Friday, January 31, 2014

Playing for the tie

This week Jeopardy had co-champions on Wednesday. Arthur Chu, who was in the lead going to Final Jeopardy, bet exactly enough to tie if second-place Carolyn Collins bet all her money.

They both nailed the final clue on world capitals, and sure enough, Carolyn bet all her money. So they both won and came back on Thursday. (When Arthur romped and stomped to an easy victory.)

Turns out that Arthur wasn't trying to be nicey-nice or buddy up with the attractive Carolyn. He was just following game theory as explained by Keith Williams, who runs a blog dedicated to Final Jeopardy wagering(!)

Williams suggests that the money leader bet no more than enough to guarantee a tie. As he puts it: "Tacking on that extra dollar won't help you, but if you're wrong, you could lose a game by a dollar, and there have been several instances where that has been the case."

Reasonable enough, I guess. Plus it might score some points with a nice-looking competitor.

UPDATE: For a much less favorable view of Arthur and his gameplay, try this TV Without Pity thread. The board lives up to its name in its treatment of Mr. Chu.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blogroll follies

Don't much care for inside baseball posts on this blog's workings. But I did want let you in on a few changes in the blogroll. Or one change, anyway, and a few other possible changes in the future.

Of course, I can't link to every game show site on the Net. The blogroll would roll for 357 screens (a scientific estimate). So I have to pick and choose. Generally, I want sites that are busy with new posts, instead of legacy sites with up-to-date info from 2004. So now and then I run though all the links to make sure that new stuff is appearing regularly.

For forums like Buy A Vowel and Golden Road, I don't have to worry. These boards attract dozens of posts each week from Wheel and TPiR aficionados, respectively. Single-person blogs are trickier. Sometimes the single persons decide to take long vacations.

For instance, the BuzzerBlog site is hardly ever updated any more. Instead, Alex Davis has taken his game show musings to Twitter. So I switched the blogroll entry to get you to the Twitter feed directly. Alex mixes a lot of non-game-show stuff into the feed, but you can pick and choose.

A couple of other sites have gone very quiet. Hollywood Junket hasn't posted anything about game shows since November. I hate to take the link down because I've gotten some interesting on-set reports from the site. Meanwhile, Carrie Grosvenor isn't posting nearly as often on the About.com game show page, but she puts up a new entry now and then. I'll keep an eye on both sites.

A real oddity is Game Show Newsnet's hiatus since January 24. Not a peep out of the site for several days. Wonder what's up. Oh well, the link stays in the blogroll for now.

UPDATE: Game Show Newsnet has come back to life with a week of backdated entries. Guess they're in business once again.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ratings: syndies give back some ground

In the week of January 13-19 syndie game shows gave up some of their gains from the week before, when they all set season highs. But the shows still did okay. In particular, Wheel of Fortune led all of syndication by a long, long way in total viewers. TVNewsCheck posts the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.6 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 6.8 - down five ticks to keep the soulmate company
Family Feud 5.7 - off a tick but hardly a problem for Steve
Millionaire 2.2 - down a couple ticks but Cedric is keeping the show afloat

In the top 25 syndie list at TV by the Numbers, the big three game shows occupied half of the top six slots. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 12.0 million to top all syndies easily (weekend repeat 4.9 million), Jeopardy 10.6 million, Family Feud 8.5 million. These audiences will keep the shows in business.

And in ratings news that gladdens my actuarial heart, The Chase set yet another series high on January 28 with 827K total viewers. Once upon a time those kinds of numbers were pretty much unheard of for GSN. But the network is garnering some impressive totals from its 80 million households. In the linked story Douglas Pucci notes that GSN posted pleasant 405K/350K viewer averages prime time/total day for the week of January 20-26.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Naming celebs

As NATPE, the annual TV industry schmooze, grinds on in Miami, Celebrity Name Game is getting a lot of media.

The show has topped 90% coverage, mostly in nice 5:00PM-8:00PM slots. The format sounds simple enough to succeed: guess the names of celebs. Host Craig Ferguson hasn't battered down the Nielsen doors with his late night talk show, but he's done okay. At least his audience hasn't run away screaming.

The producers are making the inevitable sounds about Craig becoming another syndie wonder like Steve Harvey. Ever since Family Feud's ratings took off with the amiable comic in command, showrunners everywhere have tried to find his clone. That's how Cedric Kyles got the host job on Millionaire. We'll see how well Mr. Ferguson can do with some silly little game.

Almost regardless of the show's merits, I'll own up to a sneaking hope for its success. The game show business could use another positive syndication story. That might lead to a general revival of interest in the genre.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Battle it out

Jeopardy kicks off its battle of the decades on February 3 with 1980s week. The show has posted the Monday through Friday matchups. Meanwhile JBoard.tv has news and photos from the tapings. I've posted a nice shot of the 2000s contestants. A lot of famous (at least in the Jeopardy world) faces.

JBoard.tv doesn't hand out any spoilers, but word is that the episodes will be worth your while. This is a mega-tournament of champions, after all, so a high standard of gameplay is only to be expected. "No details about the tapings, of course, though I will say generally that this crew did not disappoint; the world is in for a treat when these games air."

If any game show has achieved respectability as a challenging contest, it's Merv Griffin's little answer-and-question quizzer. Even my local cable system refers to it as "the classic thinking person's game." I don't know if I qualify as a deep thinker, or any kind of thinker. But I like to play along as best I can. Too bad I could never play the game nearly as well as these folks.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Game Show Network 2014

Game Show Garbage has posted their predictions for GSN's twentieth year in 2014.

Some are, well, predictable. American Bible Challenge will succeed with its third season, Mind of a Man looks to be dead in the unmindful water, and Skin Wars will crash and burn like many other reality flops on the network. On the more speculative side, GSG thinks the network may be planning another season of Chain Reaction. Otherwise, the axing of the very popular show makes no sense.

Maybe, though I haven't heard any rumbles about a revival. Even if GSN started today on another batch of episodes, they couldn't get them onto the network for at least six months or so. Why pull the high-rated show off the schedule now?

GSG also predicts that The Chase will get a third season. Which looks like a lock as the superb quizzer has steadily (and happily) built its audience with one series high after another. A less probable call is GSG's prediction of another season for Mike Richards' Pyramid. That's possible, given the good numbers the show has garnered in the afternoon. But the show did not perform well in prime time during its first run.

Finally, GSG doesn't like the prospects for It Takes a Church. The idea seems a little weird to me, too, but it could work for the network in tandem with American Bible Challenge.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Who was Leila Bulgrin?

The short answer is that Leila Bulgrin was a contestant on the July 12, 1953 episode of What's My Line. She was a self-possessed woman who took good care of herself on the show. Which is what you would expect from a U.S. prosecuting attorney. Which is what she was.

The regular panel of Dorothy Kilgallen, Steve Allen, Arlene Francis and Bennett Cerf stumbled around until John Daly flipped the cards in frustration. At one point Steve asked Leila if she thought the panel was stupid. She didn't answer.

On a whim I decided to Google a bit about the lady. This 1959 archive lists her among four women U.S. attorneys in the Los Angeles federal district. This 1960 photo shows that she could handle a rifle, thank you. And this 1985 LA Times story tells how she got busted on five counts for drunk driving.

One of the counts was resisting arrest. From her WML ep and her rifle-toting pose, I can well believe that she was not a lady to be taken lightly. The Times story also reveals that she became a California municipal judge in 1960 and then retired in 1983. She died in 1996, as this genealogy record attests.

Not the most important woman in U.S. history, but an interesting life. An independent lady before it became commonplace.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Root, root, root for the home team

With GSN's The Chase racking up another series high in viewers, I looked around the web for comments on the show. I found an intriguing one at TV Without Pity. Seems that one poster roots for...the Beast?

Since the show sets up Mark Labbett as the (admittedly faux) villain, rooting for the guy might seem a little odd. But the poster explains his preference by saying that the prettier principal on the show is too biased. "Brooke openly roots for the contestants to beat The Beast. I don't like it, just like I wouldn't like it if Alex on Jeopardy or Pat on Wheel of Fortune openly rooted for one contestant to beat the others."

Hm, sounds like apples and oranges. The better analogy would be if Brooke openly rooted for one of the civvie contestants over the others. Which, of course, she never does. After all, Mark is a well-paid employee who's partially playing a role as the (literal) heavy. So a little back-and-forth between him and his co-host is hardly objectionable.

But the poster's comment got me wondering about whether Pat and Alex don't sometimes silently play favorites among their contestants. Somewhere deep down, do they occasionally root for contestants they like?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How soon they forget

A Jeopardy triple stumper today gives me another chance to dust off the iconic Time cover of Charles Van Doren. The date on the cover is February 11, 1957, before the whole stink blew up.

Jeopardy's contestants whiffed on a clue about the poor fellow at the center of the 1950s game show scandals. Alex purred that they were too young to recall the mess. JBoard.tv wonders how they could forget Quiz Show, the sort of factual 1994 movie about the rumpus.

But even the movie now has a couple decades on it. The more than half-century-old scandals themselves have acquired the patina of legend. (A flowery phrase, I know.) Still, they cast a shadow over the industry. The faintest hint of a fix draws almost frantic attention. Just ask the producers of the deep-sixed Our Little Genius.

Van Doren, though, escaped the memories of three Jeopardy mavens. Sic transit...well, not exactly gloria.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Can't make everybody happy

The game show board at Sitcoms Online is staunchly traditionalist. So it's no surprise that Steve Harvey is not a huge fave of theirs.

But one poster goes ballistic at the mere thought of the rubber-faced Mr. Harvey. In fact, he often tests the limits of the board's profanity suppression software. A recent and typical rant: "GET RID OF STEVE HARVEY!!!!! Seriously, this A*Hole doesn't care about the classic at all, he only cares about saving his washed up career only for the reason alone so cryptic viewers can watch his piece of daytime dogs**t talk show."

What's a cryptic viewer, anyway? Oh well, the poster is not a major Steve fan, as you can probably guess. But then he takes a broader swipe: "I said that in the beginning and yet unsurprisingly still nobody listen not even the thoughtless pigs at Game Show Follies, BuzzerBlog and Fremantle refuse to listen to what I have to say."

Sorry to tell the poster, but as long as Steve keeps bringing the good numbers, the folks at Fremantle won't listen. As for BuzzerBlog, he'll have to check with Alex Davis. But the thoughtless piggy on this blog is actually not that big a fan of Steve's. He's funny enough, but I've blogged a number of times that I don't like how he always tries to convert the show into his personal standup routine.

Others differ. I posted a faux tweet today where one family gushes about him. But the Nielsen Company will always have the last word.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ratings: Hollywood games the demo

With syndie and GSN ratings still to come, I've got some news on Hollywood Game Night. It's a mixed bag. The total viewer numbers weren't enormous for last night's double bill, under five million. But the show did touch a series high in its 18-49 rating.

If Jane Lynch and friends can keep that 1.5 intact among the prized demo, the show will probably endure, at least as summertime filler. The ratings were clearly better than the Christmas special a few weeks ago.

Once I get the syndication ratings and overall GSN viewer averages, I'll post them here. The Nielsen Company seems a little slower lately with those numbers. Well, the numbers are out and the syndies rocked. They all hit season highs for the week of January 6-12, as TVNewsCheck reports...

Wheel of Fortune 8.0 - up a ridiculous twelve ticks to, yeah, a season high
Jeopardy 7.3 - up eleven ticks to a you-know-what
Family Feud 5.8 - up three ticks and that ain't bad
Millionaire 2.4 - up just a tick but Cedric will take the season high

The polar vortex kept lots of people inside and watching. TV by the Numbers posts the impressive viewer averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 12.7 million to lead all syndies by a mile (4.5 million for the weekend repeat), Jeopardy 11.6 million to take second place among all syndies, Family Feud 8.7 million. A definite wow, even with an assist from the weather.

TVNewser spreads a lot of good news about GSN for the week of January 13-19: 404K/327K prime time/total day viewer averages. The network ranked 38th and 35th in the windows. Those 80 million households are starting to pay off.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Still winning

I feel a little guilty over my post a couple days ago which ripped Ken Jennings.

So I'll make some amends here. Turns out that current Jeopardy five-time winner (so far) Sarah McNitt has a nice story to tell about Ken. Seems that he came to her college and played a mock game and answered some questions in April, 2013. At least he appears to have inspired another good Jeopardy contestant (and fellow blogger).

Sarah is usually so quiet on the show that it's easy to overlook how dominating she can be. She just put away an episode before Final Jeopardy today, January 20. That bumped her total winnings up to about ninety grand.

A sad note on Sarah's blog is her mother's death from leukemia just two weeks before the Jeopardy taping date. Bad things don't stop happening just because a game show calls. Sarah says that the taping actually helped at a tough time. "I think it was good for us all to have something positive to look forward to."

Sarah is definitely enjoying her fifteen minutes, as she kids about giving exclusive interviews to every media outlet in sight. If I won on Jeopardy five times (and counting) I'd let people know about it, too.

UPDATE: Sarah has also been dropping by JBoard.tv to talk about her games. Among other things, she confesses that she does not have psychic powers.

UPDATED UPDATE: Too bad for Sarah, but her streak ends at five games. She picked Russia instead of Norway in Final Jeopardy. Nobody's perfect.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Recycling

Haven't done anything for a while on my ancient favorite, I've Got a Secret. So I dropped by Richard Carson's IGAS channel on YouTube. And I discovered that even Goodson-Todman believed in recycling.

From 1951 to 1955 Messrs. G and T put a show on the then-fledgling ABC network called The Name's the Same. The civvie contestants on the show had the same name as some famous person, place or thing. The celeb panel tried to guess the name in questioning that quickly became rather stereotyped and dull.

The show struggled through four seasons and several different hosts before ABC finally put it out of its misery in October, 1955. About forty episodes survive and a number have been seen on GSN. While it was hardly Goodson-Todman's most memorable effort, the much more successful I've Got a Secret wasn't above borrowing the show's central idea.

Richard's IGAS YouTube channel recently posted a couple clips based on the name game. This Christmas Eve, 1958 segment brought on a nice young lady whose name was, you guessed it, Merry Christmas. The panel nailed the secret quickly. Henry Morgan scored the line of the night when he asked the contestant about her drunken brother, Happy New Year.

Another IGAS segment from 1962 featured brothers named Wilbur and Orville Wright. The panel zeroed in on this secret right away, too. Maybe this wasn't the greatest idea for a panel show.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ken Jennings and your junior genius

Like a few other people, I have a love-hate relationship with Ken Jennings.

On the famous one hand, he ranks among the very best game show contestants ever. The guy can think faster than almost all other carbon-based life forms, even if silicon eventually beat him. On the equally famous other hand, he comes across as something of a pest. He just never seems to go away.

Now he's pushing a line of children's books, designed specifically to make you kid a "junior genius." We all gotta make a living, so it's hard to begrudge Ken his incessant articles and books and media appearances. And it's not like he's anywhere close to an all-world, Kardashian-level public nuisance.

But he's now got children's books? What's next, the fabled Ken J baseball cards? If Ken appears in the next Harry Potter movie, it may be a sign of the Apocalypse.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Winning, losing, drawing

Just experienced Disney's sneak peek of its kids version of Win, Lose or Draw. My ears are still ringing. Disney is not known for its tastefully quiet ambiance, and this show cranks it to the audio max with a studio audience of kids yelling, "three, two, one, DRAW!"

And sure enough, two teams of contestants draw their hearts out. In this age of technical whizbangery, we're progressed (?) far beyond the old paper pads and magic markers from Burt Reynolds' show. Now the kids use touch screens to create their visual masterpieces. In the final round they don't even bother with touchscreens but just wave a magic wand in the air.

Each team consists of two civvie kids plus a Disney celeb. Wish I could tell you who the celebs were on the sneak peek episode, but I'm not a big Disney-watcher. They did seem a little older than the kids, though. Justin Willman hosts at high volume, but he has to shout just to be heard over the general cacophony. In this episode, he also did a nice bit of sleight-of-hand with a soda can. He is a magician, after all.

Obviously, this show is not intended for mature audiences. Kids might like it, and I even found myself guessing along on some of the artwork. Just don't expect many moments of quiet concentration...or quiet anything.

UPDATE: A.V. Club predictably trashes the show with a snarky - and at one really low point, obnoxious and pervy - review. The show isn't nearly as bad as the Snooty Club thinks, and some of their criticisms don't even make sense. Far from being a "problem," strict time limits are required in this format, for crying out loud. But they do like Willman.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

GSN rant

I've been ranting a fair amount lately, and I'm gonna keep right on doing it.

The latest object of my ire is a couple of shrewd programming decisions from GSN. Recently I haven't been dissecting GSN's ratings like I used to. Scott Rahner does a good job with the numbers at Game Show Network News, for anybody who's interested.

In general, GSN is performing just fine, with its most-viewed year ever in 2013. One of the shows turning in consistently good ratings is Chain Reaction. In the latest week of January 6-12, the oft-rerun show still pulled seven of GSN's top fifteen slots, with an average of 585K viewers for the 3:00 PM hour. So naturally GSN is taking Chain Reaction off its schedule completely starting January 20. That's what networks do all the time with their top-rated shows.

Meanwhile, Mind of a Man bombed like a B-52 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. So of course, that show gets a bunch of timeslots on the network. It all makes sense, right?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ratings: syndies bounce back in new year

As usual, most syndicated shows recovered from the Christmas week lull. Syndie game shows joined in the Nielsen fun. TVNewsCheck makes everybody happy with the household ratings for the week of December 30-January 5...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - up seven ticks
Jeopardy 6.2 - not to be outdone by the soulmate, up six ticks
Family Feud 5.5 - also up a half-dozen ticks
Millionaire 2.3 - Cedric gets some much-needed good news, up four ticks to a new season high

TV by the Numbers has all the viewer figures, even though Millionaire didn't make the top 25 list. But the site did get a press release with Cedric's stats. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.2 million to again lead all syndies (weekend repeat 4.2 million), Jeopardy 10.0 million, Family Feud 8.4 million, Millionaire 3.4 million.

GSN had an odd week for January 6-12. The network did just okay in prime time but really rocked in total day. 340K/312K viewer averages for the two windows. This produced an odd split: GSN ranked 44th in prime time but 36th in total day. We'll see if the split continues in future weeks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Newly unwed game

Look what the cat drug in. I did an innocent little search on "game show" in Google News, and Snooki and JWoww showed up. I must not be living right.

The reason for Google's link is some godforsaken version of Newlywed Game which the show will play. Except S&J ain't married, of course. So it's the Not Yet Wed Game. Some might call it the Not Yet Endurable Game, but that would be cruel.

You can watch the video clip and enjoy, if this is the sort of thing you enjoy. My purpose here isn't to review the whatever-it-is. Instead, I'm reminded of how even something as generally nonpolitical as game shows can testify to social trends over the decades.

A recent post on this blog discussed What's My Line. John Daly used to ask female contestants, "Miss or Mrs?" Nowadays, some contestants might honestly not know what he was talking about. Now don't worry, I'm not going old-fart-ish and pining for the good old days, which were pretty rotten in lots of ways. (There was something rotten in a bunch of game shows, as we all know.)

But the modern-day equivalent of John Daly might more appropriately greet Snooki and JWoww with: "Knocked up or not knocked up?" Which does mean that times have changed, if nothing else.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mind of a reviewer

A few posts back I gave a lukewarm review to GSN's new survey show, Mind of a Man. I'm not going to revisit my opinion, mainly because I don't think the show deserves a second look. After all, I'm not going to watch it anymore, but then the show is hardly pitched at grumpy 62-year-olds.

Still, it was interesting to read three other reviews from the game show blogosphere. Carrie Grosvenor at About.com came closest to my so-so shrug: "Mind of a Man isn't exactly high brow entertainment, but there's some comedic value there that makes it worth watching." Yeah, I guess there's some comedy, but not a whole hellacious lot. In fact, the more the "celebs" tried to be funny, the less comedy there seemed to be.

As you might expect from the name of the site, Game Show Garbage went scorched-earth on the show, which they rated as a "D" (for dud?) "What comes off as a funny and light-hearted show in the commercials just drags in the front game and goes by quickly with very few funny moments. The front game is broken by the final question which renders the first 20 minutes of the show pointless and a disconnective end game makes for a half hour that makes you wonder what could have been."

Truth to tell, I didn't think the gameplay details made much difference. The show was clearly going for comedy first, with the game mostly an afterthought. But I agree that the funny moments weren't very thick on the ground.

Finally, there's a rave review from Dexter Johnson at The Blog is Right: "While Mind of a Man does not have a wide list of household-name celebrities, the show’s current roster of celebrities (based on the episode I had previewed featuring Skyler Stone, Kim Whitley, Alonzo Bodden) has shown that they can bring enough comedic energy to the show to the point where the lack of 'big name' stars is not even a factor."

I didn't mind the lack of household names. It's just that the non-household names weren't very funny. What humor there was came mostly from the scriptwriters with their goofy questions.

So there's a wide range of opinions to sample. The important sample, of course, belongs to the Nielsen Company.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Simplicity of the game

I tend to save the nostalgia bits for the weekends, when game show news slows.

So it's time for a look back at an AP story about, what else, What's My Line. The story comes from the Cleveland Plain Dealer in December 1954, when the regular panelists were the pictured Dorothy Kilgallen, Fred Allen, Arlene Francis and Bennett Cerf.

Sadly, two of the panelists wouldn't live out the original CBS run. In fact, Fred wouldn't survive 1956. Dorothy died in 1965, and conspiracy theorists still debate her passing. Bennett Cerf would die during the syndie run in 1971. Some of his eps would air after his death as they got bicycled around the country to various stations.

The amusing caricature shows John Daly pushing a contestant through his walk in front of the panel. Then a round of free guesses would follow. The show eliminated this bit of gameplay in 1955, making the game even simpler. The AP story rightly credits the "simplicity of the game" as one of the show's secrets of success.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Do you pop out on Jeopardy?

At TV Without Pity, several posters bemoaned a recent triple stumper on Jeopardy. None of the contestants could remember Lucille Ball's immortal Vitameatavegemin skit from I Love Lucy. I happened to see the TS and felt a little twinge of regret myself.

If this skit is not the funniest five minutes in U.S. TV history, it's very close. Thanks to YouTube, you don't have to take my word for it. When the contestants all proved clueless on Jeopardy, Alex helpfully opined that they were just too young to remember. Except they weren't that young, and there's little excuse for not recalling this priceless spoof of health tonic commercials.

After all, I Love Lucy has run continuously somewhere or other on TV for six decades now. Desi Arnaz spent the extra money to film the show, so it still looks great in timeless black and white. Oh well, maybe the next classic TV bit on Jeopardy will find somebody who remembers something.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Taxman cometh

Odd that I mentioned the IRS in the previous post. Family Feud's Steve Harvey had some up close and personal experience with our favorite federal agency.

Apparently Harvey's former tax accountant wasn't the most diligent guy. Somehow he didn't mail Harvey's income tax returns to the IRS for seven years. The mistake was only discovered when the accountant died shortly before Harvey wed his third and current wife, Marjorie Bridges, in 2007.

Being such sweet and friendly folks, the IRS only hit Harvey with a $20 million tax lien. It looks like everything got settled one way or the other, because Steve is not in the hoosegow. Hindsight is 20-20, but why didn't Harvey notice that his checks to the IRS were going uncashed? I know he went through a brutal divorce in 2005, but you've got to keep an eye on the finances, especially when the guv'mint is concerned.

Nowadays Harvey could probably settle a $20 million lien with a couple days' earnings (slight exaggeration). But having the IRS on your case for that kind of money must have been fun, fun, fun.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Piece of my mind

I'm in a crotchety mood, as usual. So some grumblings about this and that...

It's just a slogan and I shouldn't get ticked. But Wheel of Fortune's constant insistence that it's "America's game" gets on my nerves. Who elected Pat and Vanna, anyway? Last I checked, America's game was keeping as much money away from the IRS as possible.

Why can't Family Feud break down and give ten bucks a point as the consolation prize in the fast money round? Five bucks a point has been around since the '70s, when five bucks could actually buy something.

Just junk the randomization and go back to a simple ladder on Millionaire. It's not like anybody ever wins a million, no matter how the questions are jumbled up.

I'm tired of the complaints about too much Feud on GSN. Ever looked at the ratings? The show, especially Harvey's version, is keeping the whole flipping network afloat. You might as well complain about History running Pawn Stars 63 times next week.

And even the Barker groupies at Golden Road have to admit that we haven't had any sexual harassment suits with Drew. The good old days had a few not so good moments.

There. I feel better now. Sort of.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A terrible thing to waste

Just watched the debut of GSN's Mind of a Man.

It's another survey show. A couple ladies try to guess what a hundred men said. If surveying a hundred people sounds familiar, that's because it is familiar. This effort just goes all out to yuk it up. Comedy takes first place way above gameplay, at least until the very slightly sort of serious final round.

Lots of "celebs" hang around, allegedly to help the ladies decide what the surveys said. The reason for the scare quotes is that the celebs are definitely from the [fill in a late letter in the alphabet]-list. The only one I recognized was Ted Lange from Love Boat, which dates me good and plenty. At least Ted didn't try to be funny. Some of the other celebs did, with very occasional success.

DeRay Davis hosted at high volume. Everything was at high volume. The show looked like it wandered in from MTV or BET. We're aiming for those elusive young demos again, folks. Eventually one of the lady contestants just missed the ten grand top prize. She got $3,200, though. Not bad by GSN standards.

This review sounds snarky, and the show probably doesn't deserve it. Mind of a Man isn't obnoxious. It's just not pitched at geriatric moi. But what the hey, I can watch The Chase. For young'uns who only want a few smiles, this Mind is not such a terrible waste.

UPDATE: Douglas Pucci reports that ratings for Mind of a Man were so-so at best. The debut episode got 497K viewers. Okay but hardly spectacular. Subsequent eps trailed off badly, hitting a low of 306K. Meanwhile, Douglas also notes that The Chase hit a series high on Tuesday, January 7 with 620K viewers. Yay!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ratings: GSN's happy new year

The Nielsen Company will get the syndie game show ratings out sooner or later, thanks to the New Year holiday. Meanwhile, we've got news about GSN for the first week of 2014. And the news is pretty good.

TVNewser reports that GSN enjoyed its best week in a while for December 30-January 5. 389K/306K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 43rd in the windows. With more cold weather clamping people inside, GSN might have a bunch of good weeks in store.

And while we wait for the syndie ratings, you might enjoy Alex rapping through an entire category. Not bad for a 73-year-old.

UPDATE: The syndie news is in and it ain't good. Christmas week is usually tough for syndication, and 2013 was no exception. TVNewsCheck brings the not so holly-jolly tidings for December 23-29...

Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - down nine ticks, ouch
Jeopardy 5.6 - down eight ticks to keep the soulmate company
Family Feud 4.9 - down three ticks as Santa is evil to all
Millionaire 1.9 - down a couple ticks to a new season low

All syndies felt the wrath of Mr. Claus, so the big three game shows still landed in the top ten at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.9 million (weekend repeat 5.4 million), Jeopardy 8.9 million, Family Feud 7.5 million. Ho ho ho.

Monday, January 6, 2014

All's fair in love, war and use

Now that what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board has relocated, an interesting thread has popped up.

The aficionados chew over the question: how far does fair use go? In particular, does the concept cover the game show segments which crop up on Jimmy Fallon's show, among other places? And do the lawyers for rights holders prowl the highways and byways of TV, looking for such possible infringements?

Despite the disclaimer at the bottom of the blog, I'm not an entertainment lawyer (aren't all lawyers entertaining?) and I don't play one in the blogosphere. But parodies of game shows are probably safe. Straighter gameplay segments might raise more eyebrows, and a legal brief or three. My guess is that Jimmy clears his game show skits with whatever rights holders exist. A few bucks probably help.

A couple guys in the thread grouse about rights holders forcing them to take down online versions of game shows. Now that probably is pushing fair use pretty hard, especially if you're collecting U.S. coin for the games. As for this blog, I just use a few images here and there. Nobody's growled at me yet. Free advertising, after all.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nobody's perfect...

...not even the judges on Wheel of Fortune. On last Monday's show (December 30) a contestant won the first tossup when she guessed "Ringing in the New Year."

Except that's not what she said. She actually pronounced "Bringing in the New Year" but the judges missed it. I happened to be watching the show and thought there was something a little strange at the time. But I didn't much care on the $1,000 puzzle. They give a thousand for the consolation prize, after all.

But some other fans piped up. Wheel's Facebook page collected a few complaints, and the sharp-eyed (or sharp-eared) folks at Buy a Vowel also noted the strange miss. Still, the goof didn't affect the outcome, so the "controversy" never gained much steam.

It was just a reminder that even Wheel's judges spin a little wobbly sometimes. As do we all.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The What's My Line channel

GSN has wrapped up its annual two-week holiday run of What's My Line and I've Got a Secret.

But a terrific resource for WML fanatics has opened on YouTube. The What's My Line channel has already posted more than 200 complete episodes. The operator of the site has more than 500 eps and is posting two of them each day. A large number of WML clips and a fair sample of complete episodes already adorned YouTube. But this new channel is by far the deepest, most generous collection from the paleozoic classic.

I'm not sure about the copyright status of all this material. But the channel has been operating for three months now with no yelping lawyers appearing on the horizon. So I guess the getting is good while the getting is good. If anybody wants to download episodes, well, there are ways to do it even if YouTube technically disapproves. Hint: Google "download from YouTube."

By the way, the most viewed episode on the channel is the Betty Davis ep from October 5, 1952. She still has a lot of fans after all these years. Or maybe Hal Block still has fans.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wipeout may not be not wiped out yet

Alex Davis at the newly revived BuzzerBlog spotted a casting call for ABC's Wipeout. Steadily declining ratings had raised doubts about whether the big balls would return. But now a summer season seems at least possible. The show has never been a big favorite of mine due to its obnoxious attitude toward its bashed-around contestants. Yeah, it's all fun and games but that obstacle course hurts.

There still has been no official announcement about another season, so the show may not get a reprieve. The novelty wore off a long time ago, and the winter versions seemed like way too much of not that good a thing. But maybe there's a little juice still left in the black-and-blue format.

The casting call seems to indicate that Jill Wagner will remain as the on-course host, if there is another season. At least the call is looking for "single men to win the cash prize and a date with Jill." Dating Game meets the flips and flops of outrageous stunt fortune.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ratings: a good year for GSN

TVNewser has posted full 2013 ratings for all cable nets. GSN has reason to be happy. The network averaged 355K/273K viewers prime time/total day for the year. That's a nice increase over 2012's 326K/242K.

Steve Harvey deserves a lot of the credit, of course. In fact, GSN could really use a big ratings getter besides Harvey Feud. American Bible Challenge gets great numbers, but it's just a few episodes each year. The Chase has debuted to okay but not spectacular ratings.

Meanwhile, syndie game show ratings for the latest week are delayed by the holidays. If and when they appear, I'll post 'em.

UPDATE: TVNewsCheck finally got around to the ratings for the week of December 16-22. Santa didn't smile on syndie game shows. The household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 6.4 - down three ticks
Family Feud 5.2 - down a tick, this is getting tedious
Millionaire 2.1 - flat, at least it's not down for Cedric

Despite the weaker household ratings, the big three syndies all landed in the top seven on TV by the Numbers' viewer chart. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.1 million to lead all syndies (weekend repeat 5.1 million), Jeopardy 10.0 million, Family Feud 7.7 million.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Syndicate this

Happy New Year! And let me the first blogger of the new year to point out that Drew Carey is looking more and more like Orville Redenbacher.

The reason for the screenshot from The Price is Right is a thread I noticed on Golden Road. The aficionados started chatting about the possibility of a nighttime syndie TPiR. Of course, this being Golden Road, there were the standard swipes at Drew - he replaced St. Bob, after all - and showrunner Mike Richards. But there were also some good suggestions for adapting the format to a half-hour syndie.

Now that Drew has taken the show successfully into the post-Bob era, this might be the right time to consider expanding the franchise beyond a few, very occasional prime time specials. We've already got two new syndies slated for nationwide distribution in the new year: Let's Ask America and Celebrity Name Game. So stations might be turning more receptive to that quaint old idea of game show syndication.

Maybe, just maybe the ridiculous glut of syndie talk shows has finally reached the point of diminishing returns. The knock on syndicated game shows, of course, is the old-skewing demos. But daytime TPiR has managed to prosper with an advanced average-viewer age. If a show pulls enough viewers, some will fall into the beloved 18-49 bracket.