Thursday, October 31, 2013

War of the Bob

A couple days ago I noticed an item in Google News about Bob Barker returning to The Price is Right for one show in December.

It's part of a weeklong birthday celebration the show is throwing for Bob's 90th. It was a cute little item so I wrote a faux tweet and figured that was that. Well, little did I know.

Just about anything involving Bob Barker immediately becomes controversial. The guy polarizes people like no other game show host in recent (or not so recent) memory. This thread on what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board is typical. Sure, that board gets exercised about lots of things, but they really go to war over Bob. And they're hardly alone on the Internet in their Barker disputes.

I can understand some of the rumpus. After all, Barker is a game show icon, who ran TPiR longer than most anybody runs most anything. On the famous other hand, the long sorry tale of TPiR litigation indicates, shall we say, a less iconic side to the one and only Bob.

My own indifference to the show makes me shrug it all off with a couple words: "tempest" and "teapot." But I can see why others are a lot more passionate, on both sides of the war.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A syndie revival?

As a bunch of stories in Google News can tell you, late night's Craig Ferguson will host a new game show in syndication next fall.

The project is called Celebrity Name Game. It apparently will try to cash in on the kind of celeb-civvie goofiness that Hollywood Game Night rode to a second season. Fremantle and Debmar-Mercury are teaming for the show, with Scott St. John of Deal or No Deal fame as the showrunner. This will be the first all-new game format in syndication for a while.

Maybe it's not a trend, just a one-shot. Or maybe syndicators are finally figuring out that 88 syndie talk shows are enough, and it's time to try some other genre. I've wondered aloud whether Scripps might take Let's Ask America into countrywide syndication one of these years. The show currently plays in 15 midsize markets, mostly but not exclusively on Scripps' own stations. It's an excruciatingly low-cost production, so selling it nationwide might not be too tough.

Those famous old-skewing demos have hurt game shows in syndication for a long time now. But everything on TV is skewing older, because this country is skewing older. Maybe a cheap game show that can draw nice total viewer numbers doesn't look so terrible any more.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ratings: Pat and Vanna and Steve are happy

Two of the syndie game shows had reason to be happy in the week of October 14-20. The other two were just blah. You can probably guess which was which from the title of this entry. TVNewsCheck gives the household ratings behind the title...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.8 - down a tick to fall behind the soulmate a little
Family Feud 4.6 - up three ticks to a season high
Millionaire 2.1 - flat

I think we can definitely say that Cedric is no Steve when it comes to the ratings. At least he's holding in the low twos. But he didn't make the top 25 syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages for the other three shows: Wheel of Fortune 10.4 million to again lead all of syndication, Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 6.6 million.

As a faux tweet noted, Fremantle will bring Craig Ferguson to syndication in fall 2014 with Celebrity Name Game. They're hoping that Craig is another Steve and the show is another Hollywood Game Night. I'll post some truly deep thoughts on the future of syndie game shows tomorrow.

GSN plodded through October. TVNewser reports that the network averaged 309K/249K viewers prime time/total day for the month. GSN ranked 43rd and 41st in the windows. The network has seen better months.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Men's minds in January

GSN has overloaded with a show about surveying a hundred people. So what will the network do for its next original? Why, they'll survey a hundred people.

Mind of a Man debuts January 8 at 8:00PM. Two female civvies try to figure out what surveys of a hundred men said. Male and female celebs help out, in (we hope) amusing ways. The premise does sound a bit familiar, after all.

DeRay Davis plays Steve Harvey...I mean, he hosts the show. The GSN press release lists a lot of credits for DeRay, but I'm mostly unfamiliar with his work. Mark Cronin is the showrunner, and he has some game show chops.

One other note from the release: GSN now claims 80 million available households. This really is something of a milestone. Our little game show network is nearing full distribution after nearly two decades of existence. In this year's upfront they said they would get to 80 million, and it looks like they were true to their word.

UPDATE: In more GSN news the network will honor the late Marcia Wallace with a four-hour marathon of her appearances on Match Game, Password Plus and 100K Pyramid on November 1. A nice gesture.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Game shows can make you sick

Over at what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, a poster asked what would happen if a player got sick in the middle of a game show. Matt himself replied that the board must be running out of things to talk about. Well, of course, that never happens, and the aficionados were soon chatting happily about contestants who had medical problems during their game show runs.

One poster mentioned a contestant who literally keeled over during Final Jeopardy. YouTube offers the video evidence. The guy quickly recovered from his fainting spell and even got the right answer (or question). Sadly, he lost the game.

Another Jeopardy contestant mentioned in the thread was Priscilla Ball. She got sick between tapings and had to take a hiatus from the show. She later returned very successfully and ended up with $47,200 from the prize budget.

The physical stunt shows have had their share of contestant mishaps, like the guy on Dog Eat Dog who got taken to the hospital after an underwater stunt. Luckily for him, it was nothing serious. But holding your breath for two minutes is probably not a real good idea under any circumstances.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Singled in, out and around

Happened to see a reference on one of the game show boards to Singled Out (1995-98). This may have been the most meat-market descendant of Dating Game ever. Fifty horned-up members of each sex went at each other in a festival of MTV excess. With Jenny McCarthy (and later Carmen Electra) around, there were no worries about tasteful understatement.

As an example of the show's elegant ambiance, this YouTube clip features one guy imitating a gorilla mating dance. The girl seems somewhat impressed. To be fair, I guess the dance ain't bad, as far as gorilla mating dances go.

The show lasted a surprisingly long time on MTV. This indicates how powerful the human sex drive can be...or how nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the 18-34 audience. Oh, I'm being a little too harsh. The show had a certain cheesy charm. If you're gonna do one of these mating, er, dating shows, you might as well put the pedal to the metal.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Game shows just love Halloween specials. Trick or treat is a nice excuse to redecorate the set (and sometimes the host) with ghoulish trappings.

The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal are engaging in the inevitable silliness, with "Count Drew-cula," "The Price is Fright zombie model" Rachel Reynolds, and zonks that are "scarier than ever." It's easy to make fun of this stuff, but who cares? This is a silly little genre, after all, not Masterpiece Theater. Let the shows enjoy themselves.

With November sweeps coming up, TPiR is also rolling out a long list of celeb models, mostly from the soap world. The reaction to all the guest models hasn't necessarily been positive on the web. But the show's ratings aren't suffering, so the celebs keep coming. It looks like pretty much the entire cast of The Young and the Restless will put in appearances.

Meanwhile, Let's Ask America has an interesting contestant for Halloween: "a vampire from Kansas City." I didn't know vampires were thick on the ground in K.C.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An actuary wins

Being an actuary myself, it's always nice to see other members of the profession on a game show. Especially when they don't screw up like drooling vegetables.

Mike Shapiro, a guy who's going for his ACAS designation (check it on Wikipedia), won on Jeopardy tonight. I found this blog entry about Mike written by the aunt of his fiancée, along with his Linkedin page. Warning: the blog entry contains a horrendous spoiler.

The fiancée's aunt has a quaint idea that actuaries must be smart people. I'm a living, breathing refutation of that crazy notion. But Mike looked pretty bright on Jeopardy, after a slow start. He didn't know the associative property of multiplication, but what they hey, even actuaries can flub math questions once in a while. I flubbed more than a few on the actuarial exams.

A comment from Mike himself on the blog entry indicates that he had a viewing party tonight. Hope everybody had a good time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trust me I'm an unimpressed blogger

Just watched the debut episode of Trust Me I'm a Game Show Host on the TBS website. Okay, it wasn't the worst twenty minutes - at least there weren't any commercials - of my life. But I've had better twenty minutes, too. Basically, the show stood or fell on its comedy because the gameplay was random and uninteresting. Unfortunately, the humor tended to sometimes come and mostly go.

Michael Ian Black was definitely the better co-host with a quip. His confrere D.L. Hughley specialized in lame racial humor. I'm glad I didn't take a drink every time Hughley called himself "the dark side." I would have been mighty sloshed by the time the bonus round rolled in.

Sweet little contestant Ambree Klemm, a college student majoring in thirteen different subjects, more or less had to guess blindly which host was telling the truth and which host was bs-ing. Some of the alleged "facts" they sprang on her were beyond bizarre. There was this vibrator from 1902 that looked like a giant sander, for instance. Occasional salaciousness and profanity netted the show a TV-14 rating. At least the game show bluenoses now have something else to complain about besides Steve Harvey's Family Feud.

TV by the Numbers says Trust Me was by far the least-watched prime time show on TBS for the night. It also lost more than half its lead-in from Big Bang Theory. Even a giant vibrator might not save this thing.

Ratings: up and down with the syndies

The week of October 7-13 saw some minor movement for syndicated game shows. Up a tick here, down a tick there, but nothing really big. TVNewsCheck has all the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.9 - down a tick in sympathy with the soulmate
Family Feud 4.3 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.1 - up a tick, which Cedric will appreciate

Millionaire might have gotten a tiny boost but the show still didn't make the top 25 syndie list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages for the three more fortunate shows: Wheel of Fortune 10.0 million to lead all of syndication, Jeopardy 9.0 million, Family Feud 6.3 million. Maybe Cedric will make the list one of these weeks.

GSN perked up some in the week of October 14-20. 311K/259K viewer averages prime time/total day. Far from the best ever but up noticeably compared to the previous week. The network ranked 42nd and 39th among cable nets in the windows.

Trust Me I'm a Game Show Host garnered very so-so numbers by TBS standards: 1.2 million total viewers, 616K 18-49 viewers. To give some perspective, the network averaged 3.0 million total viewers in prime time during the October 14-20 week, though that number was inflated by the baseball playoffs.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The flippin' rules

Just finished watching Wheel of Fortune. And the %^&$#@! rules popped up again.

In the bonus round a lady solved "It's out of the way" but noticeably hesitated before she said "way." The buzzer sounded in the middle of the hesitation, so the judges ruled that she hadn't solved the puzzle in time. She had already tried "It's out of the box" and looked unsure of the correct phrase until after the lousy buzzer.

The ruling cost her $50,000. Pat Sajak looked like he wanted to barf as he announced the judge's call. To be honest, it was probably the right decision. The lady clearly seemed like she hadn't thought of the correct phrase until after the buzzer did its business. But gee whiz, couldn't they have bent the rules a little, for once? It's not like Wheel would miss fifty grand.

Of course, as Sajak said, you've got to have rules if you're gonna have a game, and you've got to enforce the rules if you're gonna be fair. But the whole thing still smelled some. Not a pleasant smell, either. The rules really suck sometimes.

UPDATE: The aficianados on Buy a Vowel chew over the judge's ruling. They seem to think it was tough but fair. I pretty much agree but, man, the show could have afforded the cash.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Smart high school kids

Now and then I'll put up faux tweets about the various local high school quiz shows around the country. These are usually (but not always) the preserve of PBS stations with tiny audiences and endless pledge drives. But I figure that smart kids deserve a little recognition, which the shows provide. One of the formats is High Q, which has surfaced in a number of different states (see the U.S. Game Shows Wiki for more details).

YouTube doesn't offer much of High Q, though I did find this episode of the Georgia effort from 1998. The host has a down home accent which I kind of like. At least he seems enthusiastic. The questions cover an impressive range of topics, from Galileo to the Kentucky Derby. And nobody can complain about the pace.

It's too bad these shows have gotten stereotyped as educational TV, and thus hopelessly boring. Really, they can be as entertaining as any big money quizzer. True, most of them don't have anything as catchy as Jeopardy's think music. But they probably make a good training ground for some of Alex's future contestants.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Not a complete crash and burn

It's not often that another blogger refers to me as "famous." In fact, it happens about as often as the Houston Astros win the World Series. (For non-baseball fans, that's never.) But somehow it did occur a couple days ago at Game Show Network News. Scott Rahner pointed out that the "famous" Casey Abell had noted the wear and tear on Family Feud in GSN's current schedule.

It's hard for anybody not to notice the Feud overload at the network, which has reached biblical proportions (no reference to American Bible Challenge intended). Scott lists the show's overuse as one of the reasons for GSN's current droop in the ratings. He also mentions a lack of strong originals and a generally dull schedule with no interesting recent acquisitions.

I agree with all that, but it's important not to go too far overboard with the network's ratings woes. GSN has never been anything more than a mid-sized cable net. Even at its best GSN will average something like 450K/300K viewers prime time/total day. The network can certainly turn a pretty dime or three on its ratings due to rock-bottom expenses (a permanent advantage of our little genre).

In the latest published week the top cable network TBS averaged 4254K/1418K viewers prime time/total day. GSN can only dream of those numbers, or anything close. Yes, the latest week was bad for GSN. But among cable nets GSN still ranked 43rd and 41st in the two windows. Which isn't far from its normal modest perch.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I did not know that

Don't mean to turn this blog completely into a museum of historical artifacts. But news, even of the game show variety, gets slow on a weekend. So as I hunted though Google News for Wheel of Fortune tidbits, I came across something I never knew.

There was another Wheel of Fortune game show in 1952, which had nothing to do with what Pat and Vanna and friends play. And the theme from that show was a very popular song with the same name.

Naturally, YouTube offers the original recording with Kay Starr belting out the oddly philosophical lyrics. She has a very nice voice, as a few commenters observe. Some of the lyrics do fit the present-day show pretty well. I've seen more than a few contestants yearning as the wheel is turning.

The arrangement is lightly jazzy in the bland 1950s way, though there's a certain antique charm to the brass and woodwinds. And get this: the song opens with a clicking noise that should sound quite familiar to game show fans.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hunch play

Haven't rummaged through black and white game show history on YouTube for a while. So I unearthed an episode of Play Your Hunch from 1960.

This mostly forgotten Goodson and Todman project posed various conundrums for two teams of contestants. On the linked episode they had to guess the next line in a (Bob Hope and Bing Crosby!) movie and the symbol Kay Ballard used to start her sketch of Donald Duck, among other puzzles.

An impossibly young-looking Merv Griffin hosted the show, which did not proceed at a breakneck pace. It seemed to take forever to set up the puzzles, and the contestants weren't in a hurry to, you guessed it, play their hunches. But back in the black and white days, a slow pace was apparently more forgivable. There weren't 500 channels of competition, after all.

The gameplay, such as it was, often creaked to a complete stop as somebody sang a song or danced a dance. There's a rendition of Bye Bye Blackbird in the linked ep, for instance. But what the hey, at least the show wasn't rigged.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What hath Chuck wrought?

Four score and seven years ago or thereabouts, Chuck Barris brought forth a horny single looking for love with one of three other horny singles. This started something.

The latest show in the endless parade of Dating Game descendants just hit MTV. It's called The Hook Up, and it's basically the same Chuck-ish thing. Except one horny single picks from among four horny singles instead of three.

The show is also tarted up with social media dirt (of the mild variety) on all the participants. This is the 2010s, after all. We gotta go YouTubing and Twittering. In the first ep a chirpy blonde named Molly, advised by a hot friend named Sally, eventually picked a kind of nerdy guy named Brandon. The level of discussion was about the same as on Chuck's ancient dating epic.

Andrew Schulz hosted with appropriate smarminess for a show like this. The talk sometimes turned mildly risque but hardly out-and-out filthy. To be honest, The Hook Up was pretty boring. When it comes to dating, we haven't progressed much from Chuck's day...for better or worse.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ratings: worries for Cedric

So far Mr. Kyles is producing so-so results on Millionaire, to put it gently. He dropped to the big two-oh in the latest week, his worst household number yet. If it's any consolation, his comedy buddy Steve Harvey didn't have the best week, either. The big two were little changed. TVNewsCheck has all the ratings for the week of September 30-October 6...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up a tick
Jeopardy 6.0 - flat
Family Feud 4.2 - down three ticks, an ouchie for Steve
Millionaire 2.0 - down a tick as Cedric falters

Don't want to sound too alarmist about Cedric. The household ratings haven't collapsed compared to Meredith's final season, but they're not improving, either. To give him credit, there has been the tiniest demo uptick year over year. We'll need a couple more months to get a true sense of how well he's doing. I can tell you that he slipped out of the weekly TV by the Numbers top 25 list. The viewer averages for the other three shows: Wheel of Fortune 10.4 million, Jeopardy 9.2 million, Family Feud 6.3 million.

GSN had its first outright bad week in a while. 270K/232K viewer averages prime time/total day for the week of October 7-13. The network's Family Feud pile-on is showing more than a hint of weakness. The second season of The Chase can't arrive soon enough. See the upcoming schedules in the sidebar for more on the return of Brooke and friend next month.

UPDATE: A thread on what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board chews over Cedric's ratings and mentions this entry. Matt himself chimes in with an observation that numbers are stupid. Maybe so, but those stupid numbers explain why Baggage isn't around in syndication any more while Jeopardy has lasted thirty years.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fallon goes taboo

Sometimes I think Jimmy Fallon is a game show host-wannabe trapped in a talk show. Even if this theory is utter b.s., Fallon does like to play (real) games on his show. He just tried a round of Taboo, which turned out sort of funny and sort of screwed up.

The skit even spawned a contestant story about civvie Sandy Rose. He partnered with Fallon to take on Katy Perry and another civvie. Wouldn't you know, he "won" even though he used one of the taboo words in his clues. Where's the game show judge when you need him?

A little hard to believe, but Sandy had to audition for the game within the show. He played some Taboo for the show's producers, who apparently thought he wouldn't embarrass himself. Sandy has the right attitude about the controversy that his use of a taboo word generated on the Internet. He'd "love to go back" for another game.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lion's den

For those who don't know or care, Golden Road is a web board for The Price is Right.

It's also the favorite hangout of those who think the show has gone to hell in a Drew Carey handbasket. Whines and whimpers for the old days of Bob and more Bob are common. So it was a little surprising to see the current showrunner Mike Richards enter the lion's den to solicit opinions from Golden Road about possible improvements to the show.

As expected, there were more than a few responses like this gripe: "Out of the people who warned the show to 'never watch again' out of anger, I actually stopped watching. Not out of anger, but due to the complete lack of interest. Bob Barker moved on, and so did I."

To be fair, there were also many comments that found something (relatively) good to say about the show, though hardly anybody on the board thought TPiR had improved since the days of you-know-who. And a number of comments went into detail about various pricing games, with some suggestions that were at least reasonable.

But I still have to wonder why Richards bothered to extend the olive branch to a lot of his harshest critics. The show's ratings are holding up fine, and he and Drew look well established by now.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Inside baseball

Having just suffered through two 1-0 games in the baseball playoffs, I couldn't resist the title of this blog entry. But the entry doesn't have anything to do with baseball. Instead, I have an inside-the-game-show-blogosphere question: what's happened to BuzzerBlog?

Nobody, including Alex Davis or Bob Hagh or anybody else, is updating the site any more. There's been one new post in the last two-and-a-half weeks. Even the Twitter feed and Facebook page have gone dead. There were fewer and fewer new items as last month went on, but now you can really hear the crickets chirp.

There's no law that anybody has to blog about game shows. But BuzzerBlog has always prided itself on being, and I quote, "the world's most visited site for game show news, reviews, videos, games, and opinions." Well, there's ain't any news, reviews, videos, games and opinions to visit any more. Did Alex and friends just pack up and leave, sort of like Baggage in syndication?

Lord knows I've had my share of disagreements with Alex over the years. But it was always fun to visit BuzzerBlog to see if he had any interesting tidbits. Maybe he's just moved on. Blogging can get to be a pain after years and years.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

That's a wrap

The Last Episode is a game show tradition. Sometimes the set gets destroyed, sometimes the host just goes out with a wan farewell.

YouTube offers the final episode of the 1984-90 run of Scrabble. The audience whoops it up at the start, and Chuck Woolery occasionally cracks wise. At one point he says that he told the producers to get another host and the show will be a big hit...look at Wheel.

Of course, the 1990 farewell wasn't really the end of the show on NBC. Scrabble returned for a six-month cameo in 1993 and then disappeared forever. GSN later tried a couple pilots but nothing came of the revival attempt.

Toward the end of the episode Chuck thanks a lot of people on the production staff and promises that he'll be back somewhere, sometime. Well, among other projects he did come back on GSN, and in a word game no less. The episode ends with a lot of the staff onstage in a pleasant moment.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A yarn business

As a footnote to the political to-do on Family Feud's Twitter feed, Pat Sajak chimed in with a universally praised reply about how Wheel of Fortune likes Ike. Anybody who checks Sajak's now restored Twitter feed won't be disappointed. The guy is a lot funnier than a lot of comics who get paid for being funny.

One of the best bits that Sajak contributed to the mirth of the nation was his Vanna rant. Pat got to ragging on his co-host (humorously, of course) to Dan Le Batard. You might remember that Sajak previously allowed to Le Batard that he sometimes imbibed long ago while doing Wheel.

The Vanna rant is worth the price of admission, if it had a price. But for nothing more than a couple minutes of your time, you can hear Pat rage about how Vanna can't even bother to turn the letters any more. She just touches them. Then there's her yarn business. And her clothes. And the movie she made a long time ago.

Le Batard is quickly helpless with laughter and stays that way. Sajak has acquired so much clout on Wheel that he can get away with this stuff. Once upon a time, he even got away with kissing Vanna.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


By now the political Twitter ruckus on Family Feud's account has faded away.

The official line that the account was hacked convinced two persons on the planet. Everybody assumed the show posted the GOP-bash because Steve Harvey is a well-known fan of Barry and Michelle. I dunno, I doubt the hacking story myself. But it might have been just a low-level staffer letting off some steam at all those Tea Partiers.

Game shows usually avoid politics like the plague. They don't want to annoy anybody. Game show hosts will sometimes get political on their own time (see Sajak, Pat). But the shows themselves tend to run away hard from any political statements, or even political hints.

Now there are exceptions to every rule. Once on a family visit to Toledo, I saw a political quiz show on Canadian TV. The host asked a panel of reporters the most obscure questions about politics north of the border. An example: what was an M.P.'s annual salary in 1882? And for the leftward leaning, there's always NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I followed her to the station with my suitcase in my hand

For all you Robert Johnson/Rolling Stones fans out there, Jerry Springer and his dating friends have left the syndication station with their suitcases in their hands.

Baggage has abandoned the syndie wars, as Broadcasting and Cable reported and as I mentioned in the weekly ratings entry. Sure enough, I checked my local Dallas-Fort Worth listings, and GSN is the only home of our little dating show. At least Baggage still gets a bunch of slots on GSN despite generally modest ratings. But the demos have been somewhat favorable…by GSN standards, anyway.

The syndie ratings were always sad, and I couldn’t resist poking a little fun at woeful Jerry tagging along at the bottom of the list. Baggage got the worst of the worst timeslots, so the bad ratings were hardly a surprise. A few weeks ago I saw that the show had lost its New York City outlet, and the distributors apparently decided enough was enough.

But give the show credit, it was the first GSN original to get any kind of syndie deal. GSN is now peddling its products around to other outlets. So maybe Baggage will someday surface again on a digital subchannel (or some other channel) near you.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ratings: big two syndies prosper

The week of September 23-29 was a nice one for the soulmates at the top of the syndie game show pecking order. They added a couple tenths to distance themselves from the field. Meanwhile, Baggage packed its, er, bags and left for parts unknown. So now TVNewsCheck only has four shows in the genre to report on...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up a couple ticks
Jeopardy 6.0 - also up a couple ticks to keep pace with that other show
Family Feud 4.5 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.1 - down a tick as Cedric is proving to be no Steve, as far as the Nielsen Company is concerned

Pat and Vanna and Alex and Steve (sounds like a '60s movie) made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.4 million, Jeopardy 9.2 million, Family Feud 6.5 million. Gee, it won't be the same without Jerry to kick around. Just kidding. I like Baggage but the syndie numbers were always marginal, to put it mildly.

Douglas Pucci reports that GSN registered 311K/252K prime time/total day viewer averages in the week of September 30-October 6. Not terrible but GSN's numbers have been down noticeably the past few weeks. Steve Harvey's Family Feud continues to dominate the list but is starting to show a little wear and tear.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Footnote to the scandals

The previous post on the TPiR hubbub mentioned the 1950s scandals. There's an odd footnote to that mess.

In 1963 ABC tried to bring a big money game show back to prime time. The show was called 100 Grand. As you might expect, the top prize was $100,000 in pre-inflation money. This newspaper story runs through the almost hilarious security measures the show took to assure the audience that everything was on the up and up. Sadly, not even the most stringent safeguards helped the show survive. It lasted only three eps, as Wikipedia recounts.

If you'd like to see a grainy black and white promo for the show, YouTube helps. The set looks oddly futuristic in a 1950s sci-fi way, even if the show actually ran in 1963. The show's brutal flop taught ABC a lesson, and it would be a quarter-century before the network tried another big money effort in prime time. Regis Philbin hosted that project, and it had a money tree.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The dreaded ineligible

Happened to see an odd rumpus in The Price is Right's blogosphere. Seems that a contestant on the October 3 show, Florida Orosco, was deemed ineligible and relieved of all her winnings. Devin de Gruyl has the details at his TPiR recap site.

Florida - who's from Illinois, by the way - apparently did some freelance work for CBS affiliate WBBM in Chicago. Which happens to be one of CBS's owned-and-operated stations, so (very) technically Florida was a CBS employee. And once you're a CBS employee for five minutes (or less) you're forever ineligible for The Price is Right.

The kindhearted Devin doesn't blame anybody for the unpleasantness:
For the record, I don't believe Florida was intentionally trying to get around the rulebook. Being that she was a freelance worker, she probably didn't think it counted. Most likely it was one of those things that just slipped under the radar, but once Florida signed her release and the due diligence was done, the suits had to do what they had to do.
The reason the suits are so persnickety, of course, is that little stink which happened back in the 1950s. Twenty One, Charles Van Doren, Dan Enright, you remember...

The disqualification does seem rather overscrupulous, though. It's not like a freelancer at some O&O station was likely to pick up any clandestine info on TPiR showcase prices. But as Devin says, the suits gotta do what they gotta do.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Liar liar pants on fire

TBS debuts Trust Me I'm a Game Show Host October 22. Just to get us all worked up, the network has put a long promo on YouTube.

It's a rule of mine never to prejudge a show from a promo. But I'm going to break the rule, sort of. This show might work if co-host Michael Ian Black keeps coming up with one-liners. He even slips in a funny comment about using a choke chain to train bees. Really.

Anyway, the premise is simple enough. Black and fellow funny person D.L. Hughey try to convince contestants of odd factoids, like cannibalism is not outlawed in the U.S. The contestants have to figure out if they're lying. For all you '50s fans out there, it's pretty much like To Tell the Truth, only with Bud Collyer prevaricating instead of a couple civvies.

TBS is putting the show at 10:30PM, which is probably not a slot where huge numbers are expected. The show looks like it costs $6.95 per ep, so anything better than godawful ratings might be enough for survival. We'll find out in a few weeks.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Unkind to Susskind

Many of you probably don't remember him, but David Susskind was a TV personality and showrunner back in the '50s, '60s and '70s. He's also the guy who has his picture next to "pompous ass" on the dictionary sites.

If you think that's a rough comment, check this story about the origins of Supermarket Sweep. Susskind's production company came up with the show, and he sure didn't mind the money from it. He just turned up his nose at such a low-rent, uncool game show. As somebody points out with cynical clarity: "[Susskind] was embarrassed about doing the show, but he loved the income." I bet he did.

The problem was that the show made people look greedy as they dashed around the supermarket. Susskind was one of the greediest guys around, but he disapproved of other people's greed. This is a common affliction among pompous asses.

Despite Susskind's prissy disapproval, the format endured in a number of versions over several decades. Susskind died in 1987, enriched by a show he disdained from his very high horse. Sometimes life really isn't fair.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

As the decades go by

As a faux tweet reported, Millionaire is auditioning folks for decade-based eps.

The show will do a week-long stunt with stacks of questions from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Jeopardy can do a battle of the decades, so Millionaire can do trivia of the decades. Meanwhile, the transition from Meredith to Cedric is going okay. The ratings have held up above the big two-oh.

There certainly hasn't been the sort of liftoff in the numbers that Cedric's comedy buddy Steve Harvey produced for Family Feud. But Cedric hasn't killed the ratings by any means. The quizzer has a strong enough format, even with all the randomization, to withstand a host shuffle.

Millionaire has always been open to gimmicks, especially celeb episodes. In fact, the old ABC version OD'ed on the celebs. So decade-based trivia is hardly a stunning departure for the show. If they can do movie week, they can do decades week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ratings: syndies smile

The week of September 16-22 saw debuts for the top three syndie game shows. And there was good ratings news throughout the genre. TVNewsCheck brings all the happy household numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - up three ticks
Jeopardy 5.8 - up five ticks in very nice news for Alex
Family Feud 4.6 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.2 - up a tick as Cedric settles in
Baggage 1.0 - flat for poor old Jerry

Cedric also managed to sneak back into the top 25 list on TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.0 million, Jeopardy 8.8 million, Family Feud 6.7 million, Millionaire 3.1 million. More good news for Cedric: he breaks the three million barrier.

TVNewser says that GSN enjoyed a pleasant third quarter. 363K/277K viewer averages, prime time/total day. The network can live off those numbers. GSN ranked 41st and 37th in the windows.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One slip

With the new game show season launching, I've been busy with the traditional shows.

But what the hey, other sites are still covering their usual reality epics and talent contests. So I'll venture into my offbeat field: Internet chess broadcasts. FIDE (that's the French abbreviation for the International Chess Federation) is running a Grand Prix tournament for top grandmasters in Paris right now. And I've been watching some of the coverage on the Net.

The problem with classical chess live on the Internet, of course, is that the game takes so damn long. Five or six or seven hours worth of long. So a clever YouTube guy found a way around the problem. He did a time-lapse video of Italy's Fabiano Caruana losing to America's Hikaru Nakamura.

Rather cruelly, he slows the video down just as Fabiano makes his one fatal blunder, by taking on g6 with the h-pawn instead of the f-pawn. This leads directly to the loss of Caruana's queen and, after some more pretty desperate moves, the game. There's some creepy Euro trance music in the background to make the ambiance seem sufficiently tragic.

The good news is that Caruana bounced back with a win the following day. The bad news is that he's still trailing Nakamura by a half-point for the lead.