Saturday, August 31, 2013

Thinking about bonking

A faux tweet noted a live game show called Bonk. In this profound effort, kid contestants answer trivia questions. But instead of hitting a buzzer when they know the answer, they bonk themselves in the head with a rubber mallet. Don't worry, they wear helmets, as the picture shows.

The sheer silliness got me thinking deep thoughts - okay, pretty shallow thoughts - about the basic foolishness of our little genre. Baseball guru Bill James, who I like to disagree with, once said something about the game he's made a good living off of, to the effect that it's a big nothing, a bunch of silly rules that say run here and don't run there and do this and don't do that.

And game shows are big nothings, too. They're all just a bunch of stupid rules that contestants have to follow, and if they follow them right enough and/or fast enough, they win. Otherwise, they lose. Sure, sometimes there's big money involved, money that can really change people's lives. But there's huge money involved in baseball and other sports, too, and that doesn't invalidate James' point about the triviality of it all.

So I write a blog about something that doesn't mean squat. Which should help keep me humble, but I doubt that it will.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Giving it a rest

As the previous post noted after endless updates, 5th Grader is departing GSN's schedule, at least temporarily.

The show has certainly served the network well. It was still getting decent numbers on weekday afternoons and Sunday nights. I don't know if GSN's lease ran out or if the network just decided that you can only abuse a limited run so much. But the show is gone after September 15.

I like the quizzer because the kids are cute and Jeff Foxworthy is a thoroughly pleasant host. The pace is lackadaisical, but what else would you expect from a Millionaire descendant? The questions are reasonably challenging, and the show builds decent suspense. GSN has never run the 5th Grader syndie, which could be a nice addition to the schedule one of these days.

The network desperately needs even more Family Feud - sarcasm alert - so O'Hurley's version takes over 5th Grader's weekday afternoon slot. I loves me my Feud, but even for me there's a limit.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chased away

As schedules and promos from GSN confirm, the network is calling off The Chase. The show's last first-run is next Tuesday, September 3, and the last rerun is September 10. Rumors around the game show Interwebs are that The Chase won't return for at least another couple months.

So the show, which debuted on August 6, barely lasted a month in its first go-round on GSN. It didn't even get through the eight eps taped for the first season. The network announced a renewal for The Chase before its debut, but this (lack of) scheduling does not demonstrate enormous faith in its future. What happened?

Well, first of all, the show didn't perform terribly. The five first-runs so far have averaged 455K viewers. Not bad by GSN's historical standards, but not really all that great by GSN's recent standards. GSN averaged 380K viewers for all of prime time in August, and even some Chain Reaction reruns in the afternoon got more than 455K viewers. It's the revolution of rising expectations. Also, The Chase has not done particularly well in repeats, a critical issue for rerun-happy GSN.

I'm sure the network didn't expect American Bible Challenge numbers. But they probably looked for more from Brooke and the Beast than they got. I gave The Chase a glowing review, and I still think it's a fine quizzer. But let's face it, the show is more of an Anglophile website darling - BuzzerBlog and Game Show Newsnet in particular - than a mass-appeal project in the U.S. Let's hope that better days (or at least more days) for the show lie ahead.

UPDATE: Before every Chase fan - I'm one of you! - starts jumping down my throat for being a gloomy Gus, I'll happily note that the show recovered nicely this week to 506K viewers for its first-run on August 27. Trouble is, GSN had made the scheduling decision (on their pdf) before this number was available. And I'm afraid they may have been influenced by the show's previous ratings track. As I wrote on Game Show Network News...

In the week of August 11-18, only one week after The Chase debuted, the show's first-run already sank to 46th on the weekly list. (The repeats were way down the list, of course.) When your hot new show - which you renewed before its debut - falls that far that fast, it's natural for a bit of disappointment to set in.

The recovery this week was nice, and I hope it persuades GSN not to give up on the show. But anybody at GSN who had their doubts about The Chase got some ammunition for their arguments pretty quick.

UPDATED UPDATE: Scott Rahner at Game Show Network News says that GSN will bring back The Chase in late November, including the unaired two eps from the first season. We'll see. Hope it's true. The show hasn't bombed, after all, even if the numbers don't seem to justify a pre-debut renewal.

UPDATED UPDATED UPDATE: Well, good news for us Chase fans. GSN just sent out revised schedules through October, and The Chase stays on the schedule with a couple reruns on Tuesday night. Yay! I hope the ratings hold up halfway decently. As always, though, you can't trust the advance schedules all that much. By the way, 5th Grader is gone from the schedule completely after September 15.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Construction project

The picture reminds me vaguely of the construction workers on History's Modern Marvels. Those two guys in front look familiar.

Okay, they're actually building the hourglass for Million Second Quiz. The thing's going up on the rooftop of an abandoned Manhattan car dealership. Kind of a neat picture. Who knew that a little old game show could set off major construction in New York City?

The linked story has more details of the gameplay. We even get some stats: 25,000 questions, 800 to 1,000 participants, 600,000 watts of power for the hourglass set, and 4.5 million "bouts" already played online with the show's tablet app.

And the most important stat of all: two million bucks to the big winner on the show's September 19 finale. Showrunner David Hurwitz modestly allows: "If things play out the way we hope things play out, we could be changing the course of television." Gee, is that all? I never knew trivia questions had such power. We'll see if things play out in a good way starting September 9.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ratings: more bad news for Jeopardy

What's with poor Alex lately? The reruns ain't getting it done. Jeopardy hit another season low during the week of August 12-18. Otherwise, there was almost no movement among syndicated game shows. TVNewsCheck brings the bad news for the answer-and-question gang...

Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.0 - down a tick to that season low
Family Feud 4.5 - flat
Millionaire 2.3 - flat as Meredith is almost finished
Baggage 1.2 - flat but a pretty good number for Jerry

TV by the Numbers has the viewer averages for the top four. Not much joy for Alex there, either. Wheel of Fortune 8.8 million (weekend repeat 3.9 million), Jeopardy 7.6 million, Family Feud 6.7 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. I'll keep a close eye on Cedric's numbers when he starts the new gig on Labor Day.

TVNewser reports that GSN did just fine in August with 380K/285K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 37th in the windows for the month.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A fan's notes

It's fun to read fan reports from game show sets. Lots of enthusiasm, lots of trivial details, lots of humor when the fan is somewhat self-aware. This report from the Wheel of Fortune set meets all the requirements.

A married couple watched WoF tape three shows for Halloween week. They noted that the set is a lot smaller than it looks on TV, as every contestant says. They also got to ask Vanna who writes the puzzles. She pointed at some guy but then had to get back to letter touching. During the commercial breaks Jim Thornton came out of hiding "to ask trivia questions, hand out prizes, answer questions, and tell corny Halloween jokes." The couple got a keepsake (see picture) because they knew that Pat Sajak's middle name is Leonard. As Johnny Carson said so often, I did not know that.

One funny note is that Pat literally just said "boo" when he taped one of the Halloween promos. The guy knows how to get the message across in a minimum of words. And for something you never cared about, there's a telephone under the ledge where Pat stands. Maybe he orders pizza when things get slow.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Newtonian physics

Hollywood Junket has posted an interview with Todd Newton, versatile game show host noted for everything from The Price is Right's live show to GSN original Whammy to the Hub's kid gamer Family Game Night. Todd's an Emmy-winner for his efforts, but he's always been a bit controversial on the game show Interwebs...and in the game show business, for that matter.

Nobody disputes the guy's ability. Everybody agrees that he can run a game show. Hollywood Junket calls him a "host's host...who is actually well-known for hosting, and not for something else before taking on a game show." The main criticism is that he's too smooth, too much of a slick operator who does things by rote. Former The Price is Right showrunner Roger Dobkowitz put it this way when Todd auditioned to succeed Bob Barker:
Unfortunately, and I think it was because of The Price Is Right live-on-stage shows that he was doing at that time, he came across a little mechanical and, as some people described him, as slick. The grind of doing live-on-stage shows to a new audience each night might have caused him to be more mechanical.
I dunno, if a guy knows what he's doing, as Todd undoubtedly does on a game show, I'm willing to forgive some so-called slickness. One thing's for sure. He's kept Family Game Night going for four seasons, despite rumors of the show's demise which surfaced before the third season. Good luck with the new episodes.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stop that bus

A while back I noted that Bounce, a digital subchannel targeted at African-Americans, had picked up reruns of some GSN shows. Newlywed Game, American Bible Challenge, Catch 21. Now the channel is running its own original game show, called The Bus Stop Game.

If Discovery won't make any more eps of Cash Cab, they can't stop other outlets from using the idea. And that's basically what the Bounce show does. A van rolls up to a bus stop. The host, a guy named Robbie Presto from Raleigh, NC, picks out a happy contestant to play a game of tic-tac-toe trivia. No, Robbie doesn't look much like Wink Martindale or Ben Bailey. The show is the brainchild of Sean Right, a Charlotte-based game show freak.

I've never seen Bus Stop Game because my cable system doesn't pick up the sparingly distributed Bounce. But there's a long promo reel on YouTube which gives you a pretty good idea of the gameplay. Looks like harmless fun. If Discovery won't do it, somebody will.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Time's arrow

A fan site posts a bunch of then-and-now photos of game show hosts. Most have aged pretty well. Better than me, anyway, though that's not saying much.

The biggest surprise: Chuck Barris looks rather wise and mellow in his old age. Those are not words I ever thought would be associated with Chuck. Some of us grow up later than other people. Bob Barker has seen better days, but the guy is pushing 90, after all. I just hope I'm still around to push 90, no matter what I look like.

Somehow, Chris Hardwick looks younger than when he hosted Singled Out back in the day. Must be the spiky hair. Meanwhile, Chuck Woolery keeps getting handsomer. By the time he reaches 100, he could be the most attractive guy in history. Anne Robinson looks as pinched and astringent as, maybe, the day she was born.

Kirk Fogg is the least recognizable in his later incarnation. Really wouldn't have known who he was. The Legends days were longer ago than I care to think. Time always wins.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Set up

From a fan's photo on Instagram via BuzzerBlog comes a glimpse of Jeopardy's new set. It's heavy on purple and pillars. Doesn't look bad, but as I said a while back, I'd watch the show if they played the game in a plain concrete room.

I'm trying to think of the ugliest set I've seen on a game show. Maybe the psychedelic set from the late '60s To Tell the Truth might qualify. But I'm sure that some folks regard those digs with warm nostalgia.

For all the talk about them, game show sets rarely make much difference. If the format stinks, the most gorgeous set in the world won't help. I thought It's Worth What had a downright lovely set. But the show wasn't worth much, as the numbers from the Nielsen Company quickly made clear.

At least the new Jeopardy set won't put viewers off with sheer ugliness. But the quizzer has survived for decades on a bunch of different sets. The format really does count for a lot more than the surroundings.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More game nights

NBC has renewed Hollywood Game Night for a second season. The Peacock Net's (Variety-speak) Paul Telegdy is refreshingly modest about the show's ratings performance. "It has done pretty respectably," he says. The show's total viewer numbers have been so-so at best, but the 18-49 rating has stayed north of the magic one-oh. That's just fine for NBC in the summer. Plus, reruns have held up decently.

I gave the show a mostly favorable review. It's a pleasant way to pass an hour, though the format occasionally feels a little padded. The party atmosphere also seems too staged, but that may be unavoidable. It's not like people can forget they're on camera.

No word on when the new eps will debut, except Deadline Hollywood says "next summer or sooner." Telegdy turns fulsome about host Jane Lynch, calling her "all kinds of awesome." I think she's competent but a little brassy. But who cares about my opinion?

Apparently the celeb players liked the first season. Deadline says some of them want to return for the second go-round.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ratings: Jeopardy hits season low

Maybe it was the reruns or summer or the CBS spat with that cable company. But for whatever reason Jeopardy hit a season low in the week of August 5-11. Otherwise movement among syndicated game shows was limited. But woeful Jerry got a little dose of good news. TVNewsCheck has all the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - up a tick
Jeopardy 5.1 - down four ticks to that season low
Family Feud 4.5 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.3 - flat as we get ready for a new host
Baggage 1.2 - up a couple ticks to a pretty good number for Jerry

Everybody except you know who made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.1 million (weekend repeat 4.3 million), Jeopardy 7.7 million, Family Feud 6.7 million, Millionaire 3.1 million. We're just waiting for the new seasons next month.

GSN's The Chase continues its okay but not overwhelming numbers. The latest ep on August 20 pulls 401K total viewers and 88K people in the famous 18-49 demo. Douglas Pucci reports that GSN enjoyed another good week for August 12-18: 380K/296K viewer averages prime time/total day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Likable ratings

At Game Show Network News Scott Rahner notes that Richard Karn's Family Feud is getting good numbers in the noon hour. Karn has always done well for GSN later in the afternoon. Now his noon ratings are helping to revive the networks early afternoon schedule, which was drooping after all the oldies in the morning.

Except Karn Feud is an oldie itself by now, by any standard except those of the game show Interwebs. Despite eternal reruns, the other Richard's Feud continues to appeal to GSN's audience. I've written about this before, but the secret is Karn's likability. People feel comfortable with Mr. Everyman. That's why he gets all the infomercial gigs.

Karn has never gotten the credit he deserves for reviving syndie Feud after three seasons of the visibly bored Louie Anderson. Eventually the producers dumped Karn for John O'Hurley, who was a hot commodity after his turn on Dancing With the Stars. I personally like O'Hurley, but his patrician airs can grate on the hoi polloi. That's why Feud's producers then summoned Steve Harvey, who is about as anti-patrician as any host can get.

Millionaire's showrunners are trying the same approach with Cedric Kyles. We'll see how The Entertainer works on a serious quizzer. Meanwhile, I wish some game show producer would give Mr. Karn another chance.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The other Marilyn

I've written a few not so kind things about The Name's the Same, a largely forgotten Goodson and Todman panel show from the 1950s. But with a lazy weekend upon me, I rummaged around YouTube for some bits and pieces.

There were a surprisingly large number of clips from the show. Somebody out there likes the same-ish panel effort. A more honest title would have been The Game's the Same, because most of the contestants had the same secret for the panel to guess. They had the same name as some famous person, place or thing.

This November, 1952 clip with a civvie contestant named Marilyn Monroe shows all you need to know about the format. Following a few stock lines of questioning, the panel quickly zooms in on the lady's name. Joan Alexander, who lasted forever on the show, finishes off the game. A bit of humor arises from mild references to the more famous Marilyn Monroe's physical endowments.

To be blunt, it's not all that thrilling or even mildly entertaining. But we do get to see a couple of well-known panel members: Meredith Wilson before Music Man and Morey Amsterdam before The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pawned

Discovery Channel is sitting on a kind of game show called Pawn in the Game. It's a combo of Pawn Stars and Cash Cab. Customers of a Branson, MO pawn shop play a trivia game to try to get a better price for their beloved items.

The show was supposed to debut sometime this month, but now the premiere date looks hazy. Hm, sounds like somebody isn't sold on the pawning.

Personally, I wish Discovery would just bring back the real cabbie show. What's Ben Bailey doing nowadays, anyway? I figure it would cost maybe $9.95 to put 40 new eps on the air. That was one of the great things about Cash Cab. It was dirt cheap but terrifically entertaining.

This new pawn show only has eight episodes on the shelf, and the taping wrapped way back in May. I get the feeling we won't see it any time soon, if at all.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hey guys, he's just a kid

By now I'm as tired as everybody else of the Jeopardy spelling ruckus on kids week. So when I stopped by Game Show Garbage and saw a commentary on the ruckus, I was more bored than anything else.

But then I got a little ornery when I actually read the comments. First, I agree with GSG's take that the misspelling didn't make any difference to the outcome of the game.

But then the site indulges in the kind of talk that they have unfortunately become famous for. They seem to forget that they're writing about an eighth grader, as they rip poor Thomas Hurley a new one and then another new one. "[Almost] bawling like a baby on stage...look like a fool...cheated out the other contestants of their time in the spotlight...completely and utterly ridiculous...acting like nothing short of a spoiled sport...how silly he has acted." They even quote another guy who prophesies that Thomas might have "a pretty disappointing life ahead of him."

Yeah, it's just like the site absurdly exaggerating the horribleness of some obscure game show nobody has ever heard of or cared about. The problem here is that they're attacking a kid who did nothing except look and sound less than thrilled about losing on a game show (and getting lectured by a less than gracious Alex about his bad spelling). Big deal. Cut the kid some slack.

By the way, I bet Thomas' life won't be any more disappointing than the average game show blogger's existence.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cute pictures

Sitcoms Online is giving every other oldies game show site a run for their money. A thread on the board wonders if game shows could ever make a comeback. Sorry to point out the obvious, but game shows have been cropping up all over TV lately. The comeback is in clear and present progress.

But the board just uses the topic for the web's 7,245,873rd older-is-better bash on everything that's happened in game shows recently. "Drew Carey is a doofus, Wayne Brady is obnoxious and annoying...SCREW STEVE HARVEY AND HIS RATINGS NOW AND FOREVER." How do you screw ratings forever, or at all? Anyway, you've seen this stuff many, many times before.

Still, the board makes an exception for Let's Make a Deal model Tiffany Coyne, who is "smoking hot." I certainly agree, as the picture above demonstrates. And she's not just a pretty face. She's a new mother, and her kid is frighteningly cute, as the picture to the left demonstrates. Congratulations to Ms. Coyne and her husband. As for the Sitcoms Online board, maybe they should try watching some of the new game shows with something of an open mind. They might actually enjoy The Chase, which is about as traditional as traditional game shows can get.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So sayeth the survey

As a faux tweet noted, GSN will try a survey show called Mind of a Man.

It's based on a survey of 100 guys. Anybody who's glanced at GSN's ratings lately knows that a certain similar survey show is performing nicely for the network. So it's not amazing that they're attempting another let's-talk-to-the-people effort. The idea is that straight-up knowledge questions are hard, but figuring out what other people think is easy. Or at least easier.

The concept dates back to Match Game if not earlier. We surveyed a bunch of folks and we want you to match their answers. Street Smarts put the surveying on screen, with people who were sometimes (or pretty often) amusingly clueless. And Family Feud, of course, has endured for nearly four decades with surveys saying this and that.

The latest effort from GSN will put celebs into the format. They'll advise the civvie contestants on what the 100 guys are thinking. I don't know why celebs would match the answers any better, but I won't prejudge.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ratings: syndies mostly lose a little

Syndicated game shows mostly gave a little ground in the week of July 29-August 4. There was a smidgen of good news for Mr. Harvey, though. And as always, the pecking order among the five shows remained the same. TVNewsCheck has all the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.5 - also down a tick, to imitate the soulmate
Family Feud 4.6 - up a tick in the bit of good news
Millionaire 2.3 - down a couple ticks as Meredith's time is almost up
Baggage 1.0 - flat for poor Jerry

The top four made the syndie list at TV by the Numbers. Their viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.1 million (weekend repeat 4.4 million), Jeopardy 8.2 million, Family Feud 6.8 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. The endlessly ballyhooed battle between CBS and Time Warner Cable really doesn't seem to have affected the numbers much.

In its second week GSN's The Chase pulled okay but not particularly good numbers: 397K total viewers and 141K 18-49 folks. The demo number is pretty decent for GSN. Meanwhile, the network enjoyed a nice week for August 5-11 with 397K/310K prime time/total day viewer averages.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Here, there and everywhere

Decided to wander around my blogroll to see what's agitating the game show blogosphere.

First, I ran across this excruciatingly detailed chat about gameplay on The Joker's Wild. If you're wondering where the thread came from, you don't know the blogroll very well. Only one forum could chew over as many teensy-weensy details of a really old game show. That would be what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board.

Next, I saw this game show haiku on a GSN-centric blog with attitude. Game show haiku is a little-known literary form. But I like the thought:
BROOKE BURNS LOOKS SO HOT
THE BEAST IS A BIG MONSTER
IN THIS BRIT QUIZ GAME
Brooke is hot, you know. Then I found this charitable prejudgment of Million Second Quiz on another oldies board: "Oh my they think of some ridiculous things to try and put on TV." Too bad they didn't try a remake of The Joker's Wild. At least the oldies guys would have liked it.

Finally, Game Show Newsnet wants an end to the kids week spelling controversy on Jeopardy now that Alex Has Spoken. I never knew Alex had such power.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A cup full of chess

With not much to report about traditional game shows, I'll post another entry on Internet chess broadcasts. The big one running right now is the 2013 Chess World Cup.

This is a monster knockout tournament - no, they don't literally knock out monsters - with 128 of the world's best players. They're running the thing in Norway, which has experienced a chess boom thanks to a fellow named Magnus. (He's one of the very few top players not in this particular tournament, by the way.) The organizers have scraped up a total prize fund of $1.6 million, which is big money by chess standards. By my standards, too.

The Internet commentators are GM Susan Polgar and IM Lawrence Trent, both of them experienced hosts on the net. The problem is that, at least in the first few rounds, they have so many freaking games to cover. So they tend to miss some interesting happenings. But they hop around the boards as fast as they can, and they conduct postgame interviews with the players intelligently and tactfully. It helps with the English-impaired participants that they know a bunch of languages.

The two finalists get places in next year's candidates tournament to select the challenger for the world championship. They also get a fair amount of money.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ya hockey puck

With game show news slowed to a trickle, it's time to rummage through the black and white archives on YouTube.

To Tell the Truth was never my favorite Goodson and Todman panel show. But the format did manage to last through many versions spanning six decades. No less than Mark Goodson himself allowed that it was his personal favorite among all his shows. YouTube offers many clips from the show, but I couldn't resist this one with NHL legend Jean "Le Gros Bill" Béliveau. Maybe it's because I vaguely remembered one of the impostors telling the panel that, if we had any brains, we wouldn't be hockey players.

As the comments on the YouTube clip point out, an NHL star like Béliveau couldn't appear "in the open" on a contemporary version of TTTT. After all, the NHL has gained in popularity in the U.S. over the decades. And sports cable channels have metastasized to the point that athletes in all sports are media celebrities as never before.

One other comment points out that the $500 earned by the three players on the show would have meant something to Béliveau, considering the salaries in the NHL back then. Times have changed in that regard, too. Sidney Crosby will earn $12 million for the 2013-14 season.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Floored

GSN once called traditional game shows "shiny floor shows." Well, now BuzzerBlog is running pictures of The Price is Right's new set. And it's got, wait for it, a really shiny floor.

Which sets off much chatter on Golden Road. I dunno, my TPiR-indifference truly kicks in over a floor. But I'm sure that many fans of the show will note the shininess and argue about it at length. The discussion has already started and the new season hasn't even debuted yet.

Jeopardy also gets a new set for its upcoming season, though no pictures have surfaced. JBoard.tv will probably talk about the new set a lot whenever we get the first glimpses. The show already has a blindingly shiny floor, so I doubt that things will get too much shinier.

Did I ever mention that I don't much care about sets? I thought Cash Cab had the right idea. Just put the whole damn show inside a car and forget about it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Trivial casting

Reality Wanted interviews the casting crew for Million Second Quiz. They say they want smart people. Okay, how smart is smart enough? The interviewer, a guy named Mark Long, apparently falls short of whatever the standard might be as he flunks his trivia audition. Axl Rose, sad to say, was not the original drummer for the Beatles.

The crew will be touring the country looking for contestants who want to be cooped up in a big hourglass for twelve days. Ryan Seacrest will torment the hardy souls with trivia until somebody finally wins some money. There will be a zillion and one social media tie-ins.

The casting folks say there will be no lifelines. Those cooped-up folks will be on their own. What if fights break out, like on Jerry Springer? Ah, don't worry. My guess is that everybody will get too worn down with trivia questions to care enough for a fight. It all starts happening September 9.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A well-run chase

Although it barely made a ripple in the general entertainment media, GSN's version of The Chase has generated a lot of noise in the game show blogosphere. That's because a lot of the British show's U.S. fanbase hangs out on, you guessed it, game show blogs. So there was intense interest in how well our little game show network would import the challenging quizzer.

Well, Chase fans, you can rest easy. GSN didn't screw this one up at all. Their version, which debuted last night, is fast-paced, entertaining, often witty, and thoroughly competent.

Lots of worries centered on host Brooke Burns, not known for game show chops, at least on a show that requires intense, blitz-speed questioning. Brooke did fine, even if her repartee isn't Cullen-level. She got in a few jabs at the hulking Beast, Mark Labbett, who responded with astringent comments about everybody else on the show.

Without plodding through a tedious explanation of the format, The Chase comes down to a nuclear-level (slight exaggeration) trivia war between the Beast and three civvie contestants. On the debut episode the Beast ultimately triumphed. Like Ben Stein, he's a tough guy to beat. But a good time was had by all as the confrontation played out.

Douglas Pucci delivers the review which means everything, from the Nielsen Company. The Chase debuted with 511K total viewers and 168K 18-49 folks. More than acceptable by GSN standards. The second run didn't do quite as well but still performed decently. And GSN's Minute To Win It really romped and stomped last night.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ratings: good news for Steve and Meredith

Family Feud and Millionaire picked up a bit in the week of July 22-28, but Jeopardy fell back a little. Still, Alex's weekend repeat made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers, in what I'll call a consolation prize. I've got all the household ratings from TVNewsCheck...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - flat
Jeopardy 5.6 - down three ticks, as it falls back from the soulmate
Family Feud 4.5 - up a couple ticks
Millionaire 2.5 - up a couple ticks as Meredith says the long good-bye
Baggage 1.0 - flat

As mentioned above, Alex made the list at TV by the Numbers twice, so game shows filled six of the 25 slots. The viewership averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.2 million (weekend repeat 4.8 million), Jeopardy 8.3 million (weekend repeat 3.5 million), Family Feud 6.9 million, Millionaire 3.4 million. Decent numbers all round for the genre.

GSN enjoyed a nice week for July 29-August 4, according to Media Insights. The network averaged 389K/278K viewers prime time/total day. Not bad at all, especially in prime time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Helpful hints

Once in a while, how-to stories turn up for wannabe contestants on game shows.

Today we get some tips from LAist for would-be Let's Make a Deal winners. The first hint is obvious: dress accordingly. Which means dress in something weird and noticeable. This show does not award brownie points for tasteful understatement in the garment department. The other hints sound like lots of tips I've read for lots of other game shows: be personable, be decisive, and listen carefully to the host.

There's also a hint to follow the show on Twitter, which might actually make some sense. Might as well check out the kind of deals the show is making lately.

The story also quotes a happy-sounding Wayne Brady. Does the busy schedule get him down? Not at all. "I don't have to keep my energy level up because this is my gig. There's no real work to keep up my energy because that's part of the job." This is a nice change for Wayne, who occasionally sounds uncomfortable in interviews about getting pegged as a game show host.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Game show for game show netizens

One of these days I'll stop crawling around the web. Unusual things turn up. Like Game Show Gauntlet, a YouTube game show for Net insiders, hosted by Cory Anotado.

Cory and me ain't best buds, and you can scrounge up the evidence for yourself. His three game show netizen co-conspirators on the linked episode are Alex Davis from Buzzerblog, Bob Hagh from Buzzerblog and others, and Stad St. Fleur from Twitter and elsewhere.

The show is not for boys and girls. Random profanity and varied sexual references crop up, and Alex tells us how hung over he is, though he seems awful frisky. Anyway, the netizens run through a bunch of classic game shows, from Match Game to Weakest Link to Family Feud to Concentration to God knows what. (The last one is an expression, not a game show.)

For whatever reason, Cory doesn't pick up so well on the audio, and Alex and Stad come through too loud and clear. Production values are in the, oh, $2.95 range. And you know what? I loved the thing. It's got the goofy-loosey vibe that Hollywood Game Night tries for and never quite nails.

But then I'm a game show netizen myself. And I guessed "brace yourself" on Wheel of Fortune, while Alex screwed up. One other thing: Gilda Radner died a long time ago, Cory.

UPDATE: By a strange coincidence, Cory Anotado appears as a contestant on one of the debut episodes of The Chase on GSN August 6. I'll post my review of The Chase this week.

Kill the karaoke

Game Show Garbage is running a poll on, what else, the worst game show of 2012-13.

One of the nominees isn't even a game show but some talent contest. The other four choices range from blah to godawful. For me the vote is easy: Killer Karaoke. This sweet effort tormented folks with shock collars and other amusing torture devices. And miles of stupendous drug abuse have vaporized whatever brain matter Steve-O might once have possessed.

So far not many have voted in the poll, but somehow Bet On Your Baby is leading. I gave the show a so-so review, but it was winsome and charming compared to the Karaoke atrocity. At least Melissa Peterman and friends didn't torture the kids.

The other two shows didn't thrill me but were hardly horrendous: Winner Take All and The Choice. One was a tepid retread of the prisoner's dilemma, the other was a ho-hum dating show. Of course, Game Show Garbage has to exaggerate their horribleness to end of western civilization dimensions.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mamma Mia

Everybody remembers John Carpenter and his run to the first top prize on Millionaire. Of course, he burned the phone-a-friend lifeline on the last question simply to tell his father, with a smirk, that he was gonna win the big money.

Miami lawyer Dan Blonsky suffered the (in some ways) unenviable fate of becoming the second million-dollar winner. Not that he cried too much over taking down all that loot. But relatively few people recall Dan, or how phone-a-friend saved his game show bacon on the 500K question.

Luckily, Jeff Crockett (see the link), one of Dan's partners in his law firm, knew that a winsome picture of Mia Farrow graced the first cover of People magazine. Nowadays, with Google on a high-speed Net link, it takes maybe five seconds to type "People magazine first cover" and get back a bunch of pictures of Mia. That's why the lifeline has gone the way of buggy whips. Technology marches on. (And who knows, maybe Jeff used a primitive computer search to come up with the answer.)

The final question was anticlimactic, a surprising gimme about the distance of the Earth from the Sun. Dan nailed it no-sweat, and the rest is somewhat forgotten game show history.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jeopardy has its own spell-mageddon

Everybody loves Jeopardy, right? Classic show, thinking person's game, good ol' honest Alex.

Except something funny - as in weird, not ha-ha - just happened during kids week. Poor eight-grader Thomas Hurley got the right answer in Final Jeopardy, but spelled "Emancipation Proclamation" with an extra t. No big deal, you say? The judge begged to differ. He ruled the answer wrong due to the tiny misspelling.

It really didn't make any difference. Thomas' competitor Skyler Hornback also nailed the right answer (correctly spelled) and blew everybody out of the water with a big bet. But the judge's ruling got fans fuming, with a zillion yelps on the show's Facebook page.

It seems like a minor point to get upset about. The decision didn't affect the outcome of the game at all. But everybody needs something to protest loudly and lengthily. Thomas himself sounds disgruntled about the ruling. "I was pretty upset that I was cheated out of the Final Jeopardy question. It was just a spelling error."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A real game, anyway

If other game show sites can cover Whose Line, which isn't anything close to a real game, I can cover chess. At least guys are playing a genuine game in those Internet broadcasts.

The latest grandmaster tournament just wrapped up in Biel, Switzerland. Well, it sort of wrapped up. Due to the vagaries of the soccer-style 3-1-0 scoring system, the tournament ended in a four-way tie for first. They'll play a blitz and rapid playoff tomorrow to determine a winner.

The host for the Internet coverage is England's Daniel King. Great name for a chess commentator, right? A grandmaster himself, King offers telegenic good looks and a wry wit to go along with competent technical analysis. He posts a lot of stuff on YouTube, and his videos are well worth watching even for patzers like me.

You can watch his summary of the memorable not-quite-final day at Biel on the Chessbase site. The tournament's official site offers a full replay of his coverage.