Friday, May 31, 2013

Aftershocks

Usually our little genre slumbers in peace, as far as the entertainment media is concerned. The general attitude is: old demos, old shows, zzzzzzzzz. But then something happens - hm, that's a good title for a blog entry - and the media bestir themselves and take at least a little notice.

Autumn Erhard's million-dollar win on Wheel of Fortune has set off a small alarm clock for media types, and a wave of stories has washed over Google News. The account from ABC offers some nice quotes from Autumn:
No one could believe it! They [her parents and fiancé] were just off stage and couldn't see what my prize was. They were celebrating the fact that I solved the puzzle. They kept asking me how much I won, and I had to keep repeating it because no one believed me at first.
A grace note is that Autumn and her fiancé can really use the money because he's in construction, an industry that has seen better days. But most anybody can use a million bucks, even after the taxman visits. Congratulations to the big winner.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Something happened

It has been leaked, rumored and hinted at all month long. And it finally happened tonight.

Wheel of Fortune enriched its second million-dollar winner, a perky brunette named Autumn Erhard. She cracked a hard bonus round puzzle, T-O-U-G-H W-O-R-K-O-U-T, with only four letters showing. Pat opened the million dollar card and the rest, as they say pretentiously, was history. At least game show history. Autumn proceeded to scream it up with her parents and fiancé.

I've grumped about the leaks and hints, and I'm not alone. But after all the grumping it was still fun to watch The Moment. Pat Sajak underplayed the reveal for a bit, but he then got into the spirit enthusiastically enough. The audience could have given Autumn a standing O, but I guess they were a little tired (or jaded or spoiled or something) so they stayed in their seats.

Autumn's bonus round has already been posted several times on YouTube. Nearly five years after Michelle Loewenstein, the show has its second million-dollar win.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ratings: Wheel spins to season low

May 13-19 was a forgettable week for Wheel of Fortune, which hit a season low. The show's soulmate Jeopardy crept closer with better household ratings and viewer numbers. Otherwise, things were pretty quiet for syndie game shows. TVNewsCheck provides the usual summary...

Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - down a couple ticks to the aforementioned season low
Jeopardy 5.9 - up a tick to get closer and closer to the soulmate
Family Feud 4.4 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.4 - flat as Meredith winds up a long run
Let's Ask America 1.6 - flat in its metered markets
Baggage 1.1 - poor Jerry creeps up a tenth of a point

Four shows made the syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages indicate how close it's gotten between the top two: Wheel of Fortune 9.3 million (weekend repeat 4.4 million), Jeopardy 8.9 million, Family Feud 6.5 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. Maybe all those million-dollar leaks from Wheel are no accident.

GSN wraps up a very nice month of May, according to the cable ranker from TVNewser. The network averaged 412K/290K viewers prime time/total day for April 29-May 26. GSN ranked 38th and 36th in the windows.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rumorville

Though I'm about as far down as anybody can be on the game show food chain, I hear rumors now and then. Lately I'd been hearing about Brooke Burns as the host of GSN's The Chase. A commenter on the blog was even submitting anagrams of Brooke's name, along with anagrams of "Dan Patrick" (the rumored host until negotiations fell through) and GSN president "David Goldhill".

It's hard to know exactly what to do with rumors like these. I don't want to plaster something on the blog with no reliable sources at all. Deadline finally relieved me of my indecision today. They ran a story on Brooke's selection, which has now been confirmed by GSN.

Maybe I could just say "rumor has it" that such-and-such is going to happen but I can't pin it down with anything definite. I've pretty much done this with the rumors flying around Wheel of Fortune this week. I honestly have no clue if all the million-dollar WoF rumors are accurate. But they've leaked over so much of the game show blogosphere that it seems pretty ridiculous to ignore them.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bet on your celeb

On a quiet Memorial Day, Matt Ottinger chimes in with a bit of interesting news. Wink Martindale has acquired the rights to short-lived '70s show Celebrity Sweepstakes. He's teaming with Phil Gurin to pitch a new version to the networks.

If you're not too familiar with the format, don't feel bad. I have only the haziest recollection of the show myself. Wikipedia says the episodes were mostly destroyed in what was not a huge loss to western civilization. But a few bits and pieces survive on YouTube.

The show was an odd combo of quizzer and horse racing (minus the horses). The audience voted on which of six celebs had the best chance of nailing a question. A totalizer then set the odds on each celeb, and the two civvie contestants placed their bets.

We'll see if the new version gets anywhere. One grim bit of game show trivia from Wikipedia: Mama Cass Elliott made her last national TV appearance on the show.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Final bow

The days tick down for Meredith Vieira on Millionaire. This week BuzzerBlog is even running a greatest moments collection.

I'm on record that Meredith is not my cup of orange pekoe. She has always seemed a little dry and news-reporter-ish to me. But I've read scores of Millionaire contestant stories on the web, and the winners (and losers) all swear that Meredith is kind and gentle and warm. Sort of like game shows' St. Francesca of Assisi. So who am I to argue?

Another inarguable fact is that Meredith has kept the syndie going for eleven seasons, which is maybe ten more than I anticipated. Like everybody else, I thought ABC had burned the format out after three years of wild overuse in prime time. But though the syndie was never a huge hit and the ratings have eroded (like almost all broadcast TV) over the years, Meredith still keeps turning up in TV by the Numbers' top 25 syndie list.

Will Cedric Kyles bring better, worse, or pretty much the same kind of days to the show? We'll see starting this September. But Meredith left quite a mark.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oldies on oldies channels

GSN has sold some of its Sherriwed eps to digital subchannel Bounce TV. That has set off a thread at what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board. Of course, the chatter on the older-is-better board gets around to the chances for old game shows on the subchannels, especially the nostalgia specialists like Antenna TV and Me-TV. Matt Ottinger himself says:
And honestly, I know I'm preaching to the choir here, and that outside of our little choir loft people think we're nuts, but I'm still surprised that some of these channels haven't picked up old game shows to run along with the rest of their programming. I'm not crazy enough to think that a channel of nothing but classic games could fly. Still, the example I keep coming back to is Cullen's Pyramid, which featured so many of the stars of the very shows these nostalgia channels run.
Well, I've twitted Matt's board in the past (and the present and the future) about its reflexive fondness for all things old. But I don't think they're nuts. Then again, I like old game shows, too, so I may be nuts right along with 'em.

Still, I can't see much of a future for old game shows on the nostalgia nets. Game shows have always been niche programming, and old game shows are a niche within a niche. And most everybody in the business seems content to leave the sub-niche to GSN. After all, the little game show network runs over twenty hours of the old shows every week, to modest ratings and ancient demos.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Been there, too

After I watched GSN's sneak peek of Minute To Win It, I felt like reprising my review of the network's Pyramid revival. Haven't we seen this before?

The show followed the NBC version slavishly. That's not a terrible thing, in my opinion, because I liked the NBC version. I'm a sucker for stupid human tricks, and the tricks on GSN's Minute were plenty goofy.

GSN even used the same voice synthesizer with the same cheesy British accent for the blueprints. The contestants, as on NBC, were state-of-the-art cute and chirpy. Well, the husband was chirpy. The wife was rather reserved.

The only big difference was the host. Apolo Ohno was not the wet blanket described in Hollywood Junket's preview of the show. He was warm and friendly enough, and certainly competent. Of course, he was pretty dialed-back compared to Guy Fieri, but aren't we all? One other difference: this was cable. The money was skimpier. But the cute couple went home with some cash.

I don't want this review to sound snarky. I enjoyed the show. But as I grumped about GSN's Pyramid, if you're just going to do the exact same thing as the original, why bother?

UPDATE: Futon Critic has posted the numbers for the Minute sneak peek: a rather unimpressive 452K total viewers but a much better (by GSN standards) 120K viewers in the 18-49 demo. The corresponding numbers for American Bible Challenge's season two finale were 960K total viewers (a big number for GSN) and 160K viewers in the demo.

Minute has generally skewed younger than GSN's other shows. That's relatively speaking, of course. Everything on GSN skews old. So even if Minute gets only rather modest total viewer numbers, network execs may still like the demo results.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Old times sake

I've posted about GSN shutting down its Internet board, at least temporarily (maybe). Just for old times sake, I'm crossposting a few comments I made on the board about GSN schedule changes in June. You can check the pdfs in the sidebar, but pay attention to the caveat.

Other poster: Looks like Dog Eat Dog is being removed from the schedule as well.... Rights expired?

No. Dog Eat Dog keeps an afternoon Saturday slot and a couple of late night weekend slots throughout June. The pdfs for the entire month are on the blog. Of course, you can't trust 'em (wink).

Another poster: I'm sure Bible Challenge is just taking a breather as it did between seasons 1 and 2.

No doubt, but the ratings have been softening. The show has hit series lows lately, 585K viewers for the latest first-run on May 16. It'll be interesting to see how the season two finale performs.

One more comment not on the GSN board: I'll post a review tomorrow of GSN's Minute To Win It, due for a sneak peek tonight. I can say right now that Apolo Ohno hosts.

CORRECTION: The showing of American Bible Challenge on May 16 that got 585K viewers was not a first-run, but a rerun of a semifinal episode. Thanks to commenter Scott Rahner for noting the error. The actual latest first-run on May 9 got 692K viewers.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Calling all champions

As a faux tweet noted, Jeopardy is looking for former TOC players. The show is being mysterious about this, which of course has set off Internet chatter.

Both JBoard.tv and what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board are chewing over the possibilities. Everybody seems to think some mega-tournament for the show's 30th season is in the works. The Jboard.tv thread is a little more focused on the topic, though some backbiting between the posters creeps in.

As you might expect from what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, their thread runs into the woods right quick. A poster makes a tasteless remark, and 74 other posters (slight exaggeration) can't wait to call him an a-hole. When the thread finally gets around to the Jeopardy call for contestants, people speculate on the same possibility as JBoard.tv: a mega-tournament for the big 3-0.

It is hard to think of another reason why Jeopardy would inquire after former TOC-ers. I don't know if a mega-tournament would be a huge ratings winner, but it would please hardcore game show fans. They can be pretty nostalgic, I hear.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ratings: syndies mostly blah out

The weather is getting warmer (and more dangerous in my state and neighboring Oklahoma). So TV ratings are inevitably softening. Syndie game shows suffered the general blahs in the week of May 6-12, though there were a couple of small exceptions. TVNewsCheck brings the mostly forgettable news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.8 - follows the soulmate, down a couple ticks
Family Feud 4.5 - down a tick, this is getting depressing
Millionaire 2.4 - hey, up a tick as Meredith nears her finale
Let's Ask America 1.6 - up a tick in its markets
Baggage 1.0 - down a tick and in the basement as always

At least Meredith has been earning a regular slot in the TV by the Numbers top 25 syndie list lately. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.7 million, Jeopardy 8.8 million, Family Feud 6.5 million, Millionaire 3.3 million. The sheen is coming off the numbers, but they still look good compared to much of broadcast prime time.

Speaking of prime time, Oh Sit has been getting sittier and sittier numbers. The double run on Monday, May 20 averaged 720K viewers with a nearly invisible 18-49 rating. It may be time to sit down for good.

TVNewser says that GSN backed off a little from its great ratings run of the past few weeks. But by its historical standards, the network hardly did awful numbers for the week of May 13-19: 366K/285K prime time/total day viewership averages. GSN ranked 41st and 36th in the windows.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Set up

Alex Davis is a big fan of Steve Harvey and Family Feud. So the show sent him a few shots of their updated set for the new season this fall. He's posted them at BuzzerBlog if you want to take a peek. There's a logo on the floor and some new scenery around here and there. Things look nice and glossy. It's a "shiny floor" show, after all, as GSN execs might say.

I've never cared much one way or the other about most game show sets. I was a big fan of Cash Cab, and that show's set was the inside of a taxi (with some cheesy lights in the roof). As long as a set isn't aggressively ugly or distracting, it's fine with me.

GSN's ancient quizzer Inquizition had the most minimalist set I can remember. Four podiums, a chair, and some miscellaneous background that looked like the interior of a prison cell. Some Internet shows get even cheaper and more generic with their sets. Doesn't bother me as long as the game is worth watching.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Random chance

Happened to push the random page button on the U.S. Game Show Wiki. And what popped up was the entry on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.

You expect exhaustive coverage from the wiki, and the 5th Grader article didn't disappoint. There were thorough accounts of gameplay, cast members, big winners, related merchandise, references in popular culture, and Jeff Foxworthy knows what else.

Maybe my favorite item was Sesame Street's version, Are You Smarter Than an Egg Layer hosted by Jeff Bawksworthy, with chickens instead of kids. For the more adult inclined, MAD TV tried a parody called Are You Smarter Than a Tranny Hooker. (Now that I think about it, whatever happened to MAD TV? Oh yeah, the SNL knockoff eventually expired after Fox gave up on dethroning the NBC show.)

Anyway, no wiki is reliable. But the game show wiki has saved me a lot of time, and I try to check any tidbits I use.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wipeout wipes out

Zap2It offers a frothy chat with Jill Wagner. Seems that nobody knows her except as the Mercury girl or the Wipeout girl.

Of course, she wasn't the Wipeout girl for a while. The producers tried Vanessa Lachey for a season. That didn't help the numbers, so Jill is back. Except she isn't helping the numbers much, either. The latest installment of the big balls epic on Thursday May 16 earned the lowest 18-49 rating ever for the series. A paltry 1.0 rating with 3.8 million total viewers.

Yes, the show ran against tough competition: season finales for Big Bang Theory and American Idol. But the ratings have generally been dismal throughout Wipeout's new season. The show is getting tired, and switching Wipeout girls doesn't look like the answer.

The truly dismal reality may be that no answer exists. Nothing lasts forever (he said sententiously) and the show has enjoyed a nice long run. You can only bounce so many contestants off so many obstacles before viewers look elsewhere.

Friday, May 17, 2013

We are the champions

After grumping so much about Jeopardy's endless tournaments and stunts, I'm blogging about the show's college champ. This may seem hypocritical, and in fact it is hypocritical. But what can I do? This is a blog for game show news. And the biggest news today is Georgetown's Jim Coury copping a hundred grand as Jeopardy's college tournament winner.

All grumpiness aside, congrats to Jim. It's tough enough to win one time on Jeopardy, much less a tournament against handpicked college smarty-pants. Jim's been dreaming of Jeopardy glory for a while. He tried to qualify for the show's kids tournament when he was ten years old. It's always nice to see a dream come true, as even this cynical blogger will admit.

An weird sidenote to this year's tournament is a page of "hotties" among the contestants. Jeopardy never exactly struck me as the show for eye candy. But somebody out there apparently disagrees.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Monopolizing your attention

TNT is developing a show based on Monopoly, that fun game which takes forever to play and usually leaves you bankrupt. The project sounds more like a reality bitchfest than a game show, to be honest.

But once upon a time - 1990, to be exact - Merv Griffin tried to turn the Parker Brothers chestnut into a genuine game show, with contestants and a host and even eggcrate displays. His effort was wasted, as the show expired in three days (slight exaggeration). YouTube offers some of the remnants.

Though the set featured an excruciatingly faithful reproduction of the Monopoly board, the actual gameplay didn't resemble the board game all that much. Instead, the show was a rather routine quizzer/word game. A former Jeopardy contestant named Mike Reilly hosted as blandly as possible.

Don't know what TNT's version will look like, if it ever gets to air. But I doubt it will be as game show-y as the 1990 half-hour.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chatter ends

GSN has announced that they're closing down their Internet board.

The moderator cites technical difficulties, whatever that means. A while back she warned about closing down the board, and the warning has now turned real. Have to admit I don't post there as much as I used to. This blog absorbs most of my game show blatherings nowadays. But I had a lot of fun on the board over the years.

Like so much of the game show Interwebs, the board leaned heavily traditionalist. Many posters grew misty-eyed remembering the heyday of Bill Cullen, eggcrate displays, and a year's supply of Turtle Wax. Much of the board would erupt in joy whenever GSN added an old show to the schedule, and howl in disapproval whenever the network tried something new, unless it was a close relative of an old show. A fond dream of many posters was a GSN Classic spinoff network, which would be a "museum of game shows," to use GSN President David Goldhill's memorable phrase.

The dream never happened and probably never will happen. And now the GSN board itself is passing on to the great Internet Archive in the sky (or the cloud). Hail and farewell.

UPDATE: The moderator says some kind of GSN board will eventually return. I'll believe it when I see it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ratings: syndies don't do much

There was very little movement for syndicated game shows in the week of April 29-May 5. In fact, most of the shows didn't budge at all. But I do the weekly summary no matter what. This is a full-service game show blog. TVNewsCheck brings the news, if you can call it that...

Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - flat
Jeopardy 6.0 - up a tick to creep closer to the soulmate
Family Feud 4.6 - flat
Millionaire 2.3 - down a tick
Baggage 1.1 - flat, as Jerry closes out a blah week

The top four made the list at TV by the Numbers. Their viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.9 million (weekend repeat 4.9 million), Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 6.9 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. Even in a bland week, three of the top six syndies in total viewers were game shows.

GSN continues its pleasant ratings roll. TVNewser reports that the network averaged 421K/297K viewers prime time/total day for the week of May 6-12, ranking 37th and 36th in the windows. These are some of the best averages the network has ever produced.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A reminder

As a faux tweet noted, Joyce Brothers has died at age 85. Her sometimes ubiquitous media presence started with a game show, of course. She ran the table on $64,000 Question by knowing every last fact about the sweet science of boxing.

In Joyce's case, the money was apparently earned fair and square. But not everything on $64,000 Question was on the up and up, as the nation would soon discover. Although not completely fixed, the show became a victim of the rigging scandals that erupted in the late 1950s.

Those scandals are now slipping out of living memory, as the participants pass away. But the effects certainly live on. Standards and Practices, or whatever they call themselves nowadays, keep a sharp eye on every game show to make sure that no scent of rigging attaches. Even a whiff of rumor is enough to torpedo a game show, as the producers of the abortive Our Little Genius found out.

It's all for the best, I guess. In an imperfect world there will always be allegations of shady practices on game shows, not to mention every other human endeavor. But at least game show producers have a powerful motive to keep the shows honest.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Old mornings

In 1967 I was a callow fifteen-year-old. Aren't all fifteen-year-olds callow?

Whatever my condition, NBC was running a lot of game shows in the morning. This was back when NBC was a major network instead of an industry joke. Rambling around the game show Interwebs today, I came across this promo for the Peacock Net's 1967 morning gamers.

It's funny to see the Warholish multiple images of the gentlemen who hosted the (now) classic shows. Hard to believe that Andy could influence a commercial network's promos, but he definitely left a mark.

A couple of the shows in the promo have vanished without a literal trace: Snap Judgment and Eye Guess. The wipe monster got 'em, though a few bits and pieces of Bill Cullen's show somehow endured. Actually, almost all these NBC episodes got wiped, but at least Concentration, Hollywood Squares and Jeopardy spawned later versions that survived.

It's also funny to see the older-is-better comments about the promo on YouTube. As I've observed before, nostalgia is a powerful force.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Something really really big

On the GSN board I've whined about how game shows spoil their "surprises." The most ridiculous example was the end of Ken Jennings' streak on Jeopardy. The show leaked like a very generous sieve about that big "secret." So everybody on the planet (and maybe some other planets) knew what was about to happen.

Something similar may now be happening on Wheel of Fortune. A sysop at Buy a Vowel reports a couple Sony sources are yapping that "an amazing, lucky and history-making episode" will air late in May.

At what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, the alleged leak has set off some mostly goofball speculation. The return of Rolf Benirschke, Vanna going topless, Pat going topless, a sumo wrestler defecating on the wheel, etc. The thread then drifts into the usual intramural sniping, with one poster swearing that he knows the big news, or part of it. Finally, the thread runs completely off the rails into the obligatory ritual denunciations of "dick jokes" on Family Feud.

For what it's worth, which is nothing, my guess is a million dollar win. Plus some more leaks before whatever-it-is happens.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Goodbye, goodbye, maybe, maybe

Alex Trebek once said that he wants his eventual retirement from Jeopardy to be no big deal. One day he'll just quit with no fanfare.

As some have noted, people say one thing and do another. Alex is doing everything he can to make his possible retirement into a national obsession. He's constantly giving interviews about his plans - or maybe his plans - for riding into the sunset.

The latest installment appears in TV Guide, as Alex discusses some Jeopardy memorabilia he's donating to the Smithsonian. He also not so casually drops in a few words about the "r" subject. "I'm not going to go on forever. My contract expires in 2016. There is a time for all things and my time may be coming."

Notice that word "may". Now I don't begrudge Alex his possible retirement. He'll turn 75 in 2016 when his current contract is done. But I do wish he would stop the tease. If he doesn't have anything definite to say about his retirement plans, just say nothing at all.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tweaks

Watched an episode of GSN's Chain Reaction today. And I noticed how a little tweak to the 1980s original really improved the show. I'm talking about the speed chains at the end of each of the first three rounds in the front game.

The speed chains are tough but entertaining. And they don't take much time, living up to the "speed" in their name. A tiny tweak can truly make a not so tiny difference in a game show's success.

In Producers on Producing, the late Mark Goodson discussed how the Family Feud format didn't seem to work when they were developing the show. Then they hit on the idea of giving the opposing family a chance to steal the points in each round of the front game. "That little change, small as it sounds, helps make Family Feud a dynamite format." Yes, Mr. Goodson, it does.

The moral of the story is the old "one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration" formula for creating something new. Working though various ideas, even the smallest tweaks, can change things significantly for the better.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The car

A while back Family Feud started doling out new cars to five-time winners. This has produced lots of lively pictures of joyous families claiming their shiny automobiles.

Ah, the new car. It seems like the holy grail of the game show kingdom. It's better than money, even better than a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni. Something about the lure of the open road, or the smell of a brand new auto, sends game show contestants into the seventh heaven of vehicle acquisition.

Which is a little weird when I think about it. After all, lots of taxes will fall due on that new car. And money can buy anything, including a car, if you win enough of it. But the gleam of a new machine does catch the eye, doesn't it?

One of these days I may indulge in a brand new car myself. But probably not. I've always bought used cars to save pennies. And I don't expect to luck into a new car on any game show. But congratulations to all the happy contestants who have better luck than me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ratings: syndies recoup some ground

Syndicated game shows rebounded or stayed steady in the week of April 22-28. No big news stories created pesky pre-emptions, though the warmer weather continues to wear down TV viewing in general. TVNewsCheck presents the generally decent numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - flat
Jeopardy 5.9 - up a couple ticks to get closer to the soulmate
Family Feud 4.6 - up three ticks
Millionaire 2.4 - up three ticks in some much needed good news
Let's Ask America 1.7 - flat but okay for the newbie
Baggage 1.1 - flat and in its perpetual last place

Meredith got back into the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.0 million (weekend repeat 4.6 million), Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 6.9 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. Too bad the genre doesn't skew young, or these total viewer numbers would get a lot more notice.

GSN really kicked out the jams in the week of April 29-May 5. TVNewser says the network averaged 443K/290K viewers prime time/total day, ranking 36th in both windows. Great numbers by GSN's historical standards.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Politics meets game show

Somehow I don't think this is going to work. The folks at NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me want to lose their "reputation" for being left-wing.

Yeah, that's close. As long as they're on NPR, that's gonna be a flipping near-impossible reputation to lose. Not to mention that, by and large, the reputation is deserved.

For instance, host Peter Sagal swears that he wants more Republican politicians on the show. So he says, and I quote exactly: "I would love it — if John Boehner would come on our show and be charming and funny in a way that we haven't seen. I would love that. If he told some jokes about his skin color, and people understood that he could do self-deprecation, and then went on his way and thought, that was a good experience."

Can you imagine Sagal commenting that he would like Al Sharpton to come on the show and make some jokes about his skin color? Sorry, Peter, this Boehner skin-tone routine ain't the pitch that's gonna fetch more GOP guests...or listeners. Anyway, I think Wait Wait Don't Tell Me should just drop this goofy pretense of trying for political neutrality. Nobody believes it, including the people at the show itself.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mike Richards speaks

Happened across Mike Richards' first podcast. He's the showrunner on The Price is Right and, according to Golden Road, the font of all evil in the western (and eastern) world.

To put it mildly, the podcast is not a thrill a minute. Mike rambles though various subjects with a female sidekick, whose name I unfortunately missed. I think she used to be a staffer on TPiR, but I'm not sure. They spend a lot of time on Secretaries Appreciation Day, or whatever the politically correct title is nowadays.

Richards also mentions Melissa Peterman and her new show Bet On Your Baby. He likes Melissa and notes that she once appeared on GSN's late, unfortunate Pyramid. He then calls up a TPiR model and starts talking about some special effects compendium called Iron Man 3.

At this point I checked out of the podcast. My TPiR-indifference played a part in my exit, but frankly any podcast gets old fast for me. Listening to disembodied voices droning from my computer speakers is not my biggest whoop-de-doo. Even when I'm typing a blog entry about the experience.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ancient anniversary

Once upon a time, even old black and white shows had anniversary specials. I've Got a Secret made a specialty of them.

By 1957 IGAS had become more or less a variety show instead of merely Goodson-Todman's in-house knockoff of What's My Line. So it was no big deal when the fifth anniversary episode on June 19, 1957 turned into a bunch of skits and stunts with members of the show's backstage crew. There was dancing, singing, magic, walking across hot coals, and even Steve Allen - who would eventually become the show's host - playing the piano.

Stage manager Joe Papp, who went on to fame and, I assume, fortune as a Shakespeare (and others) director, did the funeral oration from Antony and Cleopatra after Henry Morgan gave an intro. Hey, we've got culture, too! Personally, I like the hot-coal walking better, but to each their own. Then we got some opera from one of the show's electricians. My wife would like that.

Producer Allan Sherman, who would be fired from the show a year later, appeared in the group shot at the close of the episode. You might call this ironic (and unintentional) foreshadowing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Yanks play chess

For those who wonder why I cover Internet chess on a game show site, well, chess is a game. And other sites that allegedly cover game shows also cover reality gripefests, talent contests, improv comedy shows, and just about anything else that strikes their fancy.

So my fancy gets struck by that weird game with the funny looking pieces on a checkerboard. The U.S. chess championships (men's and women's) kicked off today. I wandered over to the official site and watched some of the commentary. At least I watched the commentary when the site worked, which was intermittently at best.

The coverage was competent, pointing out plausible variations and offering interviews with some of the players. Unfortunately, the two main commentators were mismatched. GM Yasser Seirawan spoke so softly you could hardly hear him. WGM Jennifer Shahade spoke so loudly you didn't want to hear her. But the volume differences didn't spoil the show completely.

The craziest game was Timur Gareev's 23-move demolition of Marc Arnold. Gareev missed an even quicker win but soon pinned and won a lonely bishop stranded in the center (e4 to be exact). Something like that would happen to me if I ever played any of these guys.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Biblical overkill?

Douglas Pucci reports that American Bible Challenge fell to third place in last week's GSN ratings. Steve Harvey's Family Feud and (ironically) Jeff Foxworthy's 5th Grader slipped ahead of the Bible quizzer.

A poster on the GSN board speculates that the show has gotten a little too "upbeat charismatic" for some viewers. I think this means too much hallelujah Jesus gospel music. When the network announced Kirk Franklin would turn up for the second season, I thought that things might get a tad too loud for part of the audience.

Of course, the first season blew the Nielsen doors off (by GSN standards) so some slippage may have been inevitable. The show still produces top-shelf numbers for the network, and a third season is a certainty. GSN might think about dialing the volume back and concentrating more on the gameplay and less on the hallelujah hymnal.

UPDATE: Futon Critic says American Bible Challenge garnered 767K viewers for its latest first-run on May 2. So the show keeps on doing just fine by GSN standards. But grumpy me thinks the music could still be toned down (pun intended).

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Daytime self-congratulation

I've often railed against show business awards. But that doesn't mean I can't blog about them.

This year's Daytime Emmy nominations are out. I'll skip the soaps and talkers and get to the good stuff. The game show nominees are Cash Cab, Let's Make a Deal, The Price is Right, Family Feud, Jeopardy, and Millionaire. The game show host nominees are Ben Bailey, Wayne Brady, Billy Eichner, Steve Harvey, and Alex Trebek.

First note is the bouquet tossed at the canceled but not forgotten Cash Cab. I really hope the show sweeps both awards but I'm not optimistic. At least Ben and friends had a good long run before Discovery sent the cab to the Nielsen chop shop.

The most surprising nominee is Billy Eichner. I wonder how many people have even heard of his show, much less watch it regularly. Billy's way too gushy for my taste, but who knows what the voters will do? We'll see on HLN June 16. A couple awards are certain: lifetime achievement Emmys to Monty Hall and the late Bob Stewart.