Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dumb but not forgotten

Poor old Game Show Garbage has taken its knocks lately.

Most notably, there was the site's wild-swinging attack earlier this year on Golden-Road.Net. This led to widespread rumpus and ructions on the game show Interwebs. And many have wondered if the site hasn't run its course, scraping the bottom of the godawful barrel for shows nobody cares about and/or remembers. A hackneyed meme about leaping over a large carnivorous fish comes to mind.

But at its best the site can still amuse. The just-posted dumb answer of the week from Meredith's last batch of originals on Millionaire is a pleasant example. Pleasant for everybody except the poor contestant, of course. He figured out the answer - it really wasn't too hard, with an obvious clue in the question - but then gave the wrong letter. "D" instead of "C", and that was it.

Game Show Garbage then mixes in a funny take on how next season's incoming host Cedric Kyles would have handled the situation. I won't spoil it for you. Just click the link and take a peek.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Art for art's sake

The appropriately named DeviantArt has posted the most gorgeously embarrassing collection ever.  It's the wheel from Wheel of Fortune throughout the years and throughout the world. Dozens and dozens of wheels. Wheels here, wheels there, wheels everywhere. I got wheels in my dreams, wheels in my nightmares, wheels in my head, wheels under my bed.

My favorite wedge from the endless wheels is the pictured Arthur Christmas special. The guy looks like he fell out of a game show Internet board, after he fell out of his parents' basement. The contributor of the gazillion wheels calls himself "Wheelgenius, an artsy-craftsy game show nut." I can well believe the name and the description.

Every other game show nut will have their favorite wheel design. It's a little scary how many permutations have emerged over the decades around the world. A lot of effort went into those wheels, which might mean something about the wasting of human talent. Or it just might mean, hey, it's a game show.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Father-daughter day

With the weekend almost here, it's time for black and white overnight. Or at least black and white Friday night.

Dorothy Kilgallen was What's My Line's tortured soul. She had her emotional ups and downs, to put it mildly, worsened by drug abuse which finally led to her early death. Fiercely competitive at the silly little game, she once cried to fellow panelist Bennett Cerf that she hadn't guessed an occupation for three whole weeks.

So it's a pleasant change to see this November 18, 1956 episode where Dorothy's father, then-famous reporter James Kilgallen, appeared as a mystery guest. After a lot of stumbling around by the panel, the blindfolded Dorothy finally identified her daddy. A nice moment for all concerned.

If you want to know more about James Kilgallen, this newspaper story is worth a look. He sounds like a Ben Hecht character (yes, I'm dating myself) fresh out of The Front Page. Raffish, funny, wisecracking, almost a stereotypical old-time newspaperman. That was back when they printed newspapers on dead trees. Boy, I'm really dating myself.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Plinko eats the whole show

I always advertise my TPiR-indifference. And then I end up writing about The Price is Right, anyway. It's the biggest game show in daytime TV, after all. So this humble full-service game show blog has to cover it.

Right now astonishment is rumbling around the traditionalist game show Interwebs that TPiR has apparently taped an all-Plinko episode to run in September. Naturally, there's a lot of this-sucks-Drew-sucks-Mike-Richards-sucks-you-suck-I-suck-we-all-suck in response to the news. Check Golden-Road.net or what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board if you don't believe me.

But very surprisingly, there's a counterpoint on the boards of, hey, this might be fun, let's see what they do with it. Tough to believe that the hardcore game show boards would give a chance to such a radical departure from the show's usual format. But at least a few posters would like to see how the idea pans out.

Showrunner Mike Richards says: "There’s so much history with this game [Plinko]. It’s almost becoming baseball-like." I don't know about that, Mike. Baseball requires a bit more athletic skill than Plinko. But it's such an offbeat notion to do all Plinko all the time, that I kind of like it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Developing...

I've been posting lots of GSN stuff lately, and I'll keep right on doing it today. Multichannel News has an update on various GSN development projects, and at least one intriguing name is involved.

For a hopeless Cash Cab fan like moi, I like that GSN is piloting a show called Games Across America with Ben Bailey. To be honest, the premise sounds pretty lame. Instead of a genuine game show, the series just wanders across the country looking for oddball competitions. "From extreme poodle grooming, to the Redneck Games, to the Rock Paper Scissors World Championship." I don't care much about poodles...or any of the other projects.

But it's nice to see the network is interested in Ben's services. Meanwhile, GSN will also pilot The Imposter with Finesse Mitchell as the host. A family with an imposter among them has to fool some houseguests. Again, the premise sounds like too many dull reality shows I've seen.

Development proceeds on other projects as well. And to be frank, none of them look very appetizing to me, either. (Yes, I'm grumpy today.) It Takes A Church is the church-based dating game we've heard about. Then there's As Seen on TV with hopeful inventors, Swarm with a hundred contestants facing physical challenges, Skin Wars with body painting, Penny Pinchers with tightwads competing for cash, and Say What with a version of the parlor game "telephone."

None of these shows may make it to air. But the general theme looks like reality stuff in search of younger demos. GSN usually flops with such efforts.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ratings: Wheel skids

The week of June 10-16 saw bad news for Wheel of Fortune, which slipped to another season low. But other syndie game shows mostly had reason to smile. Despite warm weather and a beckoning outdoors, better ratings were in evidence for three of the shows. Broadcasting & Cable has all the news...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down a couple ticks to the aforementioned season low
Jeopardy 5.4 - down a tick
Family Feud 4.5 - up three ticks as Mr. Harvey beams
Millionaire 2.3 - up a couple ticks
Baggage 1.1 - up a couple ticks in some good news even for poor Jerry

Meredith managed to climb back into the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.0 million, Jeopardy 8.1 million, Family Feud 6.7 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. A small present for Meredith as her reruns wind down.

GSN stumbled to its worst week in a while for June 17-23. Douglas Pucci says the network averaged 309K/262K viewers prime time/total day for the week. Not horrendous by the network's historical standards, but pretty bad compared to recent weeks. Meanwhile, the official June 25 debut of GSN's Minute To Win It with Apolo Ohno fetched a decent 525K total viewers, with a very high (for GSN) 250K folks in the beloved 18-49 demo.

Monday, June 24, 2013

GSN bounces around

I had barely heard of Bounce TV. It's one of those digital subchannels occupying less than choice space on the spectrum.

But in the 500-channel universe, even subchannels need programming. Bounce has found a somewhat unlikely vendor in GSN. The subchannel had already acquired old eps of Sherri Shepherd's Newlywed Game from our little game show network. Now comes news that Bounce has also picked up reruns of American Bible Challenge and Catch 21.

Bounce targets African-American viewers, so the pickups are understandable. I doubt GSN is getting huge dollars in the deals, but the subchannel's execs sound enthusiastic about the performance of Sherriwed since its acquisition. So why not buy a few more shows? Messrs. Foxworthy and Ribeiro will debut on Bounce later this summer.

It's still a little odd for me to think of GSN peddling shows to other outlets. After all, GSN began as a depository for old game shows, not as a source of original programming for other channels. But it can't hurt GSN to get their shows out to new audiences, even on subchannels.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Avoid shameless pandering

Ever wonder what Lingo's Shandi Finnessey does nowadays? Besides (maybe) watching her reruns on GSN?

Well, she might be doing a lot of things, but I've only heard about one of them. She posed tastefully nude (as opposed to tastelessly nude) for a PETA campaign against fur coats. Three other former beauty pageant contestants posed with her.

Now I have a small dilemma here. As a thoroughly tasteless blogger, I'm sorely tempted to post a screenshot of Shandi and the other lovelies in the buff. I could get a lot of cheap pageviews and maybe a few funny comments.

But I'm resisting for reasons I'm not sure about myself. Instead, I'm only using a dignified screenshot of Shandi with her clothes still on. Not that this will get me any brownie points from anybody.

One other thing. If anybody cares at all, I actually think Shandi was pretty useful on Lingo. Lots of fans saw her as mere eye candy, but I thought she chipped in some decent repartee with Chuck and the contestants. At least she helped keep the show going for three more seasons.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Final jailhouse jeopardy

Sometimes you get news of the truly weird. From Racine, Wisconsin comes word of a jailhouse fight over...Jeopardy?

Yep, the answers and questions inspired a couple inmates to duke it out. On April 2 in a dayroom at the Racine County Jail, prisoner Jesse Cortez changed the channel from Jeopardy, which fellow prisoner Allen Flowers was watching. Much shouting and pushing ensued. Each inmate alleges that the other shoved him, though both deny doing any shoving themselves. I'll take "Disorderly Conduct" for a cash bond of $250, Alex.

Both men are currently released from jail. "I just wanted to watch Jeopardy this one time," Flowers says in the criminal complaint. Cortez didn't appear for a hearing on the charge and has a warrant out for his arrest. He's in jeopardy of apprehension, you might say.

I can't recall ever getting into a fight over a game show. Though my wife has occasionally gotten bored with Minute To Win It.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Trusting and dating

Hollywood Junket has put up a couple of interesting game show items. First is an on-set report about the tapings for TBS' upcoming Trust Me I'm a Game Show Host. You might call this show an offshoot of the prisoner's dilemma. The hosts lie to the contestants instead of the contestants lying to each other.

The two hosts are Michael Ian Black and D.L. Hughley. One of them tries to convince a contestant that an odd factoid is true. The other host argues that it's false. The poor contestant has to decide who's fibbing.

Hollywood Junket is usually a pretty easy grader. So it's not astounding that they like the show, especially the "sexual innuendo" in the topics and the "great chemistry" between the hosts. We'll see how the innuendo and chemistry perform this fall.

The second item reports that Ellen DeGeneres wants to produce a dating game show. Ellen has often betrayed a hankering to host a game show, and she may figure that the dating sub-genre offers the best chance for younger demos. But as Hollywood Junket points out, the sub-genre is littered with failures. Bad dates, you might call them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ancient argument

Happened to browse through the BuzzerBlog twitter feed today. It's been ages since I took a peek. Not to my surprise, Alex Davis was plugging GSN's The Chase for all it's worth.

But what most caught my eye was an argument between Alex and Joe "Game Show Man" Van Ginkel. Knowing these guys like I do - well, I really don't know either of them at all, but I've read plenty of their stuff on the game show Interwebs - the argument wasn't much of a surprise, either.

The ostensible subject was GSN's ill-fated Pyramid revival. But the real war was between modernizing Alex and traditionalist Joe. It's an argument I've had myself with a lot of folks on the net. Naturally, Joe thought that any tampering with the rock-solid Pyramid format was idiotic. And Alex thought that slavish adherence to the traditional format was just as idiotic.

On this one I'm down with Alex. My review of Pyramid noted the paint-by-numbers similarity to the old Clark versions, and predicted a yawning been-there-done-that response from the audience. Which is pretty much what happened.

Sometimes you really can't keep a format in a glass jar, preserved in every detail for all time. Even when it's Pyramid.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Brooke chases

As a faux tweet noted, GSN is scheduling the debut of its version of The Chase for August 6.

Debut dates for GSN's Improv-a-Ganza and Family Trade slipped, so August 6 is not chiseled in granite. But those other two shows clearly had problems in production, which became all too evident when they finally saw the light of day. Both shows quickly crashed and burned with GSN's audience.

The buzz coming out of the tapings for The Chase, on the other hand, has generally been positive. In particular, the rumors indicate that Brooke Burns handled her hosting duties with aplomb. More than a few game show fans were wondering how she would cope with a serious quizzer.

To be honest, Brooke never particularly impressed me (except visually) on Dog Eat Dog. She wasn't hopelessly incompetent, but her interaction with contestants didn't seem to go much beyond, "You go, girlfriend!" Hope her efforts on The Chase will be more praiseworthy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ratings: syndies meander

Not much movement for syndicated game shows in the latest published week, June 3-9. Generally the numbers are softening as people discover the great summertime outdoors. It's funny how that happens this time of year. TVNewsCheck brings the so-so news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - up a tick in a very small exception to the general trend
Jeopardy 5.5 - flat
Family Feud 4.2 - down a tick as the show discovers that timeslots later in the day aren't immune to the summertime blues
Millionaire 2.1 - down a tick as we await Mr. Kyles in September
Baggage 0.9 - a season low, can't Jerry find a little love?

Meredith slipped out of the top 25 syndies, so TV by the Numbers only has the viewership averages for three game shows: Wheel of Fortune 9.2 million (weekend repeat 3.9 million), Jeopardy 8.2 million, Family Feud 6.1 million. The figures will probably keep coasting downward as summer and the reruns grind on.

GSN continued its good but not great ratings in the week of June 10-16, according to TVNewser. The network averaged 342K/275K viewers prime time/total day. Enough to pay the bills but not as bubbly as some other recent weeks.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Daytime winners

Have to admit I didn't watch the Daytime Emmys. Hollywood self-congratulation leaves me cold.

So it's a little hypocritical for me to say I'm happy about the winner of the best game show host Emmy. But I am pleased about Ben Bailey getting another statuette for hosting the sadly canceled Cash Cab. The show had its detractors. Too cheap and too simplistic, ran the complaints. But most everybody liked the wisecracking cabbie who popped the questions at his passengers.

The Price is Right won the best game show award. My TPiR-indifference kicks in here. A nice note was Betty White announcing the lifetime achievement Emmy for the late Bob Stewart. Monty Hall also received a lifetime award from his successor on Let's Make a Deal, Wayne Brady.

I wonder if they'll ever start such awards in my line of work. Best Supporting Actuary in a Continuing Company? Just doesn't sound like something which would attract a lot of viewers.

UPDATE: Speaking of viewers, the awards show lured 857K of them, on average, for the 8:00PM-11:00PM hours. Meanwhile, everybody's a critic, including CBS president Les Moonves. He told TMZ: "It wasn't a very well produced show and you can put that on the air." And his network won a lot of the awards.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Spoiling a walk

With the U.S. Open ending today, I poked around YouTube for old game show clips about golf. I found this rueful classic from I've Got a Secret about a lady whose first try on the course was a 56...on the first hole.

Her name was Claire Valentine, and she bravely took the soft jabs about her golfing inability. The panel zeroed in on the secret pretty quick, with Bill Cullen more or less guessing it. Garry Moore then diagrammed Mrs. Valentine's fun and games on the first hole.

The historians would call this "presentist." But I have to wonder if such (gentle) ridicule of a woman's golf game could make it to TV nowadays. Feminism is practically a state religion, so a similar segment today would have to center on a man's futility at golf. Just to complete the picture, Betsy Palmer coaxed Mrs. Valentine (a 1960s designation to begin with) to confess that her husband got her to take up golf in the first place.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

GSN bits and pieces

As the GSN board wends its way to The End, I reply to three posters on various and sundry topics. The first concerns a supposed crisis for GSN in the last couple years...

Other poster: I'm not going to get into an argument over hypotheticals [about a possible GSN shutdown] from 2-3 years ago.

I'm not going to get into an argument, either. I'll just state the facts: Sony began acquiring more ownership of GSN 2-3 years ago, and they paid a lot of money to do so. Hardly seems like GSN was in any danger of shutting down. So the "hypothetical" is more like "fantasy."

Now the 2000-01 crisis was anything but hypothetical. GSN almost went belly up...for real.

Another poster: With these forums shutting down and who knows how long until another one comes up...who's to say that if/when ratings decline for good, the network closes and "GSN.com" only stays on as a gaming site?

I don't think this board's demise has much to do with anything. GSN probably doesn't see much value in the board, and frankly I can understand why. It's not like the board is making big bucks for the organization. As for the focus on gaming, it's probably helping to keep the cable network afloat. The tie-ins between TV game shows and online gaming are obvious and lucrative. It's not like, say, the Hallmark Channel has any such tie-ins.

Yet another poster: I'm still surprised to see Richard Karn's Feud doing so well in the ratings, personally.

Really? Karn has always performed well for GSN. He doesn't get much respect on this board, but that means nothing.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Great, greater and greatest

As the Daytime Emmys approach, people get inspired to make lists of the greatest game shows ever.

Or at least they make the lists, inspired or not. A couple of 'em just turned up in Google News. And surprise, surprise, surprise, Gomer. They both agree on the safe, sensible, boring pick for number one: Jeopardy. (That explains the screenshot of Alex Trebek, in case you couldn't guess.) In fact, the top ten for both lists are eerily similar...

From TV Guide: Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Match Game, The Price is Right, Millionaire, Hollywood Squares, Password, What's My Line, Newlywed Game.

From The Backlot: Jeopardy, What's My Line, Pyramid, Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right, Match Game, Password, Family Feud, Hollywood Squares, Millionaire.

In case you didn't bother to count, that's a nine-out-of-ten overlap. Only difference is Pyramid in one list and Newlywed Game in the other. Sure, there are some ordering differences, but we all seem suspiciously agreed on the Greatest Ever. And I can't much argue with the picks. They pretty well choose themselves.

Further down each list more differences appear, as the list makers sneak in personal preferences and offbeat selections. Have to admit I was a little disappointed to see that neither picked Lingo. Sure, it's only on that little game show network, but it's one of the best ever. I say so, in no uncertain T-E-R-M-S.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gaming the talent contest

Just watched the debut episode of The Winner Is. I came prepared to hate the show. I don't like the plague of talent contests which has taken over western civilization, not to mention American TV.

But guess what. The Winner Is cleverly played off my hankering for game show stuff. Sure, I had to sit through performances from would-be stars. But then came the delicious game show nastiness, as the show offered money to the dueling contestants to withdraw from the competition, if they thought the 101 judges had ruled against them.

Yeah, it's sort of the prisoner's dilemma, except there's no lying involved. For instance, the first matchup featured a soul singer belting out Lady Marmelade vs. an operatic tenor singing an aria. I figured that soul would win with the judges, and I was wrong. Too bad for the soul singer. She didn't take the money when she had the chance.

Nick Lachey hosted with not too much smarminess. I got a little squirmy during the hard luck stories from the contestants before the performances, but that's a quibble. The show was a reasonable way to pass the time.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blitzed

Today I was going to review The Winner Is, NBC's hybrid of talent contest and game show. But I'll get to that tomorrow. Instead I'll go outside traditional game shows in another area...top-level chess. I've been there before, as readers of the blog might remember.

The super grandmasters are now in Moscow for the annual Tal Memorial. Mikhail Tal was a legendary Latvian master who enjoyed a brief stint as world champ in the 1960s. Tal was quite a character, as endless stories attest. He also loved blitz chess, that high-speed contest of wits which spectators enjoy.

So the Tal Memorial kicked things off today with a blitz tourney to determine the seedings for the classical chess starting tomorrow. Chess.tv covered the blitz online, though only in Russian. But even if your Russian, like mine, is mostly confined to da and nyet, you can still watch the games.

Wouldn't you know, in an event honoring the mercurial Tal, the mercurial American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura won the blitz tournament. Nakamura is America's best hope for the world championship, but his results are hugely uneven. He played superbly today but might crash to last in the classical contest. Still, the "blitz king" is fun to watch in the super-fast games.

UPDATE: Sure enough, Nakamura lost his first game in the classical tournament today (June 13). Oh well, he's got eight more games to play.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ratings: syndies swoon, singers succeed

Summertime and the ratings are slipping. You know the drill: warm weather, reruns, other things to do besides the tube. Syndicated game shows felt the sting in the week of May 27-June 2. All the shows were down from the previous week and Wheel of Fortune hit a season low, despite the million-dollar win. TVNewsCheck brings the dreary news...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - down a tick from the previous week, to that season low
Jeopardy 5.4 - down three ticks
Family Feud 4.3 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.2 - down a tick in Meredith's last week of originals
Baggage 1.0 - down a couple ticks for perpetual also-ran Jerry

Syndication suffered in general, so despite the downdraft, four syndicated game shows made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.2 million, Jeopardy 8.1 million, Family Feud 6.4 million, Millionaire 3.1 million. In today's gazillion channel universe, even these numbers don't look bad.

GSN continued to feel the absence of American Bible Challenge in the week of June 3-9. The network averaged 353K/268K viewers prime time/total day. Not bad by GSN's historical standards, but not so hot compared to recent weeks.

A couple of broadcast network shows turned in pretty decent ratings last night, June 10. The Winner Is, NBC's combo talent contest/game show, drew 6.3 million viewers and a 1.8 18-49 rating. Oh Sit got its best ratings in a while: 910K viewers and a 0.4 in the demo.

Exit and Total Blackout perked up in the ratings for their second go-round on June 11. Exit got 812K total viewers with a 0.3 18-49 rating. Total Blackout garnered 616K viewers with a 0.2 in the demo. Not fantastic numbers by Syfy standards, but better than the previous week.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pain and suffering

A rather painful thread on Golden-Road.net poses the question: "What is considered a painful loss in any particular game?"

For the uninitiated, we're talking about The Price is Right. I'm afraid my notorious TPiR-indifference has kept me from thinking much about the subject. But let's face it, part of the appeal of any good game show is watching a contestant come oh so close to a big win, only to see it slip away at the last excruciating moment.

For TPiR's Hole in One game, the thread defines a painful loss as "When the ball misses the hole by three inches or less on the second putt." You might call this a painful loss in real golf, too. Especially when a few shekels are riding on the hole.

The game show which took psychological pain to a whole new level was Deal or No Deal. Watching the wrong suitcase open after a long buildup was brutal. And, fess up, the brutality was a big reason for the show's success. For physical pain, Wipeout may be unmatched.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pet peeve

A thread on the Sitcoms Online game show board asked for rules that people know by heart. One poster responded with Dick Clark's famous Winners Circle injunction: "List of the things that fit the subject."

Which reminded me of another famous rule on Pyramid: the dreaded "no prepositional phrases" law for the Winners Circle. This ancient commandment, brought down by Moses after he got done with those other ten things, has stuck in every version of the show from Clark to Richards. And it just drives me nuts.

Okay, it mildly irritates me. I get the idea behind the rule: the show can't allow the clue-giver to ramble forever in a clue. They want to make the bonus round hard, after all. But the rule has never been consistently enforced. Prepositional phrases have always been allowed in clues for things-whatever-would-say categories in the Winners Circle. And more than once in a while, one of the dreaded phrases would get past the judge for other categories as well.

Every game show fan has pet peeves. We cherish the peeves and spout off about them whenever possible. On a slow news Sunday, it's my time to vent about prepositions.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

DeLorean memories

A while back I blogged about the almost mystical appeal of new cars on game shows. The appeal didn't start last week. Just ask the old-game-show fan club at what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board.

A funny thread on the board chats about DeLoreans on game shows. For those not quite as ancient as moi, John DeLorean was an auto exec who founded his own car manufacturing company in the 1980s. The project collapsed spectacularly but not before churning out nine thousand gull-winged  cars. A few of them turned up on game shows, like the pictured auto on The Price is Right.

The DeLorean was later immortalized in sci-fi flick Back to the Future. It's become a cult symbol of the eighties. The car's creator endured various vicissitudes in his personal and business lives. He beat a cocaine-dealing rap, divorced supermodel Christina Ferrare, and eventually declared bankruptcy. John DeLorean, dreamer and dasher, died in 2005.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chasing twitter

The twitter feed for GSN's version of The Chase is busy lately as the show tapes one episode after another.

Mark Labbett, the beastie boy, is praising Brooke Burns, the hostie girl. Brooke is bubbling about Mark and everybody else. Chad Mosher is posting details of the gameplay: three contestants and a five grand Cash Builder timed at sixty seconds. And grumpy me is wondering how all this will actually play on the network. I know the game show Interwebs are a-twitter (pun intended) but this show offers none of the special promotional opportunities that American Bible Challenge did.

I get the feeling that we'll see results somewhere between GSN's Pyramid and the Bible quizzer. In other words, The Chase will perform respectably but not spectacularly. (All this is by GSN standards, of course.) Except for rabid fans of Brit game shows - not much of a group on this side of the pond outside of a few web boards - there's no built-in audience for the show as there is for American Bible Challenge.

We'll find out soon enough. The show is heading for its debut September 3, Chad says.

UPDATE: Hollywood Junket has posted a generally enthusiastic review of the tapings. Seems that the American contestants take more risks than their British counterparts.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The girl with the purple hair

Finally got around to watching Syfy's Exit. My main thought as I followed the quizzer plus stunt show: this is not targeted at my demo. Only one of the eight contestants cracked the forty-year barrier, barely. Otherwise it was young'uns with purple hair and stranger hairdos.

The four pairs of contestants had to solve puzzles and answer (mostly pop culture) questions as jerry-rigged rooms shrank, froze or otherwise disintegrated around them. Each room eliminated a team until the remaining pair faced one last room. If they exited successfully from that final chamber of doom, they won a cable-cheap ten grand.

I shouldn't make fun of the girl with the purple hair, because she was one-half of the winning team on the debut episode. Hope she enjoys her cut of the $10,000. Curt Doussett hosted the show with intentional obnoxiousness, ridiculing the weaker efforts from the put-upon contestants. The show was edited with a meat cleaver to give the viewer the yips (or to make things seem more "real").

For what it was, the show wasn't terrible. But I got tired of the jumpy editing and the screams from the purple-haired one. The interspersed bits of contestant interviews also got annoying. But then, who cares about my opinion? I'm past sixty, so Syfy doesn't think I exist.

In the review that truly counts, Syfy didn't get much Nielsen mileage from the debut of Exit on June 4: 662K viewers with a 0.3 18-49 rating. The return of the network's Total Blackout performed even worse: 434K viewers and a 0.2 rating in the demo.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ratings: sweep along with the syndies

As the site usually does when a sweeps period ends, TVNewsCheck ran the percentage changes since the previous year's sweeps. Family Feud had the most to celebrate, as the show benefited from better timeslots. Otherwise there wasn't much movement compared to last year. The household ratings for the April 25-May 22 sweeps...

Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - down a couple ticks compared to last May's sweeps
Jeopardy 5.8 - up a couple ticks
Family Feud 4.5 - up a whopping fifteen ticks
Millionaire 2.4 - down a tick in Meredith's last sweeps
Let's Ask America 1.6 - steady for the game show rookie in its metered markets
Baggage 1.0 - Jerry has to be used to last place by now

TV by the Numbers didn't bother with this sweeps nonsense. They just ran their usual top 25 syndie list for the week of May 20-26. Four game shows made the viewership chart: Wheel of Fortune 9.4 million (weekend repeat 4.6 million), Jeopardy 8.6 million, Family Feud 6.5 million, Millionaire 3.2 million.

GSN's numbers for the week of May 27-June 2 softened noticeably compared to recent weeks: 374K/271K viewers prime time/total day. Hardly terrible by the network's historical standards, but not as robust as when American Bible Challenge was romping and stomping.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Work comp on a game show

Cathy Cashwell (an ironic last name) learned the hard way that work comp fraud doesn't pay. At least it doesn't pay when you do the fraud on TV.

Cashwell was a postal worker who claimed work comp benefits based on a shoulder injury. The only problem was that she appeared as a contestant on The Price is Right when she was supposedly disabled. And her allegedly injured shoulder looked just fine when she spun the Big Wheel twice.

This is one of the more agonizingly obvious examples of work comp fraud I've heard about in my decades as an actuary. The station carrying the Cashwell story brought on a private investigator who said that many comp claims are completely fraudulent. The percentage of phony claims is disputed, but nobody questions that it's substantial.

Cashwell has pled guilty and will learn her sentence in September. Televised fraud is pretty foolish...in her case, anyway.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Inside baseball

This entry is such deep inside stuff that most readers will probably skip it. But the entertainment news Interwebs are abuzz with rumors that Nikki Finke may have been fired from Deadline Hollywood. The catty blogger founded the site, which was recently acquired by a company headed by Jay Penske. Now she may have been handed her walking papers. Or maybe not, depending on who you listen to.

My fellow game show blogger Alex Davis would be happy to see her go. He accuses Nikki of stealing stories from BuzzerBlog. Don't ask me to decide on the truth of the charge. I've used Deadline Hollywood a lot for game show information. To the best of my knowledge they've never stolen anything from me. But who the hey knows about my blog, anyway?

The "Legalities and Technicalities" at the bottom on this page run through the niceties of fair use and copyright. I haven't seen anybody filching goodies from this blog, so I won't cry before I'm hurt. Not that I earn a dime off this site, which makes the whole issue pretty trivial.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Nice tribute

It's about time that I fed my I've Got a Secret hunger on YouTube. So I rustled up this very nice tribute to Jonathan Winters, who died a few weeks ago.

I never thought Winters was particularly good on game shows, with their tight formats and rules. Jonathan liked to break rules on TV, after all, not play by them. But I've Got a Secret was pretty loose with its gameplay and even verged on a variety show much of the time. So Winters felt more at home with Garry Moore and friends.

On this April 16, 1962 episode, Jonathan showed up with eight smartly outfitted Marine recruiting sergeants. Former Marine Winters marched the gentlemen around the stage with impressively barked commands.

Then each IGaS panelist had to do the same, ordering a pair of Marines to a set location on the stage. Hilarity, or at least several funny moments, ensued. Winters played nicely off some of the more hopeless efforts from the panelists.

The Marines barely cracked a smile as the silliness revolved around them. It was interesting how their dress uniforms looked literally timeless, just the same a half-century ago as today.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sympathy for Mr. Sajak

I know I'm overdosing on Wheel of Fortune lately. But if you can't o.d. on a show after its second million-dollar win, when can you o.d.?

At the About.com game show blog, Carrie Grosvenor notes that Wheel got snubbed in this year's Daytime Emmy nominations. In particular, she's surprised that Pat Sajak couldn't even get nominated, much less selected, for one of the cutesy-pie statuettes.

I've bitched about this before, but Mr. Sajak makes Rodney Dangerfield look well-respected. In part that's due to his low-key persona, which was on display in Autumn Erhard's recent million-dollar haul. Pat didn't hog the moment and go wild on camera. He deliberately underplayed the announcement, which of course was plenty dramatic without any artificial hype, and then got out of the way so Autumn could celebrate with her parents and fiancé.

It's not that he played cold fish, as Drew Carey (in)famously did after the perfect showcase bid on The Price is Right. Pat eventually joined in the festivities and helped Autumn and friends enjoy the moment.

Which has been the secret of his success through those much-advertised 30 years on Wheel. Sajak knows that a dominating, camera-grabbing personality tends to burn out fast. He's not a lamppost on the show, with his wry humor and faultless hosting skills. But he's not the main attraction, either, and he's very well aware of it.

Pat always comes across as witty, thoughtful and articulate in his interviews. This is a smart guy, and he knows how to keep a career going for a long successful time on TV.