Saturday, January 31, 2015

A long list

I've often advertised my indifference to The Price is Right and shopping games in general. But this is a full-service game show blog. So I'll do my duty and note the latest meme bouncing around the game show Interwebs. That would be the all-inclusive, once-in-a-lifetime, all-expenses-paid definitive ranking of the TPiR pricing games.

Of course, the ranking is not really definitive or even close, as a bunch of commenters have trashed all or part of it. But I have to give the author a little credit. It's not easy coming up with something to say about seventy-five different games.

I'll save you the agonizing suspense and reveal that his number one pick is...gasp...Plinko. Frankly, discs bouncing around a lot of pegs and landing in one slot or another isn't my idea of must-see TV. But even this sour TPiR non-fan has to admit that the top pick is obvious.

After that, who knows? You could quibble for years - and some probably will - over a 75-item ranking. At least there are pretty pictures of all the games.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Game shows are fun, after all

Now that I've found Cash Cab on Nuvo TV, I've been watching a lot of the money-dispensing trips through Manhattan. One late afternoon my wife came home, plopped hard into her chair in the den, and watched Ben Bailey and friends for a while. Finally, she said that the show was the first good thing which had happened to her all day.

Some days are rougher than others. But the incident reminded me that game shows are supposed to be enjoyable. Our little genre doesn't specialize in sorrow and travail. These are goofy games designed to keep people's minds off their troubles...at least for a half-hour or so.

Sure, Cash Cab lands near the top of the genre, with interesting questions, appealing NYC street scenery, and a gifted host who seems like a natural behind the wheel and with a quip. A lot of game shows get tedious or even obnoxious, and then your troubles don't seem so far away. But a well-designed game can help viewers forget some of the dreariness that clings to anybody's life.

So thanks for the quizzical trips though Manhattan, Ben and company. You deserved all those daytime Emmys.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

So cute

Some stories are so insanely sweet, nobody can resist. Not even sour old me.

The Price is Right is running a crossover with Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. Which is the network's annual answer to, well, that overhyped football game. Frisky young canines frolic on a sort of football field in an orgy of unrestrained preciousness.

A clip from the cuddly crossover proceedings on TPiR has appeared at the Entertainment Weekly site. A puppy named Drew Carey - would I lie to you? - steals the show with clever bidding and his adopted family. Of course there's a pitch for animal adoption and, I guess, spaying and neutering and whatnot. Somewhere out there, noted animal rights activist Bob Barker must be smiling.

By the way, we're looking into adopting our third Labrador Retriever. We've had a black Lab and a yellow Lab, so a chocolate critter would complete the trifecta. But we're not too persnickety about coat color.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ratings: syndie soulmates slide

Pat and Vanna and Alex have seen better weeks. After big jumps in the previous week, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy both gave up part of their gains during January 12-18. On the plus side, Millionaire got some badly needed good news. TV News Check posts the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.2 - down eight ticks after a jump of sixteen ticks the week before
Jeopardy 7.1 - down five ticks after its own jump of eight ticks the previous week, to land just behind the Sony compadre
Family Feud 6.6 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.9 - up a tick to an eight-week high, as a press release gushes
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat

Pat and Vanna still led all syndies in viewer average, so it wasn't all grim news. And Jeopardy's weekend repeat got into the top 25 chart at TV by the Numbers. Wheel of Fortune 11.8M (weekend repeat 5.2M), Jeopardy 11.1M (weekend repeat 3.7M), Family Feud 9.8M, Millionaire 2.7M. That's a pretty good number for Terry, and he'll take it.

Pawnography gets a marathon tomorrow (Thursday 1/29) on History. The numbers keep coming in just fine. 1.8M for the latest new eps to lead all cable game shows easily.

GSN enjoyed a nice January. 403K/328K/452K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended weekday prime time. Got all that? The network ranked 38th, 31st and 34th in the windows.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ridiculous finishes

So I settle in to watch the soulmates tonight, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

And absurd things occur at the finish on both shows. On Jeopardy an obviously superior contestant blows away the competition and is heading for an easy runaway win...until the final Double Jeopardy clue. It's a Daily Double, and one of his competitors (the defending champ, by the way) hits a true daily double to make Final Jeopardy meaningful.

FJ is a ridiculously tough clue about the Oscars. None of the three gets it right. So what happens? The defending champ bets $0, which wins the game by one (1) dollar over the guy who had stomped the field throughout almost all of the show. An utter swindle.

As if that wasn't enough, a contestant then comes from behind in the speedup round on Wheel of Fortune when Pat Sajak hits $5,000 on the final spin. She goes to the bonus round and faces this puzzle after picking her additional letters: ----L- S-A-.

Piece of cake, right? Out of nowhere she guesses "bubbly soap." And naturally the wild blue guess is right. She takes home almost eighty grand in cash and prizes.

Sometimes I think the shows are rigged. They're not, of course. Pat Sajak has said that he's still too young and pretty to go to jail. But jeez louise...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ancient rumor finally comes true

The rumor has kicked around forever, but Chain Reaction is finally returning to GSN with a new 40-ep season. They haven't announced the host. I'd say there's a 100% chance it won't be Dylan Lane, who I actually think got dumped on a little unfairly. Vincent Rubino, with some game show cred, is the showrunner.

The repeats of the two old seasons have always gotten good numbers because the show is highly resistant even to GSN levels of rerun abuse. I used to plead for a new season on the GSN board. Even got to be a cranking bore about it. So I'm a happy camper right now.

I hope they don't screw around with the front game at all. It's pretty near perfect, IMO. The bonus round has always been a problem, so maybe they can come up with a few good tweaks (as opposed to a few good men). Rapid-fire speed chains might be one possible format.

This show has a surprisingly long and complicated history, dating all the way back to the Bill Cullen original in the 1980s. Nice to see it get another chance, especially after the rumors have swirled and swirled.

UPDATE: A casting call has gone out. Teams of two instead of three. Hm, hope this doesn't mean a lot of mucking around with the front game.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

GSN and Buzzr, cont.

A few more thoughts on the announcement last week of Fremantle's own game show network, Buzzr. I quote from my maunderings at Game Show Paradise...

Other poster: Obviously [Buzzr] is still not going to be all oldies all the time, and I do hope nobody seriously believes this will be the case. That's simply not going to happen.

Absolutely agree that it won't be all oldies all the time. The channel wouldn't do enough business. The question is what Fremantle can put on the channel and will put on the channel.

We've got a pretty good idea that Harvey Feud will show up sooner or later, and I wouldn't be floored to see fairly recent TPiR and LMAD. My guess is that these shows, if and when they do turn up on Buzzr, will easily outrate the oldies (duh) and Fremantle will go the GSN route of more and more new stuff. But I may be a tad cynical here. Anyway, I expect mostly the old library at Buzzr's debut.

Oh, one other thing. This idea has been percolating for a while. In a story from 2009 Fremantle exec Cecile Frot-Coutaz talked about using the library: "Fremantle also is mining the company’s vast Goodson-Todman game show library. GSN has the rights to air a few titles, but Frot-Coutaz’s team is working on a separate project to make classics available to viewers."

The talk picked up over last summer as Fremantle put the Buzzr channel on YouTube, with a modish Family Feud. So the idea has been kicking around for years. The availability of digital subchannels made it feasible.

I posted at Game Show Network News that this is the biggest thing to hit GSN in a long time. It's obviously not the most pleasant thing. Who really likes competition? But it may spark some change at the network to fend off the upstart. Trouble is, I don't think the change is necessarily going to be popular with classics fans.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Winding down

It's been a while since I checked the What's My Line YouTube channel.

Quite a few episodes have accumulated since the Dorothy Kilgallen memorial that I wrote about a while ago. We're into 1966 now as the CBS original heads for the Nielsen afterlife. I watched the March 13, 1966 ep, which was mostly memorable for a bearded Robert Preston as the mystery guest. That guy could raise some facial hair.

The panel guessed everybody after suffering though one of Bennett Cerf's worst-ever puns during the introductions. Don't ask me why, but the second guest, a maker of horseradish, got the most laughs.

Although the show would end the following year, there were still a bunch of episodes left by current standards. Almost seventy, in fact. Just shows how prime time TV has changed. But our little genre can still pile up a lot of eps in a short time, thanks to its famously low production costs.

Newscaster Jeanne Parr, who had previously appeared as a civvie contestant on the show, took Dorothy Kilgallen's place on the panel. She was okay, nothing special. It just wasn't the same without the incisive Dorothy around.

Friday, January 23, 2015

More love?

It's been revived before, but Warner Brothers is reportedly shopping a new version of Love Connection.

The host would be the suitably named Loni Love, currently seen yakking on The Real. I guess she could keep the chatter going with the contestants, because she never seems at a loss for words. Over the years Love Connection has been the subject of a goofy dispute about whether it's "really" a game show. I don't much care about that argument. But a comment in the linked Broadcasting and Cable story caught my eye.

This remake might be "a possible replacement for Let's Ask America, a game show that airs on several Scripps-owned stations." Hm, I thought Let's Ask America was safe, but the sands could be shifting under Bill Bellamy's feet.

Paige Albiniak, the author of the B&C story, doesn't just make stuff up. So is time running out for the Skype survey epic? The show has never really moved into national syndication, so maybe Scripps is giving up on it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ratings: syndies go happy happy joy joy

Syndie game shows finally shook off the Nielsen holiday blues in the week of January 5-11. Big ratings jumps were common, as the top three all racked up season highs. TV News Check spreads the good cheer and happy talk...

Wheel of Fortune 8.0 - up a whopping sixteen ticks to lead all syndies
Jeopardy 7.6 - up fourteen ticks to keep the soulmate company
Family Feud 6.7 - up ten ticks as Steve joins in the fun
Millionaire 1.8 - flat, every party has a pooper
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - up a tick and Craig will take what he can get

Pat and Vanna also led all syndies in total viewers, as usual. The stats from TV by the Numbers: Wheel of Fortune 13.0M (weekend repeat 3.4M), Jeopardy 11.9M, Family Feud 10.0M. Nice audiences for the big three.

GSN enjoyed another good week for January 12-18. 370K/324K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 39th and 28th in the windows. The total day rank is the highest I can recall.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

GSN and Buzzr

At Game Show Network News, Scott Rahner pooh-poohs Buzzr, the new game show network. I loudly disagree...

Buzzr starts out with a whole lot more households than GSN began with, and with the muscle of Fox's O&O stations behind it. Scott (and maybe some GSN execs) may want to pretend it's not a big deal. Yeah, right. For the first time ever, GSN will get competition from a nationally distributed game show network.

No, nothing to see here at all. Just move along.

Who is Scott kidding? Not me, anyway. And I bet he's not kidding David Goldhill, either. For two decades GSN has had the playing field all to itself as the nation's only game show network. Now there's a new kid in town backed by Fox and Fremantle, not exactly small-time operations.

I really do think this spells the end for GSN's already shrinking block of oldies. Oh, maybe a weekday hour somewhere or an occasional special might survive. But if Buzzr rolls out a long list of old shows - as I think they will at the start, at least - GSN will probably figure, okay, let them have that sub-niche. It's not exactly the most lucrative sub-niche, as the Tylenol folks found out.

And I also think the new competition will move Sony to freshen up GSN, possibly with recent Wheel of Fortune and an even more ambitious development slate. We'll see how things go as Buzzr gears up. But to dismiss the new network as no big deal for GSN is completely unconvincing.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that Nick GAS provided some "competition" for GSN. Well, okay, in the strictly limited sub-niche of kid game shows, which has never been much of an interest for GSN. But Buzzr is the first grown-up (in every sense) competition as a nationally distributed game show network.

One other comment while I'm in rant mode. Fremantle, the godfather of Buzzr, just happens to control GSN's most popular show (by far). Now I don't think Fremantle will pull Harvey Feud off GSN. As long as the price is right (sorry) Fremantle will probably be happy to keep selling Feud to anybody and everybody.

But if negotiations ever get a bit testy, Fremantle has a lot more leverage. Don't want to pay our price? Hey, we've got our own game show network where we can run Steve's Feud 24/7. Buzzr makes life more complicated for GSN in lots of interesting ways.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dream comes true

For years the game show Interwebs have dreamed about GSN2, a channel that would show only the golden oldies. Well, GSN had better things to do, like trying to get one channel widely distributed in the U.S. But a classic game show channel is finally about to launch.

Fremantle will debut Buzzr TV as a digital multicast channel on Fox's owned and operated stations in 17 top markets this summer. Looks like it will be similar to MeTV and Antenna, multicast operations that showcase old shows. Only now our little genre is getting a nostalgia channel.

The network is being shopped to other stations at NATPE. I've got two quick questions. Will Fremantle's lawyers now attempt to shut down all the classic game shows on YouTube? (Answer: I dunno.) And how will this affect GSN's current weekday morning block of the old shows? (Answer: my guess is that the block gradually goes away, which is what's been happening for years, anyhow.)

GSN has always gotten modest ratings for the old shows, so I don't expect Buzzr TV to be a Nielsen behemoth. But the network will have minimal operating expenses, so it doesn't have to draw a huge audience to make some money. And at last the game show Interwebs will have a network they can call their own.

UPDATE: Stories are popping up all over the place about this new channel. Ominous news for the game show Interwebs: Hollywood Reporter says that Steve Harvey's Family Feud will "eventually" join Buzzr TV. I can already hear the usual complaints about too much Steve - and "modern junk" in general - on the channel (wink).

More wild-blue speculation. Maybe this new competitor to GSN - that's what it is, after all - will finally spur Sony to put modern-day Wheel of Fortune on their own game show network. Things are getting interesting in our little genre. It's good for this blog's business!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Memories of DOS

Once upon a long long time ago, Windows didn't exist. Instead there was Disk Operating System.

Microsoft's arcane method of running a computer still raises shudders among old-timers like moi. We remember the weird commands, pathetic "graphics," and general primitiveness of the DOS era. Wouldn't you know, Golden-Road.net brought it all back with a link to a DOS version of The Price is Right from 1990.

The cheap syntho music is enough to ream your eardrums, and it reminds me of the sound effects on the ancient "educational" software we got for our kids when they were little. I don't know if our kids ever learned anything from those primeval programs, but I didn't do much good on this version of The Price is Right. I bombed on the first item and checked out.

Did I ever mention that I'm not a big fan of shopping games? Oh well, the old DOS software had a certain antique charm...for about half a minute. Then I became grateful for contemporary programs and operating systems. They may not always work perfectly, but DOS was dross.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

More games on the plane

Allegiant Air must like how the games fly on their planes. They've re-upped Game Plane for a second season.

As the linked LA Times story points out, Allegiant is a teensy-weensy carrier based in Las Vegas, with a marketing budget close to zip. So the airborne game show is a cheap way to garner publicity. It's also surprisingly fun to watch, despite (or thanks to) ripping off every other game show in sight.

The only caution for the second season is that Mark Walberg better host all the eps. I don't want to be harsh, but the other guy is barely competent. Mark probably has plenty of time to spare from Antiques Roadshow, and he can't be that expensive, so Allegiant should be able to afford him for the full season.

I doubt that Game Plane had much to do with it, but Allegiant reported nice increases in passenger traffic and revenue for 2014. At least the game show makes air travel look almost endurable. "The feedback we've gotten from customers has been great," says the airline's marketing veep.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sympathy for Mr. Gray

This thread on the Sitcoms Online game show board polled posters on their choice for best announcer on The Price is Right. If you think they picked George Gray, you're WRONG. (Cue loud X buzzer from Family Feud.)

Of course, if you know anything about the game show Interwebs, you would never guess George. He's treated with barely concealed contempt on the older-is-better board. "No comment on George Gray" is about the kindest remark, along with wishes that other people had been selected to replace Rich Fields.

Rather oddly, Rod Roddy gets the nod in the board's poll. Okay, there are pitifully few votes (ten at last count). But I figured Johnny Olson would win, no matter how few people voted. In fact, I would pick Johnny, too. He started it all and did the job perfectly. But if the choices were limited to Roddy, Fields or Gray, I would unhesitatingly select the not so lonesome George.

In fact, Gray's good enough to have been a more than competent host, as he proved on the syndie Weakest Link, where he was far more bearable than the Wicked Witch. I know he stands no chance in such polls on traditionalist game show boards, but he's a genuine pro who never gets flustered. Even when a treadmill attacks him.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Live and in trivia

I've been blogging about online game shows, so why not a live game show?

This one happens on Long Island. It's a glorified pub trivia show called Game On Trivia Night, created and hosted by self-identified game show lover Mike Love. He ran the show on Facebook before taking it to the streets, so to speak. Now he's got nineteen locations and seven other hosts working for him.

The screenshot shows a typical question from the show. Mike says he tried out for Millionaire but realized he was weak on sports trivia. So he started practicing at bar trivia nights, and he decided that he could produce a better live quizzer. The rest is live game show history, at least around Long Island.

Good luck to him with the project. I've done some bar trivia in my time, back when I was frisky enough to frequent taverns.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ratings: syndies inch back up

New Year's week was a little kinder to most syndie game shows than Xmas week. Most of the shows moved up a tad or two for December 29-January 4, though the numbers were still down in the dumps a little. All those hangovers, maybe. TV News Check posts the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - up four ticks to lead all syndies
Jeopardy 6.2 - up a couple ticks in sympathy with the soulmate
Family Feud 5.7 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.8 - up a tick for the ebullient Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - up a tick as Craig heads for a second season

TV by the Numbers only has the viewer averages for the top three. Wheel of Fortune 10.5M to lead everybody (weekend repeat 4.3M), Jeopardy 10.0M, Family Feud 8.7M. The numbers should perk up now that the holidays are past.

GSN rocked and rolled for the week of January 5-11. 405K/332K viewer averages prime time/total day. The network ranked 35th and 30th in the windows, terrific by GSN's usual standards.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When they're not covering the stock market...

A few days ago I posted about online game shows. Well, darned if a faux tweet today didn't link to another one, Money.com's Money Match.

It's a little much to call this a game show. Call it a game segment, because the videos only last five minutes or so. Production values aren't quite as bad as Take My Bitcoins - another show about money, or a sort of money - but they're not all that great, either.

In particular, the laugh and applause track is irritating. Couldn't Money.com have gotten a few staffers to clap and chuckle instead of using the obnoxious canned noise? Anyway, the format is Newlywed Game, except the couples aren't necessarily newlyweds, though one of the twosomes in the linked video just got hitched. And as you might expect from Money.com, all the questions revolve around household finances.

The host is named Farnoosh Torabi, and she doesn't do much except read the questions and make perfunctory small talk with the contestants. We're not at Bob Eubanks' level here, or anywhere close. It's hard to understand why Money.com bothered with this stuff, except maybe they wanted to do something besides stocks and bonds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Another Bob on TPiR

Interesting news: Bob Saget will host the live version of The Price is Right in April. [Oops, I goofed. See correction below. Still think Saget is an excellent game show host.]

Saget has always struck me as the kind of intelligent, quick-on-his-feet guy who could host anything. A few days ago I posted on Game Show Paradise that his absence from the GSN version of 1 vs. 100 helped to doom the show. So it's nice to see him hosting the country's biggest shopping epic.

I'm not sure what Saget has been doing lately. He must have made his pile from Full House and America's Funniest Home Videos. Wikipedia tells me that he's been touring a lot with his standup routine. Jimbo Wales' mass of pop culture trivia also says that Saget is 58, which seems too old for him.

Or is everybody starting to seem too old to ancient moi? Anyway, it's nice to see Bob back in our little genre, even if it's only the live version of TPiR.

UPDATE: Shucky darn, I was wrong. A commenter points out that I read the story too carelessly. Saget is appearing at the same venue the night after the TPiR live show. Oh well, I'd still like to see him back with another game show one of these days. And if Todd Newton or Jerry Springer or whoever is hosting the TPiR live show that night can't make it, I think Bob could fill in just fine.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Howdies

No feature of Jeopardy is too small for JBoard.tv to chew over. So the board takes note of the new format for the "hometown howdies" by the week's upcoming contestants. These are the itty-bitty promos shipped out to the contestants' home markets to drum up (we hope) some interest.

In the olden times - the Middle Ages and such - the contestants themselves would have to say something clever, or at least intelligible. Now they just have to say their name after a Jeopardy-clue introduction. An example...

Announcer: "This Smithtown East grad is going to be on Jeopardy." Contestant: "Who is Amanda Boitano? That's me!" YouTube has the promos for all of this week's contestants. The clips get a little cloying back to back to back to back to...well, you get the idea. But taken one at a time, the promos aren't too bad.

JBoard.tv doesn't seem to mind the new format. Which is a little surprising. The traditionalist game show Interwebs often look askance at any change, however tiny.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Online fun and games

A faux tweet mentioned Last Fan Standing, a game show debuting later this year on a new online network called CONtv. The network itself supposedly launches next month.

Online is all the rage right now, playing into the media meme of cord-cutting and the alleged death of cable. I think that rumors of cable's death are much exaggerated, and that cord-cutting was mostly the result of the crummy economy of the last few years. Now that the economy finally looks to be perking up, fewer cords will get cut, IMO. And cable won't dry up and blow away.

Still, I don't mind the trend toward online game shows at all. It's a lot easier for folks to launch new shows on the limitless Internet than on the still limited number of cable channels. Over the past several months I've reviewed a number of online shows, including Sports Jeopardy, Buzzr's Family Feud and Take My Bitcoins.

Online production values range from completely professional (Sports Jeopardy) to embarrassingly amateurish (Take My Bitcoins). What always counts most, though, is the quality of the format. If somebody can put an entertaining format online, I don't care if the production looks like a high school a.v. club.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

R.I.P.

The What's My Line channel on YouTube has come to the grimmest episode in the show's history.

The November 14, 1965 ep after Dorothy Kilgallen's death was subdued to the point of lugubriousness. The show ditched the tuxes and the usual intros. Even the audience refrained from the wolf whistles which would otherwise have greeted the first, very pretty contestant.

The panel had a bad night in lots of ways, as they had a tough time guessing anybody. They didn't even identify the mystery guest, Maureen O'Sullivan, though they finally figured out the fourth contestant, a woman who was a men's barber. Steve Allen pointed out at the end of the show that without Dorothy the guessing got a lot tougher.

By a sad coincidence Dorothy's biographer Lee Israel died a few days ago. Her bio made it to the New York Times best seller list for one week, but Lee Israel then fell on hard times and became a forger. The biography, a competent but far from brilliant book, is on a shelf in my study.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ratings: syndies get Christmas blues

To nobody's surprise, syndie game shows skidded in Christmas week, December 22-28. Folks had better things to do than to watch game shows, as Scrooge (and others) pointed out. Pat and Vanna got hit the hardest but still led all of syndication in household ratings, in a tie with Alex. TV News Check grumps though the bah humbug household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - down a whopping thirteen ticks
Jeopardy 6.0 - down eight ticks to tie the soulmate
Family Feud 5.8 - down five ticks
Millionaire 1.7 - flat, which looks pretty good this week
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - down a tick

TV by the Numbers has the viewer averagesWheel of Fortune 9.8M to lead all syndies (weekend repeat 5.1M), Jeopardy 9.6M, Family Feud 8.8M.

The big news among syndies is that Craig and friends have won a second season. The numbers have been okay if not spectacular, and Celebrity Name Game will be moving out of the access hour in many markets. But the second season is a go.

Pawnography keeps rocking down the highway as easily the most watched game show on cable. The pawn folks drew 1.9M last night for their first show. More than Craig!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The (college) course of true love

Just caught an episode of Baggage on the Road, Jerry Springer's trek to college campuses far and wide.

This ep was taped at LSU, where Jerry sucked up to the crowd of rowdy college kids with repeated "Go Tigers!" The show was pretty much the same as the plain old Baggage of yesteryear and endless repeats. There were a few format tweaks, though. In one kind of sweet change, the suitcases in the middle round held both a good and a "bad" item about the students looking for love.

The girl on the show was named Tesia, and I'm sorry, but I got less and less thrilled with her as the show wore on. She was a Wonder Woman wannabe who spoke with an absurdly exaggerated accent. The three guys were so-so, and the theme of the night seemed to be condoms.

As many have noted, Baggage of any kind is very mild compared to Jerry's other show. There are no fisticuffs, and everybody acts halfway mature. The dating epic has always been cheesy fun, and these college eps appear to continue the cheesily enjoyable tradition.

UPDATE: In response to a request from (I think) Scott Rahner, Showbuzz says Baggage on the Road averaged 410K viewers for its 9:00-10:00 PM debut hour on Wednesday, January 7. Not bad but nothing special by GSN's usual prime time standards. Idiotest got 521K viewers for the 8:00-9:00 PM hour.

UPDATED UPDATE: Scott says it wasn't him, and Douglas Pucci has posted the correct numbers. Idiotest got 521K and 353K for its two runs. Baggage on the Road got 348K and 410K for its two shows. Harvey Feud led into the originals with a whopping 619K at 7:30 PM. Got all that?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ben Bailey with Spanish ads

So I'm rummaging in the nosebleed section of my cable menu. Channel 900 is Nuvo TV, which Wikipedia tells me runs English-language shows targeted at Hispanics. And lo and behold, they're showing my long-lost fave, Cash Cab!

It had been a while since I watched Ben weave his way through the streets of Manhattan, so I settled in for a half-hour. The episode was nothing special. Nobody even tried to double their money, and the first contestants got the heave-ho after three strikes.

But it was still nice to hear the refreshingly serious questions. Discovery kept the quizzer challenging and not just a pile of pop culture stuff. Gotta admit, the Spanish commercials sounded a little odd in the middle of Ben's interrogations. Just to prove that advertisers keep things simple, I could make out a lot of the pitch talk, even though my Spanish mostly stops at buenos días.

Always wondered why GSN never picked up Cash Cab. Maybe they figured the show was too quiet and cerebral. It's not exactly Harvey Feud.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Squares reviving?

Happened to see the screenshot at Game Show Confessions. This is the first I've heard about a possible Hollywood Squares revival, and I haven't found any confirmation.

But the idea wouldn't stagger me. It seems like Hollywood Squares has been revived 874 times. The Wikipedia article lists a bunch of different versions, including a kid show. The latest run (1998-2004) with Tom Bergeron went dark ten years ago, so maybe the Squares itch is coming round again.

The format has certainly proved its staying power, but I'm not a particular fan. The need to script the celebs has always rubbed me the wrong way, though I know it's not actual rigging and everything is disclaimed. When Mark Goodson forbade the scripting on his version in 1983-84, the format just didn't work.

But the show has oodles of fans who probably wouldn't mind a remake, as long as it didn't stray too far from the Peter Marshall prototype. We'll see if anything comes of the Confessions rumor.

UPDATE: A commenter reminds me of Hip Hop Squares, the MTV2 version from 2012. Except for the name change, it was pretty much straightforward Hollywood Squares. I kind of liked that show.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Low down

The news that Millionaire has hit another season - and, I believe, series - low has me thinking gloomy thoughts.

Sure, nowadays broadcast TV ratings of all sorts have tumbled. Cable, satellite and the Internet keep cutting into the once mighty broadcast stations and networks. But Millionaire was already skittering on thin ice, and the numbers are getting worrisome.

The natural temptation is to blame new host Terry Crews for the ratings doldrums. I'm an "on the one hand, on the other hand" guy about Terry's hosting style. After the subdued Cedric Kyles and the final phone-it-in years of Meredith Vieira, his enthusiasm is welcome. But sometimes he seems hellbent on blasting the audience out of their seats with sheer volume.

Time may just be catching up with a venerable franchise. In its ABC and syndie formats Millionaire has been around fifteen years now. Not often does a miracle like Family Feud happen, when an old show suddenly perks up in the ratings. As George Harrison once observed, all things must pass.

UPDATE: Celebrity Name Game just got renewed. So things may be looking up for Millionaire. It's the higher-rated show, after all.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A bit of coin

A faux tweet mentioned the nerd crypto money called bitcoin, and the Internet game show Take My Bitcoins. So I decided to watch one of the eps and, well, review it. That's one of the things I do here. Review game shows. Do it all the time, in fact.

First, let me say that I have little (actually, no) use for bitcoin. I would never buy any of the funny money, especially because it's imploding faster than the ruble, another kind of funny money

Still, I tried to watch the first episode of Take My Bitcoins with a halfway open mind. The show had production values worse than cable access and a format that looked like it was made up on the fly. But the whole thing was so cheesy and amateurish, it had a bit(coin) of train wreck charm.

Mike Rotman hosted with goofy clumsiness and fast talk. He was okay for a couple minutes, then got kind of irksome. Some actor also showed up, but I forget his name. A contestant called in from the enormous home audience (numbering in the literal dozens, I'm sure) and played a game of true-false questions. The first question was about the word "vagina." The caller eventually crapped out, and I checked out.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Goof

The latest viral nonsense from our little genre comes from The Price is Right.

Two hapless contestants apparently thought an iPhone was worth more than its weight in platinum. They bid $7,500 and $7,501 on the item. The video has zoomed around the Internet and even the old media.

Trouble is, I'm hesitant to bash these folks because I'm a lousy shopper myself. That's why I'm not overly fond of shopping game shows, and why I would do even worse as a TPiR contestant than the clueless duo. God knows what I would have bid on the gadget. Maybe five bucks, I dunno.

It's a lot easier to sit back and blather on a game show blog than to go under the lights and play the damn game. These two folks have been embarrassed on national TV and the worldwide Internet for...what, exactly? Not getting close to some freakin' price for some freakin' phone? Wow, what a crime against humanity. Let's get the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal back together for the two miscreants.

The nice thing about game show blogging is that you can quietly fix your mistakes. Game show contestants aren't so lucky.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ratings: GSN wraps the year

Don't know when Nielsen will rouse itself from the holiday torpor and post the syndie ratings for December 15-21. If they ever get the numbers out, I'll add them to this post. Meanwhile, let's chew over some ratings for our little game show network...

For all of 2014 GSN averaged 348K/271K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 42nd and 36th in the windows. In case you want to know, the averages for 2013 were 355K/273K. The tiny changes don't mean much on Nielsen's sample. GSN did improve its total day rank from 40th to 36th. Which shows that splattering Harvey Feud all over the weekend can help the total day numbers.

GSN's Christmas Eve morning marathon of Press Your Luck was mostly a dud with a 114K viewer average. Nobody should have expected anything different. PYL averaged a little over 200K for its weekday morning runs, based on stats posted by Douglas Pucci in the first half of 2014. So a low viewership Xmas Eve was the ticket for a 100K-150K Press Your Luck marathon average, at best.

I'll catch hell from the traditionalists for pointing out the obvious. But GSN's weekday mornings will remain a drowsy patch of low ratings and demos just this side of death, unless the network puts last season's Wheel of Fortune in there. Pat and Vanna, Sony needs you on GSN.

UPDATE: Nielsen finally got the syndie ratings out for December 15-21. TV News Check has the mixed numbers...

Wheel of Fortune 7.3 - up a tick to lead all syndies
Jeopardy 6.8 - down a tick
Family Feud 6.3 - flat
Millionaire 1.7 - down a tick to a season low, ouch
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat as always

The viewer averages from TV by the Numbers: Wheel of Fortune 11.9M, Jeopardy 10.8M, Family Feud 9.3M, Celebrity Name Game 1.7M (from TV News Check).

Astrology

Scott Rahner hauls out his crystal ball about GSN in 2015. I react with some cheap and easy comments…

Whether It Takes a Church gets a third season depends entirely on Christian Mingle. If they keep paying the money, the show will continue for a third season and however many more seasons they're willing to finance. Ratings are secondary for this show. The numbers are important only in how they affect Christian Mingle's decision on the money.

The other stuff [in Scott's post] is mostly coin flip territory, except for the new season of Harvey Feud. Unless the ratings collapse completely, GSN will do everything possible to get another season of the show. I agree that Hellevator is very likely to see the light of cable, if only because of Jason Blum's impressive record. The other shows in development? Who knows?

The biggest acquisition possibility remains modern-day Wheel of Fortune. That would be a real game changer (sorry for the punning cliché) in the morning. Will it ever happen? Darned if I know.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Treasure trove

People make new year's resolutions and new year's wish lists. From Game Show Paradise comes a New Year's list of goodies and Santa's (er, my) reply...

Other poster: It's 2015, and what game shows would you hope to see on YouTube? Here's my wish list:

Wipeout (1988)
Lingo (1987)
Catch Phrase (1985)
High Rollers (1987)
Wheel of Fortune (mainly '80s episodes)
The $100,000 Fortune Hunt
The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime
Trump Card
Quicksilver
Free 4 All
Fandango
Hit Man
Jackpot (1985)
Anything For Money
Top Card
Now You See It (1989)
Caesars Challenge
Blackout
Pictionary (1997)
The Last Word
Scrabble (either version)
Split Second (1986)
Turn It Up
Triple Threat (either version)


There's a fair amount of Lingo 1987-88 on YouTube already. And a lot of Wipeout 1988. And some Catch Phrase 1985, too. And a whole lot of High Rollers 1987. And so much Wheel of Fortune from the 1980s, you could spend hours watching it all. And even a little of an obscure show like 100K Fortune Hunt. I had never heard of it, but YouTube has. And on and on...

Use the search box and type in the show name and year. Lots of stuff comes back. YouTube is a ready-made oldies channel. I've squandered a couple hundred hours (literally) on What's My Line, for instance. Sure, WML is almost complete on the site, which is more than you can say for most shows. But there are thousands of hours of many old game shows already available.