Monday, March 31, 2014

He's baaaack

Between baseball games today I caught the opening of 2000s week on Jeopardy. Colby Burnett, somewhat well known around the game show Interwebs, won his match and will go to the tournament finals.

Before Arthur there was Colby. He didn't hop all over the board and he didn't slam the buzzer too hard. But he did have the world's most often raised eyebrow, and one of the world's most disdainful looks. For whatever reason I thought he was a little more subdued on today's show, but that could just be my kindly imagination.

Still, a poster on the soon to be defunct TV Without Pity allowed that Colby wasn't "so bad this time and his clothes fit - yea!" If his clothes are okay with TWOP, they're okay with me. The show was a close run thing, as Colby fluffed Final Jeopardy. But his fortunately small bet saved him.

Good for Colby, but I've got a feeling that Ken Jennings will eventually overrun everybody in the tournament. Which of course means I've jinxed Ken catastrophically.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gurus

A rash of stories has dotted Google News lately about Jeopardy's 50th birthday. This is a bit misleading because the show has not been on the air continuously for a half-century. But that's a quibble, I know. Let's just say it's been on the air for most of a half-century.

This CNN story is typical, trotting through the show's well-known history and tossing in a few offbeat contestant stories. But if you're a regular reader of this blog, you probably know most of that stuff already. What I'd like to talk about are the two game show experts the story quotes extensively: Steve Beverly and Carrie Grosvenor.

They aren't as active as they used to be on the Internet. Steve has long since given up his game show site, and Carrie posts much less frequently nowadays at About.com. They developed very different Internet reputations. Steve never shied from controversy and was often reviled for his strongly expressed views. (I can sympathize, Steve.) Carrie has always been much more judicious in her comments, something I wish I could emulate.

When the inevitable subject of Alex Trebek's successor comes up in the CNN story, they both pick Pat Kiernan. My own pet favorite is Mark Walberg, who did fine work on the late, lamented Russian Roulette and appeals to the Jeopardy demo on Antiques Roadshow. Media types seem to be betting on Matt Lauer. We'll see what happens, one of these half-centuries.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blitzed out

With the usual slow weekend for game show news upon us, it's time for some chess again. After all, chess is a game, unlike improv comedy or a cooking show.

Today's biggest chess news is that 44-year-old former world champ Vishy Anand earned a rematch against Norwegian wunderkind Magnus Carlsen for the title. Anand won the candidates tournament somewhere in the wilds of Siberia. Nobody gave him a chance before the tourney, but he played by far the best chess.

Along with plenty of What's My Line eps, I've been watching a lot of blitz games lately on YouTube. Blitz chess, which usually takes ten minutes or less, might as well have been designed for the video site. The screenshot shows Russian GMs Alexander Grischuk and Valentina Gunina facing off outdoors in Moscow. Now you know why they're wearing coats.

Grischuk got off to a nice start and built a solid positional edge. But Gunina defended capably and Grischuk started to consume time on the clock. They eventually traded down to a drawn rook-and-pawn ending in the usual time scramble. You can read all about it.

There are a zillion chess videos on YouTube, but the blitz games are the most fun. At least they don't take five or six or seven hours, like classical grandmaster games.

Friday, March 28, 2014

TV without pity, without future

It's the end of an era. Or at least that's what some of the more emotional stories are sobbing.

Television Without Pity is shutting down. The site has apparently fallen by the wayside as a cutting-edge source of snark and sneer about the boobs on the tube. Not that those boobs won't get plenty of catcalls from a zillion other corners of the Internet. But Net styles and fads come and go, and TWOP will soon flicker out.

A lot of the stories mention how screenwriter Aaron Sorkin got insanely p.o.ed at the site. In more recent times concerning our own little genre, Jeopardy champ Arthur Chu whined about the Arthur-hate on the site's game show board.

I always enjoyed the snarkiness of that board, which is why I linked to it in the sidebar. The Jeopardy section was by far the most active part of the board. Those folks might now migrate to JBoard.tv, if they bother to keep posting at all.

The TWOP message boards will operate until May 31. Hail and farewell.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sympathy for Mr. Saget

GSN just plugged its much-used Bob Saget episodes of 1 vs. 100 into the 5:00 PM weekday hour to replace the dropping (sorry) Shop Til You Drop. I've been watching a few eps, even though I've seen them all before, and you know what? It's a pretty good game show.

Okay, it's not the greatest format ever. But the contestants are generally alert and likeable, Saget is an engaging and enthusiastic host, and the mob is plenty, er, mobbish. I've enjoyed watching poker player Annie Duke string together 35 straight correct answers as a mob mama, among other noteworthy doings on the show.

So I have to wonder why NBC got rid of 1 vs. 100 after only two short seasons and 28 episodes. The show hardly turned in rotten ratings. The final ep on Friday, February 22, 2008 earned a 2.1 18-49 rating with 7.6 million total viewers.

Nowadays, those numbers would have NBC falling over itself to renew the show, especially on Friday. Even in 2008 the ratings were more than respectable. In the linked story TV by the Numbers guru Robert Seidman opined that the network would be "quite happy with the results."

But NBC was souring on game shows in general, so Bob and mob got the ax. GSN has rerun the episodes a zillion times and garnered some decent numbers. The network tried a scaled-down revival with Carrie Ann Inaba, but it never really clicked.

So let's give a shoutout to a show that never got TV justice...if there is such a thing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

GSN's upfront (cont.)

A previous entry read off a bunch of GSN press releases about the network's upfront last week. But it's always nice to get an on-scene report.

Media Biz Bloggers obliges with a play-by-play of the upfront. In general, they liked the presentation, especially the hulking presence of The Beast. (You know who he is.) They also proclaim that "game shows rule again at GSN." That's pretty obvious from a glance at the schedule.

Network president David Goldhill allowed that by the end of 2015 GSN would triple the amount of original programming from its current level. I'll get in unholy trouble with the older-is-better folks, but the schedule hole for pre-1990 shows seems to get smaller all the time. Nobody breathed a word at the upfront about acquiring more old stuff...or really acquiring any stuff at all. Original seems to be where it's at for the cash-flush network.

The Media Biz reporter lauds Ben Gleib, host of the upcoming Idiot Quiz, calling him "an understated yet fun talent." That beats overstated and non-fun talent any day. He also thinks that GSN is much taken with in-development show The Line, which travels around America in search of people in line. Um, okay. Overall, the upfront earned 4 1/2 out of 5 on the Media Biz jack scale. Which is better than ABC Family.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ratings: syndies go ouch!

Daylight savings time and the Malaysian plane story teamed up to trash syndie ratings for the week of March 10-16. Our four game shows felt the severe downdraft. But all the shows still made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers, because every other syndicated show suffered along with them. The household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.9 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 6.6 - down five ticks to keep pace with the soulmate
Family Feud 5.2 - down six ticks, this is getting depressing
Millionaire 2.2 - down a couple ticks as the poor get poorer

Despite the bad week, Pat and Vanna of course led all syndies in viewership. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.7 million (weekend repeat 3.5 million), Jeopardy 10.1 million, Family Feud 7.5 million, Millionaire 2.9 million. These averages still look good compared to most of broadcast and cable prime time.

TV Newser says that GSN enjoyed another solid week for March 17-23. 370K/283K viewer averages prime time/total day, as the network ranked 39th and 37th in the windows. That's the best prime time ranking for a while.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Alex comes calling for Betty

When he's not reading answers in search of questions, Alex Trebek shows up on sitcoms.

Well, one sitcom, anyway. Alex will guest as the narrator of the Hot in Cleveland season debut this Wednesday. It's a live premiere and Yahoo TV notes that Trebek has done many similar cameos over the decades. It's only appropriate that he finally turns up on Betty White's show. She's the ageless doyenne of our little genre, after all.

The linked story also notes the parade of guest stars who have dropped by the TV Land comedy. I never knew Huey Lewis showed up once, but I'm afraid I'm not a big fan (or any fan) of the show.

My favorite Alex cameo was his stint on Sesame Street. He works well with puppets, especially large red ones. But they should have gotten the genuine Jeopardy think music.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Everybody's a critic

You might have noticed that game show fans are full of advice. Or full of something. (Not to mention any names, Casey Abell.) The advice gets really loud and long about our little game show network, GSN.

The screenshot shows four consecutive Tumblr posts from Game Show Confessions. Click on the image to read the comments more easily. Everybody's got their ideas for what GSN should do or shouldn't do. A couple are older-is-better posts, a familiar sight for anybody who wanders the game show interwebs. By the way, "classic" is game show internet code for any show produced before 1990 - don't ask me why that year is so special - whether the show sucked or not.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I dissent from the orthodox view in one post that GSN's remake of Lingo with Bill Engvall was bad. I like the humor and the extra twist to the gameplay with the sometimes misleading clues. As for another post's suggestion that GSN check out repeats of Hollywood Game Night, I wouldn't be amazed to see the show surface on the network after its NBC run is finished.

Most of all, I agree with the poster who reassures everybody that GSN is fine. The bottom line, after all, is the bottom line. And GSN is flush right now, with record viewership and plenty of money to spend.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bingeing

Now I know how people can get sucked into binge watching a season's worth of TV episodes. Because I've gotten stuck on the What's My Line channel at YouTube.

I generally cut out the intros and good-byes on the episodes, which take up four or five minutes. This helps keep the binge moving right along. But I did happen to catch John Daly's nice tribute to WML's audience on the show's 500th episode, featuring Julie Andrews. (Who almost fooled the panel completely with an American accent.)

If you didn't know them already, it's easy to spot the regular panel members. They're the ones who know what they're doing. The guest panelists tend to be clueless about playing the game, with some obvious exceptions like Martin Gabel. I'm up to the 1960 episodes, and the regulars had been doing this for a long time.

One funny note: there was a featherlight reference to the game show scandals of the time on one episode. John Daly reminded guest panelist Laurence Harvey that they couldn't give him any advance information about the contestants due to that little rumpus in the States.

By 1960 Daly had perfected his verbose obfuscations. The whole show had crystallized into its own little culture, with formal wear and elaborate social rituals. But the studio audience still wolf whistled at the sharp-looking female contestants, just to keep things from getting too stuffy.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Couple auditions

Usually I leave auditions to the faux tweets. But with game show news slowing down as the weekend nears, I might as well note a couple of tryouts for Wheel of Fortune and Family Feud. After all, these are two of the Big Three syndies. And unlike Jeopardy, you don't have to know ten tons of trivia...or even how to hop around the board in an irritating manner.

The Wheelmobile will roll into North Myrtle Beach April 26-27. This happens to be Vanna's birthplace, and the local website appears proud of the fact. Audition master Marty Lublin will look for hopeful Wheel contestants on a technical college's quadrangle. Twelve to fourteen lucky people will be chosen for a final round of auditions to be held several months later. Nobody's saying if Vanna will show up, but I wouldn't count on it. She's got that yarn business, right Pat?

Meanwhile, Family Feud hits Charleston March 29-30 for would-be feudin' and fussin' folks. The show will also take video applications, if you can't make the actual audition. Just send a three to five minute family video that is a laugh riot and proves you're somewhat familiar with the format. And remember that they want families who stand out, one goofy way or another.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Amazing graceful solve

Last night I settled in for Wheel of Fortune. Sometimes you get lucky, and you see something really memorable. Well, it happened.

A contestant named Emil de Leon played a fine game and deservedly went to the bonus round. Where he ran into a puzzle with only two letters out of eleven showing. I had no clue on the puzzle and no way even to start guessing. But Emil came up with "New Baby Buggy" and walked away with $45,000.

After frisking Emil for illegal puzzle solving equipment, Pat Sajak took to Twitter to laud the "most amazing solve" of his tenure. It's right up there with the best, no doubt. Naturally, a sour Washington Post writer tried to tell us that the solve wasn't actually that amazing. I'd like to see her on the show. She'd probably wind up with the pity thousand.

As the show ended, we got to see the used letter board for once. Emil said that the "B" in the first position on the board got him thinking about "baby," and "buggy" followed. Good for him. Some contestants seem to forget that the board is even there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

History lesson

Saw an interesting item on what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board. A 1999 issue of Broadcasting and Cable ran a story about the sudden new interest in syndie game shows. (The article is on page 36.) The show that kicks off the story, Whoopi Goldberg's remake of Hollywood Squares, has come and gone, of course. But it lasted six seasons, so it was hardly a hopeless flop.

Another project in the story is the abortive effort to revive Let's Make a Deal with Gordon Elliott. Eventually CBS would come along and try another remake with an improv specialist as host, and the thing would work pretty well. The story also mentions the Louie Anderson remake of Family Feud. Three hosts later, I'm still tracking Feud's weekly ratings.

Maybe the most important lesson from this jaunt down memory lane comes from programming exec Andy Friendly: "Game shows were out and now they're back in. But it really doesn't matter what genre is in or what trend is taking place in the marketplace. The only thing that matters is how successful the show is."

Yes, trends and vogues come and go. The only thing that counts is how a show performs, no matter what else is happening in television.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ratings: syndies wobble up and down

TV by the Numbers offers household ratings and viewer averages for all four syndie game shows March 3-9. Which means they all made the site's top 25 syndie list. Which is good news for the genre in general. There really weren't any dramatic changes from the previous week...

Wheel of Fortune 7.3 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 7.1 - flat and very close to the soulmate
Family Feud 5.8 - down a tick but Steve isn't worried
Millionaire 2.4 - up a tick and Cedric welcomes any improvement

Pat and Vanna of course led all syndies in total viewers. The viewer averages for all the shows: Wheel of Fortune 11.6 million (weekend repeat 5.0 million), Jeopardy 11.0 million, Family Feud 8.5 million, Millionaire 3.2 million. Nobody will go broke on these numbers.

TV Newser reports that GSN enjoyed a nice week for March 10-16. 376K/286K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 42nd and 36th in the windows. As the entry on GSN's upfront mentions, help is on the way for prime time.

GSN's upfront

GSN unleashes a blizzard of press releases from its upfront. The main one brags about the network's viewer numbers and runs through the development slate. One new show, Idiot Test, is definitely greenlighted for 40 eps. Comic Ben Gleib hosts the quizzer, due sometime "later this year."

Other news: American Bible Challenge returns for its third season May 22 with a double dose of episodes. The new nine-ep season will feature Kirk Franklin and Mormon moms, among others. Jeff Foxworthy comes back as host, of course. GSN will back up the biblical quizzer with its religion-based dating show It Takes a Church, starting June 5. This sounds like a product placement project for Christian Mingle, though I may be too cynical here. At least I'm happy that GSN will tape a 13-ep third season of beastly quizzer The Chase. Brooke and Mark return for more rapid-fire q-and-a, though no debut date is set.

GSN is also piloting App Wars, which sounds like Shark Tank for mobile app developers, and a memory game, Say What? Shows in development include quizzer The Tunnel and some reality projects involving dating, losing weight and traveling around America (not all at the same time). Last and probably least, there's the upcoming Skin Wars about body painting, which really sounds like something I want to see.

Monday, March 17, 2014

April approaches

Since he's going to be doing his own syndie game show this fall, it makes sense for Craig Ferguson to pick up a little experience. So in an April Fools switch, Craig will take over The Price is Right while Drew Carey and company occupy the Late Late Show. At least it will get Ferguson a lot bigger audience than usual. About five times as big, in fact.

USA Today runs a jokey story about the switch, complete with cutesy-pie video. Ferguson advises Carey not to be too Scottish, which shouldn't be hard for Drew. The two also hark back to their "marriage" on Carey's ancient sitcom. "But you know, [Drew's] nice, and he brings me a present every now and then. Just kind of keeps it fresh. Wears lingerie."

I'm personally not ready for Drew Carey in lingerie, and I hope this doesn't give him any ideas for the late night show. This isn't quite the Sajak/Trebek April Fools switch of many years ago, but at least it will give each guy something different to do.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Street not-so-smarts

Billy on the Street kicked off another season this week. Frenetic host Billy Eichner did every talk show, celeb news show, and pizza parlor opening in the United States to promote the new season. Love him or hate him, the guy works really, really hard at selling.

It's pretty much of a joke to call this a game show, of course. Though Billy does attack his hapless passers-by with goofball questions, like "name three white people." The show's appeal lies in the startled, humorous, bored, or otherwise offbeat reactions of random New Yorkers to Billy's street-level assaults. I have to confess that I've never sat through an entire ep, partially because I've never tried to locate Fuse on my cable menu.

But there are plenty of bits splattered on YouTube, and I've exposed myself to a few. Billy gets old fast for me, so a 1:30 clip (that's minutes and seconds) is about all I want, anyway. In small doses the medicine might be moderately helpful, to remind us all of the absurdity of modern-day urban street life. Or maybe it's just that Billy is so obnoxious, he's semi-funny.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spoofin' on

A little while ago I mentioned how spoofable game shows are. It's one of the genre's endearing traits. Anybody can make fun of the shows and many do.

So I'm scrounging around Google News on a slow weekend and run across a game show parody called Love, Lust or Stalking, which actually sounds encouraging. The spoof is one of the audience participation bits in a play called Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.

The play is running in the Midwest now and gets a so-so review from a critic who wants more standup from lead actress Kateri DeMartino. As you can see from the photo, Kateri looks like a baffled Lucille Ball.

Sadly, the review is short on details about the game show within the show. All we learn is that two people get picked from the audience for the spoofery...and that Kateri seems more comfortable with these audience participation skits than with the rest of the play. Maybe they should just make the game show the whole show. I wouldn't mind watching a game of love, lust and stalking.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Running out of game?

TV by the Numbers delivers the cheery news that Hollywood Game Night skidded to a series-low 1.0 18-49 rating last night. The show garnered less than three million total viewers. Rather remarkably, that's a smaller audience than any of the syndie game shows or either of CBS's daytime gamers.

Sure, NBC generally sucks on Thursday night. Jane Lynch's pop culture fest gets no help at all from its weak lead-in and piddly lead-out. The show still performs a tad better than the woeful sitcoms it replaced.

Still, if Hollywood Game Night doesn't pull many viewers or ad-friendly demos, I have to wonder. NBC has more or less committed to a summer run of the show, but the future now looks hazy beyond that. On the upside, the show should be pretty cheap, even with a six pack of celebs for each episode. So huge numbers aren't an absolute requirement.

Has Hollywood Game Night simply overstayed its welcome? After a not so long while, a diet of high-carb pop culture and faux-party atmosphere can turn cloying. Jane Lynch is not Ms. Warm-Cuddly, either. Despite my own lukewarm reaction to the show, I'd like to see our little genre succeed in broadcast prime time. Even if the broadcasters are a shadow of their former selves.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two GSN originals

A couple of one-and-done originals (as in seasons) are returning to GSN in repeats. Carrie Ann Inaba's 1 vs. 100 and Bill Engvall's Lingo will take the noon hour starting March 17.

I didn't mind either show, though I thought Engvall was by far the better host. In fact, I'll commit the heresy of preferring his remake to Chuck Woolery's version. Not that I disliked Chuck's show. I purely love both of GSN's Lingo runs. But then I'm a sucker for word games.

Engvall brought some goofball humor to the show, though, which brightened up the letter-picking challenges. Meanwhile, GSN's 1 vs. 100 was a downright cheap version of the NBC original, which I can understand on GSN's cable-sized budgets. I'm afraid that Carrie Ann grated on me with her oft-repeated catch phrases. But she was easy on the eyes.

It's hard to see GSN ever doing new episodes of either show, unless their ratings just blow the Nielsen doors off. Which I doubt will happen at noon. But the old eps deserve a second look.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No spoof: Arthur's done

I was going to blog about game show spoofs, and a Jeopardy spoof in particular. But a little bit of Jeopardy news first.

The long national nightmare for Arthur-haters is over. Arthur Chu's win streak stops at eleven. Today he lost all his money on a Daily Double and was never really in the game afterwards. Just to cap things off, he also lost all his cash in Final Jeopardy.

Now on to the spoof. Was there ever a genre more spoofable than game shows? Where would Saturday Night Live be without their endless game show parodies?

Conan O'Brien's Jeopardy sillies are among the most famous recent sendups. But Alex Trebek got a little revenge, as this clip proves. To be honest, Alex's mashup of Conan's monologues is funnier than Conan's usual efforts, in my non-Conan-fan opinion. Anyway, it's nice to see the Fairness Doctrine restored for game show parody.

Game shows are such low-rent, low-respectability productions that such spoofs will never go out of style. I like that. I want our little genre to stay humble and appealing.

UPDATE: While we're on Jeopardy, somebody named Paul Glavic has perpetrated the worst thing ever written about the show. He launches a left-wing political deconstruction of the quizzer and takes some ageist swipes at its audience. The guy has a bright future at the Berkeley English Department.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ratings: syndies get happy with no Olympics

This week I'll use the ratings from TV by the Numbers. The site offers household and viewer numbers for all four syndie game shows, thanks to their top 25 list and a press release from Millionaire. Without competition from the Olympics, the shows all gained ground, and sometimes a lot of ground. The household ratings for the week of February 24-March 2:

Wheel of Fortune 7.5 - up a very nice five ticks
Jeopardy 7.1 - up an almost as nice four ticks
Family Feud 5.9 - up a couple ticks, so Steve joins in the fun
Millionare 2.3 - up a couple ticks even for last-place Cedric

Guess what. Pat and Vanna led all of syndication in total viewers. Why, that hasn't happened since...the previous week. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.8 million (weekend repeat 5.1 million), Jeopardy 11.1 million (weekend repeat 3.7 million), Family Feud 8.8 million, Millionaire 3.1 million. I know I've been hard on perennial bottom-dweller Cedric. But he has kept the ratings halfway decent for Millionaire.

TV Newser reports fairly typical numbers for GSN in the week of March 3-9. 357K/277K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 44th and 37th in the windows. Certainly okay by GSN's historical standards, but the network could use a little help in prime time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Clue to the crew?

As I watched you know who romp to his tenth straight on Jeopardy tonight, I had a weird thought. (That's not unusual for me.) Just why is the Crew Clue on the show? The obvious answer is that they're adding some youth and good looks to the Alex-and-Johnny show. The answer around the web seems to be that they're auditioning to take over for the ageless duo, whenever age finally catches up with them.

It's not like Jimmy and Sarah and Kelly are essential to the gameplay. Alex could just as easily read their lines for the visual clues. But then the letters on Wheel of Fortune could just light up without Vanna touching them. At least the cluesters don't turn up at the end of the show and start waving bye. That might be truly unendurable.

As for the theory about a host and/or announcer in waiting, I'm not so sure. As pleasant as the trio may be, they don't quite seem to have the necessary gravitas for Jeopardy. I know, it's ridiculous to look for gravitas on a silly little game show. Maybe "authority" is a better word.

Or it could be that I'm just too used to Alex and Johnny to imagine anybody else stepping into the very large shows. But sooner or later it's going to happen.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Rant (cont.)

A couple posts back I commented on a weird rant against The Price is Right. Today I ran across another, much more reasonable rant (yes, there is such a thing as a reasonable rant) against the prize puzzle on Wheel of Fortune.

You may wonder why anybody would get worked up about the prize puzzle. You may wonder why anybody would write a game show blog. But people have to spend the time between birth and death doing something.

This is the rant, on what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board. Best as I can tell, the complaint against the prize puzzle is that it has too much influence on the outcome of the game. Truth to tell, I really couldn't care less about this "issue." When I watch Wheel, I just want all the contestants to win some money. I hate to see anybody get stuck with the pity thousand.

Another guy who doesn't seem to care much about the prize puzzle is Pat Sajak. One episode not long ago, he forgot all about the freakin' thing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ain't that nice

It's the weekend and I could use an entry that's goofy and warm and sort of gauche. So I picked this item from Google News about a church playing a charity version of Don't Forget the Lyrics. We get to watch church members of a certain age singing Hound Dog. Which is goofier and warmer and more gauche than anything else I've seen lately.

The whole thing has an American Bible Challenge vibe, especially because all the money raised by the show goes to relief work in Kenya. (Useless personal note: I was in the Peace Corps in Kenya for three years in the 1970s.) George Jensen, the pastor of Pennsylvania's Enola First Church of God, leads the festivities in a tux. Maybe he's channeling John Daly.

At least nobody will complain about Arthur Chu spoiling the game. A lot of venom gets pumped out on game show forums, and this blog is no exception. So I'll be a nice guy for once.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Rant

In my bio I talk about the game show wars on the Internet, and I'm not kidding. Over on Game Show Network News, a commenter referred to me as a "fat turd." Obviously one of my biggest fans. No surprise he hid behind "Anonymous."

TV by the Numbers offers another funny example of how worked up people can get over silly little game shows. The site reprinted a CBS press release gurgling with joy over the good February ratings for The Price is Right.

This news set off one commenter named "Tran," who ranted at length about how TPiR is awful, terrible, evil and really not all that great. He even threatened legal action...
Price is Right would and should end in a matter of years and I still need answers from CBS Daytime because if they don't give me one, I'm going to sue the entire show even though no one or nobody will never listen or understand.
As you might expect, other commenters better grounded in reality chuckled over the legal threat and the rant in general. But folks can get thermonuclear-hot under the collar about our little genre. I just try to stay calm and not threaten to sue shows I don't like. Or even the ones I do like.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kevin gets around

Kevin Pereira, best known around game shows as the slightly smartass host of Let's Ask America, will host something else. It's called Psych After Pshow, and it's a farewell program for USA Network's comedy-drama Psych. The special will air March 26, right after Psych's final ep.

I wish I could comment further on this special. But I've never seen a minute of Psych and I don't know a flipping thing about the show. Still, I'm sure that Kevin will do his usual sassy job.

The news does remind me that Let's Ask America is supposedly headed to nationwide syndication this fall. I haven't heard much about the show's countrywide launch lately, but I assume it's still on track. I've seen a fair amount of Let's Ask America on YouTube, and it's a pleasant survey show that passes the time agreeably. It's not the greatest format ever but it's light-years from the worst.

I always get the feeling that Kevin is consciously cleaning up his act on the game show. It's like he doesn't want to offend Middle America too much. For the down and dirty Kevin, try his Pointless podcasts.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Another sad day

I'm starting to be sorry I posted those words about time always winning.

Another well-known game show host has passed away. Geoff Edwards, probably best known for hosting the 1970s Treasure Hunt revival, has died at age 83. He was the mod host, with longish hair and a devil-may-care attitude. He emceed a number of other game shows, including Jackpot, Hollywood's Talking, Shoot for the Stars, Play the Percentages, Chain Reaction, Starcade, and The Big Spin.

With his movie star looks, he even played himself as a game show host on some scripted shows, like the Luck of the Draw (1995) episode of the sci-fi series Sliders. His Wikipedia article fills in a few striking biographical details. For instance, as a news reporter he was present when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. NBC's Tom Pettit interviewed him at the scene as a witness. In the 1980s he hopped back and forth between Canada and the U.S. for a time, taping game shows in both countries. R.I.P.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ratings: syndies still have the blahs

The Olympics continued to make Nielsen life difficult for syndie game shows in the week of February 17-23. None of the shows saw an increase and a couple declined. TV News Check brings all the not so great household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 6.7 - flat, so it's not far behind the soulmate
Family Feud 5.7 - flat
Millionaire 2.1 - down a tick, poor Cedric can't catch a break

The big three still ranked high in TV by the Numbers' top 25 syndie list. As always, Wheel of Fortune led all syndication in total viewers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.1 million (weekend repeat 5.5 million), Jeopardy 10.4 million (weekend repeat 3.5 million), Family Feud 8.7 million.

TV Newser reports that GSN continued to rack up good total day numbers but only so-so prime time figures. The network averaged 336K/302K viewers prime time/total day for the week of February 24-March 2. GSN placed 43rd and 36th in the windows.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Prurient interest

Normally I put casting calls in the faux tweets. I figure that if readers are interested, they can click on the link and see for themselves. No need to write an entire blog entry about the call.

But there are always exceptions. This casting call just turned up at Reality Wanted:
Network TV is going rogue! Emmy-Award winning production company is currently casting single ladies, ages 21-30's of all shapes and sizes who are comfortable in their birthday suits for a new game show! Looking for Outgoing, Fun, Articulate singles. Think Love Connection meets Strip Poker! We are only looking for girls living in the Los Angeles area.
The old USA game show Strip Poker was one of my guilty pleasures, an admittedly awful thing that I felt ashamed about. But that didn't stop me from looking at it now and then.

I have no idea what this new project might be. I'm not sure how Chuck Woolery's Love Connection chat show could combine with a bunch of young'uns stripping down to their skivvies. In fact, I don't even want to think about it. But for whatever it's worth, the casting call is out there.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Back to garbage

Game Show Garbage has finally posted a full-scale induction of a real game show.

The site had been reviewing porno parodies and posting mostly text-free "video inductions" for a while. But now they've inducted Reg Grundy's 1985 Time Machine into the Hall of Shame. As with so many other recent inductions, the show is far from terrible. But when your site is called Game Show Garbage, you've got to make the shows sound as godawful as possible.

Funny thing, they really don't dump on Time Machine that much. About all they say is that John Davidson looks too much like a parody game show host, and the various mini-games on the show are too reminiscent of The Price is Right. Well, yeah, but those aren't the most damning criticisms I can imagine.

For those who don't recall the show - which came and went in a blink of Nielsen's eye - YouTube has the premiere. What you'll see is a harmless quizzer about various years in pop culture history. No, it's not the greatest game show ever devised, but it's hardly an atrocity. My only quibble is the show's relentless emphasis on nostalgia trivia instead of more serious history. For instance, they grill a contestant on various 1939 happenings in entertainment without even mentioning that a little spat called World War II erupted that year.

After a few weeks Reg Grundy revamped the format completely in a vain effort to save the show from the Nielsen monster. Didn't work and NBC cancelled after less than four months. Can't say that I greatly regret the show's demise, but it was definitely not "garbage" by objective standards.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Before it was a state

It's the weekend and game show news - even news about Arthur Chu - has slacked off. But I saw a bit of historical news on the web that has an odd connection to game shows. Michael Stepovich, the last territorial governor of Alaska, has died at age 94. While he was still in office on January 19, 1958, he appeared on What's My Line.

The linked story plods through a lot of WML factoids that will seem achingly obvious to this blog's readers. We learn that John Daly was "erudite" and that each week a mystery guest would appear. YouTube offers Mr. Stepovich's turn on the show, along with a youthful Ricardo Montalban as guest panelist.

Alaska's territorial status is passing out of living memory. For most Americans it's now just another state, albeit a far north and very big one. Not to mention the locale for a bunch of reality shows. But once upon a time the feds did appoint a governor for the Alaska territory.

The erudite John Daly strongly endorses Alaskan statehood on the show. In 1958 the issue was still hanging in the balance. An odd footnote: Mr. Stepovich never won office after Alaska became a state. He lost a couple of close races for senator and (state) governor.