Sunday, August 31, 2014

Big bank of bucks

A Buy a Vowel poster suggests a Whammy transfusion for Wheel of Fortune.

In particular, the poster wants a "Big Bank" (or "Vault") wedge where all the bankrupt cash and goodies accumulate. If a contestant lands on the wedge and calls a correct letter, all the cash and goodies are showered upon the lucky spinner. Given how much the bankrupt wedge devours on the show, this could be a ginormous payout, much as it was on Whammy.

As always with any suggestion for gameplay changes on Wheel, naysayers swing into action on the thread. They mention three problems: the wedge would be too expensive, it might crush the competition in the game, and it might hurt the show's pacing.

I really don't understand the third objection. It's just another wedge and guess, after all. Why would the show's pace get hurt that much? The other two objections are more serious, though Wheel makes a mint (as some posters point out) and could afford the extra payout. As for the competition on the show, I've already said I don't much care about the horse race. I just want everybody to win something.

A Big Bank wedge might actually be an interesting addition to Wheel's gameplay. I don't expect to see it any time soon, though.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stuff I didn't want to read

Browsing game show boards can turn up some material I wish had stayed unturned. This thread on discusses a very unsavory story about one of Jeopardy's five-time winners. You can read it for yourselves.

The contestant involved is presumed innocent, of course, as the saner posters note. (The thread's title is almost as unsavory as the alleged crime.) The whole story is just a reminder that a string of wins on Jeopardy is no guarantee of, well, just about anything in the non-game-show world.

There is one touch of gallows humor in the thread. "It will make for an awkward interview segment when Alex asks him what he's been up to since he was last on the show." The interviews are often awkward enough already.

The worst story I can recall about any game show contestant was the serial murder spree of Dating Game contestant Rodney Alcala. Hate to say it, but Alcala looked all too normal on the ancient show. Except what is a "normal look," anyway? Just about anybody can seem harmless for a few minutes on a game show.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Coming soon

Google Celebrity Name Game, and the first entry (of course) is the show's Wikipedia article. You've arrived when Wikipedia takes notice. That means you're "notable," to use Wiki-speak.

The article does a decent job of describing the show's development, from the original idea to base a TV game show on the Identity Crisis board game. So far there's no detailed description of the gameplay. But the show hasn't seen the light of flat screen yet, so we'll wait for those paragraphs.

Meanwhile Zap2It offers some glimpses of the game. It looks and sounds like a high-volume Pyramid, as desperate civvies try to get celebs to guess the names of other celebs. Craig Ferguson appears to be enjoying himself, which doesn't hurt. The set is homey and bright, almost as if they rented out the Hollywood Game Night digs.

The show is something of a late arrival on the fall syndie schedule, with a September 22 debut date. At least I'll have a new entry for the weekly ratings reports.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

You bet

Haven't done this for a while because I don't post as much on game show boards as I used to. But I'll recycle a comment I left at Game Show Paradise.

The thread asked for the best classic never shown on GSN. Most posters picked 1970s and 1980s shows like Scrabble. My reply...

Let's go way back. You Bet Your Life. You'd think that Groucho could sneak onto those Christmas B&W weeks one of these years.

By the way, I always thought You Bet Your Life would be a natural for Turner Classic Movies, especially mixed in with Marx Brothers pictures. But the fans would probably scream bloody murder. "What are you doing with some game show instead of our beloved classics???"

Hm, sounds like game show fans on the Internet...

Funny thing is that GSN has shown Two for the Money, the G-T knockoff of You Bet Your Life. But they've never shown Groucho's original.

Wikipedia (usual caveats) says most YBYL episodes are now public domain. I've heard that from other sources, too. But I'm not a copyright lawyer and I don't play one on game show boards.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Game show non-garbage

Lots of people rag Game Show Garbage for their negativity. Well, what do you expect from a site with that name? But even at GSG they want to show some love now and then. So they've put up a five best shows video.

One of the shows is British, so it's outside this blog's usual purview. One is a comedy show, which is okay for laughs but has no real game. One is a cooking show.

Which leaves...drumroll, please...Jeopardy and The Chase. Which also leaves little room for disagreement. What am I supposed to say? These two shows are bad?

The whole idea of GSG going nice is a little unnerving, even if their choices for niceness are impeccable. I like it when they rip on something that's just mediocre but which they make into a crime against humanity. But when it comes to good shows, they really don't have much else to say except they like it. All right, I like The Chase and Jeopardy, too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ratings: Wheel and Feud gain a bit

It's tough to make ratings hay in August, despite (or because of) all the sunshine. But Pat and Vanna finally worked themselves back into a clear lead among syndie game shows. Steve Harvey also got a little good news. Otherwise, not much happened in the August 11-17 week. TV by the Numbers has all the household ratings and viewer averages...

Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - up a couple of ticks and back to the top
Jeopardy 5.5 - flat
Family Feud 4.6 - up a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.9 - flat for the departing Cedric

The viewer averages also gave an edge to that little version of hangman. Wheel of Fortune 8.9M (weekend repeat 4.0M), Jeopardy 8.5M, Family Feud 6.8M, Millionaire 2.6M. The numbers look okay compared to just about anything else this time of year.

GSN continues to roll in prime time with three originals performing well. 389K/265K viewer averages prime time/total day for the week of August 18-24. The network ranked 42nd and 40th in the windows.

Monday, August 25, 2014

They're not looking for me

They probably don't want a 62-year-old actuary. So I don't have to worry about making the grade as The Price is Right's next male model.

But if you've got what it takes - good looks and a nice smile - TPiR wants you in their nationwide search for an XY-chromosome model. The show will run casting calls around the country, and you can also submit applications online.

Three finalists will turn up on The Talk and the fans will get to vote. TPiR will announce the big winner in December. They don't guarantee a permanent gig, but the winner will get a week of waving at the merchandise and making nice with the contestants.

I didn't realize this because I don't watch the show much. But Rob Wilson, the first male model to become a regular on TPiR, left the show in April. Hail and farewell, Rob.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Announcer videos

With the death of announcing legend Don Pardo at 96, a few video walls of his work have cropped up on the web. Starpulse posted one of the best, featuring mostly clips from Saturday Night Live.

Yeah, us game show freaks might as well get used to the fact that Don will be remembered largely for SNL. At least Starpulse also includes his superb turn from Weird Al's I Lost on Jeopardy. Don hadn't done regular game show work in years, but plenty of his voice from our little genre still bounces around YouTube.

SNL did allow Don to get onscreen once in a while. The linked collection shows him crediting his fame and fortune to Jon Lovitz (sure, I believe it) and kicking Johnny Knoxville in the crotch (a service to humanity). And they can't avoid including a clip of Steve Martin on one of the Jeopardy spoofs with the eternal tagline: "Thank you, Don Pardo."

Well, thank you, indeed.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Old time revival

Don't worry, this is not a religion blog. Though I do discuss American Bible Challenge now and then.

The revivals I'm talking about are of the game show variety. Like most oldies boards around the web, the Sitcoms Online game show forum has a "game shows that should be revived" thread. Much of the time this just involves the usual bitching about any show that isn't thirty years old. On the thread, for instance, Whammy gets trashed compared to the supposedly pristine Press Your Luck, though the shows are virtually identical.

But once in a while somebody comes up with an interesting idea. A while back on the thread, a poster suggested a revival of To Tell the Truth, and darned if one isn't now in the works. Somebody else wanted another trip for Cash Cab, which I'd love to see myself. But it's probably too early. Wait until 2020 or so.

Some might object that too many revivals stultify the industry. Producers should try new formats, not just the same old same old. I can understand the objection, but revivals work pretty well sometimes. Ask Alex.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Shuffle about

As the fall season approaches, we hear about the usual schedule shuffles and shifts. On the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's, posters are chewing over the syndie game show timeslots we'll see next month. Millionaire seems to be getting moved a lot, but other shows are also hopping around.

Soap Opera Network has posted the daytime schedules for the ABC owned and operated stations. Generally, Terry Crews' quizzer will get somewhat later timeslots. But as always, check your local listings for what happens to all the game shows.

An interesting question is where Celebrity Name Game will land. I've seen announcements on the web from several stations, with slots ranging from daytime to the access hour to prime time to late night. The show may turn up all over the clock around the country. I'm not even sure which station will carry the show in my home DFW market, much less when it will air.

It's about time for the new seasons and shows. I'm tired of reruns. I already know who won the Jeopardy Battle of the Decades.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Wedding bells

As Let's Ask America gets its first truly nationwide exposure on GSN, there's marriage news to report.

David Luea, the first contestant to cop the fifty grand top prize on the show, just got hitched to his longtime girlfriend Lisa Frausto. He proposed to Lisa after he won the money and she apparently accepted. May they live happily ever after. Or at least reasonably contented ever after.

Meanwhile, Let's Ask America is counting down to its third season with new host Bill Bellamy, starting September 8. The show is cleared in only part of the country, but it's beginning to move out from its Scripps station ghetto. I like the goofy surveys, and the show has picked up generally favorable notices from fans and critics.

Still don't know why they got rid of Kevin Pereira, though. I thought he was fine on the show. Oh well, congratulations to David and Lisa.

A slightly related note: I tried to post a comment (completely innocuous!) on Let's Ask America at BuzzerBlog and found out that I've been blocked from the site. Guess I'm dangerous or something (wink).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One of these things is not like the other

Anything can be compared to anything, but sometimes comparisons seem, let's say, a little odd to me. Like the one in the screenshot from Game Show Confessions.

For those who may have missed its oh so brief run, Million Dollar Mind Game was a quizzer imported from Russia without much love. The show lasted for six eps on ABC in the middle of Sunday afternoon. Network execs knew nobody would watch, so they buried the show in a ridiculous timeslot.

The problem with the quizzer was simple: it was just too flipping hard. Nobody could figure out the questions, least of all the (tiny) befuddled audience. The show also moved at an elderly snail's pace, and didn't offer a sliver of humor. What Idiotest has in common with it is beyond me. The GSN original is enjoyable, fast-paced and funny. You might call it the anti-MDMG.

I'll admit that I don't know about the theme songs. Game show songs don't make much of impression on me, except for Jeopardy's maybe. By the way, Idiotest continues to pull great 18-49 numbers for the old-skewing GSN. It's not doing bad in total viewers, either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ratings: syndies slip and slide

T.S. Eliot was wrong. August is the cruelest month, at least for TV ratings. Syndie game shows felt the wrath of the summer sun in the week of August 4-10. They all slipped some, and Alex ended up in a dead heat with Pat and Vanna. But the big wheel spun ahead in viewer average. We'll start with the household ratings from TV News Check...

Wheel of Fortune 5.5 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - down three ticks into the tie
Family Feud 4.4 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.9 - down a tick as Cedric slips out of the twos on his way to the exit

Only the top three made the chart at TV by the Numbers. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 8.7M (weekend repeat 4.1M), Jeopardy 8.5M (weekend repeat 3.3M), Family Feud 6.4M. Not the best numbers but far from awful for summer.

With three originals doing solid business in first-runs, GSN enjoyed its best week in quite a while for August 11-17. 389K/272K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 40th in the windows.

UPDATE: The flush GSN renews a couple originals: The Chase and It Takes a Church. Twenty new eps for the first, eight for the second.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hooray for what awards?

If you read this blog, you know about my cynical attitude toward show biz awards shows. But it's tough even for me to be cynical about an awards show I didn't know existed.

Anyway, I found out about the Creative Arts Emmys from Google news today. Seems that Jane Lynch won for "Host for a Reality Program Or Reality Competition." Except she really hosted a game show, Hollywood Game Night. But what the hey, she got a nice statue.

There were a bunch of other awards in a ceremony that apparently few attended and fewer watched. As far as I can tell, there was no TV broadcast and no interest from just about anyone. But why should I begrudge entertainers yet another night of self-congratulation?

Maybe I'll start my own awards show. It should attract as much attention as this Creative Whatever did. One correction: "An edited version of the ceremony will be broadcast Sunday, Aug 24 at 8/7c on FXM." So there will be a TV broadcast, after all.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where they are now

A Huffpo writer tracked down three of the earliest Millionaire winners for some of the usual retrospective musings.

The three are John Carpenter, the first big winner ever, Dan Blonsky, the second guy, and Nancy Christy, a top prize winner on the syndie. The article makes a big deal of how a million dollars isn't such a big deal any more. They even post a chart of the ravages of inflation since the three won their money.

All the winners agree that security was tight on the set (a result of that little unpleasantness back in the 1950s) and that the money hasn't really been "life-changing." Not that the cash has been a burden. They all say the loot has made their lives more comfortable, but none of them have quit their day jobs. Which means that Carpenter labors at the IRS, Blonsky lawyers in Miami, and Christy teaches school.

They did learn one lesson: taking a chance can pay off. As Nancy Christy puts it: "Get out and take risks. Take a shot! What's the worst that can happen? Look what might happen."

Regis couldn't have said it better.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mr. T

He's always been the second banana in game show history's most famous duo. Bill Todman was the guy who minded the books and negotiated the contracts for his famed co-producer.

On a slow news day I decided to look up more info about the less storied half of Goodson and Todman. First stop was Wikipedia, which raved about Todman's work to expand the operation beyond TV. I can well believe that Todman knew how to run a business. G-T never seemed to lack for funds.

I also found out that Todman came by his business smarts honestly, as the son of "legendary" accountant Frederick Todman. (Can accountants really be legendary? That's almost like a legendary actuary. Which seems, let's say, a little bit of a stretch to this humdrum actuary.)

Bill Todman died too soon at the age of 62 in 1979. Mark Goodson bought out his heirs, before the entire operation was sold after Goodson's death in 1992. Todman went into the TV Academy Hall of Fame in 2011.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Craig hosts everything

As if a game show this fall wasn't enough, Craig Ferguson will try another talker in fall 2015.

The Tribune Co., which can't get enough of Craig, will launch the chat fest on their stations and try to sell it to others. The project will target the access hour, which is unusual for a talk show, to say the least. But there are a lot more people watching earlier in the evening. So the potential for a nice payoff is undeniable.

Ferguson is already taping Celebrity Name Game, the game show due next month. The show has cleared just about everywhere in the country, so it definitely has a chance to succeed. With Millionaire fading, there's probably room for another syndie gamer. But there are no guarantees, of course, as anybody who's tried to launch a new syndie can tell you.

Ferguson's offbeat charm might work outside the late night ghetto. Or he might prove a little too coy for daytime and access. The test starts in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We're doomed

The cries and whimpers resound from the game show Interwebs. GSN's Skin Wars is not disintegrating in the ratings. The second ep got 588K total viewers and - almost miraculously for the dead-skewing GSN - 240K 18-49 viewers.

Meanwhile, newer material is encroaching on the sacred precincts of weekday mornings. GSN will put a couple eps of syndie Deal or No Deal at 11:00 AM. The window for pre-1990 stuff keeps shrinking.

All this led one poster on a game show board to announce that he was close to cancelling his subscription to GSN. I never knew you could get a subscription to the network. It's just one of 200-something channels that come with my cable package. Other Interweb voices have predicted imminent doom for the network. (Translation: GSN won't put on any more really old game shows.)

Pardon me is I skip the apocalypse. GSN still runs almost all traditional game shows, and the network has never been in more households or attracted more viewers. By the way, Idiotest did better in its Wednesday repeats than in its Tuesday premiere. A 489K viewer average. Good for Ben and friends.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm an idiot sometimes

Just watched an episode of Idiotest, GSN's newest original. I found out that sometimes idiocy catches me...and sometimes it doesn't.

The visual quizzer - there's no other way to describe it - offers pictorial puzzles like the one in the screenshot. If you guessed that the lady's nose smells best, you're right. If you guessed one of the other items, you're an...well, you get the idiotic idea. The show plays several rounds of these goofball challenges with a couple teams of two. If the winners of the first three rounds solve a bonus puzzle, they cop ten grand. Which actually happened in the ep I watched.

I've seen a lot of criticism of the show, mainly centering on how the puzzles make people feel like...well, you know what. And yeah, when I goofed the puzzles as I played along at home, I did feel pretty idiotic. But once in a while I would get a puzzle right, and then I didn't feel so bad.

The other criticism I saw is that the show emphasizes humor too much. Sure, it's a goofy little game and host Ben Gleib cracks wise a lot, as he should in this format. But I liked the silliness of the challenges and the good-humored attitude of the contestants.

The show passed the time agreeably, and I wish it well. The debut turned in respectable if not fantastic ratings, with a 452K viewer average for the two episodes. Plus it got very good 18-49 numbers by GSN's geriatric standards. As many have noted, comedy skews young.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ratings: Alex rides again

First-runs beat reruns on TV. Usually, that is. Alex Trebek benefited from that ancient adage during the week of July 28-August 3. His first-run Jeopardy climbed to the top of the syndie game show heap, thanks to its teen tourney. TV by the Numbers has the household ratings and viewer averages...

Jeopardy 5.8 - up a couple ticks to skip past the big wheel
Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down a couple ticks with repeats
Family Feud 4.5 - flat
Millionaire 2.0 - flat as the promos start for Terry

Alex also edged ahead in viewer average but it was oh so close. Jeopardy 9.0M, Wheel of Fortune 9.0M (weekend repeat 4.5M), Family Feud 6.5M, Millionaire 2.7M. Now we just wait for September and the new seasons.

A successful Skin Wars debut helped GSN perk up in the August 4-10 week. 365K/264K viewer averages prime time/total day. GSN ranked 40th and 38th in the windows. All in all, the best showing in a while for our little game show network.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Update this documentary

A thread on the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's chats about possible GSN documentaries on game show history.

My favorite project would be an update of the E! True Hollywood Story about Family Feud. That historical review was really one of the better efforts from the network. But their documentary stopped just when Richard Karn was about to take over.

Louie Anderson famously predicted on the E! show that Feud wouldn't last another year and a half. Louie goofed that call, and a lot more feuding history has accumulated for GSN to explore. The show could also review the more distant past that E! covered, only with a little more perspective as time has passed.

Matt's old board offers some other interesting ideas, like a review of big winners on Jeopardy or a biography of Jack Barry. There's a lot of history in our little genre, and a few good documentaries are waiting to be made.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Death of a network

A Hall of Shame induction at Game Show Garbage caught my eye. The site dumped on Hurl, a barely remembered game show from the now barely remembered G4 network.

I never watched Hurl, and I don't care about GSG's opinion of it. Instead, I want to concentrate on what Game Show Garbage says about the G4 network in general:
"It all went downhill so fast. Sometime in the mid 2000s, they decided that they didn't want to be the destination for gamers and instead decided to focus more on sophomoric comedy and reruns of much better shows."
This strikes me as exactly bass ackwards. In fact, the network's heyday (such as it was - G4 never got great ratings) occurred in the mid-2000s with Attack of the Show and other goofy but fun offerings. After all, the tiny niche of TV-watching gamer freaks was way too narrow to support a 24/7 cable outlet.

Which brings me to GSN, our little game show network. I've seen wailing and lamentation on some game show boards about the good ratings for Skin Wars. (I don't like the show myself, by the way.) This success again raises the grim specter that GSN will "go reality." That dreaded possibility crops up whenever the network gets good numbers with something non-traditional.

Problem is, the hardcore game show audience, like the hardcore gamer audience, is inherently limited. Right now the best traditional original on GSN is undoubtedly The Chase. But the show is only averaging a little over 500K viewers for its first-runs. That's good for GSN but a drop in the bucket compared to the top shows on more general-interest cable networks. History's game show Pawnography gets four times as many viewers, for instance.

So if GSN tries to branch out a bit from super-traditional "shiny floor" game shows, I'll cut them a little slack. I don't want the network to end up like the defunct G4.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Supermarket swept away

A.V. Club, the Onion's semi-serious outlet, has a game show thing.

The site will ramble on at length about the goofiest game show topics. Only real game show nerds like me will plow through the full stories, but hey, that's why we're nerds. For instance, the site recently posted the longest, most insanely detailed contestant interview ever about Supermarket Sweep. The contestant is Mike Futia, and he appeared on the show in the early 2000s with his then girlfriend and now wife Amanda.

Mike remembers a zillion and one bits of information about the show, like how he didn't get to keep his sweater because he won some money. Then there's the fake meat, the hose fetish, the catered meal, the size of the market, the planned intro gestures, the taping in blocks, the air conditioning, the lady who wrote down the letters...

The post is a test of your game show nerdity. If you get through the entire article, you are beyond hope of recovery from nerdness.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Monopolizing your attention

The news that a bunch of state lotteries will try a Vegas-based syndie version of Monopoly next year has set off predictable snickers. A.V. Club snarks through expected jokes about human greed, little green houses, and money changing people for the much worse.

I won't bother with gags about landing on the Vegas equivalent of Park Place with the big red Bellagio hotel. Monopoly is one of those board games like Scrabble which seem tough to contain in a TV game show. But Chuck Woolery and friends manged the feat with the word game. So we'll see what the lotteries can do with Boardwalk and Marvin Gardens.

Billy Gardell of Mike and Molly will host, and at least he sounds enthusiastic about the assignment. I never watched his sitcom, but his pictures make him look like the classic everyman game show contestant. He should fit right in.

There's no firm date for the debut, just a promise of "early 2015." It's supposed to be an hour-long show, which should be an interesting sell in the syndie game show market. Let's roll the dice and play on.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Let's Ask America goes nationwide…with Kevin

The funniest things turn up in my e-mail. GSN just sent an advance schedule for the week of August 18-24. And darned if Let's Ask America won't get its first nationwide TV exposure on our little game show network. Not in January with new host Bill Bellamy, as previously announced. But in a couple weeks with Kevin Pereira.

Each weekday starting August 18 GSN will run two of Kevin's second season eps at noon. Yeah, it's official that Pereira is getting the heave-ho from the show's third season starting September 8. But he'll live on at GSN, apparently.

Maybe Scripps just wants to get Let's Ask America some nationwide publicity before the third season debuts. GSN isn't the most watched network (by a mile) but it's very widely distributed. It still seems a little strange to run episodes with a former host, though. Especially when the new host hasn't even premiered yet. But what the hey, Fremantle leases the O'Hurley and Karn versions of Family Feud to GSN.

Hope the show does okay on GSN. It's not the greatest format but the surveys are silly and fun.

UPDATE: TV News Check says Let's Ask America only has about 33% syndication clearance in the U.S. for its third season. So maybe Scripps decided to get the show on GSN this month to gin up more interest from local stations in carrying the syndie.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Paint your booty

I tried, I really did. But I lasted twenty minutes on GSN's new Skin Wars.

Internet naysayers were out in force for this show, and I had some published doubts as well. But I was still surprised by how honestly bored I was with the whole effort. Once you get the idea - a bunch of contestants paint a bunch of naked girls and then get judged by some judges - there's literally nothing else to the format. What's a viewer supposed to do? Watch them paint some more naked girls?

Of course, there's no actual nudity on Skin Wars. GSN delicately blurs out anything too revealing. Anyway, to run through a few necessary details, Rebecca Romijn "hosts," which means she parades around in well-designed clothes and very occasionally recites a scripted line. I didn't much care either way about any of the ten contestants. One of the judges seemed like a fairly serious artist, but the other two were RuPaul and someone I can't remember.

The challenge I sat through was to paint the naked girls (from the waist up) with a Hollywood theme. The results looked like Hollywood clichés on skin. Somebody won the challenge, I suppose. Meanwhile, there was lots of reality-show chatter among the contestants and judges. Yakety yak.

UPDATE: Shows what I know. The debut attracts GSN's biggest audience in a while, with 697K viewers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ratings: syndies creep upward

Syndie game shows took little baby steps in the right direction for the week of July 15-21. All except one of them, that is. TV by the Numbers has the mildly happy household ratings and viewer averages...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - up a tick
Jeopardy 5.6 - flat, as Alex falls a little further behind the soulmate
Family Feud 4.5 - up a tick
Millionaire 2.0 - up a tick as the departing Cedric gets back (barely) into the twos

The viewer averages looked decent for the sunny days of July. Wheel of Fortune 9.2M (weekend repeat 4.1M), Jeopardy 8.5M, Family Feud 6.5M, Millionaire 2.7M. Even Cedric made the top 25 list.

TV Newser says GSN had a so-so July 28-August 3 week, especially in prime time. 321K/246K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 44th and 39th in the windows. We'll see if Skin Wars and Idiotest do anything to perk up the numbers in August.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Coming attractions

Jeopardy wrapped its season with a bang last Friday. Sudden death and all that. So now everything is in reruns as we await an interesting fall. Let’s review September's season debut dates and any rumored (or confirmed) changes.

The old stuff…

Millionaire – 9/8. You've probably heard about the new guy, Terry Crews. He comes with a new lifeline, where you bring along a (we hope) smart friend.

Family Feud – 9/15. No new guy here. Rubber-faced Steve returns to the show he revived.

Jeopardy – 9/15. Rumor has it that this may be Alex's last rodeo. But we've all heard those rumors before, haven't we?

Wheel of Fortune – 9/15. Sony sprinkles more prize money over the wheel. Hard to believe, but Pat and Vanna are back.

Let’s Make a Deal – 9/22. Wayne keeps dealing between his improv appearances.

The Price is Right – 9/22. Drew returns with new doors and a few tweaks to a few games.

The new stuff…

Let’s Ask America - 9/8. Not really new, but freshly appointed host Bill Bellamy will take the goofy surveys nationwide and to GSN.

Celebrity Name Game – 9/22. Craig Ferguson moves from the late night wars to the syndie wars. Which will be deadlier?

The Game Plane - sometime in September. Mark Walberg flies the friendly skies in an airborne Cash Cab.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mind game Olympics

With not much to talk about in traditional game shows today, I'll write about the ongoing Chess Olympiad. This is basically the Olympics for chess players, with a zillion players on a billion teams (slight exaggeration). The tournament is running in Tromsø, Norway.

The country is experiencing a mild chess mania thanks to world champ Magnus Carlsen. But there were a lot of conniptions before the Olympiad started on August 1. They finally found enough money to stage the event, so the games began.

English IM Lawrence Trent anchors the Internet broadcast. He's become something of the "new voice of chess," as his web site brags. He does a competent and pleasant show, and doesn't irritate any chess officials too much. The main color guy - seems weird to use that term about chess - is German GM Jan Gustafsson. He has a Sahara-dry sense of humor and more than enough technical expertise.

The tournament web site functions fairly well, though there are glitches now and then. It's not easy tracking hundreds of games every day.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Into the sixties

I've written before on how the original CBS What's My Line seems like the ultimate 1950s show. It's in black and white, it has elaborate social rituals, and it's always polite and high-minded. So even though the show lasted until 1975 in its syndie run, somehow it looks out of place in the later decades.

I just binged on a few '63 shows, including the latest September 15, 1963 episode on the WML YouTube channel. This ep isn't particularly memorable. The panel stumbles around and doesn't guess anybody. Mystery guest Allen Funt isn't all that funny or entertaining. The best line of the night is a so-so joke about kangaroos from Bennett Cerf.

But the episode still has a lot of historical resonance for me. Just a couple months later, John F. Kennedy would be assassinated, setting off the mad dégringolade of the sixties. What's My Line wouldn't survive the decade on CBS, though the syndie would plod along in daytime. On the show itself Dorothy Kilgallen is in visible decline, just a couple years before her death.

More and more, the full-dress (and formal dress) John Daly WML would seem way out of date in the wild and crazy sixties. It would become a remnant of a different time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dawson seat

With game show news slacking off a bit today, I saw this nice recounting of Bill Daily's career.

Daily is best known for his roles on I Dream of Jeannie and the (first) Bob Newhart Show, of course. But as the linked article notes, he also often appeared on our little genre's ultimate classic, Match Game. In fact, once Richard Dawson left the show in an august huff, Bill got the thankless task of replacing him in the center-front seat.

He didn't embarrass himself there, though I thought he was a little too nervous and needy to succeed completely. McLean Stevenson eventually took over the seat for the show's final days. He seemed much more relaxed and, frankly, funnier than Bill.

The story says that Mr. Daily now lives in Albuquerque, semi-retired though he occasionally does comedy guest appearances. Game show fans - at least the classic (that is, old like me) variety - will always remember his turn on that silly fill-in-the-blank show.