Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ratings: the little two perk up

Syndie game shows didn't mind the latest set of numbers from Nielsen. All the shows at least held their own and a couple did a little better. TVNewsCheck brings the good news for the week of July 16-22...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - flat
Jeopardy 5.2 - flat
Family Feud 3.2 - up a couple ticks in the summer heat
Millionaire 2.4 - up a tick

And more good news: all the shows made the top 25 syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.4 million (weekend repeat 4.2 million), Jeopardy 7.9 million, Family Feud 4.7 million, Millionaire 3.4 million.

TVNewser posted a cable ranker for all of July (okay, June 25-July 29). GSN averaged 349K/263K viewers prime time/total day for the month, which are certainly decent numbers for our little game show network. GSN ranked 39th and 40th in the windows.

Douglas Pucci put up the individual GSN show numbers for the July 23-29 week. Minute To Win It premiered very well for the network with a 495K viewership average on Tuesday night. And Messrs. Harvey and Foxworthy continued to perform nicely.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Modest about my proposals

A thread on the GSN Internet board has a few posters seriously suggesting that GSN execs should base programming decisions on the board's whims. I take modest exception...

Other poster: GSN should take people's comments into consideration though, as well as other networks.

I'm sorry, but let's live on planet Earth. The numbers from the Nielsen Company (and GSN's accountants) are what influence GSN execs. Otherwise, they won't be GSN execs for long. They probably shouldn't even read this board, much less listen to its suggestions.

Hey, I like posting around here. It's fun to argue back and forth. But I'm not loony enough to think [GSN president] David Goldhill is taking any of my comments seriously. I'd be surprised if he even reads them at all.

I can see Goldhill meeting with [programming VP] Amy Davis and the rest of the senior people. "Well, Casey Abell says we should do this..." And at that point the laughter reaches gale force.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

This...is...Johnny

Grumpy me has wondered whether announcers are even necessary on game shows.

But I happened to catch an episode of Jeopardy late last night on GSN. And I had to think about how weird it would be if the show didn't kick off with Johnny Gilbert intoning: "This is Jeopardy." A different voice would seem downright jarring.

If you glance at Johnny's Wikipedia article (usual caveats) you'll see a list of game shows that goes on for most of a very substantial paragraph. This guy must have announced everything at one time or another. Still going strong at age 88, Johnny also played the lead in an Army production of Xanadu: The Marco Polo Musical during his younger days. Maybe he began the proceedings by proclaiming: "This is Xanadu."

Johnny's website includes a picture of him and his wife with Alex Trebek at the White House. (This was back in Alex's mustachioed era.) Johnny has become something of a national game show treasure.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two hosts aren't better than one

Game Show Garbage's latest induction goes pretty gentle. And since it concerns a black and white show from the 1950s, I can't help commenting.

The show they discuss is The Name's the Same, a forgettable Goodson-Todman panel effort. The format was basically I've Got a Secret, except every contestant (at least the civvies) had the same secret. Their name was the same as some famous person or thing or place.

The Name's the Same limped through three seasons on ABC, then a weak fledgling network. ABC finally axed the show, but the network eventually brought it back for a fourth season with a parade of hosts. One (or actually two) of the hosts were the comedy team of Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding. They're the guys who get this week's induction into Game Show Garbage's hall of shame.

Still, the site goes soft on Bob and Ray and allows that they were a fine comedy team, though not suited to game show hosting. I agree with all that. But then the site really gets gushy and praises the show's final host, Clifton Fadiman. Sorry, but the owlish, academic Fadiman could bore the living daylights out of any TV audience.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trivial issue of the day

No, the trivial issue is not some weird tweet from a bored celeb. The issue is the loser money on Family Feud.

Seriously. I've seen it debated on the game show Internets, and it's time to take a stand. Should Feud increase its measly five dollars a point for the losers in the bonus round? That teensy-weensy amount has stayed the same since Richard Dawson's smoochin' days, maybe four inflation cycles ago.

After all, Feud has jacked the original five grand for the winners to twenty thousand dollars, as the contestants always holler. Would a few more bucks per point for the losers break the bank?

My malevolent self sort of likes the all-or-almost-nothing nature of this beast. The paltry consolation prize makes close misses really excruciating. But my better nature - it does exist, believe it or not - wants to see the hard-playing contestants get a few more greenbacks. Harvey's raised the ratings enough to cover a little extra in the prize budget. Make it ten dollars a point, at least.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mr. Jennings

Internet pundits are atwitter about Ken Jennings' twitter feed. Seems that the Jeopardy maven and Watson victim posted a crude joke about the endless Penn State scandal. Heads were wagged and tongues were clucked.

I don't want to defend Jennings' bad joke, but I'm not going to fake moral outrage, either. To me Jennings has always seemed like the squarest, nerdiest guy in the world...with an unfortunate hankering to be hip. The Penn State witticism was one of his lamer efforts at hipness.

Game shows are notoriously un-hip in every way, of course, despite Hip Hop Squares' attempt to make hip hoppers sit still in the squares. That's one of the reasons I'm a game show fan. As a hopelessly nerdy actuary, I can appreciate un-hip nerdiness when I see it.

Just wish Ken Jennings could do the same. Let's not try any more edgy "humor," Ken.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ratings: big two recover

Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy haven't seen particularly good ratings weeks lately. But the most recent week, July 9-15, was kinder to the big two syndie game shows. TVNewsCheck delivers the better news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - up four ticks from the season low
Jeopardy 5.2 - up three ticks along with the soulmate
Family Feud 3.0 - flat
Millionaire 2.3 - flat

Meredith slipped out of TV by the Numbers' top 25 list. The viewership averages for the other shows: Wheel of Fortune 9.3 million (weekend repeat 3.9 million), Jeopardy 7.9 million, Family Feud 4.4 million. As always, I'll post any more ratings news as it dribbles out over the coming week.

TVNewser posted their usual cable ranker for the week of July 16-22, and GSN enjoyed its best week in a while. The viewership averages were 380K/286K prime time/total day, with ranks of 39th and 38th in the windows.

Skewed

A faux tweet noted that politicians like to spend for ads on Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Why? Because old people vote more reliably than young people, and game shows bring in old viewers by the boatload.

I've never seen political ads on GSN, though the network naturally skews old. Maybe it's a programming decision to avoid alienating viewers who might not agree with the particular politicians sponsoring the ads. The faux tweet included a cartoon about, let's say, an extreme viewer reaction to a political ad. (He's shooting the TV set.)

Still, it's not always the best idea to skew young, despite conventional wisdom on sites like TV by the Numbers. Sure, more advertisers like young'uns because they're more easily influenced. But some marketers, such as the political types, want older viewers. Hard to believe, I know.

With six decades on my aching self, I'm naturally biased on this issue. And as a game show fan, anything that draws ad dollars to our little genre is fine with me. So while I always zap through political ads, keep spending on them, guys!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Second chances

Recently saw a thread on the GSN board about a questionable judging decision on Steve Harvey's Family Feud.

The board is often hostile to Harvey Feud because it's not old enough. Sure enough, one poster insisted: "If it had happened like this during the Dawson era, he would have easily brought both families back to make things fair again." That's at least very debatable, but it's a common attitude on the board.

The tricky issue of a second chance for contestants after an iffy call came up on Fox's late and unlamented Million Dollar Money Drop. The judges ruled contestants Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayti answered a question about Post-it Notes wrong. But after some public criticism of the show's research on the question, the producers invited the contestants back for a re-do. The show died so quickly that the offer became moot, though.

Seems that good p.r., if nothing else, would incline game show producers to give such second chances after doubtful judgment calls. After a while, though, too many second guesses would get silly. Jeopardy will often review borderline calls during tapings, to avoid bringing contestants back.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gotta take the risk

A thread on Matt Ottinger's board wondered about players who were never wrong on Jeopardy. Turns out that it's a pretty frequent occurrence, most recently with contestant Kimberley Stephenson on the July 17 episode.

As you might expect, Kimberley didn't finish so swell on the show. She got the $1,000 third place money, in fact. You gotta be bold on Jeopardy and take some lumps with wrong answers.

Other formats don't reward the brave so much. One slip on Millionaire and you're busted. But one of Jeopardy's secrets of lengthy success is the many chances it gives to contestants who fall but get back up.

It was the same way with my beloved, long-lost College Bowl. You could screw up but get back into the game. In fact, you had to risk screwing up sometimes. At this point I want to start reciting Teddy Roosevelt's spiel about the man in the arena. But I won't bore you.

What is a game show, part 873

On the GSN board longtime poster The Kid asked, what is a game show? He concluded that folks think any show they dislike isn't a real game show. Another poster and moi chipped in some comments...

Other poster: I think the real reason the shows of today that are game show and people don't think they are is because the shows are filled with far lesser amounts of game play and a bunch of DRAMA, commercials and other nonsense.

The "nonsense" can be a show's main attraction. Almost every game show fan wants to consider You Bet Your Life a game show, because almost every game show fan wants to get a great talent like Groucho into our little genre.

But Groucho's show, of course, wasn't really much of a game show at all. The actual quizzer only occupied a few minutes and was of very secondary importance. The show was mainly a comedy/interview vehicle for Groucho. To be blunt, lots of those scorned "reality" shows devote far more time to genuine competition than Groucho's show ever did. Something like High Stakes Poker, widely reviled on this board, was virtually all gameplay, especially compared to Groucho's show.

I used to be interested in this what-is-a-game-show? stuff. Now I don't much care. As The Kid said, the discussion has mostly become a stick to beat whatever show a writer doesn't like.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Splat and more splat

Ambled off to the Nickelodeon web site for some Splatalot. That's the fake-Camelot obstacle course show borrowed from our friends in the great white north.

Truth to tell, the show itself borrows plenty from Wipeout. There's even a wisecracking duo of hosts to ridicule the kids as they flip, flop and splash their way through the course. But don't worry, parents. Splatalot is a little gentler than the grown-up show. A little gentler, though lots of bumps and bruises await.

The show had the bad luck to debut on Nick in the middle of Viacom's nasty, brutish and apparently long dispute with DirecTV. The ratings will no doubt take a hit as a result, though they may not tumble all the way into the faux castle's moat.

The show itself is mildly entertaining to me, though it does seem like a watered-down (sorry) Wipeout. But the pre-pubescent set may enjoy watching other kids get bounced around the castle.

UPDATE: Viacom and DirecTV have ended their little spat. That can't hurt Splatalot and the rest of Nick's offerings.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What obsesses me

A faux tweet talked about a possible game show project for the U.S. based on a Thai original. The tentative title is Obsessed because the quizzer tests contestants' knowledge of subjects they're, well, obsessed with.

Which got me thinking about subjects I might try on the show. Let's see...baseball, insurance (my job), game shows, Henry James (my favorite novelist), math, computers, true crime, politics, old TV, classic rock. The linked article suggests subjects from "motorcycles to Barbie" including "sports, music, history, science and pop culture." Some of my obsessions might fit that description, though I'm not well-informed on Barbie.

Really, if the categories lined up right, I might not do so terrible on such a quizzer. Though I'd probably choke under the lights and could hardly remember my name. Maybe I'll just stick with game show blogging.

And sorry about the cheesy picture I used for this entry. Some obsessions are universal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ratings: another low for Wheel

TVNewsCheck brings more bad news for Wheel of Fortune, and some not so hot news for the other syndie game shows. Pat and Vanna slipped to another season low in the week of July 2-8, and Alex and Steve have seen better weeks, too. But Meredith had a little something to be happy about...

Wheel of Fortune 5.6 - down a couple ticks to that season low
Jeopardy 4.9 - down three ticks in a dismal week for the big two
Family Feud 3.0 - not to be left out, down a couple ticks
Millionaire 2.3 - up a tick, just to be different

TV by the Numbers has all four shows in their top 25 list. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 8.9 million (weekend repeat 4.4 million), Jeopardy 7.6 million, Family Feud 4.4 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. As other ratings news for game shows dribbles out this week, I'll add it here.

NBC completed the burnoff of the Fear Factor eps on Monday, July 16 with more so-so numbers: 4.2 million total viewers and a 1.5 18-49 rating. Meanwhile, GSN averaged 345K/275K viewers prime time/total day for the week of July 9-15. Decent numbers in line with recent weeks. Thank you, Messrs. Harvey and Foxworthy.

Sweeping up

A faux tweet got snarky about so-called strategy on Supermarket Sweep. I shouldn't have been so sarcastic. After all, the Sweep was one of the very few shopping game shows I've ever been interested in.

Truth to tell, the pricing rounds bored me, as real-life shopping does. It's a male thing with me, I guess. But the stunt at the end of the show always got my attention. Who wouldn't want to careen wildly through a store and scoop up all the goodies in sight?

Supermarket Sweep proved to be a remarkably durable format, enjoying an extensive revival in the 1990s and 2000s after the original version from the 1960s had long since vanished. Maybe other people enjoyed the same fantasy of grabbing as much merchandise as possible from the shelves.

GSN is rumored to be looking at revivals of lots of old game shows, depending on how their new Pyramid fares with the Nielsen Company. Maybe they might think about sweeping through a new supermarket.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Steve Beverly, referee

On GSN's Internet board, BuzzerBlog's Alex Davis and I got into a dust-up over the network's pickup of Minute To Win It. Which prompted a suggestion...

Other poster: Maybe after this acquisition and whatever money they have left they can FINALLY set up and air a boxing match between Casey Abell and Alex Davis with guest referee Steve Beverly. Steve can also do the play by play announcing.

Alex is about thirty years younger than me, so I don't think it would be much of a match. Anyhoo, whatever happened to Steve Beverly? He mentioned some health problems, then seems to have dropped all his game show sites and newsletters. Hope everything's okay with him.

By an odd coincidence, one of Steve's last posts on his game show site was about Minute To Win It, dated February 11, 2011. The show scored some unexpectedly high 18-49 ratings on NBC, and Steve posted an item about the numbers. His overall attitude toward the show was so-so, neither really enthusiastic nor really negative. Steve also added a picture of Guy Fieri with some nice-looking contestants.

UPDATE: Googled around and the latest Internet post I could find from Steve was this tribute to Andy Griffith on the Union University site, dated July 5. Steve always liked to do these obits. So he's still posting some stuff here and there.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A GSN minute

Looks like GSN has acquired NBC's old Minute To Win It for a Tuesday, July 24 debut. Newlywed Game wasn't doing such great numbers on the night, so Guy Fieri and friends might improve things. A thread on the GSN board has started about the acquisition, and I chip in...

Other poster: Well, if this is true, this is definitely a sensible pickup. Don't think it could hurt the Tuesday ratings.

I've suggested this pickup, so I can't argue with it now.

Minute To Win It should make a decent addition to GSN's schedule. I always thought the hour-long reworking of Beat the Clock plus a money tree was harmless fun. Guy Fieri is a little over the top, but he's not too obnoxious. And some of the stunts are interesting.

Some pundits around the web - you know who you are - always favored the very similar Brit Cube over the Fieri hijinks. Never saw any real reason for the preference, except a liking for British accents. But Cube can claim greater longevity, though a U.S. pilot went nowhere.

Another poster: The Cube >>> Minute to Win It for me.

Yep, Cube always had its partisans, especially among the British-are-better-than-us brigade. I've watched a fair amount of both shows and never really saw any reason to prefer one over the other, except for an ideological liking of all things Brit. The formats are extremely similar, both basically ripoffs of Beat the Clock with the usual Millionaire money tree tossed in. CBS probably passed on the U.S. pilot of Cube because NBC was already running essentially the same show in Minute.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Back to the winners circle

GSN has announced a pickup of its version of Pyramid. The debut date is September 3, and the half-hour show will be stripped Monday through Friday at 6:00PM.

In the press release GSN talks about the show's "storied 40-year run." Except not many stories have been written over the last twenty years of that supposed run. The only version of Pyramid that made it to air since the early 1990s was Donny Osmond's two seasons in 2002-04.

Meanwhile, we've been teased with endless rumors of abortive development projects on CBS, TBS, GSN and the Pyramid god knows where else. The history is not encouraging and suggests the gloomy notion that the difficult format no longer appeals in the iPad era. Donny's version garnered good enough ratings to get a third season, but Sony preferred some talk show hosted by somebody you never heard of.

So good luck to GSN and host Mike Richards as they bring a classic format back to at least some life. By the way, GSN's press releases are getting sillier by the week with their references to "Iconic Game Reinvented" shows and "Shiny Floor Game" shows and "Dumb and Dumber" shows. (I made up that last category.) Just shelve the nonsensical categories and concentrate on making "Good" shows.

Life and death

Game shows are fun and (mostly) harmless. And once in a while people win some much needed cash.

But since when did a game show save somebody's life? I mean, literally save a life. Well, it happened not long ago on Wipeout. As a faux tweet noted, California minister Jason Poznacs took his lumps on the show as a contestant. After the taping he experienced bad pain (naturally) and some eyesight problems (more disturbing).

So Jason headed to the doctors and found that he had a far more serious issue: a fist-sized brain tumor. Luckily the doctors were able to remove the tumor, and the prognosis is guardedly optimistic. As you might expect, Wipeout's network ABC is playing up the story, and I can't blame them. By getting Jason to the doctors, Wipeout really did justify its existence...for once. Congratulations to the big balls.

One more note: Jason says that he'll need follow-up treatment which will render him temporarily bald. But that's okay because he works with a lot of kids who have cancer and also are bald as a side-effect of treatment. The guy's got the right attitude.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ratings: Meredith's bad week

The week of June 25-July 1 was not kind to Millionaire. Meredith took a nasty tumble in the household ratings. Otherwise, syndicated game shows saw limited movement. TVNewsCheck brings the bad news for Ms. Vieira...

Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - flat
Jeopardy 5.2 - up a solitary tick
Family Feud 3.2 - flat
Millionaire 2.2 - down a painful three ticks

As you might expect, Millionaire slid out of TV by the Numbers' top 25 syndie list. The viewership averages for the other three shows: Wheel of Fortune 9.2 million (weekend repeat 4.9 million), Jeopardy 7.8 million, Family Feud 4.8 million. The viewer numbers still look fine compared to broadcast prime time. Speaking of which, Fear Factor scored a tepid 4.0 million viewers in its return on Monday, July 9, with a 1.4 18-49 rating.

GSN had an okay week for July 2-8 but the viewer numbers weren't as good as recent weeks: 306K/230K prime time/total day. GSN ranked 40th and 44th, respectively, among cable networks in the windows.

UPDATE: Douglas Pucci just posted the individual show numbers for GSN in the July 2-8 week, plus the ratings for Figure it Out and Hip Hop Squares. As widely expected, Dancing With the Stars bombed in its return to GSN. Hip Hop Squares enjoyed its highest-rated episode yet on July 3, so maybe a second season is not just a dream. Figure It Out continues to perform well for Nick.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Parting cash

Posters on golden-road.net and Matt Ottinger's board are chewing over $300.

That's how much contestants on The Price is Right will reportedly get in the upcoming season if they don't make it out of Contestant's Row. My TPiR indifference makes this less than an urgent issue. But I like cash, as do a lot of other people. Three benjamins ain't huge, but as one poster notes, it beats a juicer or a metal detector. Especially when they load up the manufacturer's suggested retail price on a non-cash prize, and the tax guys hit you for the full bill.

Green money can get you anything you want, though the tax damage still exists. I always liked a show that handed out filthy lucre, as opposed to sponsored merchandise. What if I don't want a freaking boat? I got to sell the thing just to make the taxes.

I still remember Weird Al parodying the consolation prizes in I Lost on Jeopardy. Maybe there won't be any more year's supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat. Or even a lousy copy of our home game.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Grim reality

At her About.com game show blog, Carrie Grosvenor has begun her annual coverage of Big Brother. It's her blog, of course, and she can cover any show she wants. But Big Brother does seem like quite a stretch for our little game show genre.

In fact, it's beyond a stretch and right into Deepest Reality. Sure, the houseguests or whatever they call them on Big Brother do play games. But the show mostly concentrates on their kvetching about each other. You know, those lovely interpersonal relationships that characterize reality TV.

Over at BuzzerBlog Alex Davis has started covering America's Got Talent, one of the talent hunts that also fall outside a strict definition of traditional game shows. And at Game Show Newsnet they spend most of their time on non-traditional shows. I don't even recognize a lot of the names they toss around in their "lightning round" items.

Yes, I've also covered some things that aren't traditional game shows, like Improv-a-Ganza and a few of GSN's other experiments. But I try not to stray too far. Not saying it makes me better or worse, just different. I'm too uninterested in reality and other related genres to follow all those shows.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Phil Moore, pro and con

Game Show Garbage has inducted kid game show host Phil Moore into their hall of shame. Moore most notably hosted Nick Arcade in the 1990s. You can get all the flavor of the show you need from this "highlights reel."

Game Show Garbage's derision of Moore is at least defensible. If Moore had pulled this routine on a game show for grown-ups, he might have been laughed off the stage. But he wasn't doing shows for us grumpy oldsters. His speed-freak style could have been just fine for his intended audience of children. After all, kids are natural speed freaks before they get mature and halfway dead.

Not that I would like Phil to show up on my doorstep any time soon with his hyperkinetic patter. But this may have been exactly what Nick ordered from their hosts. Even a relatively subdued type like Kirk Fogg got a little, er, emphatic on Legends of the Hidden Temple. You have to do something to keep kids interested. That short attention span is a killer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A deal not made

The silly now-you-see-it, now-you-don't game Fox is playing with Take Me Out reminds me of an odd bit of game show history.

Back in 1968 it was NBC which couldn't make up its mind. The show in question was Let's Make a Deal, and NBC didn't want to give producers Monty Hall and Stefan Hatos much more money to keep the show on the Peacock net. Curt Alliaume tells the story on his LMAD page.

After negotiations broke down, Monty took his wheeling and dealing to ABC on December 30, 1968, much to the profit of the Alphabet net. (Yeah, I'm indulging in too much Variety speak here.) NBC lost a ton of revenue and daytime ratings.

I know it's pretty ridiculous to compare a long-lived classic like Let's Make a Deal to a struggling Take Me Out. But sometimes networks really don't know what they have until it's gone. So I can understand why Fox seems to be giving another chance to its Dating Game times ten.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bear meal

Posted a while back about that lovable cancellation bear from TV by the Numbers. Looks like our ursine friend has found at least one more show to munch. Take Me Out, Fox's Dating Game times ten, appears doomed after a burnoff of its final three eps on Saturday night.

The ratings started out marginal and got worse in a hurry. My review of the show was generous, more or less admitting the overwhelming cheesiness. But what else should you expect from a cheesy kind of show?

Fox's other venture into dating fun and games, The Choice, got somewhat better numbers and may survive to a second go-round somewhere down the road. Did The Choice outrun Take Me Out as the cancellation bear closed in? We'll see.

UPDATE: Wouldn't you know, as soon as Fox announces plans to exile Take Me Out to Saturday night, the show's ratings on Thursday night perk up a little. Still not great numbers but better than before.

UPDATED UPDATE: Well, those okay if not great numbers have made Fox think more kindly of Take Me Out. So the show will stay on Thursday night...for now. But the bear is not hibernating.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tracking down a contestant

Some people spend the Fourth of July watching fireworks. I spend it tracking down game show contestants on the Internet.

Or at least one contestant. Her name is Jamie Kleinsorge. I first came across her when an item about roller derby, of all things, turned up in a Google News search on Wheel of Fortune. Seems that Jamie is a roller derby girl in Missouri, and she uses the name Vanna Wipeout (really). That's because she supposedly won $114,700 on Wheel of Fortune in 2008.

I put up a faux tweet about the odd story, along with a picture of some of Jamie's roller derby buddies. But the big win on Wheel bothered me, because I couldn't find any record on the Internet of Jamie Kleinsorge winning on the show. Didn't want my faux tweet to be wrong.

Sure enough, the old maiden name switcheroo had gotten me. After a long hunt through Google, I finally figured out that Jamie Christianson really had won big money on Wheel, then married Dan Kleinsorge in 2011. Jamie's current day job is community organizing, and her mild, bespectacled appearance doesn't exactly suggest the rock 'em, sock 'em world of roller derby. But you never know about people's hobbies.

Andy Griffith on I've Got a Secret

The recent death of Andy Griffith started a thread on the GSN Classics board about his game show appearances. I chip in some comments...

Other poster: Andy Griffith was on IGAS on 10/1/62.

Andy Griffith actually made three I've Got a Secret appearances. It's kind of a long story.

Griffith's first appearance was the most famous one, which I already discussed on this thread. Griffith was scheduled on 1/14/59 as the special guest, but he never got to do his segment. That's because Jack Moseley (hilariously) took too long to blow up that stubborn inner tube. So Andy just came onto the stage in the middle of Jack's stunt and watched with everybody else until Jack finally exploded the tube.

Griffith returned on 3/11/59 with his planned segment. He again appeared on IGAS on 4/12/61 with another stunt. Information on all these appearances is available (with YouTube links) at Richard Carson's superb IGAS episode guide, which is a must-see for fans of the show.

I'm a little doubtful about that IMDb appearance on 10/1/62. It's possible Griffith was on the show that week, but Richard Carson lists no information for the week. And if he doesn't have the information, it probably doesn't exist.

Well, now I'm not so sure. This interesting article about a gadget called the Neurophone indicates that Andy Griffith might have appeared on the 10/1/62 episode in a stunt using the gadget. So who knows?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ratings: Wheel hits another season low

Except for Wheel of Fortune, syndicated game shows enjoyed a pretty decent week for June 18-24. But Pat and Vanna slipped to a new season low. They still led all syndies game shows by a comfortable margin, though. TVNewsCheck has the numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down a tick to that season low
Jeopardy 5.1 - flat
Family Feud 3.2 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.5 - up a couple ticks in the best move among the syndie gamers

All four shows made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.0 million (weekend repeat 4.3 million), Jeopardy 7.8 million, Family Feud 4.7 million, Millionaire 3.5 million. These numbers look more than acceptable compared to the broadcast networks in the summer.

As other numbers dribble out this week for broadcast and cable game shows, I'll update this entry. TVNewser just posted their usual cable network ranker for the week of June 25-July 1. It was another good week for GSN, as the network rode Steve Harvey's coattails with viewership averages of 346K/264K prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 40th, respectively, in the windows.

And for that week, the top thirty shows on GSN were Harvey, Karn and O'Hurley Family Feud, according to Douglas Pucci. Unbelievable dominance by a single show. Douglas also says that Figure It Out averaged a healthy 2.4 million viewers for the week - most of them young'uns, of course - while Hip Hop Squares slumped to 167K viewers.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Changing with the breeze

A couple posts back I mentioned that GSN was dropping its Thursday night stack of Deal or No Deal in favor of Catch 21. A wise commenter noted that GSN's schedule changes more often than the mood on Wall Street.

Of course, that commenter has been proven right, and on Thursday nights no less. GSN will debut two new shows long in development, American Bible Challenge and Beat the Chefs, on Thursday, August 23. The Bible goes first at 8:00PM, which is a nice biblical hour, I guess.

Jeff Foxworthy will host the Bible quizzer, and the press release includes a big glossy picture of him. (I didn't use it in the linked version of the release.) This looks like a very traditional game show and might appeal to GSN's old-skewing, female-skewing audience. The cooking show sounds like a low-rent Iron Chef, and I'm not sure how it will fare with the network's game show fans. American Idol finalist Matt Rogers hosts. GSN calls both shows "shiny floor games," a phrase that has already evoked ridicule around the game show Internets.

I assume lots of repeats will dot the schedule, so there will be additional shakeups. The more things change at GSN...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Testing, testing

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on Scripps' replacement game show Let's Ask America, I rummaged up a story from the company's hometown Cincinnati. Scripps insists that saving money isn't the only motive for replacing Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune on its stations.

Well, okay. I have my doubts. But one other item in the story caught my attention. "[Scripps exec Bob] Sullivan said Let’s Play America drew the highest test scores of the nine potential game shows on which Scripps secured options. Sullivan thinks it will draw a younger audience than the game shows it replaces."

We'll see about those demos. Despite the Skype gimmick of contacting contestants at their homes, the show looks like a pretty traditional quizzer. And those critters generally don't skew anything but old. But here's the thing. Scripps apparently ground through testing no less than nine game show projects before settling on Let's Ask America.

If you gonna displace two of the highest rated syndies in the business, maybe you should test a lot. But there might be some paralysis by analysis here. All that testing may have just produced the most innocuous project, not the one with the biggest potential. The gamble begins September 17, at any rate.