Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monty, still dealing

I'll fess up that shopping games like Let's Make a Deal aren't my faves. But when a legend returns, well, everybody has to take note.

Tomorrow Monty Hall comes back to the show he started 50 years ago. The proudly Canadian Monty - he's even won the Order of Canada, an award I never knew existed - gave a long interview to a reporter up north about LMAD's origins. "We took it to a knitting club in the valley once at eight in the morning." The pitchman never relented in his drive to sell the show, and he finally got NBC to bite in 1964. The rest is zonk history.

Monty will at last get a lifetime achievement Emmy this summer. His wife already has one of the awards, so "I can put my Emmy alongside her Emmy and they can have a bunch of little Emmys." Even at 91 Monty can turn a quip.

Audiences may have gotten more jaded and blasé over the decades, but Monty says they still go hyper when the cameras roll on Let's Make a Deal. "It's an exciting moment. When somebody points a finger at you and says, 'You're next,' you don't even remember your name." Nobody will forget Monty's name any time soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Ratings: forgettable week for syndies

Syndicated television did not enjoy the week of February 11-17. Most shows lost ground as fewer people bothered watching TV. Game show were no exception. TVNewsCheck brings the not so glad tidings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.3 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 6.6 - follows the soulmate, down three ticks
Family Feud 5.2 - flat, which ain't bad in this week
Millionaire 2.4 - down a couple ticks as Meredith counts down the days
Baggage 1.2 - hey, up a tick for our long-suffering Jerry

The viewership averages from TV by the Numbers reflected the sagging household ratings: Wheel of Fortune 11.6 million (weekend repeat 5.5 million), Jeopardy 10.1 million, Family Feud 7.9 million, Millionaire - nice to see Meredith make the list - 3.4 million.

I wasn't too thrilled with Robot Combat League but then, as I sadly noted, I'm not the target demo. The sort of game show got 1.3 million total viewers for its February 26 premiere. Not bad at all for SyFy.

Finally, TVNewser published its cable ranker for February. It was a decent month for GSN, with 337K/275K prime time/total day viewership averages. The network ranked 41st in both windows.

Flip off, haters

It wasn't a complete cakewalk, but Chicago teacher Colby Burnett converted his big first-day lead into the quarter-million grand prize in Jeopardy's tournament of champions. That's nice, but what I really like is his attitude toward his Internet hate club. Basically, that attitude is eff off.

Which is exactly the right attitude, in my cocky opinion. Colby said this about the haters: "I like the fact that I know things. I've been involved in academic competitions since I was 14 years old." Yeah, and now he's $350,000 richer, with his hundred grand from the teachers tournament win.

None of his Internet detractors will ever have to worry about winning that kind of money on Jeopardy. Colby didn't even take grief from Alex Trebek about his name (which, in case you didn't notice, is also the name of a type of cheese). "I’m not taking this from anyone. I don’t care who you are."

This guy's got cojones. Good for him, and congratulations on the victory.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trivial awards

Can't remember the last time I spent a minute watching the Oscars. But at least Hollywood Junket makes the best of the borefest by turning it into a trivia game show.

If you want to take the trivia test, do it now, because I'm going to spoil the answers. The biggest surprise for me was that Walt Disney has won more Oscars than anybody else. He'd probably be too politically incorrect nowadays to win much of anything in Hollywood.

There's a picture of Halle Berry crying. For some reason it makes me smile. Looks like she's disappointed about the statue being too small. Jessica Tandy is the answer to the question about the oldest winner. I can identify. The owner of this blog is getting older by the minute.

And I couldn't have guessed the Dolby Theater if you gave me ten thousand chances. I always thought they held the Oscars in a TV studio. I mean, the Oscars are on television, aren't they?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pigs, sheep, cars

GSN just sent me the pdf schedule for March 11-17. (See the sidebar.) The week features the debut of Family Trade, GSN's reality effort about a car dealership that takes sheep, pigs and most anything else in trade.

I really do try hard not to prejudge any show. Still, this production sounds like one of the lamer projects ever. I'll review it with as open a mind as I can manage. But the human stars of the show have already rubbed me the wrong way on GSN's promos. The pigs and sheep seem pretty unobjectionable, though.

GSN will run and rerun two half-hour eps all week long. By the fifth or sixth rerun, my guess is that the ratings won't be worth much of a trade-in at the Nielsen car lot. The premiere has already been pushed back a week, which is not an encouraging sign. But for better or worse, the show finally looks ready to roll.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The long goodbye

Apologies to Raymond Chandler fans for borrowing one of his titles. But game shows did endure a long goodbye from U.S. broadcast network prime time after the 1960s.

Just how long the hiatus lasted was brought home to me by this tweet from Alex Davis. On the thread the very reliable Chris Lambert correctly nailed Newlywed Game as the last U.S. game show that survived four full seasons in broadcast prime time.

According to the Wikipedia (usual caveats) prime time schedules, Newlywed Game held down a Saturday night slot on ABC for four seasons, ending in 1970-71. And then game shows disappeared from those schedules until Regis hosted that money tree show in the 1999-2000 season. But no game show (including Millionaire) has managed to last four full seasons in broadcast prime time since the return.

It's the demos, folks. Wheel of Fortune has survived forever in syndication. Pat and Vanna regularly pull more total viewers than all but a handful of prime time shows. In the February 4-10 week, only eight prime time shows got more than Wheel's average of 12.1 million viewers.

If Wheel skewed young, it would be running in broadcast prime time forever. But it doesn't, so it isn't.

Gender bender

Time to check in with Richard Carson's terrific I've Got a Secret channel on YouTube. Back in the pre-feminist days of 1958, the show uncorked a pleasant gender role reversal stunt.

They brought on an engaged couple from Oklahoma, Sandra Keister and K.C. Jones. As you can probably tell from the screenshot, Sandra was the only girl in a boys' school and K.C. was the only boy in a girls' school.

Bill Cullen stumbled onto the right idea when he asked about the couple's "physiological attributes." Bill then got a lot of humor out of the phrase. He could get humor out of anything. But he also forced Garry Moore to admit that, yes, the difference in sexes was important to the secret. This opened the door for an impossibly young-looking Betty White to guess the secret about the girls' and boys' schools.

Just to show how times have changed, the audience laughed when K.C. revealed that he was studying to be a nurse. Nowadays the situation would almost be routine. At least an audience wouldn't do anything so politically incorrect as laugh at the idea.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A little slumming

I'm not a Glee-ful type. Never watch the show, in fact. But as a faux tweet noted, it was hard to miss Google News getting all excited over Glee's Jane Lynch hosting NBC's upcoming Hollywood Game Night.

She won't be the first celeb to take a small slumming tour through our déclassé genre. A glance at her Wikipedia article didn't reveal any prior game show experience, and her IMDb page mentioned only a bit part on syndie Millionaire. That's just as well. Hollywood Game Night sounds more like a celeb-fest than a serious competition.

Supposedly, it's a pop-culture quizzer conducted in a party atmosphere. "A-list celebrities" hang out and bat around trivia questions with "fun-loving non-celebrity contestants." Jeopardy this ain't, but fun-loving non-celebs are probably the best kind of non-celebs.

As long as Jane doesn't barf on the air, she should be able to handle what sound like very non-taxing host duties. Eight hour-long episodes are due in late summer.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Never fails. I jinxed a contestant again.

This time the unlucky player was Jason Keller of Jeopardy. I picked him to win the show's ongoing tournament of champions. Of course, you know what had to happen. Jason just bit the quizzer dust today. Keith Whitener, a fearsome player in his own right, locked out Jason and Paul Nelson before Final Jeopardy. Keith will join Kristin Morgan and Colby Burnett in the two-day finale starting Monday.

I'm not going to pick another favorite at this point. I've done enough damage. Not that Jason Keller needs any pity. He has relieved Alex and company of about a quarter-million bucks. Pretty good pay for trivia.

Jeopardy's tournament of champions dates back to the ancient Art Fleming days. If there's a genuine tradition among the endless stunts in game shows, the ToC is it. Good luck to all the finalists this year.

UPDATE: ToC finalist Colby Burnett has an anti-fan club. Don't know what Colby did to get 'em so riled up. Guess he won too much money.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bash, crash

I'm a pretty easygoing guy when it comes to the limits of game shows. But it really is a (mechanical) stretch to include Syfy's Robot Combat League in the genre.

What happens is that animatronic robots fight. It's sort of like watching super-stiff mixed martial arts guys swing away. To be blunt, the fights are comically clumsy, though some hydraulic fluid squirts around and there are lots of sparks.

You can watch the first episode here. Just skip to the 32nd minute or so and you'll miss a lot of padding. The entire episode only offers about three minutes of actual fighting, and eventually things fizzle out into a fluid-leaking TKO. Pretty anticlimactic, I'm afraid.

Let's face it, I'm not the target demo for this stuff. But if you're male and on the front side of thirty years old, you might enjoy the few minutes of actual combat. It's still hard to count Robot Combat League as a game show, though other game show sites are covering it. I'll just call it Popular Mechanics Sports Illustrated.

Just spoofin'

Something about our little genre brings out the best and worst in parody.

Saturday Night Live has run through a zillion game show spoofs. Some have been memorable, some forgettable, some a little of both. Meanwhile, a couple of stage parodies are now playing. I previously mentioned the Calgary production of Game Show, the almost time-honored spoof that features audience participation and a backstory twist.

The show gets a rave review from a critic who likes Richard Karn as Troy Richards, the game show host who makes the play go round. She praises Karn's ad-libbing ability, honed by four years on Family Feud. She also likes the snow crab legs, the moshi duck, and the jumbo prawn skewers. Food is important in dinner theater, after all.

Another critic finds less to praise in Games of the Heart, a Dating Game spoof now playing in Wilmington, NC. "Awkward repartee," "heavy-handed foreshadowing," "unromantic and implausible." But he does like the beef brisket, though the carrots are a bit underdone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ratings: syndies blah out

Syndicated game shows sighed through the week of February 4-10. They were flat or lost a tenth of a point. Big news, right? But the ever watchful TVNewsCheck offers the less than thrilling details...

Wheel of Fortune 7.7 - down a tick
Jeopardy 6.9 - flat
Family Feud 5.2 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.6 - flat
Let's Ask America 1.8 - down a tick, seeing a pattern here?
Baggage 1.1 - flat

Ho-hum. At least TV by the Numbers brings lots of numbers for the top three shows. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 12.1 million (weekend repeat 6.0 million), Jeopardy 10.7 million (weekend repeat 4.6 million), Family Feud 7.8 million. The numbers are still impressive even in a blah week.

Total Blackout has been, well, fading to Nielsen black on SyFy. The latest run on February 19 got 752K viewers and an underwhelming 0.3 19-49 rating. That would be great for GSN but it's not so hot for SyFy. A science fiction network may not be the best home for a traditional, studio-based game show.

GSN enjoyed a nice week for February 11-17 by our frugal network's standards: 350K/291K viewership averages prime time/total day. As always, Steve Harvey led the way with Family Feud.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Really, thank you very much

You'll notice the sidebar note which begs for votes in this year's Readers Choice game show awards at Carrie Grosvenor has run the awards for the last three years. And I'm very grateful to this site's readers for voting me in as a finalist every year.

I know I seem cynical and jaded on this little blog. But I really do appreciate your votes for the site. Sounds silly and sentimental, but it's great to know that somebody out there appreciates the blog. I write out of love of the sport (or the games) but this kind of recognition doesn't hurt at all.

Carrie has posted the voting site in all five game show categories. If you're interested at all, my votes in the first four categories would go to Wheel of Fortune, Alex Trebek, Johnny Gilbert, and Millionaire (Facebook). I'll let you guess who I would vote for in the fifth category.

Again, thanks. Really.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A book I'll never read

You may have heard me say I'm indifferent to The Price is Right. But I'm downright hostile to the eternal lawsuits around the show. I have to cover them because this is a game show news blog, and the lawsuits (sadly) make game show news. But it's a chore, believe me.

So it's with distaste that I announce some model (her name is Kathleen Bradley) is publishing some tell-all book about something on The Price is Right. The book sounds like a Bob-Barker-bash, though the web page insists rather goofily that it's not. It's just that Barker and company are guilty of "hypocrisy, sexism and racism," "dirty little secrets," "politically incorrect attitudes," "betrayals," and body odor. Okay, I made up that last one.

I hope the book doesn't sell one copy. I really do. Not that I'm a big fan of Barker. Couldn't care less about him, in fact. I'm just tired of people - lawyers, in particular - making money off the alleged sins and secrets of The Price is Right.

Unfortunately, I have a depressing notion that the book will sell a lot more than one copy. It's just what the world needs now.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Swapped out

Game Show Garbage's latest induction is a show I didn't know existed. Which means the Garbage-men are scraping through the bottom of the barrel.

The show is called Swaps, and it died an unnoticed death after two, count 'em, two months of syndication in 1995-96. After watching an episode on YouTube, I can understand why the grim reaper (who turns up in the episode, by the way) claimed a game show victim so quickly. The show offered nothing that Newlywed Game, Dating Game, Love Connection and a bunch of other relationship shows didn't do a lot better.

But it wasn't terribly terrible, as in screamingly, horribly, Burt Luddin's Love Buffet terrible. All that happened on Swaps was that three ex-couples tried to guess things about each other. If they guessed right, they got some money for a "date bank." Most of the things were relatively tame by the relationship sub-genre's standards. No, it's not the most entertaining stuff you ever watched, but it's somewhat bearable.

At the end of the show, each guy decided if he wanted to go on a date with his ex-girlfriend or swap out the ex for one of the other girls. If one of the girls agreed with one of the guys' preferences, they got a date and all the (skimpy) money they earned in the front game. In the YouTube ep, the guy who got lucky was the pictured Jeremy. He seemed wimpy to me but I guess the girl thought he was cute.

The only reason anybody would remember this show is the host, Scott St. John. Yep, he's the gentleman who would go on to some much better projects as a producer. One more note: Game Show Garbage promises that next week's inductee will be the aforementioned Burt Luddin Love's Buffet. All I can say is, what took so long? Compared to the Luddin atrocity, Swaps is high culture.

Go skew yourself

To begin with, a disclaimer: I'm 61 and okay with it.

I happened to read a long entry on TV by the Numbers, a site which worships the fabled 18-49 demo. (Can't blame them, it's a common religion in the TV universe.) A brave commenter referred to Neil Gabler's legendary attack on the 18-49 fetish among TV folks.

Gabler rather hurt his argument, I think, by his conspiracy theory that the fetish was all the fledgling ABC's fault in the early 1960s. Since the young and poor alphabet net (sorry, Variety-speak) couldn't hope to beat CBS and NBC in total viewer ratings, the theory insists ABC honcho Leonard Goldenson invented the obsession with the 18-49 demo. And every TV executive fell for it and has been falling for it again and again over the last five decades.

Well, maybe, but blaming one network guy for a fifty-year obsession in an entire industry sounds a leetle far-fetched. My guess is that Gabler's alternate theory falls closer to the truth: youth is a lot sexier than old age. And sex sells to everyone, including TV execs.

So what does this have to do with game shows? Well, as everybody except one shepherd in Kazakhstan knows - and he'll hear about it soon - game shows skew old in the ratings. Which has made them a hard sell for years. Even when a game show does fine in total viewer numbers, like Million Dollar Password, the old skew can kill it quick.

Maybe someday Gabler's icon-smashing will prevail, or at least make a little headway with TV people. But until then our little genre will always face that brutal demo headwind from the Nielsen Company.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hulu-ing the classics

GSN Classic, a channel devoted solely to oldies, is an age-old dream on the GSN board. It never happens, of course. GSN can't get universal carriage for their main channel, much less an oldies outlet.

But the dream dies hard. A poll on the GSN board asked folks which old shows they would like to see on Hulu in partnership with GSN. I responded with skepticism...

Why would Hulu bother partnering with GSN for this? I'm sure Hulu could obtain all the rights to old game shows they wanted for a few bucks. There's not exactly huge competition for them. Hulu already has a classics section, though I didn't see any game shows there. They also have a reality and game show section, but it doesn't look to have any oldies. It does have Minute To Win It.

My guess is that Hulu sees very little market for old game shows. This whole idea sounds like a backdoor try at that old dream on this board, GSN Classic. Good luck, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

UPDATE: Hey, I take it back, partly at least. Hulu does have some Peter Marshall Hollywood Squares. So one of the choices in the poll is already available at the site. A ton of stuff from all the shows in the poll is already available on YouTube, of course. Even Hot Potato (the clip is a roll call of classic game show hosts, by the way). And if you want more Hot Potato than anybody knows what to do with, try this playlist on YouTube.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Talking with Richard

Game Show, that interactive semi-spoof of our little genre, has set up shop in Calgary. It must have played everywhere else at one time or another.

Topping the cast in the frozen North is Richard Karn. You might call him a natural for the role from his days on Family Feud. Karn more or less rescued the syndie after Louie Anderson had looked as uninterested in the show as possible for three long years.

After four seasons with Richard, Feud's producers brought in John O'Hurley, who was a hot commodity after his Dancing With the Stars turn. But Karn Feud survives on GSN and still collects decent numbers.

Richard gave an interview to a Calgary critic, where he played his usual likable Everyman self. He chatted about his adventures in the business, especially as good ol' Al on Home Improvement. Karn has a refreshingly modest ego, and is perfectly willing to admit his limitations. There's a reason he's done all those infomercials. Most viewers find him easy to take.

Nowadays Steve Harvey is all the rage for cranking Feud's ratings. But I always liked Karn's much less camera-hogging, face-contorting style on the show. Hope he enjoys his stay in Canada.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fall from Grace

So I'm bored and "watching" one of the music channels way up the nosebleed section in the 800s on cable TV. The single version of Jefferson Starship's Miracles comes on. And there's a trivia note that Grace Slick once got tossed off a game show for abusing the contestants.

I had never heard this bit of game show history, but it wasn't a staggering surprise. Grace probably wasn't feeling much pain at the time, and she was always a mean drunk. One thing did intrigue me: what was Grace Slick doing on a game show in the first place? Didn't exactly seem her specialty, unless the show was Let's Make a Drug Deal. Sorry to be harsh, but it's hard to imagine Grace coherent enough to give clues on Pyramid.

Oh, I shouldn't make fun. Grace has run through a zillion problems with substance abuse, and it's hardly been a laughing matter for her. Anyway, I checked Wikipedia (this is pop culture, right?) for more info on the game show which ejected Ms. Slick. Turns out it was a local San Francisco show. Couldn't find the name.

Rock stars just don't seem like game show people. As Weird Al pointed out, they would probably lose on Jeopardy, and pretty badly at that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tournaments all over

I've grumped about Jeopardy running too many tournaments. Sure enough, this year's teen tilt saw a triple zero after Final Jeopardy and categories based on Carly Rae Jepsen lyrics, among other monstrosities. But at least the tournament wrapped up with a cute (if cocky) final answer from winner Leonard Cooper. He channeled Millionaire's John Carpenter and told the world he would win before the game was over. He was right.

Now it's on to the one Jeopardy stunt I can get enthusiastic about, the venerable tournament of champions. Looking over the list of contestants, I'd have to say the favorite is Jason Keller, a nine-time winner who seems to have the best all-round game. But as Joaquin Andujar said when he summed up baseball in one word: you never know.

At least the games will be competently played. These folks know what they're doing when they question the answers. We'll see who's left standing on February 26.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ratings: steady as they go

Not much change for syndicated game shows as February sweeps got under way. For the week of January 28-February 3, they held steady at or near their season-high levels. TVNewsCheck brings the okay news...

Wheel of Fortune 7.8 - flat at a season high
Jeopardy 6.9 - down a tick from last week's season high
Family Feud 5.3 - up a couple ticks to just shy of a season high
Millionaire 2.6 - flat at a season high
Let's Ask America - a 1.9 four-week average in its metered markets, which is up nicely from its debut week in September
Baggage 1.1 - flat and a distant last, poor Jerry never gets to join in any reindeer games

TV by the Numbers has all sorts of viewership averages this week: Wheel of Fortune 12.3 million (weekend repeat 6.4 million), Jeopardy 10.7 million (weekend repeat 4.7 million), Family Feud 8.0 million, Millionaire 3.5 million. Very acceptable numbers all around.

Douglas Pucci posts GSN's numbers for February 4-10. The network bounced back from an off week with 340K/271K viewership averages prime time/total day. Steve Harvey's Family Feud dominated, of course, but a few other shows are starting to sneak into the top twenty-five.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Biblical proportions again

GSN has released the list of teams for the second season of American Bible Challenge, debuting March 21. I'm really wondering what will happen with the second go-round. We know that the first season stomped on various network ratings records. Can GSN catch biblical lightning in a bottle twice?

The teams have the usual cutesy-pie names. Cowboy Crusaders, Righteous Rubies, Rockin' Rabbis, you get the idea. I don't want to sound too cynical because the contestants really are competing for good causes. The show gives viewers a few warm and fuzzies, unlike the meaner efforts in our little genre. Who ever got warm and fuzzies from Gong Show, after all?

Jeff Foxworthy returns as host, of course. When you give a network its biggest audience ever, they tend to invite you back. Kirk Franklin comes along for the musical accompaniment. The tournament set-up is the same: six first-round episodes, two semifinals, and a grand finale. We'll see how long the show's success can last, starting next month.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Going local

On the GSN board folks started reminiscing about Bowling for Dollars and other local game shows over the years. Naturally, I had to chime in...

Other poster: Aside from that, you've got your usual suspects, localized College Bowl clones (mostly for high schools or small area colleges) and lottery game shows. Worth mentioning: At present, Ohio is the only remaining state lottery to feature a regular, weekly game show (the long-running Cash Explosion Double Play).

On the blog I try to keep up with news about local shows. Probably the biggest story in recent years was Washington D.C.'s Mac McGarry retiring after 572 years (slight exaggeration) as host of the local It's Academic. And there were a few stories about Ohio's Cash Explosion surviving to its 25th anniversary

There are a surprising number of local high school and college quizzers around the country. It's cheap programming, after all. Stories about them turn up in Google News, and then in my faux tweets. Local sports quizzers are also an interesting variant, like The Batter's Box in Chicago.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mommy, I'm scared

A thread on, well, it's not Matt Ottinger's board any more, asked people for their "game show terrors." As so often happens on the board, the thread ran into some sour-lemon-ish personal bickering and then rolled completely off the rails into a silly snipefest. The final yelling started over, of all things, the Emergency Broadcast System. (Now there's a really fun game show for ya, kids!)

But a few interesting posts managed to poke their way through. Various game show graphics, logos, and sound effects gave posters the willies when they were young'uns. I could say something rude and the size of Richard Dawson's ego always terrified me. But the real fear and loathing of my childhood was watching that big clock run down on Beat the Clock.

I know, it sounds bizarre. Still, there was something so ominous about watching that huge clock hand tick off those precious seconds right down to the fateful, final end. Just scared the bejesus out of me, as if my life were about to expire along with the contestants' fleeting moments.

It didn't help that the unctuous Bud Collyer seemed like a snake-oil huckster, even to my uncynical childhood self. He looked like just the kind of guy who would pull a truly evil trick on little old me. Okay, nobody ever died on the show. But time always does win, after all.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Talk about game shows

You find the weirdest things rummaging around YouTube. Like Phil Donohue.

For those too young to remember and/or care, Donohue was a talk show host who started out pretty straightlaced but eventually sank further and further into the dumpster. To be fair, he didn't dive quite as far as Springer. At least Phil didn't need large guys to break up staged fights between his no-account guests. But Donohue's shows did get more embarrassing by the season.

One of Phil's more buttoned-down episodes featured the three pictured game show hosts. This was circa 1988, with Alex Trebek, Chuck Woolery, and Bert Convy. YouTube preserves the evidence.

First thing which strikes me about the tape is that Donohue is flying. This guy is amped to the freakin' max. I don't think anything questionable is involved, but Phil could definitely afford to cut back on the coffee. He's bouncing around the studio like the Energizer Bunny on methamphetamine.

When Alex, Chuck and Bert can get a word in, they have some interesting things to say. For instance, Chuck asserts that Love Connection isn't really a game show, even if it looks, walks and quacks like one. I disagree with him on the issue, but he would know better than I would.

Maybe the most poignant aspect of the episode is the unavoidable knowledge that Bert would die within a few years of the taping. He looks great on the show, which is a sobering reminder of how quickly the thread can get cut. Thankfully, Alex and Chuck are still with is Phil, for that matter.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Babies are so adorable

Hollywood Junket is a good source for on-set reports about upcoming game shows. The stories do tend toward gushiness, as when the site cooed over Take It All. Despite the rave review, the show died a quick death on NBC.

But at least the site is good for details about a show's gameplay. So their story about ABC's upcoming Bet On Your Baby is worth a look. The format is really, really simple: one parent bets on how well the kid will do in a game with the other parent.

Hollywood Junket says host Melissa Peterman is good with kids, which should help. They report the show is very family-friendly, which seems obvious. They assure us that the show will "entertain many people," which will be decided by the Nielsen Company. And they say the prize money goes toward college scholarships for the children, which nobody can complain about.

The show will air on Saturday night, so ratings expectations shouldn't be too tough. ABC has ordered eight episodes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hoops and wheels

My interest in the NBA is limited. They play basketball, right?

But on the GSN board a poster wondered if Wheel of Fortune was running their NBA week right now to celebrate the start of the season. Well, even I know that the NBA season really has no start because it lasts all year. Anyway, some more palaver on the subject...

Other poster: I don't regularly watch Wheel these days, so I defer to those who do to confirm/deny this week's first-run status.

Definitely first-runs. Wheel put an e-mail in my inbox to make sure the blog didn't forget. Watched the show tonight [Tuesday, February 5] and it was an interesting ep, though not for the hoopsters. The winner had a chance at the million. And yes, the basketball guys only show up in bumpers.

By the way, the latest published week (January 21-27) saw a season high for Wheel with a 7.8 household rating and a viewership average over 12 million. Sure, it skews old. But Wheel's total numbers make a lot of broadcast prime time look weak. In fact, last night [Monday, February 4] there wasn't a single show in broadcast prime that matched Wheel's latest total-viewer average.

You know, if game shows skewed young, Wheel would be the hottest thing on TV. But then, if things had just been a little different, I'd be rich and famous. (That is a joke, folks.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ratings: season highs all over the place

Syndicated game shows wish every week could be like this. New season highs were thick on the ground in the week of January 21-27. Yeah, the shows skew old but I'm skewing old, too, so what the hey. TVNewsCheck spreads the good cheer throughout gameshowland...

Wheel of Fortune 7.8 - up a tick to a season high
Jeopardy 7.0 - up two ticks to a soulmate-matching season high
Family Feud 5.1 - flat but hardly terrible
Millionaire 2.6 - up a couple ticks to, yeah, a season high
Let's Ask America 2.0 - up a tick to a season (and of course series) high in its Scripps markets
Baggage 1.1 - down a tick, Jerry can't catch a break

TV by the Numbers brings the impressive viewership averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 12.3 million (weekend repeat 6.2 million), Jeopardy 10.8 million, Family Feud 7.8 million. Can Jeopardy get past the eleven million mark? Put your answer in the form of a question. Maybe?

Although there's been no formal announcement, I assume the dirt-cheap Let's Ask America will get a second season. The numbers aren't ginormous but the show costs $7.95 per ep. Scripps has to be pretty happy.

GSN's numbers softened in the latest week, January 28-February 3, with 298K/253K viewership averages prime time/total day. The Dancing With the Stars marathon probably didn't help.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Feud over money

How much is enough? That was the title of a very short-lived GSN original, but it's also the subject of a thread on Game Show Forum. The discussion concerns how much prize money is enough on Family Feud. Ideas bounce back and forth, and most posters think the show could afford to dole out a little more to the contestants.

Five dollars a point for families who miss the big money does seem pretty chintzy for a show which now regularly scores seven million viewers. I could see the consolation prize going to ten dollars a point without busting the bank. Although my evil self kind of likes to see that real crusher in the bonus round when families just miss the magic 200 points.

Raising the twenty grand prize is probably affordable, too. One idea is a progressive jackpot to build a little interest. The show recently gave away $160,000 in a Publishers Clearinghouse stunt, and the ratings were just fine, thank you. Building up some big amounts couldn't hurt the bonus round.

Game show purists tend to scoff at bigger prize money as a fix for a format's problems. I don't mind a cheap show myself, as long as the gameplay is absorbing enough. I was a big Cash Cab fan, and that show was tighter than a tick. But Feud could loosen the purse strings a little.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Remember the marathon

With nothing much else to do, the GSN board got to considering a possible return of CBS' Gameshow Marathon from the summer of 2006. Most everybody thinks the chances are slim, none, and worse than none. My little contribution...

Other poster: I defer to Casey Abell and Alex Davis for my ratings info. 

Well, thanks. I did a Google search for ratings information on Gameshow Marathon and came up with this... 

The show did pretty good in ratings actually. The series premiere got pretty decent ratings (5.5/10), then the next episode the next day got even better ratings. The next few episodes didn't do quite as good, but then the ratings went back up for the Match Game episode (5.1/10) and the final episode (4.9/9). The show was in the top 20 in weekly ratings a few times too (although that's only because it's summer). 

Those overall household ratings are certainly acceptable for summer fare. (Yes, you have to adjust for the general fall in broadcast network TV ratings year after year.) My guess is that the show skewed old, though, and CBS didn't like that. Same thing happened to Million Dollar Password. Okay household ratings but a very old skew. 

For what it's worth, which ain't much, I'd like to see CBS try another marathon one of these years. But like most everybody else on the thread, I am not holding my breath.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A minute of discussion

The GSN board ruminates on the new version of Minute To Win It now casting. Naturally, I ruminate along, with some comments I know will be controversial. I have a lot of experience on the board...

Other poster: One challenge will be getting a popular host that's not Fieri. Mike Richards was part of [GSN] Pyramid's demise, of having only producing/"Behind the Scenes" experience, rather than a lot of hosting experience.

Sorry, can't agree with this. I thought Richards was fine as the host. Competent, funny, personable. The real problem with Pyramid, IMO, is that it was too slavishly imitative of the old Dick Clark version. Been-there-done-that syndrome. We'll see if GSN changes things up a little for the new version of Minute. Already, they look to be going exclusively for team play, with no individual contestants. I'd like to see a quicker pace, too, with less filler from the host and much less This Is Your Life stuff.

Other poster: But really, what do I know about GSN shows? Really don't watch much on the network post-2pm.

That may be common on the GSN board, but the network's audience in general picks up noticeably as the day goes on. In the latest week, for instance, every one of the top fifty shows - Harvey Feud, other Feud versions, 5th Grader, Newlywed Game, Baggage - ran later than 2:00PM. In fact, only two shows before 2:00PM snuck into the top hundred, 5th Grader and Million Dollar Password.

Partly, that's just the natural increase in TV viewing as the day goes on. But it also reflects the difference between the network's general audience and many of the posters on this board. That's one reason Harvey Feud has blown the Nielsen doors off for GSN. So it's no surprise that the network decided to bring back a recent show like Minute To Win It.

UPDATE: GSN puts out the official press release. No word on the host, but the show starts production next month for a debut in "late 2013." Top prize is a hundred grand. Minute To Win It has been the network's best performer in younger demos.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Silly us

A few posts ago, I mentioned the infamous self-parody Name That Tune concocted during the Tom Kennedy days. Kennedy loosely hosted a "game" where bandleader Tommy Oliver tossed off random cusswords while model Jerri Fiala convincingly played the dumbest blonde in galactic history.

Before you click on the link, the YouTube raunch warning should be taken seriously. That said, the parody does hit a few good notes (sorry). Game show freaks will smile over the rigging jokes, for instance. Some of the promotional consideration blurbs are also worth the price of admission. (The price is $0.00 on YouTube, and you get what you pay for.)

Kennedy looks a little lost amid all the Tomfoolery (just can't help myself today). But he gets into the spirit enough to proclaim Jerri the winner due to her endowments. I'm don't mean her musical talents, folks. A conspicuous absentee is Kathie Lee, who must have had better things to do. Too bad, she could have belted out intriguing lyrics to some songs.