Friday, November 30, 2012

GSN chitchat

I'm lazy today as always, so I'll just repost some of my chatter from the GSN board about, well, GSN itself.

The discussion concerns the recent (re-)acquisition of majority control of GSN by Sony, and the network's ratings for the November 19-25 week. I don't have anything earthshaking to say about either subject, but it's my blog and welcome to it...

Other poster: Curiously, what do you feel is a more equitable fee than [the implied GSN valuation of] 1.3 billion?

Previous transactions had valued GSN at less than a billion. Let's face it, this is a mid-sized cable network at best with a relatively small, advertiser-unfriendly audience. But maybe GSN's online gaming is promising enough to push the valuation higher. Sony paid the price, anyway, so they must see some value in GSN.

By the way, DirecTV cleared a nice profit on the deal, as GSN's value has risen so much over the years. $69 million after taxes. Looks like Liberty Media (DirecTV's sort of distant spun-off parent) made a good investment when they took a half-interest in a nearly dead GSN way back in 2001.

Another poster: At a quick glance, it looks like the usual suspects are at the top [of GSN's November 19-25 ratings].

Actually, it's the usual suspect, singular. Harvey Feud dominates GSN like SpongeBob dominates Nick. One other interesting note is that Baggage performs surprisingly well in the wee hours. On the blog I've been tracking the show's syndie numbers, which have been underwhelming, to put it mildly.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ratings: nice times for most syndies

Syndie game shows got mostly good news in the week of November 12-18. In fact, there were three season highs as viewership levels rose while the nights got longer and colder. TVNewsCheck brings the nice numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 7.2 - up a couple ticks to a season high
Jeopardy 6.3 - down a tick but hardly doing terribly
Family Feud 4.7 - up a tick to new high for the entire syndie run since 1999
Millionaire 2.4 - up a tick for a show that needs this season high
Let's Ask America 1.8 - a decent rating in its seven markets
Baggage 1.1 - flat for tailender Jerry

The top four shows made the syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.3 million (wow!), Jeopardy 9.6 million, Family Feud 7.1 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. Gee, Pat and Vanna lure lots of viewers even in the 500-channel universe. The show will probably top 12 million before too long.

GSN averaged 315K/233K viewers prime time/total day for the entire month of November. Not bad but noticeably lower than when American Bible Challenge was romping and stomping. As a faux tweet noted, Sony has acquired majority ownership of the network in a transaction that valued all of GSN at $1.3 billion.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Political rant

I've sputtered and moaned about game show clichés sneaking into political stories before. But this is getting ridiculous.

Type "Let's Make a Deal" into the Google news cache, and you'll get a few stories about, well, Let's Make a Deal. You know, the game show with that Brady improv guy. But you'll get a lot more stories about the dealmaking in Washington to avoid some supposed fiscal cliff. As if the economy hasn't been tumbling over a cliff for years now.

Sooner or later they'll ram through some new taxes which will only make the economy worse. That's bad enough, but do we need the endless game show clichés about the process? Just tell us how much more we have to pay and forget about that show which started with Monty Hall.

Okay, I got the rant out of my system. Tomorrow it's back to game shows instead of political hot air.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Howie chats

Lots of Howie Mandel posts lately, it seems. But NBC is rolling out his new game show, Take It All, and Howie has been chatting up the project. Carrie Grosvenor at brings us highlights from one of his interviews.

One thing I've noticed about Howie-speak is the emphasis on "social experiment." That phrase crops up again in this interview, and I think it refers to putting people in odd situations and seeing how they react. Frankly, any TV game show is odd enough to begin with, as lots of contestants use "surreal" to describe the experience.

Howie also disdains trivia, probably because (as he admits) he's not very good at it. This new version of white elephant plus the prisoner's dilemma certainly won't test anybody's trivial knowledge. A questioner asks if the show is like Let's Make a Deal meets the Showcase Showdown. Howie replies that it's like Deal or No Deal, a show he should be familiar with.

In fact, Howie sounds quite proud of the suitcase epic, which is refreshing in a way. At least he doesn't try to run away from the show as some kind of brainless exercise in number-picking. We'll see if he enjoys anything like the same level of success with Take It All.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Post it

Sharp-eyed readers might notice that I've added a couple links to the blogroll. They're Internet boards for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, called Buy a Vowel and J!

The boards are unofficial, so the comments can be sharpish at times. But the two most-watched game shows in the country deserve a couple links on this little blog. 

The boards offer extensive summaries and reviews of every episode, in sometimes numbing detail. Seems like each dollar of prize money and each bit of gameplay receives an excruciating examination. Even the contestant interviews get a going-over. "Alex: Whoa, wait a minute. Does that mean you disrobe a lot? Amanda: Yes. Alex: Oh. Where is your next performance?"

We'll leave it at that with contestant Amanda, who unfortunately lost. Enjoy the boards.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Get emotional

News from traditional game shows has slowed to a turkey-dinner-induced crawl over the Thanksgiving holiday. So I checked in again on the women's world chess championship at Chess TV.

And I found out that, while there may be no crying in baseball, there is definitely crying in chess. At least women's chess, anyway. As China's Ju Wenjun got eliminated in her semifinal match, the waterworks opened up (see photo).

The male and female commentators started cooing that chess is a cruel game sometimes. Well, sorry to sound like a macho idiot, but any game with winners and losers is inherently cruel. Losing sucks, as many have observed.

I have to admit that the frequent displays of emotion on game shows tend to harden my soul after a while. I feel like muttering, come on, folks, it's just a game. But even a silly little game can hurt. So maybe I should cut contestants a little more slack.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sympathy for Howie

A couple posts ago I mentioned that Howie Mandel proved to be a surprisingly good game show host on Deal or No Deal. Apparently, my appreciation of Howie is not universally shared. A poster on the GSN board dissed the folically challenged host.

Other poster: NBC respects Howie even though he's washed up...Tell me, what other show does he do than his summer show America's Got Talent?

Well, let's see. Howie's IMDb page lists these shows he's done in 2012...

Primetime: What Would You Do?
Take It All
The History of Canadian Humour
D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List
The Big Bang Theory
Weekend Today
Live with Kelly and Michael
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Comics Unleashed 
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
The Wendy Williams Show
Piers Morgan Tonight
Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Plus he's done a lot of live standup appearances this year. The poor guy can't get a gig. He just doesn't have a thing to do.

Other poster: Yes, but tell me, are those all his shows, besides that trash Mobbed which doesn't air much? I guess that's all he's good for, guest appearances.

In fact, that makes three shows of Howie's own in 2012: Mobbed, America's Got Talent, and Take It All. He ain't just good for guest appearances, though he makes a ton of them, and he ain't washed up. A lot of TV performers would like to be "washed up" like Howie.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Goodson-Todman caught him

To Tell the Truth was never my favorite Goodson-Todman panel show. That honor belongs to I've Got a Secret.

But TTTT could sure have its moments. One of the best happened on Joe Garagiola's syndie version from the 1970s. Master impostor Frank Abagnale, antihero inspiration for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Catch Me If You Can, stopped by to stump the panel. The movie used this appearance to good effect.

The episode featured To Tell the Truth veterans Peggy Cass and Kitty Carlisle. Game show regulars Nipsey Russell (who offered his usual doggerel at the top of the show) and Bill Cullen also pitched in.

I can't resist the obvious spoiler. Appropriately enough for an episode about a con man, the panel got conned completely. Not one of them picked the real Abagnale. But Peggy Cass, through pure dumb luck, did guess the actual occupation of one of the impostors.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Howie takes it

NBC has released a promo for Howie Mandel's upcoming Take It All. The promo emphasizes the prisoner's dilemma aspect of the show. "All you have to do is figure out if your opponent is telling the truth." Yeah, Howie, that's always been a problem.

I didn't much like GSN's take on the dilemma with Friend or Foe. Watching people lie to each other for fun and profit got old fast for your humble blogger. But I don't want to prejudge Howie's effort. Especially because I understand the dilemma won't be the central element of the show, which is reportedly based mostly on the white elephant parlor game.

NBC may figure that Howie could catch lightning in a bottle again, as he did with Deal or No Deal. But that show already had a long track record of success in other countries before NBC unleashed the U.S. version. I don't know if Take It All has much of a chance on the suddenly prosperous peacock net. But Howie has proven to be a surprisingly good game show host, so let's see what he can do with this new project.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lawsuits, we get lawsuits

In the continuing saga of how lawyers get rich off The Price is Right, former TPiR model Brandi Cochran won almost $800K in compensatory damages today.

She sued the show a while back because every former model sues the show sooner or later. We've got to keep America's attorneys at work. I think the dispute was about Brandi getting pregnant. I'm not sure and I don't care. The TPiR lawsuits long ago became a crashing bore for everybody except the squadrons of lawyers who make their living off them.

The story says Brandi will seek some extra gazillions in punitive damages. Of course, there will be endless appeals and a ton of additional legal fees. The legal fees are the main reason these messes exist, anyway.

In case you can't tell, I'm pretty cynical about the American (un)civil justice system.

UPDATE: The jury also awards Brandi $7.7 million in punitive damages. After the award gets knocked down on appeal, and the lawyers and the government take their cuts, Brandi may end up with $5.95. Not that I care.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More ratings stuff

Just to follow up my usual weekly ratings post, some more comments from the GSN Internet board...

Other poster: They [Spongebob and Steve Harvey's Family Feud] both appeal to the baser instincts of the TV viewer.

They appeal to TV viewers, period. "Baser instincts" are definitely in the eye (or head) of the beholder. By the way, first-run Harvey Feud just hit a new high in the syndie ratings for the latest week, November 5-11. I'm sure that Steve and the gang are real worried about the high-larious Legion of Decency posts on the GSN Internet board.

Another poster: Actually, think one of them [A.C. Nielsen senior or junior] was on the B&W To Tell the Truth as a guest.

Don't know about To Tell The Truth, but A.C. Nielsen, Jr. (son of the founder of the ratings company) definitely appeared on What's My Line, as YouTube attests. The panel stumbled around for a while, and Buddy Hackett got off some funnies. Then Bennett Cerf zeroed in and guessed. The episode aired 2/16/64. Mr. Nielsen, Jr. died just last year. His father died in 1980.

Ratings: syndies surge

Nielsen got back to business after Hurricane Sandy, and syndicated game shows kicked some major patootie in the week of November 5-11. The end of daylight savings time helped. Season highs cropped up all over the place as America couldn't get enough word puzzles, quiz clues, and survey results. TVNewsCheck brings the happy tidings (all comparisons are to the October 22-28 week)...

Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - up four ticks to a season high
Jeopardy 6.4 - also up four ticks and also a season high
Family Feud 4.6 - up five ticks to, you guessed it, a season high
Millionaire 2.3 - flat, poor Meredith didn't join in the fun
Baggage 1.1 - up a tick even for lowly Jerry

The big three saw big audiences, according to TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.8 million, Jeopardy 9.6 million, Family Feud 6.7 million. They all look well set for the peak viewing months about to come.

TVNewser says that GSN averaged 316K/230K viewers prime time/total day for the week of November 12-18. The network could use another dose of American Bible Challenge.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Watching the players

Just did something I haven't done for a long time. I watched poker on TV.

NBC Sports channel, the cable outlet which the peacock net (warning, Variety-speak) uses for retreads and hockey, has been showing reruns of Poker After Dark. The show ran for over four years in the wee hours on NBC. In all they made some 350 eps.

Then the feds decided that Americans could not be permitted to bet their own money in online poker. Nice to know they're looking after our best interests. Just another reason to dislike the endless Obama administration and its endless recession. NBC cancelled the show, which had burned down in the ratings, anyway.

It was a little odd to see the Full Tilt Poker emblems on the players' shirts. The episodes I watched were interesting enough, with the lovely Kara Scott getting felted when she ran into an inconvenient pair of kings from Gabe Kaplan. Once upon a time poker was hot on TV, and it still survives here and there.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Money, it's a gas

Nothing like a Pink Floyd reference to date me. Anyhoo, I had an interesting exchange on the GSN board about inflation and a very long-lived game show...

Other poster: Try this: Watch Jeopardy! on any given night in your local market. Write down the final score of the day's winner, then divide it by 20. That's roughly what he or she would have taken home back in the '60s and '70s. As you can see, it was a different era.

Well, it's not quite that bad. The BLS inflation calculator estimates that you would have to divide by about 7.5 to get the same dollars as in 1964, the year Jeopardy debuted. The online calculators do put things into perspective, though. Kind of weird to think that a $750 payout on Cash Cab was only $100 in 1960s money.

Other poster: Well, the values on today's Jeopardy! board are twenty times what they were in 1964, which is where I got that figure from. Ideally, you should calculate the value down to what it would have been using the '60s board values, then plug that number into an inflation calculator.

What that means is that Jeopardy has actually stayed well ahead of inflation. Each answer (or question) in 2012 is worth about three times, in real terms, what it was worth in 1964 (20 divided by 7.5). So I guess if you divide by three - or 2.7 to be persnickety - you would get about what the same answer in 1964 would have been worth, in real purchasing value.

Economics is such fun.

UPDATE: By the way, I switched around the blog's appearance a bit. No real reason. Just got tired of the old format. The predominant color is still a soothing blue.

This is war!

My bio on this blog refers to game shows and the Internet wars about them. Apparently one war has been raging without me even noticing.

A thread on, a much-trafficked The Price is Right forum, pointed out the recent ratings released by CBS for the show. The numbers look healthy and growing. Which didn't sit well with some golden-road members, who regularly denounce just about everything that's happened on the show since Bob Barker left.

Turns out these members also have a beef with Chad Mosher and BuzzerBlog. Chad and the other site have a generally more positive attitude towards TPiR's recent seasons. I don't have a dog in this fight because I'm mostly indifferent to either the old or new The Price is Right. I have noticed that lots of Barker-bashers hang out on the GSN Internet board.

So maybe the golden-roaders don't much like the GSN-ers, either. Just another battle in the never-ending game show Internet conflicts.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dogged by stunts

Happened to be watching an episode of Dog Eat Dog on GSN today. My wife came into the room and announced what a dumb show it is, or was.

To some extent, she has a point. On the YouTube video where I got the fetching screenshot of host Brooke Burns, the original poster admits the show was "rather polarizing." Translation: some people liked it, and a lot of people despised it.

The eye candy and trash talk offered by the show were probably its most controversial aspects, though I personally didn't mind either. Exactly the opposite, in fact. The more skin and the more insults, the better me likee.

What nobody can dispute is that Dog Eat Dog tested very real athletic skills, like strength, hand-eye coordination, and reflexes. Yeah, the reality trappings could get a little tiresome, but at least the show never forced contestants to eat scorpions. Dog Eat Dog still occasionally gets semi-respectable numbers on GSN when the network trots it out to fill a few hours here and there.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marathon runner

GSN just put out a press release with its marathon plans for the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

It looks like they're trying to please everybody, hardcore and casual fans alike. The purists like me get plenty of Match Game and Dick Clark's Pyramid. The non-purists like me get lots of American Bible Challenge, Minute To Win It, and Deal or No Deal. And for the in-between types like me, there's even a swatch of GSN's Pyramid revival.

As you might suspect from my descriptions, I like all the shows which are getting the marathon treatment. Even GSN's ratings-starved Pyramid revival is okay with moi, though most viewers seem to have been there and done that with the paint-by-numbers copy of the old Pyramid format. 

Match Game is timeless, though I'm sure we'll hear complaints that the episodes aren't "new" enough for GSN. (Obvious note: there are, of course,  no truly new eps of the old Match Game.) The repeat of the Bible quizzer will let folks who might have missed an episode or two catch up. 

But my secret wish - don't say it too loudly - is a marathon of Lingo's first season on the Dutch set. Cheap and tacky but the beginning of something big. Maybe we'll see it one of these years.

UPDATE: A poster on the GSN board noticed something on the pdf schedule for December 17-23...I see What's My Line on the PDF's as only the week of December 17th. Do we know if this is a two week or one week special for What's My Line and I've Got A Secret?

I would guess two weeks, like previous years. We'll see. By the way, one of the WML eps dates all the way back to the Hal Block days in 1953. There's a lot of interesting material on Block's eventual firing in the WML episode guide.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bill Cullen looks psychotic

Happened to see a thread on Matt Ottinger's board with this funny I've Got a Secret caricature. The drawings of Henry Morgan and Garry Moore are relatively humdrum. But Betsy Palmer looks scarily like her Friday the 13th self, and Bill Cullen has apparently just escaped from the asylum.

Bess Myerson isn't around. She had become a regular well before this Al Kilgore cartoon appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in December, 1960. Guess he just didn't want to draw her.

I've Got a Secret was then coming off its top ratings years, 1955-1959. The show would run until 1967 but things were never quite the same. Moore would leave in 1964 and Steve Allen would see out the final years.

Nowadays shows get lost in the 500-channel jungle. But this simple little panel show could corral a huge percentage of American households back in the old days of three networks and nothing else. The black-and-white caricature brings back that era for me, though not with complete fondness. I wouldn't want to return to the ancient network triopoly, anyway.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lazy day

I'm a naturally lazy person.

So when Hurricane Sandy wiped out a week's worth of syndicated game show ratings, I took it as an excuse for this entry, instead of the usual weekly ratings roundup. I'll just rattle off ten things I've learned (badly) about game shows over the years. Which means I don't have to worry about getting the weekly numbers right. And that's pure relief for an actuary.

10) Money is important but not all-important. It's fun to watch naked greed at work, but it's more fun to watch a good game show format.

9) Chuck Woolery was a really good host. He didn't make viewers feel dumb, which is more important than you might think.

8) Blogs are made by fools like me, and so are shows with a money tree.

7) I like watching contestants do stupid stunts. Lots of other people have the same problem.

6) Celebs on game shows are okay as long as they don't think they're doing something important.

5) Charity episodes are fine once in a while. But game shows can o.d. on them real easy. After a while I get tired of shows preening themselves on their philanthropy.

4) Is there a group of people that Jeopardy wouldn't have a tournament with? Oh, convicted murderers, maybe.

3) Pat and Vanna are starting to blur into one word. Patandvanna. Sounds a little like Pennsylvania, only they're not a state, yet.

2) I never liked Richard Dawson. There. I said it. It's heresy, I know. I respected him greatly at the top of his form on Match Game and Family Feud. But I honestly never liked him. I still hope he rests in peace.

1) I do like game shows. What's wrong with me?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scummy yummy?

I've often said that game shows should be at least a little grubby and sleazy and down and dirty. Guess I should be happy that the producers of Killer Karaoke have taken my the max.

The premise: truTV, home of some of the worst, most delicious trash currently on offer to bored TV consumers,  inflicts hideous things on would-be music stars. This clip shows a poor girl getting dunked into a tank full of snakes while she tries to warble a country ditty.

She doesn't vomit, anyway, though she sobs a lot as the snakes curl around her frail self. The evil host, doing a superb impersonation of Richard Dawson in Running Man, enjoys every slimy minute. I don't see how the show can miss with truTV's cretinous audience.

UPDATE: The linked story offers this tidbit about the host: "[He's] former Jackass star Steve-O, who once said, 'My brain is f*cked up from using so much cocaine, ketamine, PCP, nitrous oxide, and all sorts of other drugs.'"

Steve-O has a brain, even a f*cked up one?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Professor meets game shows

Contestant stories usually get relegated to the faux tweets. But not always.

Happened to see Pat Headley's story in the Google news cache. He's a math professor - like the folks who tried to beat differential equations into my brain a long, long time ago - who appeared on both Jeopardy and Super Millionaire. The Jeopardy gig in 1990 was something of a flop. He finished second, though he did get a trip to the Bahamas.

But he hit the big time with Super Millionaire, ABC's short-lived revival of Regis' franchise in 2004. He climbed all the way up to the half-million before deciding to walk away.

Just for good measure, Pat wrote a couple of math papers on the two shows. I haven't read the papers, but they may point out the importance of knowing the answers to the questions. Or, in Jeopardy's case, the questions to the answers. If you're wondering what Pat did with the Millionaire money, he invested most of it for retirement. Just what a math professor would do.

By the way, Pat also wrote a paper on Abelian groups. No, the name doesn't have anything to do with my ancestors. There was this Norwegian mathematician named Abel who lived back in the nineteenth century. No relation.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The lady chess masters

With not much news coming from traditional game shows, I settled in for a long look at the women's world championship on Chess TV.

The commentators are a couple of Russian masters - one male and one female, as you might expect. The guy has the less impressive English language skills, but he's intelligible most of the time.

This championship is played in a knockout tournament among 64 players. Sort of like March Madness, except the tournament's in Russia in November. Each round is two games, with rapid-play tiebreaks if necessary, up until the final match, which is four games.

The favorite is the incumbent world champ, a Chinese teenager named Hou Yifan. She has a permanent, rather android-like smile which creeps me out for some reason. She also hasn't played particularly well lately, so I've got a hunch she may get bounced out of the tournament somewhere along the way.

A sexist note: a lot of the players are easy on the eyes. So for me it beats watching the male grandmasters for hours at a time.

UPDATE: Well, darned if I wasn't right about Hou Yifan. She got bounced in her second-round match against Monika Socko of Poland, 3-1.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I've often commented on the traditionalist tendencies of Matt Ottinger's game show board. If any more proof were needed, this thread seals the deal.

Posters praise Elizabeth Montgomery for turning up her bewitching nose at Password Plus. Seems she thought the revival was some kind of bastardization of the ancient original. Boy, she'd be right at home on Matt's board. This is way-out-there traditionalism.

Sorry, folks, but I think the original Password was an exercise in tedium, right down to Allen Ludden's impersonation of an owlish professor. At least Password Plus quickened the pace and varied the gameplay a little, and it didn't pretend to be educational TV.

As for Elizabeth, I would have told her to lighten up. Maybe a poster on the Sitcoms Online board had it about right. "Yep, Liz Montgomery was known to have an attitude and took herself and things she did (Bewitched is one example) much too seriously...She was right at home though when on Password. This is a game show that also took itself too seriously."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ginger snaps

A while back I reviewed the new Canadian revival of Match Game. So I decided to stroll through some of the old show's bits and pieces on YouTube.

Game show maven Adam Nedeff has uploaded clips from one of the most memorably blooper-prone contestants in the show's history. Her name was Ginger Morris, and the poor lady probably was very sensible in real life. In Match Game life, though...well, the clips tell the story.

I don't want to spoil the bloopers for anybody who hasn't seen them before. Almost any Match Game fan has at least heard of the clips and has probably seen them plenty of times. And if you're not a Match Game fan, these clips may make you one. The dumber the answers, the better the show.

One technical note: these clips date from Match Game's post-Dawson era. Bill Daily occupied the front-and-center Dawson chair for these episodes. Daily's role in these clips was relatively minor, but he wasn't a terrible substitute for Richard, especially the bored, uninterested Dawson who finally left the show.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blast from a forgettable past

This came out of nowhere. Just got the advance schedules from GSN today, and Improv-a-Ganza is back.

For those who don't remember or don't want to remember, this was GSN's ill-fated revival of Whose Line Is It Anyway. Drew Carey and his merry band of improvisers did some comedy in Vegas. GSN chopped up the performances into allegedly laugh-riot half-hours and gave the show enormous promotion.

And it bombed. Like a B-52 it bombed, loudly and lengthily. The problem was that the show just wasn't very funny. Which is a major concern for a comedy show. Improv-a-Ganza struggled through truly godawful ratings until GSN finally yanked it off the schedule completely.

But now they've brought the reruns back to replace Pyramid on Friday night. That tells you three things:

1) Pyramid is a ratings disaster and stands no chance of renewal.

2) Some things never die, even if they deserve merciful euthanasia.

3) GSN will dump anything on Friday night.

UPDATE: A sharp-eyed poster on the GSN Internet board noted that Regis Millionaire will return to the network for a daytime marathon on Black Friday. First time back in a long time for a show that once owned GSN.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ratings: big two syndies move up

The venerable pair of syndicated game shows enjoyed a good week for October 22-28. Otherwise, the news was pretty blah for the genre, but not really terrible. By the way, November sweeps are upon us. TVNewsCheck provides the numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up a tick
Jeopardy 6.0 - up three ticks to a season high
Family Feud 4.1 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.3 - flat
Baggage 1.0 - last and least, Jerry lost a tick

TV by the Numbers has the viewership averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 10.1 million (tops among all syndicated shows), Jeopardy 8.9 million, Family Feud 5.9 million. Very good numbers compared to a lot of broadcast shows.

For the week of October 29-November 4, GSN continued to coast downward, with 316K/234K prime time/total day viewership averages. The network ranked 43rd in both windows. The numbers aren't terrible but not nearly as good as when the world was new and American Bible Challenge was romping and stomping.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our very own stunts

Now that Pyramid is crashing and burning, Matt Ottinger's board chews over other possibilities for a GSN revival. This being Matt's board, most of the suggestions are for shows eighty years old or older (slight exaggeration).

But some brave poster suggested a remake of Dog Eat Dog or Minute To Win It. Naturally, this got giggles on the very traditionalist board. And I'm not sure that a straight-up, painfully faithful remake of either show would fly on GSN, anyway. See the aforementioned Pyramid.

But maybe it's time the network thought about its own stunt show. Just pick up (basically, steal) ideas from all the various stuntfests over the years and have contestants do goofy things. Make the pace quick enough to get through a lot of stupid human tricks in a half-hour, and you might have a decent show.

GSN's luck with original quizzers and word games has been hit or miss, mostly miss. At least a stunt show would be something different.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dealing for the Deal

A thread on the GSN board chatted about the idea of the network acquiring reruns of Wayne Brady's Let's Make a Deal.

Most posters thought the notion was hopeless, at least until CBS decides they don't want the wheeling and dealing anymore. I can't disagree with the consensus, but I still chipped in some comments about the hypothetical acquisition...

[CBS President] Les Moonves hasn't called me for ages - where are you, Les? - so I can't say exactly what he thinks about farming Let's Make a Deal out to our little game show network. My guess is that he's devoted pretty much zero thought to it, anyway.

If GSN could somehow pry reruns loose from CBS for reasonable money, they probably would be worth a shot. The last ratings I saw were around 2.5 to 3 million total viewers with the usual older skew. Don't think that reruns on GSN would be a huge hit but they would probably fetch acceptable numbers. Something like Minute To Win It, maybe a little lower.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Repo Games demo

Usually I don't much care for political articles which use game shows to make a point. The articles often recycle the most obvious cliches about, say, politicians making a deal like Monty Hall.

But this commentary on Spike's Repo Games digs a little deeper into the game show from a political angle. I'll warn readers that the article comes at its subject from the right. But really a lot of the comments are true from just about any political perspective.

After all, the economy hasn't exactly roared ahead over the past few years. Repo Games seems built for such tough times, as more people have trouble making their car payments.

The article notes that even the most rowdy contestants on the show seem fairly reasonable once the repo guys show a little patience. "Intriguingly, once the repo man calms down these contestants, they seem like perfectly nice people, albeit without the social skills and manners that exist among the middle class."

The writer even expresses sympathy for some for the better-mannered contestants. "[The show] also lets viewers root for contestants who seem nice and perhaps have had some bad luck (and there are of course lots of those types of folks in the miserable economy). Some of the more sympathetic contestants are single moms."

I'm still a little queasy about a show that traffics off people's bad luck and worse finances. But Repo Games lived to see a second season, so somebody out there likes it.

Friday, November 2, 2012


One of the very few pleasures of getting old is actually recalling stuff other people can only read about.

One of those remembered follies of my misspent youth was the hula hoop craze of 1958. For reasons too obscure to recount or even understand, the U.S. went nuts for hula hoops...for a very brief time. Then the contraptions vanished to wherever forgotten contraptions go.

What's My Line took advantage of the craze with its September 14, 1958 episode featuring Arthur "Spud" Melin, inventor of the hula hoop. Spud died in 2002 but the almighty hoop made him and his Wham-O partner Richard Knerr very rich, thank you. (Knerr would appear on WML the very next week after Spud.)

Sadly for the show's suspense factor, guest panelist John Payne guessed Spud's occupation almost immediately. Payne zeroed in on the "silly sports" area and quickly nailed the hula hoop. Not bad at all for a guest panelist. Sometimes they had real trouble getting the hang of the game.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

News you can use

Over at Carrie Grosvenor suggested various Minute To Win It games for Halloween, in case of inclement weather. The holiday has come and gone, of course, and the weather in my home Dallas-Fort Worth area was just fine. I handed out plenty of candy to trick-or-treating kids and didn't have to worry about 60-second games.

But Carrie's idea isn't bad for any kids party. She recommended "Johnny Applestack" as one of the games for the pre-pubescent set. So I rustled up a picture of a post-pubescent contestant trying the stunt on the actual show. He won, and the kids could also have fun stacking the fruit. Carrie ran through plenty of other suggested games in her blog post.

This reminds me of how much I'm enjoying the Minute reruns on GSN lately. As I wrote a while back, the stunts are silly but entertaining. And kids would probably like them even more than cynical old farts like me.