Monday, September 30, 2013

All my decades

A while back I mentioned Jeopardy's upcoming battle of the decades. As a faux tweet pointed out, the stunt is now starting to get some media buzz. This story about Jeopardy maven Stephanie Jass talks up the tournament.

Fifteen top-drawer contestants from each of Alex's decades will compete: the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s. The competition will be spaced out over the new season. Stephanie will tape her appearance this winter, and the tournament kicks off in February.

This does sound like a nice idea. I like the best of the best getting another chance at Jeopardy glory. This will be Stephanie's third bite of the answer-and-question apple, and she sounds, well, jassed up about it (sorry). "This is so crazy. If you had told me two years ago I'd be in a room competing with Ken Jennings and Roger Craig, I’d have said, 'What are you talking about?' It's so weird."

Weird or not, it's going to happen. Good luck to all the champs.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

All you-know-what, all the time

Even my TPiR-indifferent self finally broke down and headed to cbs.com for the all-Plinko episode.

What can I say except what everybody else has said? They should have taken one of the zero slots off the board. Drew Carey started the trend by moaning about all the zeros, and lots of cries and whimpers have followed.

But overall I thought the episode was an amusing oddity. When a show's been grinding for as long as The Price is Right, it doesn't hurt to try something completely offbeat. The backstage story from BuzzFeed says audience enthusiasm faded as the episode crawled on, but I really didn't notice too much of a letdown. Such a huge departure from routine will naturally drag out the taping time, but the cast and crew kept things moving fairly well.

I hope that somewhere the late TPiR showrunner Frank Wayne enjoyed this display of his most famous creation. It was a nice change of pace.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A contestant's kit bag

On what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, one poster just got the call from Let's Ask America.

The show sent him a complete contestant's kit: "answer cards, a black marker, headphones, a USB audio dongle, an Ethernet cable, a T-shirt, a sticker, and a travel cup." He provided a helpful photo of the loot, which I cropped a bit. I'm sure the bag of goodies saves on travel expenses, for either the show or the contestant.

You'll notice the spiffy logo. Scripps has tarted up Let's Ask America in its second season with a new set and logo. I've speculated that they're planning to take the show nationwide, but we'll see. The published ratings have been respectable if not overwhelming. Given the rock-bottom expenses, Let's Ask America might be able to survive countrywide syndication.

Good luck to the guy on Game Show Forum. Let's Ask America won't make him rich, but there's a little money in the game. Not to mention the TV time.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Good old Win

Got an e-mail directing me to an interview with game show legend Wink Martindale. I put the link into a faux tweet, as the e-mailer suggested. In the interview, Wink fondly recalls his first game show, an almost unknown NBC effort from 1964-65 called What's This Song.

So while I was at it, I rummaged around YouTube to see if any scraps of the show still exist. Somewhat to my surprise I found this bit of footage. Wink went by "Win" back then. Which does seem like an appropriate name for a game show host. Better than "Lose," anyway.

To be honest, Wink was never my favorite. He always seemed a little too smarmy, too much like a flesh-and-blood (and-teeth) Guy Smiley. But Wink lasted so long in the business that he gradually became legendary even to picky me.

By the way, the YouTube clip maintains that What's This Song survives in its entirety...and in color. Wikipedia disagrees, saying the show was almost completely wiped. The second scenario sounds more likely for a 1960s NBC game show, sad to say.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stories about contestants

With the new seasons for all the major game shows underway, the Google news cache is filling up with contestant stories.

I've been linking to a lot of them in the faux tweets. I like reading about the civvies and their moment in the TV sun. After all, the whole idea of the genre is to give regular folks a chance to win, and sometimes win big. Jeopardy's already had a near-200K winner this season, and Millionaire saw a contestant try the final question. (She missed it, sadly.)

The money is important, but the television experience seems like even more of a kick for many contestants. They get to organize viewing parties and tell everybody they know about their success...or not-so-success. And most of all, they get to play. As one contestant said: "We've watched this show since I was a little kid. As long as I can remember, that's what we did every week night. Even after I've been on it, I'll continue to watch it. I love the show."

And other people will keep watching, too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ratings: big two syndies jump ahead

September 9-15 was the last week before Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Family Feud all kicked off their new seasons. The top two shows enjoyed the week a lot. Otherwise the news for syndie game shows was so-so. TVNewsCheck has all the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - up a nice six ticks
Jeopardy 5.3 - up an almost equally nice five ticks
Family Feud 4.5 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.1 - flat as Cedric hovers near the big two-oh
Baggage 1.0 - up a tick and Jerry smiles a bit

Cedric slid out of the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers, despite attempts to spin his numbers as sort of okay. The viewer averages for the top three shows: Wheel of Fortune 9.4 million, Jeopardy 8.1 million, Family Feud 6.6 million. The spin doctors provided the viewer average for Millionaire: 2.9 million. Not an imposing number despite all the p.r. We'll see if Cedric can work some magic in future weeks.

Douglas Pucci reports that GSN got their blah-est ratings in a while for the week of September 16-22. 314K/268K viewer averages prime time/total day. Steve Harvey's Family Feud dominated as always, but nothing on the network pulled more than 600K viewers. These aren't disastrous ratings by the network's historical standards, but GSN has gotten used to better numbers.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another fall, another season

I've often advertised my TPiR indifference. But even sourpuss moi has to acknowledge yet another season of The Price is Right. They're still guessing prices and awarding merchandise, and they might keep doing it till kingdom come.

Hollywood Reporter gives the show a long story, with lots of comments from showrunner Mike Richards. Of course, Mike has been subjected to much Internet abuse for his supposed tampering with the tried and true TPiR formula. But the show still gets numbers, so Mike is still around.

On the Inevitable Comparison, Richards has this to say: "Bob hit every mark perfectly. Drew is improv. Drew is Drew, and he's going to go where he thinks the best moment is." Drew has also been around for six seasons now and shows no signs of going away, much to the dismay of his Internet detractors.

The new season has a few different wrinkles. The show introduces a new pricing game called "Do the Math," and there will be the much talked-about all-Plinko ep this Friday. But for the most part TPiR just rolls along, the old man river of game shows.

UPDATE: Another new twist this season is guest models. They're not doing guest hosts, yet.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Curio means war...on Twitter

A while back some poor schmuck mispronounced "curio" on Wheel of Fortune.

You might think this wouldn't bring about Twitter hostilities. You would be wrong. Greg Gutfeld of Fox News sort-of fame has launched a thermonuclear strike on behalf of the mispronouncing contestant. Pat Sajak has returned fire with all Twitter barrels blasting. The result is...surprisingly funny.

Still, comparing Gutfeld to Bob Beckel's suspenders is below the belt. Well, literally it's above the belt, but you get my idea. We have to keep within some bounds of decency, gentlemen.

Buy a Vowel has followed the faux war with almost unseemly eagerness. The posters are overjoyed that Sajak has returned to Twitter in the first place. This goofball feud with Gutfeld has only added to their glee. To be honest, it adds to my glee, too.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Radio days

Time for another history lesson on our little genre. Game shows didn't spring full-blown from television's brow. A lot of the early formats just migrated from Marconi's box. One of them was Truth or Consequences, which enjoyed a long spell on radio, beginning in 1940, before its long spell on TV.

YouTube offers a November 8, 1947 episode with the orotund Ralph Edwards hosting the silliness. One thing a listener immediately notices is the absolute lack of dead air. Sorry to state the obvious, but on TV you can show things. On radio you have to talk about them, continuously. Even when Edwards calls somebody in Minnesota and they don't answer, he has to keep up the patter.

The stunts are silly and some of the contestants are sillier. A rabbit breeder producers lots of laughs. There are hints of history, like a passing reference to wartime soap shortages. This was a long time ago, after all. At least the studio audience sounds interested throughout. The show was a big hit on radio.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Autopsy

The big hourglass has hardly gone dark, and the postmortems have already begun.

Pundits are chiming in on why Million Second Quiz didn't work, at least not as well as NBC hoped. This New York Times blogger runs through all the usual suspects. The format was confusing. The trivia questions were, uh, too trivial even for trivia. The online "synergies" didn't contribute much to the TV show.

All this is true enough, I guess, though it's easy to poke holes in the explanations. The many rules about how contestants got on the show and stayed on the show were a little much. But they hardly ruined the trivia bouts themselves, which were surprisingly entertaining. Maybe the show should have dropped all the elaborate contestant searches and just brought on folks to play the game. Old-fashioned game shows have always done it that way, right?

Okay, I'm probably just being an old fart. Million Second Quiz wasn't afraid to take chances and try new things. Sure, all the new twists and turns didn't work perfectly and might have confused some easily confused critics. But I hope that NBC will give the show a second go-round after what was an admittedly bumpy shakedown cruise.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Spoiling away

Don't you just love it when game shows spoil their own big moments? Wheel of Fortune leaked like a sieve for weeks before last season's million dollar win. Now Millionaire is spoiling a contestant's try at the million dollar question next week.

Before I get too exercised, the video released by the show doesn't reveal exactly what happens on the question. We have to tune in for that answer...or non-answer. To be honest, it looks to me like the female contestant decides to bail out, but it's impossible to tell for sure. One thing is clear from the board: she uses her two jumps to skip the 250K and 500K questions.

I think this is the first time that anybody has faced a million dollar question on the show since all the randomization started. Nobody on Millionaire has won more than 250K in regular gameplay for a long, long time now. I can also see why the show decided to offer this dramatic moment early in Cedric's run. Mr. Kyles didn't get off to the best ratings start in his first week. A little drama can't hurt.

One more note. Unless the video is intentionally misleading, it gives three of the possible answers to the million dollar question. "A. Training parrots to talk. B. Cheating at card games. C. Digging graves." The fourth answer starts with "D. Making..." but the promo obscures the rest. Good luck on figuring out the question.

UPDATE: Josina Reaves missed the million-dollar question, picking C instead of the correct D on the query about Nostradamus, of all people. Congrats on her courage. And enjoy the consolation 25 grand!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

GSN schedule dances

I've been getting a bunch of new schedules from GSN through the end of October. I've been posting them as fast as I get 'em. The network is shuffling around some of the prime time shows, especially on Tuesday and Friday. You can check the latest advance schedules in the sidebar.

I used to follow the tiniest twists and turns of GSN's schedule on their Internet board. Then the board went away, and I have to admit that lately I haven't tracked the schedule changes nearly as closely. But I know that a lot of folks like to check the advance schedules on this blog, so I make every effort to get and post the latest files.

By the way, I want to thank the nice lady at GSN who sends me the schedules. She has to keep a lot of people notified of the latest changes, and I appreciate all the work she puts into keeping everybody up to date. Also, I hope the image doesn't mislead anybody into thinking that The Price is Right is returning to GSN any time soon. That's a long, tangled story, and it doesn't have a very happy ending for our little game show network.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This news is a killer

Once upon a time there was a cable channel called Court TV. It carried trials and legal commentary for an audience that skewed really old. Well, you know how TV execs dislike old TV viewers. So they changed the network to truTV with a lot of really, really dumb reality shows for really, really dumb young people.

One of the more obnoxious of the dumb efforts is Killer Karaoke. This stunt game show tortures contestants who have to keep singing while getting shocked or covered with snakes or whatever else the demented writers can dream up.

Steve-O hosted the first season with the three functioning brain cells which he still possesses after monumental drug abuse. The show got reasonable ratings, so truTV is bringing it back for a second season (or eight more eps of the first season, as the press release says). They've tarted up the "gameplay," if you can call it that.

They're also bringing on a host who may have more than three intact brain cells. Mark McGrath, last seen in gameshowland on the syndie Don't Forget the Lyrics, will oversee the tormented contestants. The new episodes debut in early 2014. Just one more wonderful thing to look forward to in the new year.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ratings: not a good start for Cedric

Cedric Kyles' first week on Millionaire wasn't one to remember. The household rating skidded perilously close to the not-so-magic two-oh. If it's any consolation, Cedric had plenty of company among the other syndie game shows. Every show declined except for that Family Feud thing hosted by Cedric's comedy buddy. TVNewsCheck has all the numbers for the week of September 2-8...

Wheel of Fortune 5.5 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 4.8 - down three ticks, just to be like the soulmate
Family Feud 4.4 - up a tick to buck the trend
Millionaire 2.1 - down a couple ticks in Cedric's first go-round
Baggage 0.9 - down a couple ticks for poor old Jerry

At least Cedric didn't slide out of the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 8.6 million, Jeopardy 7.2 million, Family Feud 6.4 million, Millionaire 2.8 million. Cedric sinks below the three million mark, which is not a good sign. Oh well, it was a holiday week with a lot of preemptions. Let's wait and see what happens in a normal week.

TVNewser says GSN didn't perform particularly well for the week of September 9-15. The network averaged 339K/264K viewers prime time/total day. Not bad by GSN's historical standards, but a little pale compared to recent weeks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Confusion reigns

From the start of Million Second Quiz, people have expressed bafflement. They just can't understand all the whys and wherefores of the mysterious rulebook.

My original review mentioned all the rules, but I didn't mind them so much. The trivia bouts themselves were entertaining, so the rules about who got to play and who got to stay and who had to leave didn't mean much to me. But apparently a simpler setup might have helped with the numbers from the Nielsen Company. More simplicity couldn't have hurt, anyway. The ratings have nosedived since the show's debut.

The latest rumpus concerns whether Jeopardy legend Ken Jennings was invited as a special contestant and then disinvited. Nobody seems to know and increasingly nobody seems to care. This New York Times story is typical of the beatings administered to the show by dazed and confused critics. The NYT politely faults an "overly complex format." Others have been more direct: "the most confusing game show ever."

The show will wend its way to the finale this Thursday. I doubt that we'll see it again. Sometimes things are just too hard for TV viewers to figure out.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hat-a-phobia

As a faux tweet noted, Carrie Grosvenor at About.com has been hearing from Cedric-phobic Milionaire fans. Believe it or not, a critical issue is Cedric's...hats. "PLEASE make the hat go AWAY!" runs a typical whine.

Well, I can't make Cedric go hatless. To some extent this is just the inbred traditionalism of the game show Interwebs. Older is better. Change is evil per se and usually catastrophic. Why can't everything be like the good old days, even if the good old days were literally a couple weeks ago?

Steve Harvey generates much the same reaction, despite his now lengthy incumbency on Family Feud. It's not hard to unearth web complaints about the rubber-faced Steve ruining good old Feud. Of course, all of Mr. Harvey's good news from the Nielsen Company easily overwhelms the naysayers.

And needless to say but I'll say it anyway, Cedric Kyles will be judged the same way. We'll start getting his numbers this week. Those dry figures, not his fedoras, will determine Cedric's fate on the money tree quizzer.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Old movies

Time to indulge my weakness for ancient I've Got a Secret eps. Dug up a pretty good one, from October 16, 1957.

This show was a tribute to Hollywood on its 50th anniversary. I'm not sure about the exact anniversary date, but the episode offered a lot of terrific old movie footage. Back in the silent movie days, understatement in acting was not highly prized. To be blunt, the actors hammed it up until the cows came home.

Even the IGaS studio audience laughed when they showed a really hambone scene with Rudolph Valentino. Poor Rudy was trying to resist a vamp's advances, and his face reflected his massive struggle. It was pretty funny.

The panel displayed an impressive knowledge of movie trivia, though they didn't know that "Grapes of Wrath" was a phrase from the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Given a little too much information, Bill Cullen guessed immediately that the first contestant was the first pianist in a silent movie theater. Later Bill also demonstrated that he was not wearing an undershirt, just like Clark Gable in It Happened One Night.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kingdom come

Wanted to take note of Bobby McBride's superb blog, Game Show Kingdom. Bobby keeps track of detailed gameplay for zillions of episodes. This really comes in handy when I want to verify something that may have happened on a game show years ago (or last week, for that matter).

Bobby also occasionally posts a Quick News & Notes entry, similar to my faux tweets and Game Show Newsnet's Lightning Round. And let me tell you, Bobby's notes are precise. One of his latest entries discusses capitalization in the Disney-ABC domestic TV logo.

Another one of his latest notes concerns Conan O'Brien's "Alex is crazy" Jeopardy parodies. The skit was pretty funny the first time I saw it on YouTube...and kind of dumb the second time. By the fourth or fifth time, I wanted to scream. But Conan has done the skit two straight weeks on his show, so maybe it helps the ratings. Or maybe Conan just likes to watch Alex read insane clues.

Finally, Bobby notes that the new Wheel of Fortune Express Wedge will go over the red $700 wedge on the wheel. Like I said, this guy gives detailed information.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It spins again

Now that I've polished off Jeopardy's press release, it's time for Pat and Vanna's turn...of the wheel, you might say.

The biggest news in the Wheel of Fortune release leaked a long time ago. There will be a new "Express" wedge on the wheel, which will set off a rapid-fire letter-guessing game by the lucky (we hope) contestant. That is, if the contestant decides to play. See the release for all the juicy, consonant-y and vowel-y details.

The new season debuts September 16 with episodes taped in Vegas. They play a lot of games in that city, I hear. The release has some other news about viewer sweepstakes and such. You can read all about it.

Pat and Vanna return. What if, on some distant day in some distant galaxy, Pat and Vanna didn't come back for a new season? That might punch a hole in the space-time continuum and collapse the known universe. Which could be bad for this blog.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ratings: syndie soulmates rise a little

After bad news the last few weeks, Alex and Pat had something to cheer about as we wait for their new seasons on September 16. Both shows added a few tenths to distance themselves from the pack during the week of August 26-September 1. Meanwhile, Meredith went out with a pretty typical number for her last couple years. TVNewsCheck provides all the ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - up a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.1 - up a couple ticks from last week's season low
Family Feud 4.3 - down a couple ticks as the new season approaches
Millionaire 2.3 - flat as Meredith wraps up a long run
Baggage 1.1 - up a tick and Jerry will take it

At least Meredith made the top 25 syndie list at TV by the Numbers in her final week. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.2 million (weekend repeat 3.8 million), Jeopardy 7.8 million, Family Feud 6.4 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. We'll get Cedric's first ratings next week. And all the shows can look forward to better numbers as their new seasons arrive.

TVNewser says that GSN produced pretty much its usual ratings for the week of September 2-8. 372K/268K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 39th and 38th in the windows, which again is fairly standard. Ho-hum.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lotsa champs

Press releases are piling up in my inbox. One from Jeopardy is interesting.

The show will stage the ultimate tournament of champions, a Battle of the Decades. Top players from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s will fight for a million bucks. There's even a fan vote for a favorite contestant from each decade.

I've had a few harsh words about Jeopardy's incessant tournaments. Most of them don't mean much to me, but I've always liked the ToC. It's nice to see top level players duke it out for money and game show renown.

The release talks about a few other doodads for Jeopardy's new season debuting September 16. We've already heard about the new set and seen a few pictures. It looks nice enough, but the show's format could withstand almost any surroundings.

Meanwhile, another press release has arrived about the soulmate's new season, also premiering next week. I'll get around to Wheel of Fortune in a few days.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A million complaints a second

Gotta love the game show blogosphere. I just looked around and they're complaining about a show that hasn't even aired yet.

I'm talking about Million Second Quiz, which is due to premiere in a little over an hour as I type. At what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, a long thread has accumulated about how the show is already screwing up and could be doomed. Alex Davis has some of the same at BuzzerBlog.

Who knows? The doomsayers may be right. I'll watch the premiere and update this post with my impressions. It's called "not prejudging." See you then.

UPDATE: The show didn't meet its doom. In fact, I enjoyed the hour, even if it was too padded with human interest stories about the contestants. When they started the clock and played a fast-paced trivia bout between the challenger and the money chair incumbent, the game got downright intense.

The show lucked out because the final bout of the night ended in an excruciatingly close decision. Ryan Seacrest hosted competently, and the live nature of the proceedings added a certain edge. There are all sorts of rules about who gets into the game and who goes out of the game. I more or less ignored them, and most viewers will probably do the same. You watch the show for the trivia bouts, after all, not the rulebook.

A pleasant note: Barry Lander of 1 vs. 100 fame and fortune was one of the contestants in the show's first bout. Nice to see him again, even if he didn't last long on Million Second Quiz.

UPDATED UPDATE: Nielsen gives the show okay but not spectacular numbers: 6.5 million viewers with a 1.7 18-49 rating. NBC wins against the other broadcast networks in both categories, though the competition was soft.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In case you were interested

The most hotly contested election since Obama and Romney (sarcasm alert) has ended. The "winner" is Take It All, selected by a whopping 174 Net voters as the worst game show of 2012-13.

You can probably tell that I'm less than impressed by the result. Take It All was a boring rehash of the prisoner's dilemma but hardly any kind of game show atrocity. The massive (ha-ha) vote may reflect some anti-Howie animus.

Of course, the show that should have won was Killer Karaoke, which literally tortured its contestants. I guess the tiny handful of voters in the poll didn't mind torture. The poll was a joke to begin with because it included some talent contest that's not even a game show.

The runner-up with a staggering (ha-ha again) 168 votes was Bet On Your Baby, a bland kid show. The voters in the poll apparently liked torture instead of toddlers.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Lost history

On a slow Saturday I'm interested in ancient history. No, not the Egyptians and those guys. I'm talking about the vaguest, earliest, most dimly glimmering dawn (sounds literary, no?) of our little genre.

In particular, I'm referring to a game show called See What You Know, hosted by none other than Bennett Cerf. You might remember him from a certain old panel show. See What You Know started in 1946, when Google says that only 0.5% of American households had one of those newfangled TV sets. IMDb tells me that it's a "lost TV series," which actually sounds rather evocative. A trek through Google books finds this description of the gameplay, which seems appropriately primitive. Wikipedia (usual caveats) says the show lasted until 1949, when it vanished with hardly a trace.

But nothing disappears completely. In this 1968 interview, Bennett Cerf recalls "some kind of a crazy game" he did in the earliest days of TV with Gypsy Rose Lee and others. (The comments start at about the 2:00 mark in the clip.) He doesn't mention the show's name but it can only be See What You Know. Gypsy Rose is mention in the gameplay description linked above.

Sadly, I couldn't find any images from the show, so I can't show you what it looked like on those ancient television screens. What can I say? It's a lost TV series.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Syndie shifts

What's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board chews over upcoming changes in timeslots and stations for the syndie game shows. For the most part the shifts look minor, just a few switches here and there.

The big syndie story over the past couple years has been the rise of Steve Harvey's Family Feud. The show got a lot of better timeslots and stations, thanks to its improved ratings. In a virtuous cycle (from Steve's POV) the better slots helped the ratings even more.

But nothing very big looks to be happening this fall. Let's Ask America will debut on a few more Scripps stations, as the media group seems to like the show. And as if woeful Baggage hasn't garnered enough bad news, the show will lose its New York outlet WPIX. Not that it was attracting a ginormous audience at 3:30AM, anyway.

My guess for the next big thing in syndie game shows is Let's Ask America going nationwide. At least I think Scripps might eventually try to sell the show to other station groups. They've spruced up the survey-fest with a new set for this season.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Old college try

Happened to watch a couple of college episodes today from John O'Hurley's Family Feud on GSN.

That got me thinking, which I know is dangerous. Just why do so many game shows put on college specials? A couple easy answers suggest themselves. College kids tend to be cute and bubbly, and our little genre prizes the bubbly and cute. Game show are notorious for skewing older than Everest, so college kids might lure a few more of the young'uns so precious to advertisers.

To be honest, I'm not so sure about that second answer. The Feud episodes on GSN today featured a lot of ads targeted at the Social Security set. I doubt that college-themed shows turn GSN's ancient demos any less gray. But the eps may get a few more old-timers like me to watch and relive the misspent days of our higher education.

The prehistoric GE College Bowl was all college, all the time. Some bits and pieces of the moldy oldie still live on YouTube. Like this memorable 220-215 upset of mighty Princeton by tiny Agnes Scott College.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ratings: Jeopardy hits another season low

The syndication season officially closed with the week of August 19-25. And wouldn't you know, Jeopardy hit another season low. Ouch, Alex. The news was blah for all the syndie game shows, in fact. The household ratings from TVNewsCheck...

Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down a tick
Jeopardy 4.9 - down a tick to that season low
Family Feud 4.5 - flat
Millionaire 2.3 - flat as Meredith enjoys her second-last week
Baggage 1.0 - down a couple ticks for last-place Jerry

Everybody except Jerry made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 8.7 million, Jeopardy 7.4 million, Family Feud 6.6 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. The new season has already started for Millionaire, but it will be a while before we get the numbers on Cedric's first week. The other shows kick off their new seasons soon.

ABC Family's Spell-Mageddon is bombing big time. The August 28 run fetched an embarrassing 194K total viewers. Way, way below ABC Family's normal prime time average of over a million viewers.

GSN rolled to another good week for August 25-September 1. Douglas Pucci reports that the network chalked up 380K/286K viewer averages prime time/total day. The Chase cracked the top ten for the first time.

COMPLETELY UNRELATED UPDATE: I just noticed that Game Show Newsnet has redesigned their site. They've actually got a few pictures now to break up the miles and miles of text. Not to mention tweets (real not faux) in the sidebar. I wonder where they got that idea? One of these days, they might even allow comments!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New digs for asking America

Hollywood Junket brings us pictures and a report from the second season of Let's Ask America. The new season debuts September 9, and the set and logo do look sleeker compared to the rumpled, homey surroundings of the first year. Hollywood Junket points out the similarities to the Jeopardy set, and there are some reminders.

The host hasn't changed. Kevin Pereira returns for more survey questions on issues which concern all Americans. Like which celebs did maids say were the worst guests? Inquiring minds want to know.

I like the show, even if surveys are getting a little threadbare after Family Feud has done them for 287 years. Pereira runs things competently and sometimes hazards a quip or three. The money is pretty picayune because the show is still confined to just a few Scripps stations. But who knows? If the numbers hold up in the second go-round, Scripps may try nationwide syndication.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cedric entertains

Just watched Cedric Kyles (a.k.a. the Entertainer) work his "first day on the job" at Millionaire. The guy looked relaxed and at home, and even squeezed in a few cracks that were wise. For instance, after he did an elaborate handshake with his second contestant, an 18-year-old Jewish kid named Nicholas, Cedric announced that he was his brother from a different mother. Okay, a canned line but still ingratiating.

In fact, after what I always regarded as the rather dry and chilly Meredith Vieira, the chummy and just-folks Cedric was a pleasant change. I don't know if he can lift Millionaire's ratings as his comedy mate Steve Harvey has done with Family Feud. The quizzer's tight format might be a bit too confining for any host to have an enormous impact. But I don't think Cedric will hurt the numbers.

There was one odd moment, though it was hardly Cedric's fault. His very first contestant was a black guy named Terrill with an, er, emphatic fashion sense. (At least if the shiny black scarf was any indication.) Terrill rolled up a nice bankroll and seemed to be getting along fine with Cedric. Then came a question asking for the name of the current NAACP president.

Now maybe the NAACP ain't what it used to be. But even this crotchety old white blogger knew the organization's president is Benjamin Jealous. But with two African-American guys on stage, the question crashed to an inglorious wrong response. Sorry, Terrill, hope you enjoy the pity $1,000.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Voting rights act

At About.com Carrie Grosvenor has posted a poll on the best new game show of the summer. For me it's a no-brainer, which is good because I don't have much of a brain. I plumped for the show which got my most favorable review, The Chase.

But as the long, endlessly updated blog entry a few days ago attests, I'm getting nervous about the show's fate on GSN. The network didn't bother to run two of the first season eps and has cut the show back to a couple of Tuesday reruns. Given the less than overwhelming numbers for Chase repeats, I'm afraid that even those Tuesday slots may not endure. Ratings have been spotty though occasionally semi-impressive for the show, which remains more of a website darling than any kind of runaway hit.

The other three shows Carrie lists - Apolo Ohno's Minute To Win It, The Winner Is, and Hollywood Game Night - were all okay in my correctly ignored opinion. Carrie really likes Hollywood Game Night, but the party atmosphere seems a little artificial to me. Still, the show is certainly watchable and rightfully earned a renewal from NBC.

Few have voted in the poll so far. If you don't have anything else to do this Labor Day weekend, why not cast a ballot? It costs $0.00.