with a commenter on the linked story:
The other affiliates in those cities are turning cartwheels right now. Old-skewing and expensive as they are, [Wheel and Jeopardy] still deliver a huge audience, compared the other options.
As for Scripps' replacement shows, well, good luck. Another commenter echoes my opinion:
"The [Scripps] programs will debut Sept. 17." And by Sept. 24, they will be replaced by Family Guy and The Simpsons.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hippity hoppity

Disclaimer: I'm not a fan of hip hop. I'm not even much of a fan of Hollywood Squares (too much scripting). And I never watch MTV2 or even MTV1.

With all that said, MTV2's answer to Paul Lynde, Hip Hop Squares, proved fairly acceptable to grumpy old me. They actually played the game, and the celebs didn't seem scripted. At least the answers didn't sound nearly clever enough to have been preplanned. Maybe hip hoppers just can't remember their lines.

Thing I liked most about the show was the announcer. She was hot. Host Peter Rosenberg was competent and cheerful, and the hip hoppers seemed glazed over, which is what hip hoppers are supposed to be...I think. The contestants on the first episode were cute and pleasant but not too clueful.

Truth to tell, I probably won't watch the show much, for all the reasons in this entry's first paragraph. But Hip Hop Squares could have been a lot worse. They could have trashed the format and not taken the game seriously at all. And MTV2 didn't do that.

UPDATE: The premiere got good numbers for MTV2. Hip Hop Squares was the network's highest rated debut ever in the target 12-34 demo with a 0.39 rating. Which is pretty good by MTV2 standards. In the latest published week, May 14-20, MTV2 averaged a 0.1 household rating and 135K/137K viewers prime time/total day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Syndies recover

TVNewsCheck offers some better news for syndicated game shows in the week of May 7-13. Everybody gained some ground, as the happy numbers show...

Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - up a tick
Jeopardy 5.7 - up a couple ticks, just to do better than the soulmate
Family Feud 3.1 - up a couple ticks
Millionaire 2.6 - up a tick to round out the pleasant news

TV by the Numbers lists all the shows in their top 25 syndie chart. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.2 million (weekend repeat 3.6 million), Jeopardy 8.8 million, Family Feud 4.4 million, Millionaire 3.6 million. Pretty good numbers considering the warmer weather.

TVNewser has posted their cable ranker for the week of May 14-20. GSN averaged 268K/224K viewers prime time/total day. Ranks were 42nd and 41st, respectively. Not so hot but not a complete disaster relative to other cable networks.

UPDATE: Marc Berman has listed all the final 2011-12 season numbers for broadcast prime time. The viewership averages for game shows: Fear Factor 6.9 million, Who's Still Standing 6.2 million, Wipeout 6.1 million, You Deserve It 4.8 million. Nothing really clicked in prime time among broadcast game shows this season.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Staying alive

Happened to see an item about the body count on TV shows. Really. A site called Funeralwise.com published a study of how many corpses litter television. The site is part of the funeral industry, as you may have guessed.

Anyway, the site surveyed a bunch of TV shows to figure out which were the most deadly. The pictured Nikita came in pretty high, with nine corpses per ep. That made it the deadliest show on broadcast TV, in fact. The overall "winner" was Starz' Spartacus, with twenty-five dead bodies per episode. They be killin' 'em right quick over there.

The site wasted no time on game shows. Not too many corpses make it onto Wheel of Fortune. In fact, they're always looking for "animated" contestants.

Which does bring up one halfway serious note on our little genre. Game shows have been dismissed from time out of mind as silly, trivial, boring, unworthy of serious critical attention. But at least they don't kill people. They don't even pretend to kill people. Not even Fear Factor did that.

Which makes the recent heavy breathing (pun intended) over Family Feud's supposed sleaziness seem even sillier. At most on Feud or other game shows we might be discussing a little mildly off-color talk. Nobody needs to worry about bloody violence or steamy sex.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A returning contestant

A thread on Matt Ottinger's board chats about civvie contestants who evaded game shows' old bans against return appearances.

One poster notes that a pre-Thirtysomething Mel Harris slipped back onto 100K Pyramid as a civvie in 1985 after she played on the 20K version in 1979. As it happens, YouTube offers that second appearance, when Mel used her married name "Mel Kennerly." (She was then married to famed photographer David Hume Kennerly.)

Maybe the moniker helped her get past the contestant coordinators. Her return trip to Pyramid even earns a mention in her Wikipedia entry.

Mel was a good player and scored a big win on 100K Pyramid. (Markie Post was her celeb partner.) She turned up as a post-Thirtysomething celeb player on Johnnymid in 1991, as YouTube also records. They even played a clip of her win as a civvie in 1985. Who knows if the producers were aware of her turn on 20K Pyramid in 1979.

Always thought game shows were a little too paranoid about civvies coming back for a second try. Most shows have loosened the old lifetime bans now. I can see where you wouldn't want the same civvies showing up again and again, but Mel Harris was pretty easy on the eyes at any time.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hey, let's talk some more about GSN's schedule!

The endless palaver about the future of GSN's schedule continues on the network's Internet board. I toss in some warnings about GSN's proposed reality slate...

Other poster: This should be bold-printed, italicized, underlined, and whatever else denotes importance to remember. What GSN decides to do with this [reality] slate will affect everything on the schedule, and probably not for the better for classics or modern fare.

No doubt about it. If GSN goes big on reality, these discussions about pre-1990 game shows on weekday mornings will seem quaint. The real question will be whether traditional game shows of any date can get much space on the schedule. (See History for an example of how successful reality experiments pushed a network's traditional shows to much fringier timeslots on the schedule.)

But as I said, I'm not so sure about the non-traditional stuff. The Dancing With the Stars disaster may have opened some eyes at the network - it sure surprised me, as many have reminded me - even if current GSN personnel are too new to remember the 2004 experiment.

Admittedly, GSN's non-trad stuff hasn't always crashed. In fact, one of the network's best and most successful originals, High Stakes Poker, eventually grew out of the 2004 flirtation with non-traditional programming. And there have been other, more short-lived successes, like the blackjack and dodgeball shows and (for a while) the Amazing Race acquisition. But GSN's record on non-traditional is generally discouraging.

Nothing in the upfront reality slate looks particularly appetizing, either. Even the cooking show (wink).

Power wins on Jeopardy

I've grumped enough about Jeopardy's tournaments and stunts. Sour old me is not a fan of any of them except the tournament of champions, which has become an event on the game show calendar.

But my grumpiness shouldn't stop congratulations for the winners on this week's "Power Players" stunt. So let's list the powerful types who questioned the answers better than their peers:

Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary
David Faber, CNBC anchor
Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday host
Chuck Todd, NBC White House correspondent
Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor

The Internet's favorite loser seems to be Chris Matthews, bombastic MSNBC commentator. He flopped with a splat on Monday's show, and his political opponents gleefully recalled how Matthews often ridiculed Sarah Palin as a possible Jeopardy contestant. What goes around...

At least the stunt got some attention from news and politics sites which usually take no notice of supposedly un-classy game shows. Even TVNewser offered breathless day-by-day coverage of the winners and losers.

NOTE: this is the 1,000th entry on the blog. Kind of hard to believe that I've found enough game show stuff to blather about for a thousand posts. Not to mention hundreds of faux tweets. Thanks to everybody who's stopped by this site over the years.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

GSN's schedule and, yes, more Pyramid

Douglas Pucci has posted the viewer numbers on GSN's shows for the week of May 7-13. So I blather about them on the GSN Schedule board...

Calculated the prime time/total day averages from Douglas' numbers, and they agree with the 297K/232K from TVNewser. Nice to have some confirmation from different sources.

Donnymid got Friday prime time up to 230K, which contributed to the rise in the overall prime time average. Not great but better than 25K Pyramid last week. I look for Donnymid to hang around on Friday night, as GSN's online schedule and pdf now show for tomorrow, May 18.

In the mornings I was a little surprised that Donnymid did better than everything else. We'll see how much GSN uses the show going forward. I'll post whatever pdfs GSN sends out. There's a new one every day lately, it seems. For now both the online schedule and the pdf show 25K Pyramid in the morning for next week, May 21-27. An interesting thought: put both of the Pyramid versions in the 10:00 AM hour. They seem to get the best numbers in the mornings lately.

Overall, not a bad week for the network. The Sunday prime time average of 487K was downright impressive by any GSN standard. No wonder the network wanted Jeff Foxworthy for the Bible quizzer.

By the way, GSN doesn't call it "block" scheduling. In the accompanying e-mails with the pdf schedules, they refer to the "stack" of, say, Pyramid on Friday night. Sort of like a stack of pancakes or poker chips, I guess.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oh so close

Happened to see an excruciatingly close loss today in a GSN rerun of Steve Harvey's Family Feud. The Love family - love the name - just missed out in Fast Money with 198 points.

Even worse, the poor guy who went second in the round froze on the final question and couldn't find an answer. If he had said anything halfway reasonable, the family would have made the magic 200 points and twenty thousand dollars, as the contestants always shout. The brutal loss has turned up on YouTube.

Hate to say it, but narrow losses like these are among the main attractions of game shows. After all, such losses make for great TV, and the hovering possibility of crushingly narrow defeats never hurts any game show format. The audience doesn't mind watching somebody come just this close to victory...and then crash and burn (figuratively, of course).

At least the Love family got $990 as a consolation gift. But the loss was still a stinger. And the episode was a guilty pleasure to watch.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Syndies slump

Warmer weather beckoned and syndicated game shows felt the Nielsen sting in the week of April 30-May 6. All the shows slipped, as TVNewsCheck ruefully reports...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down three ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - down a couple ticks in sympathy with the soulmate
Family Feud 2.9 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.5 - also down a tick because Meredith wants to be like Steve (just kidding)

At least all the shows made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.1 million (weekend repeat 4.8 million), Jeopardy 8.6 million, Family Feud 3.9 million, and Millionaire 3.4 million. The numbers are starting to soften in the spring warmth. (Sounds poetic, no?)

In other ratings news, TVNewser says GSN averaged 297K/232K viewers prime time/total day for the week of May 7-13. The network ranked 41st in prime time and 42nd in total day among all cable nets. Not such a bad performance by recent GSN standards.

Monday, May 14, 2012

End of the stunts

As a faux tweet noted, NBC has officially canceled Minute To Win It and Fear Factor. Both had long since departed from NBC's schedule, but the honchos finally got around to the official axing.

Fear Factor may have grossed out too many execs with the donkey semen stunt. The ratings really weren't bad at all by NBC's woeful standards. Minute To Win It had served its purpose as all-round schedule spackle, and maybe Guy Fieri's static-cling hair got old for some people at the Peacock Net. (Just can't resist Variety speak today.)

Some online pundits complained that Minute was an inferior substitute for The Cube, its supposedly more august Brit cousin. I dunno, both shows were just retreads of Beat the Clock with a money tree thrown in. I never saw much reason to prefer one to the other, unless you were a big fan of British accents. And I still think Minute would do fine as a GSN pickup.

ABC is dithering over a renewal of Wipeout for the 2012-13 schedule. We should hear by Tuesday. At least the big balls get a summer run starting June 28. But the ratings have been weakening.

UPDATE: ABC sends out the upfront press release and Wipeout is nowhere to be seen. Looks like the big balls may deflate for good after this summer. After the upfront presentation ABC did confirm outright that Million Dollar Mind Game and You Deserve It are canceled. These are not huge surprises.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Apologies, but another Pyramid post

Yes, this blog has been overdosing on Pyramid notes lately. But Dick Cavett just posted a long reminiscence about his appearances on the show, and I can't help reminiscing along with him.

Cavett was definitely a competent player. That's why Bob Stewart brought him back for a bunch of shows. Stewart was very happy when he found a celeb who could play his tough little game.

And Cavett emphasizes just how difficult the game was. He recounts some Winners Circle adventures when he nearly panicked before finding just the right clue at the end of the minute. An embedded video from YouTube shows one of those near-game-show-death experiences.

Of course, there were the inevitable times when Cavett bombed out. One contestant didn't take too kindly to one such failure: "Thanks a lot! I needed the money." Cavett still cringes over the memory. He also complains about the show's draconian judging, which once denied him what he thought was a rightful Winners Circle triumph.

But he does have sympathy for the poor, harried judge who had to make all those split-second decisions: "He was a cordial fellow, pleasant of appearance and quite thin, probably from difficulty with keeping solid food down. I hope that in retirement he has found some degree of well-deserved tranquility."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Secret clips

Haven't blogged for a while about my favorite black and white classic, I've Got a Secret. But Richard Carson keeps uploading gems from the show to YouTube, and I just enjoyed one of the better ones.

On June 6, 1961 IGAS broadcast a clips show to celebrate its ninth anniversary. Garry Moore and the panel sat around a talk show set and reminisced about various stunts they had done over the years, as clips from past episodes rolled by. Some of the stunts worked fine. And some of the stunts worked even better when things didn't go quite as expected.

Interspersed throughout the other clips were bits from Jack Moseley's epic inner-tube stunt, broadcast on January 14, 1959. Poor Jack huffed and puffed and finally, after twenty minutes, blew an inner tube to rubber smithereens. Jack appeared at the end of the anniversary show and, of course, tried to blow out the candles on the nine-year birthday cake.

The clips reminded me how far I've Got a Secret developed from its origins as Goodson-Todman's in-house clone of What's My Line. It's not easy to visualize John Daly, Bennett Cerf and the rest of the WML bunch doing the pratfalls and hijinks IGAS eventually specialized in. At least, nobody ever exploded an inner tube while Mr. Daly turned over the cards.

GSN Pyramid schedule games

Our little game show network seems schizoid on which version of Pyramid to use. Meanwhile, the GSN Internet board (naturally rooting for the older version) grumbles and speculates. I chip in some equally uninformed speculation...

Other poster: So I'm still thinking that they waiting on new episodes of $25K Pyramid, but there's been a delay in converting the tapes. Or they're having difficulty negotiating with Sony over the cost of the episodes.

Please. The cost of 25K Pyramid must be $4.95. Nobody else in the cable universe wants the show. We're not bidding on the NFL here. And I don't think that tape conversion has anything to do with it, either. The network just looks uncertain how to use the various versions of Pyramid.

Right now GSN's online schedule shows next week (May 14-20) with Donnymid at 10:30AM and 25K Pyramid on Friday night. This doesn't agree with the latest pdf, but the network may send out a new one Monday. I'll post whatever I get. (GSN just sent a new pdf that does agree with the online schedule...but only for May 14-20! And now GSN has sent out another revised pdf that has Donnymid on Friday night, May 18. I give up.)

From the ratings, the most sensible option would be just the opposite of what the online schedule currently shows: 25K Pyramid in the morning, where it gets okay numbers, and Donnymid replacing it on Friday night, where it gets godawful numbers. But stay tuned. Who knows what will happen next week?

UPDATE: Maybe GSN can't figure out which previous version of Pyramid to put on the schedule, but BuzzerBlog's Alex Davis reports the network is rushing its own version. He says that the pilot shoots June 11, and if the show get picked up, the regular eps start taping July 24.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The envelope, please

The Daytime Emmys have gone so low-rent, they're going to cable. But the nominations for this year grind on, anyway. The game show noms are mildly interesting, which is why I'm writing a mildly interesting blog post about them.

Only four hosts get noms: Ben Bailey, Todd Newton, Wayne Brady and Meredith Vieira. My guess is that Ben cops his third award as a sentimental parting gift. Though there was a rumor a while ago that Todd's show was cancelled, too.

Six shows get nominations: BrainSurge, Cash Cab, Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Let's Make a Deal and Millionaire. Again, my guess is a kind gesture toward Cash Cab, but who knows what the voters will do?

If there are any surprises, it's the omissions of Steve Harvey and Family Feud. Steve's been in the news lately with the movie and the upcoming talk show. Maybe he'll get a look next time around.

I wonder how many viewers will bother to look at the Emmy show, supposedly coming to Headline News. Not a huge number, I reckon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Looking for love in a spoof

As a faux tweet noted, Fox's The Choice has breathlessly informed us of its cast. This dating game spoof of The Voice may be getting out of hand.

Not that I mind spoofs. The 88 gazillion talent contests now littering TV deserve a good spoofing or three. The set for The Choice will certainly look familiar to Voice fans.

At least Cat Deeley has proven to be a competent game show host. The celeb bachelors and bachelorettes (lapsing into Dating Game speak) are the usual pop culture suspects. Singers and actors and whatnot. The show helps keep 'em off food stamps.

Trouble is, Fox's reality exec Mike Darnell sounds a little too serious about the whole thing. "What started out as a goof ended up being a ridiculously good format. It really feels like a hit. It was charming and funny...[The show] works beautifully. It’s going to sell all over the world."

Are people all over the world truly ready for this spoof? We'll see this summer.

UPDATE: Hollywood Junket reports from the set. Lots of "gameplay" details and one cynical note on the lady celebs: "These ladies were, well, not ladies! They were mean girls, and whoa were they brutal!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Syndies smile

The week of April 23-29 was generally a good one for syndicated game shows. In fact, all of syndication perked up as May sweeps began. TVNewsCheck spreads the cheer...

Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - up a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.7 - up a tick, not to be left behind by the soulmate
Family Feud 3.0 - up a tick, staying ahead of Meredith
Millionaire 2.6 - up a tick, to keep up with Steve

Nowadays, TV by the Numbers posts their top 25 syndie list almost as soon as Nielsen gets the numbers out. All four syndicated game shows made the list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.5 million (weekend repeat 5.0 million), Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 4.2 million, Millionaire 3.6 million. Certainly respectable numbers as the weather warms up (or cools down, depending on where you live).

As other numbers show up this week on the Internet for Total Blackout and GSN, I'll post 'em here. Well, TVNewser just posted their cable network ranker for April 30-May 5. GSN averaged 264K/227K viewers prime time/total day. Not so hot. The network ranked 44th in both categories among cable nets.

Meanwhile, Total Blackout drew a very nice 1.4 million viewers for its new episode on Wednesday, May 9. Syfy has a solid performer with the stunts-in-the-dark effort.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Reading minds

A poster on the GSN board known as TheKid likes to dig up obscurities from YouTube. He found one of the few surviving episodes of Mindreaders, a short-lived Goodson-Todman effort from 1979.

Dick Martin hosted the show, which was vaguely inspired by the ESP craze of the seventies. Over the years the show has caught a lot of grief as one of G-T's worst productions ever. It's also supposedly one of the few formats personally created by Mark Goodson.

The show really had little to do with ESP. It was just a game of hunches about how a celeb (or, in the bonus round, ten people from the studio audience) would answer silly questions.

It's easy to understand why the show didn't last long, given the thinness of the premise and the goofiness of the queries. Dick Martin also looked semi-lost as the host, especially when he had to explain the rules. But it's hardly the worst thing I've seen, or even the second or third worst. You can judge for yourselves.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

GSN gives Donnymid a try

GSN is trying Donny Osmond's Pyramid for a week at 10:30AM and 3:00AM. I like Donnymid, though the show was always controversial for the tighter time limit, the celebs' sneak peek (in the first season) at the Winners Circle categories, and the allegedly harsher judging. Personally, I thought the judging on every version of the show was pretty draconian, and I liked it that way. Pyramid should be hard. Anyway, I post some comments on the GSN board...

I put the new pdf for May 7-13 on the blog. Alex Davis at BuzzerBlog said the Donnymid run is for only one week because that's what the accompanying GSN e-mail said. But if Donnymid does decent numbers, it will probably stay on the schedule. The 25K Pyramid block is still on Friday night in the new pdf, despite abysmal ratings.

The Donnymid celebs are Liza Snyder and Diedrich Bader (Mon-Wed) and Scott Cohen and Nancy O'Dell (Thu-Fri), by the way. According to the Donnymid episode guide, these eps date from the show's first season.

Other poster: See, I think GSN has it backwards. They should try Donny on Friday nights, and keep Dick Clark on daytime at 10:30, where he still does well.

In the latest published week (April 23-29) 25K Pyramid averaged 218K viewers at 10:30AM. That's not horrible but it's hardly spectacular. And I don't want to think about the demos. Everything on GSN skews old but the pre-1990 shows skew ancient.

Frankly, I think GSN would like to shake up mornings with Steve Harvey's Family Feud. But they're already running that show for all it's worth in early fringe, prime time, and late night. So they'll try Donnymid for a week in the morning and see what happens. There's no doubt the 25K Pyramid block on Friday night has to perform better or it's gone soon.

It's now up to The Nielsen Company...he said portentously.

UPDATE: As a faux tweet notes, GSN will try Donnymid instead of 25K Pyramid on Friday night, May 11. We'll see if this move lasts for a while.

Another death in the family

The obituaries keep piling up. Bob Stewart, legendary producer of The Price is Right, Password, and Pyramid, has died at age 91.

Stewart usually stayed behind the camera, so his passing won't generate nearly as much attention as the recent death of Dick Clark. But to game show fans he was always a presence with his creative spark and practiced hand, which gave us some of the genre's very best formats.

Born Isidore Steinberg in Brooklyn, Stewart's big break came in 1956 when he joined Goodson-Todman. He developed The Price is Right, To Tell the Truth and Password for G-T before he left the organization in 1964. Mark Goodson famously promised to make Stewart a prince, but Stewart (just as famously) said he wanted to be a king. The story has always sounded like an urban legend to me, but it's apparently true.

As an independent producer, Stewart's greatest triumph was, of course, Pyramid. The all-lightning-round descendant of Password has gone through so many versions that it takes most of a Wikipedia article to track them all. The sad near-coincidence of the deaths of Dick Clark and Bob Stewart at least reminds us how superb the format was and is.

Stewart retired in the early 1990s, though his son Sande remained in the business as a fairly successful producer on his own. R.I.P.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More ratings chatter

A post of mine from the GSN board talks about the network's ratings for April 16-22, along with some of its competitors...

TVNewser has posted a full cable network prime time/total day ranker for the week of April 16-22. GSN had previously published some cherry-picked numbers from this week, like the 742K viewers for 5th Grader.

And, guess what, the prime time/total day averages for the week were very good by recent GSN standards: 314K/246K. In total viewers the network ranked 42nd in prime time, 41st in total day. The weak 25-54 numbers show that GSN skews very, very old. Well, double duh. There are no details on individual shows beyond what GSN published in its press release and what Douglas Pucci put on his blog for April 19.

There are lots of interesting numbers for other networks. Poor old Fuel finished dead last in prime time and total day, behind even woeful Current. (A sarcastic commenter suggests Current should start showing hockey games.) My guilty pleasure Investigation Discovery did very well, up to 19th in total day. You can check your own favorite networks to see how they stacked up against the competition.

UPDATE: TVNewser has also published a full cable network ranker for all of April. GSN averaged 279K/219K viewers prime time/total day for the month, which is pretty much in line with the numbers Douglas Pucci has been posting on his blog. The network ranked 45th in prime time and 43rd in total day among cable networks. And yes, Fuel and Current did pretty bad for the month.

For all of first quarter, 2012 GSN averaged 300K/228K viewers prime time/total day, with ranks of 46th and 45th among cable networks, respectively. You can find more GSN weekly and monthly averages in the cable network rankers under the "Generalities" category at TVNewser.

Repo-ing for fun and profit

Mentioned Carrie Grosvenor and her terrific game show blog at About.com a few posts ago. Carrie has posted a month-end roundup, sort of her version of faux tweets.

A couple of the items are interviews with Repo Games' Josh Lewis and Tom DeTone. They have more interesting stories to tell than the average game show host. Tales involving pit bulls, shotguns, baseball bats, things like that. People get a little annoyed over their cars (possibly) being repossessed.

Neither guy can see himself as a more traditional game show host. They don't look like successors to Alex Trebek, to be sure. Both seem to have a sense of humor about their profession, which comes in handy when contestants turn belligerent. At least Repo Games has "top notch" security. They better have it.

DeTone mentions that he used to be a gym fanatic, and now he likes to build motorcycles and hot rod cars. You might have guessed all that pretty easy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Syndies hardly budge

Syndicated game shows just nudged around in the week of April 16-22. TVNewsCheck brings the so-so news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.6 - up a tick, shows Pat and Vanna how it's done
Family Feud 2.9 - flat
Millionaire 2.5 - down a tick

TV by the Numbers is posting their top 25 syndie list right quick lately. Adding a couple staffers does wonders. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.2 million (weekend repeat 4.8 million), Jeopardy 8.6 million, Family Feud 4.0 million, Millionaire 3.5 million.

In other ratings news, Total Blackout is delivering for SyFy: 1.3 million total viewers for the Wednesday debut, 1.2 million for the Friday repeat. Complete darkness is a Nielsen winner so far.

UPDATE: Douglas just posted the April 23-29 week for GSN. Viewership averages were 291K/226K prime time/total day. Actually a little improvement from recent weeks. Prime time looked solid on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday. GSN did 350K+ prime time averages on those nights. Friday prime time was a black hole, and Thursday wasn't much better.