Wednesday, April 30, 2014

That was quick

It took eleven years for syndie Millionaire to change hosts. It took exactly one year for them to do it again.

Cedric Kyles is gone from the classic game show after just one season. His departure is being spun as a schedule conflict or a cost-cutting move, but the Nielsen Company of course played a part. Ratings have generally drooped with Cedric in command, and critical reviews were mixed at best.

I didn't mind Cedric, but others carped about his hats and his mannerisms and his jokes. His replacement is reportedly Terry Crews of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is certainly outside-the-box thinking. Whatever his talents as a sitcom star, I don't know that Terry has any game show experience. But neither did Meredith Vieira, and she lasted awhile.

Some extra competition comes to syndie game shows this fall, with Craig Ferguson's Celebrity Name Game and the expansion of Kevin Pereira's Let's Ask America. Millionaire is a venerable franchise that looks a bit frayed around the edges. We'll see if the host change works any magic.

Jocks in Jeopardy

Jeopardy has been shy about spin-offs over the years, beyond the kids version and the rock 'n' roll show. But now Sony is planning a jock variety.

Sports Jeopardy will debut this fall on Crackle, the online service. Dan Patrick will host a 52-week run. There will also be an mobile app that viewers can use to play along on a second screen.

The choice of Patrick has generated mainly positive buzz on the sports Interwebs. He knows sports inside out and is quick with a quip. Truth be told, he's even been mentioned as a dark horse replacement candidate for Alex on the big show.

Jeopardy has always done a fair amount of sports material. Alex even has an odd habit of praising female contestants when they do well on the jock clues. So the move into sports might work. Could we eventually see other specialized versions online?

In unrelated Jeopardy news, Julia Collins romps to her eighth straight. That's a new record for women contestants, I believe.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ratings: syndies climb back

Syndie game shows regained some lost ground in the week of April 14-20. All the shows moved up, as TV by the Numbers reports. The household ratings and the viewer averages...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - up three ticks
Jeopardy 6.4 - up a couple ticks to stay close to the soulmate
Family Feud 5.0 - also up a couple ticks
Millionaire 2.1 - up a tick and Cedric can use every tenth

For the umpteenth week in a row Pat and Vanna led all syndies in total viewers. All four shows made the top 25 list at TV by the Numbers. The averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.4 million, Jeopardy 10.1 million, Family Feud 7.4 million, Millionaire 2.9 million. The numbers will probably coast down as the summer nears, but nobody will go broke on these audiences.

TV Newser says that GSN got respectable but not blowout numbers for April. 315K/258K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 45th and 36th in the windows. Things should start perking up in May with the return of American Bible Challenge.

Monday, April 28, 2014

At least he's got a game show

As this blog has often noted, Craig Ferguson will host a syndie game show this fall, Celebrity Name Game. The gig will come in handy. Ferguson is saying bye-bye to his CBS late night talker in December.

This has to be the least surprising show biz news since a Kardashian did something gauche. After CBS handed David Letterman's job to a one-trick pony from Comedy Central, everybody's been waiting for Ferguson to leave. They won't have to wait beyond this year.

The blunt fact is that Ferguson was too old for CBS, even though the network supposedly cares less about chasing young'uns than the other broadcast nets. Stephen Colbert doesn't have much going for him besides his one trick, but he is a couple years younger than Ferguson. Trouble is, CBS won't allow Colbert to do that trick in late night. So what is he going to do?

Well, I don't know. But Ferguson will have his chance to make a splash in syndie game shows. Everybody expects game shows to skew old, so a few more years on the host aren't a complete disqualification.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Canuck to Canuck

There's an offbeat thread in media stories about Jeopardy. Some writers - especially those in the great white north - like to talk about Alex Trebek's Canadian background. The guy has said he wants to be the governor general of Canada, after all.

A typical example of the Canada angle is this story from, you guessed it, a Canadian website. The story concerns Sarah Shody, a Toronto lawyer who takes her turn on the answer-and-question fest tomorrow. She admits to the usual Jeopardy tendencies. "I'm just kind of a nerd. I read a lot." Sarah, the show is made for you.

The story tells how she chatted "Canuck to Canuck" with Alex about Toronto's over the top and beyond the horizon mayor, Rob Ford. I kind of like Ford, who's a truly honest politician. A world-class doofus and utterly candid about it. Sarah's bewildered that he's still in office. So am I but he entertains the masses.

On Jeopardy Sarah had to play in the major leagues against current five time winner Julia Collins. Her lips are sealed on the results until air time, but she's throwing herself a viewing party in a Toronto bar. The game show was challenging but had its advantages. "It's not as nerve-racking as court because no one is going to yell at you."

UPDATE: Sarah gives it a good try, but she really was playing in the majors. Julia Collins rolls to her sixth straight.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

You win this dream vacation!

Chicago Tribune writer Josh Noel lived a game show freak's dream. He took a game show vacation to tapings of Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and The Price is Right. He survived to tell the tale, and he actually sounds enthusiastic about the experience.

Joel expertly captures the uneasy anticipation of wannabe TPiR contestants waiting in line before the show. "The tension comes from the fact that contestants, unlike in most game shows, are picked from the audience. Who will it be?" It wasn't Joel, but he appreciates the angst of those who hope for an hour of fame. He also enjoys the "exhausting, cacophonous" ambiance in the studio. Jokes from Drew during breaks help keep the party going.

As you might expect, things are more "stately" and even "intimidating" at the Jeopardy taping. Joel confesses that he would get crushed as a contestant in the incredibly fast-paced answer-and-question battle. The Wheel of Fortune milieu is a little "cheesier," with Pat and Vanna striding onto the stage like "the president and first lady of The People's Republic of Game Shows."

Never quite thought of them that way, but I can see the point. This fan has been stuck in the people's republic for decades.

Friday, April 25, 2014

You can keep those cards

Yesterday was the anniversary date for Card Sharks, which debuted April 24, 1978 on NBC. I realize the show has a vocal and fervent following on the game show Interwebs. But I'm afraid the show's following doesn't include grumpy old moi.

Acey-deucey just doesn't do it for me. Figuring out that "higher" is the better bet when the deck shows a four is not a brain-sprainer. Yes, lots of game shows aren't super tough on the intellect. But even a supposedly mindless project like Deal or No Deal didn't make it quite so easy to figure out expected values or possible next offers.

I'll admit that Jim Perry was a competent and likable host, and the card-flipping ladies were generally pleasant to look at. Likes and dislikes are always a matter of taste, and there ain't no arguing them critters. But if I'm going to spend time with 1970s game shows, I'll take comedy (Match Game) or wordplay (Password Plus) or just about anything else. A super-simple card game is not my favorite pastime.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Nobody's perfect

With news about traditional game shows dribbling off, I'll go to my own offbeat topic. No, I won't post about cooking shows or talent contests or reality epics. Instead I'll chat about something that happened today in chess. Well, at least it's an actual game.

The news today: world champ Magnus Carlsen lost his second game in a row. This doesn't happen often. In fact, it last occurred in 2010. Carlsen just doesn't lose much.

In today's game Magnus sacrificed the exchange (Google it if you don't know) for not much of anything. His game steadily got worse as the material deficit took its toll. His opponent, Azerbaijan's Teimour Radjabov, dodged any problems in time pressure and herded a flock of pawns toward glory. Carlsen gave up after 51 moves.

The tournament, a memorial event for grandmaster Vugar Gashimov, is webcasted in English, Russian and Azerbaijani. Legendary grandmaster and chess author Gennady Sosonko does the English commentary. He's no comic but he's plenty expert on the technical details. You can't always have laughs with your chess.

UPDATE: Carlsen bounces back with two straight wins and now leads the tourney. Never bet against him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Come from behind feuders

Haven't posted much about Family Feud lately, beyond the weekly ratings.

So I liked how a Pittsburgh family made the local news with their comeback heroics on Feud. The Buda family is an all-male quintet with a knack for yanking victory from the jaws of Harvey-ish defeat. They bounced back in one fast money round from a bad first set of answers, and they climbed back into another game with derring-do in sudden death.

Cynical moi has to remind myself now and then that a simple game show may be somebody's most memorable time in the public eye. And if that somebody comes off looking good, that makes the experience all the more enjoyable. After all, who would ever have heard of Ken Jennings without that little answer-and-question game?

The Buda bunch won't develop Jennings-level fame, or anything close. But they're having their moment right now, and I honestly hope they enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ratings: syndies go splat

TV News Check headlines the story, "Syndies fall down, go boom." They aren't kidding. It was a rough, rough April 7-13 week for syndies of all kinds. The four game shows were not immune, as each fell from the week before. The dreary household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - down five ticks
Jeopardy 6.2 - also down five ticks to keep the soulmate company
Family Feud 4.8 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.0 - down a tick as Cedric barely holds in the twos

Since all syndicated shows were down, Pat and Vanna still led in viewer average. TV by the Numbers posts the averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 9.7 million (weekend repeat 4.4 million), Jeopardy 9.5 million, Family Feud 7.0 million. The numbers soften as the weather warms.

GSN perked up a little in the week of April 14-20, TV Newser reports. 309K/277K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 44th and 36th in the windows. A bit of improvement from the week before.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Quiz a pawnbroker

Reality Wanted - do they truly want reality, or do they already have enough? - wants you for a Pawn Stars quizzer.

I watched a few too many Pawn Stars episodes and finally got tired of the haggling in the Gold and Silver shop. Rick Harrison, the know-it-all owner, has called his TV effort "sort of like a game show because everyone wants to know if they win in the end." Well, now they seem to be making a real game show, or at least one episode. The Harrison clan wants contestants for a trivia contest.

The casting call puts it this way: "Go head to head against Rick, Corey and Chumlee in a simple trivia game show for a chance to win coveted items from the world famous Gold and Silver pawnshop." (World famous? Wowie-zowie.)

I'd take my chances against Chumlee in a quizzer. He doesn't look like he would trouble Ken Jennings too much in a test of knowledge. I'm not sure about Corey and I really don't want to mess with Rick. He appears to have picked up reams of useless trivia from his dealings with the pawned artifacts of western civilization.

For instance, I got the screenshot from a YouTube lecture of Rick's on king cobras. If he knows that much about snakes, I'm not competing with him in trivia.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Internal matters

With a slow Easter weekend for game show news upon us, I did a little housework on the blogroll.

One decision was easy: the BuzzerBlog twitter feed is gone. I had barely looked at it for the last few months. When I did take a peek, I saw lots of entries on improv comedy, bar bands, late night TV hosts...just about anything and everything except game shows. Good-bye.

Another cut was the blog with gameplay summaries for The Price is Right. This site was certainly game show related, but it simply duplicated information already available on Golden Road. Pretty soon I'll also delete the TV Without Pity game show forum, when TWOP finally closes its cyber-doors.

Meanwhile, three new entries appear: the wikis for Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and The Price is Right. These wikia-powered sites offer endless tidbits about the two top syndie game shows and the top broadcast game show. They're updated regularly and should provide some interesting reading.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Before he was legendary

With all the conniptions in late night TV recently, I ran across a What's My Line episode featuring the man who's synonymous with late night comedy. Johnny Carson was the guest panelist on WML's May 28, 1961 episode. Jack Paar was running the Tonight Show at the time, but Johnny would succeed him in 1962. The rest, as they pompously say, is show biz history.

The superb WML episode guide points out a weird and somewhat morbid connection between Johnny and the ep's final contestant. That last contestant was Andy Paretti, whose line was given as "Buys Turtles." Time ran out, and John Daly revealed that Mr. Paretti ran the Bon Vivant Soup Co., makers of (among other things) turtle soup.

In 1971 the company would crash into bankruptcy when it was the source of a botulism outbreak. Johnny Carson would then lampoon the company's problems in one of his Carnac the Magnificent skits. Carnac's answer: "The Last Supper." The question in the envelope: "What do you get when you have Bon Vivant vichyssoise for dinner?"

Johnny was pretty low-key though competent on this WML episode. He did get to ask Sophia Loren if she was busy that night. She said she was.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Foxworthy does Game of Thrones

As most of you probably know, GSN is readying the third-season debut of its top-rated American Bible Challenge on May 22. Host Jeff Foxworthy has been making the media rounds to plug the Bible quizzer. He stopped by a Denver TV show to do the usual stuff about how American Bible Challenge helps people and is really fun, etc.

Normally, I wouldn't bother with these promos. Don't get me wrong, I've got no problems with Jeff doing his job. You gotta promote your merchandise, even if it's Bible-based. But this particular appearance led to a funny bit. The hosts challenged Jeff with three quotes and asked whether they came from the Bible or Game of Thrones.

I never noticed, but some Thrones pronouncements do sound vaguely Biblical. Jeff was up to the quiz and correctly identified the source of each quote. He took a clich├ęd swipe at his mother-in-law along the way, but nobody's perfect. I just hope the little game didn't give the producers of American Bible Challenge any ideas. The show should probably leave Game of Thrones severely alone.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The anti-Arthur

Her run just ended on an excruciating triple stumper in Final Jeopardy. But Sandie Baker has earned some media notice for not being Arthur Chu.

The six-time Jeopardy champ didn't slam the buzzer, glare at opponents, interrupt Alex, or jump around the board. Her only possibly irritating feature was a permanent smile that sometimes seemed a little odd (at least to mean old me). But there are worse things than a smile.

The linked story predictably points out that she is one of the very few female contestants to make it past the old limit of five straight. (The story offers a feminist explanation that will convince nobody not already indoctrinated.) The funny thing is that Sandie never seemed dominating. Maybe it was her modest manner and soft voice. But she usually won big.

She will definitely make the next Tournament of Champions. Who knows, she may play against Mr. Chu. A bit of game show karma?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bam wham

This week TBS debuted their Wipeout knockoff, Bam's Bad Ass Game Show. Hosted by known jackass Bam Margera, this stunt epic puts four trash talking contestants through three rounds of fun and frolic. As you would expect from Margera, the show tries for a street cred atmosphere of graffiti and asphalt. We don't want none of that Disneyland technicolor cutesy-pie Wipeout decor.

Funny thing, the stunts on the debut ep weren't really all that painful. Wipeout doles out many more bumps and bruises. But no matter, one contestant was ejected each round until the winner was left un-bammed and ten grand richer.

Truth to tell, the episode was pretty ho-hum until a watermelon crashed into Brandon Novak's tenderest body area. He deserved it for hanging around with Margera. The show also did a few parody game show bits with Burton Richardson playing Smarmy Announcer. And they snuck in some Match Game-ish background music.

The show got miserable ratings by TBS standards and probably won't live long and prosper. That will be no great loss for the happiness of the nation, but BBAGS (love the acronym) wasn't quite as annoying as I expected. Just wish the cute girl had lasted longer in the competition.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ratings: Alex whoops it up, others not so much

Ken Jennings and his fellow champs did just fine in the ratings. So Mr. Trebek had much to cheer about for the week of March 31-April 6. Other syndie game shows had much to jeer about. TV News Check posts all the split-decision household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - down a nasty six ticks
Jeopardy 6.7 - up a tasty five ticks, almost ties the soulmate
Family Feud 4.9 - down three ticks, ouch
Millionaire 2.1 - down a tick, the poor get poorer

Despite nearly getting tied by Alex and his answer-questioners, Pat and Vanna once again led all syndies in total viewers. TV by the Numbers has the viewer averages for the top three, as Cedric again just missed the top 25 list. Wheel of Fortune 10.6 million (weekend repeat 4.4 million), Jeopardy 10.4 million (weekend repeat 3.4 million), Family Feud 7.3 million. Alex earns a few in-house bragging rights at Sony with his battle of the decades.

Bam's Bad Ass Game Show got some numbers that were just plain bad by TBS standards for its debut last night. 1.1 million total viewers and a 0.5 18-49 rating. Those were the network's worst numbers in prime time.

TV Newser says GSN had a so-so week for April 7-13. 304K/244K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 46th and 38th in the windows. Not a disaster by GSN's historical standards, but not all that great, either.

Monday, April 14, 2014

GSN's morning shuffle

Haven't gotten any new pdfs from GSN to confirm the changes. But from TV listings around the web it looks like a significant shakeup is coming April 21 for GSN's weekday morning window. Given the viewer numbers, this is not a huge surprise. That 20-hour window is a significant part of GSN's entire 138-hour programming week. Sooner or later the network was going to want better ratings (and demos) for those hours. The new weekday lineup:

8:00 AM Match Game
8:30 AM Match Game
9:00 AM Password Plus
9:30 AM Whammy
10:00 AM 25K Pyramid
10:30 AM Sale of the Century
11:00 AM Super Password
11:30 AM Woolery Lingo

I've gotten slammed from pillar to post for pointing out the obvious, but this only continues the very long-term trend on GSN away from (really) old material. One other nice note for a personal fave: Chain Reaction returns on weekdays at 2:30 PM. It should never have left.

The shakeup does blow a little dust off weekday mornings, though Whammy and Chuck's Lingo are hardly young'uns by normal TV standards. Will the new schedule perform any better? Only Mr. Nielsen and friends will provide that answer.

UPDATE: The GSN online schedule confirms the changes. If I get new pdfs, I'll post them in the sidebar. Okay, I just got 'em and posted 'em. Check the sidebar for the gory details.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lucky or good?

A faux tweet couldn't help having a little fun with hapless Wheel of Fortune contestant Julian Batts. Somehow, despite goofing up in every way imaginable and some ways unimaginable, he went to the bonus round. He didn't win there, but at least he went home with $11,700.

As you might expect, video of Julian's exploits has gone worldwide viral. There's an Australian news report on the web about his goofs, if you want to read it. At least it made for an interesting 6,000th ep for Pat and Vanna.

Pat was his usual polite self about Julian's exploits. He noted that nobody had ever taken a more "circuitous" route to the bonus round. He could have used other adjectives.

In the end luck triumphed over skill (or lack thereof) and things turned out well for Julian. Even his fellow college contestants got some money and merchandise, so we avoided the pity thousand. Most importantly, the show contributed to the mirth of the game show Interwebs.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cry me a river

This just ruined my whole day. The Daytime Emmys, known to honor game shows now and then, are looking for a new network.

The self-congrats fest has to do this almost every year, it seems. It's not hard to understand why. Ratings have steadily withered over the decades. The linked story notes that the august ceremonies drew 22 million in 1992, in the fading heyday of the broadcast networks. Last year the show got less than a million viewers, on a middling cable net.

Then there are those pesky demos. Daytime TV tends to skew even older than most other television nowadays. The story dumps on The View and The Price is Right in particular, but it's a general problem for the daytime window. Plus, the Emmy show has always concentrated on soaps, though daytime is now littered with other genres, like 88 talk shows (slight exaggeration).

Somebody will probably stage the telecast. And there will be awards for best game show and best game show host. And life will go on.

Friday, April 11, 2014

What I am

Sometimes the Internet seems to specialize in game show quizzes.

This one is a little more offbeat than most. It attempts to determine which 1990s kids game show best suits your personality. You answer seven questions and get a custom-fitted show.

At least my ultimate result was a show I liked: Legends of the Hidden Temple. The deciding factor might have been my answer of "spy" for what I was in a previous life. Or maybe it was the answer about how I like to play twister. (Remember all those twisting and turning trips through the temple maze?)

The quiz offers this summary for my answers:
Your clever ways and interest in history, mythology, and geography make you the ideal contestant for Legends of the Hidden Temple; it also helps that you possess a rare talent for crossing moats and assembling ancient artifacts, especially when they're only in three pieces. You are great at taking direction and picking up on clues — which will come in handy when you're running through that old temple — and although Olmec scares the crap out of you, you'll still dominate every challenge he tries to throw your way.
That's accurate enough, except Olmec doesn't scare me. He's just a fake rock. I could go back and try answering as close to the opposite as possible on every question, just to see what the quiz considers the antithesis of Legends. Probably something goopy and goofy, like Double Dare.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Another lot of episodes

Happened across the screenshot on Game Show Confessions, and Mr. Sajak talked about it tonight. Tomorrow will be Pat and Vanna's 6,000th. Time's arrow points in one direction, as The Price is Right's 8,000th episode reminded me.

Low production costs have always been a selling point for our little genre. So after a while - like three or four decades - the episodes of a successful game show really pile up. Wheel does 195 eps a year without breaking a sweat. And they definitely don't break the bank. The show turns a tidy profit, thank you.

Our Wheel pair has an understated charm that wears well over the long haul. And Wheel's haul has been truly long by the standards of commercial TV. Most shows just pray for a 13-ep pickup and eventually enough episodes for syndication.

After all this time Wheel of Fortune rides comfortably ahead of the entire syndie field. Unlike Jeopardy, where chatter about Alex's successor has become routine, people rarely speculate about eventual replacements for Pat and Vanna. It just seems impossible, in an odd way.

UPDATE: Commenter Zach Horan says it's 195 eps a year instead of 185. I've made the change. He also points out that the 6,000 figure only covers the nighttime version with Pat and Vanna. Yep, but that's the way they're counting. The 8,000 figure CBS used for The Price is Right didn't include the original Bill Cullen version, either.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blowing up the game show world

As a faux tweet noted, Fox has given a series order for Israeli import Boom. The explosive quizzer got absurd numbers in Israel, like a 41.2 share and 26.7 rating. Of course, Fox doesn't expect such insanity in the gazillion-channel U.S. market. But a track record of ratings success never hurt any format.

The linked story outlines the gameplay pretty well. A team of contestants defuses "bombs" (those scare quotes are hopeful) by cutting wires that correspond to the answers for multiple-choice questions. Cut the wrong wire and the set starts shaking from the loud results.

There are obvious political/terrorist overtones here. The country of origin only makes them more apparent. A Fox veep even made the overtones fairly explicit, likening the show to "brain love" between Jack Bauer and Jeff Foxworthy. (My brain likes Jeff Foxworthy but has not fallen in love with him.)

Let's hope Kiefer Sutherland doesn't show up on the set in hot pursuit of terrorist masterminds. There's no word yet on a host or a debut date. Stay tuned for further explosions.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ratings: Pat and Vanna get happy

The granddaddy of them all among syndie game shows got some good ratings news this week. But besides the glad tidings for Pat and Vanna, there wasn't much movement among our four shows. TV News Check has all the household ratings for the week of March 24-30...

Wheel of Fortune 7.4 - up four ticks to stretch its lead over the field
Jeopardy 6.2 - up a tick
Family Feud 5.2 - down a tick
Millionaire 2.2 - flat for permanent cellar-dweller Cedric

I'm running out of ways to say this, but Wheel of Fortune led all syndies in viewership. TV by the Numbers lists the viewer averages for the top three: Wheel of Fortune 11.7 million (weekend repeat 4.9 million), Jeopardy 9.8 million (weekend repeat 3.8 million), Family Feud 7.6 million. Cedric apparently just missed the top 25 list.

GSN did okay for the week of March 31-April 6, according to TV Newser. 340K/261K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 36th in the windows. Not bad but I've seen better.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The caddy

No, I'm not talking about the ancient Jerry Lewis movie. (Boy, am I dating myself.) Instead, I'm referring to a contestant on a 1959 episode of What's My Line. He was a 13-year-old caddy at the time and his name was Roy Fairman. I happened to run across his ep on one of my binges in the WML YouTube channel.

The panel quickly nailed his job. He was also Dwight Eisenhower's caddy on occasion, as John Daly discussed. One charming note was Arlene Francis addressing him as "Master Fairman." Old-time courtesy, typical of WML.

A caddy myself in my misspent youth, I could identify with the guy. On the show Roy seemed very self-possessed and said that he wanted to be a doctor. Instead, his later life went in a much different direction, as a trip through Google reveals.

This 1972 newspaper story tells how Roy graduated from Gettyburg College in the late 1960s as a ROTC officer, served in Korea, and was currently studying at the Wharton School. This 1988 story, complete with a photo of the now bespectacled Roy, tells of his caddying days, especially for Eisenhower.

And to bring the biography up to date, this web site and this 2013 story recount how Roy has worked for decades as...an accountant. Not exactly my job as an actuary, but close enough for government work.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Let's not go back to that

Happened to drop by Game Show Garbage to see if anything new had turned up. They had one new video induction, which saves the writers the trouble of typing much copy. At least the inducted show deserves the Hall of Shame honor: Let's Go Back.

The Nostalgia Channel, later to go through many name changes until finally emerging as Youtoo TV, foisted this thing on an innocent nation in the early 1990s. Hosted and produced by the controversial (to put it mildly) Scott Sternberg, the show stole Jeopardy's format and made it a lot duller and a lot cheaper.

I happened to see a few eps when the channel was known as American Life TV Network. Scott's mullet was the only slightly entertaining feature of the entire effort. Game Show Garbage says he still wears the massively silly hair. The site also rags on the show's ripoff of other formats, general cheapness and utter boredom. Yes, yes and yes.

One quibble: the induction says that GSN's Inquizition was also boring. Heresy! May the Inquizitor torture you with a zillion brutal questions.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

GSN wants you

A couple shows mentioned in GSN's recent upfront are now casting, apparently for pilots.

The shows rip off current reality projects. App Wars is a knockoff of Shark Tank, where creators of mobile apps try to convince "qualified judges" that their apps are poised to conquer the world. Heavy Betters is a weight-loss competition just slightly similar to (sorry) The Biggest Loser.

Yes, it's easy to dismiss these reality projects as likely failures by the network to break out of traditional game shows. GSN hasn't always bombed with non-trad stuff - High Stakes Poker was a long-running critical and commercial success - but the network's overall track record in the area is not encouraging. And the poker show was the closest you could get to a traditional game show without actually being one.

Right now there's no guarantee that these two shows will even see the light of GSN day. But the casting calls are out there, if anybody's interested.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dave's turkey

As critics are wailing from east coast to west coast and occasionally in-between, David Letterman will retire next year. The pundits must really like stupid human tricks. Letterman was getting beat up in the ratings, which probably just makes the critics love him more.

A faux tweet noted that before he got to be a critic's fave in late night, Letterman was known to appear in our little genre. In 1977 he also hosted an abortive game show pilot called The Riddlers. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can watch the whole misguided thing.

GSN ran the pilot as part of a Thanksgiving turkey special, as in game show turkeys. Letterman did okay on the show, such as it was, but nobody much cared for the format. So the turkey was spurned and gobbled off into dusty show biz history.

You can probably tell from the snark that I'm not heartbroken by Letterman's sooner or later retirement. The little I've seen of his show over the years hasn't made me want to watch more. I could reverse-count ten reasons why, but I'll just say farewell...whenever he actually leaves.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A lot of episodes

After a while the episodes really pile up. The Price is Right will celebrate its 8000th ep on Monday, April 7.

The CBS press release tells us that 70,000 contestants have come on down and over $250 million of cash and prizes have gone on out. Games from past milestone episodes will feature on the show, along with memorable moments from TPiR's very extensive past.

All these numbers don't even take into account the show's original black and white version hosted by consensus game show Hall of Famer Bill Cullen. That version racked up nine years on NBC and ABC in prime time and daytime. But you wouldn't expect CBS to count those eps, would you?

My own TPiR indifference means that I really don't watch the show much. But even indifferent moi has to salute the show's terrific longevity. It's a clunking cliche, but they really must be doing something right.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Clubhouse feud?

With baseball season upon us, I couldn't resist this vaguely game show related item about the St. Louis Cardinals. Besides, any team that hates Brandon Phillips (google him if you don't know) is okay with me. More accurately, the item is about the Cardinals' wives, who are sponsoring a game show night to benefit a charity.

These things happen all the time around baseball. I remember Texas Rangers radio announcer Eric Nadel hosting a charity version of Family Feud. Eric's great on balls and strikes, but he's no threat to Steve Harvey in the Feud department.

To get back to the Cardinals, their event will feature games with excruciatingly cute names, like Clubhouse Feud, Let’s Make a Steal, and The Wed to Red Game. (The Cardinals' team color is red. So their wives are, er, wed to red. Ouch.)

The charity involved is apparently some healthcare outfit, Homers for Health. The Cardinals are favored to win their division, in case you're interested. They always win, it seems. They've got a smart organization and a rabid fanbase.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ratings: Alex suffers, GSN smiles

Basketball preemptions took a toll on syndies for the week of March 17-23. Mr. Trebek may have gotten fouled hard by March Madness. Otherwise, there was little movement in syndie game shows. TV by the Numbers has all the household ratings and viewer averages...

Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - up a tick, though Thursday and Friday were apparently not included
Jeopardy 6.1 - down five ticks, possibly thanks to hoops
Family Feud 5.3 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.2 - flat

For the umpteenth week in row, Pat and Vanna led all syndies in viewers, though again the preemption days of Thursday and Friday seem to be excluded. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 11.2 million (weekend repeat 4.0 million), Jeopardy 9.6 million, Family Feud 7.7 million, Millionaire 3.0 million. Despite the preemptions, Alex still got more viewers than all but a handful of broadcast and cable shows. Yes, I know it's an old-skewing audience. I'm an old-skewing person.

TV Newser reports that GSN enjoyed a very good first quarter in total day ratings, with certainly acceptable prime time numbers. 357K/302K viewer averages prime time/total day for the three months. GSN ranked 43rd and 36th in the windows. The second quarter should be better for prime time with the return of American Bible Challenge.