Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Say the magic word

Having tried everything from hard news to true crime to Dr. Drew, HLN is attempting a game show called Keywords. I just watched the debut.

I'm all for networks experimenting with our little genre, but it might help if they came up with a good show. This sucker ain't it. Two teams of two millennials listen to Summer Sanders recite five Internet search keywords. As she goes along, they try to guess what the hey she is searching for. Usually, the subject is pop culture. Which makes sense, because when the show wanders away from pop culture, the contestants tend to be comically helpless. For instance, they couldn't guess "Taj Mahal" even after Summer practically gave them the answer.

The keywords for this front game were "soporific," "tedious," dull as ditch water," bored my butt off," and "wish I could watch anything else." Summer hosted in a subdued manner, which isn't surprising because the proceedings could have sedated anybody.

Believe it or not, things perked up a bit in the bonus round, which reversed the format. The winning team from the front game was given a search topic, then had to guess five of the ten most common keywords. One of the contestants actually got a little excited as he shouted out possibilities. If you must know, the team won the bonus round and a trip to Mexico. Good for them.

UPDATE: If you want to watch Keywords, hurry up. The show will be gone soon. It crashed and burned in the ratings, even by HLN's less than lofty standards. Only 81K total viewers.

Ratings: Steve creeps up to number two

With some help from hoops preemptions, Family Feud took the number two spot in syndie game show household ratings for the week of March 16-22. Yeah, I know about the multiple counting of Feud's two or three or four runs per day. It's still a milestone. TV News Check has the happy numbers for Steve...

Wheel of Fortune 6.6 - down a couple ticks
Family Feud 6.5 - up a tick to the second spot
Jeopardy 6.3 - down four ticks
Millionaire 1.8 - up a tick and Terry will take what he can get
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - up a tick

The top three led all syndies in viewer average on the chart at TV by the Numbers. Wheel of Fortune 10.4M (weekend repeat 3.8M), Family Feud 9.7M, Jeopardy 9.6M. Wheel doesn't get the benefit of multiple runs per day but still led everybody.

GSN enjoyed one of its best quarters ever in the first three months of 2015. 435K/346K/481K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 37th, 29th and 31st in the windows. In fact, it was GSN's most watched quarter in just about every way.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Oh, those foolish folks at CBS daytime. Not content with bringing Bob Barker back to The Price is Right on April Fools Day, they're sending Drew Carey and Plinko to Let's Make a Deal.

Gotta admit, it's a cute stunt. In a bit of video LMAD shows Wayne Brady intoning that he's Drew as he conducts a lucky contestant to the big board. The nice lady at Let's Make a Deal also sent me a still of Drew Carey on the show, which you can see here. Drew looks like he dressed down for the occasion.

This crossover recalls the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy stunt when Pat and Alex switched hosting duties on April Fools Day, 1997. On a blog called Game Show Follies, who am I to complain about such foolishness? And if it nudges the numbers a little, that's a nice bonus.

At least Plinko had a day out on another show. He (it) probably liked the change.

UNRELATED UPDATE: In a faux tweet I said I would review Monopoly Millionaires Club tomorrow after watching it on GSN. Only for some reason the show won't be on GSN tomorrow. There was a last-minute preemption. Don't know why. Sooner or later I'll get around to watching and reviewing the show. In other GSN news, the network's gaming subsidiary GSN Games acquires casino game developer Idle Gaming.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hot news

Hey, did you hear that they canceled Cash Cab? And the winners got a check later and not the actual cash they flashed on the show?

Okay, I follow game shows pretty closely, and not everybody else gets up to date all that quickly. But a TV critic kindly explains to a questioning e-mailer that Cash Cab went to the chop shop in 2012. The show lasted six seasons and hundreds of eps and even spawned a (mercifully) short-lived Chicago spinoff. So it's not like the project flopped.

As for the money, the accountants do want a paper trail. So it was a lot easier to just mail the winners a check to make sure that the show observed all the legalities. The other issue raised by the critic is whether the contestants hailed the taxi randomly from the street. Well, some of them did and some of them got tricked into waiting for the cab. One contestant revealed that his group thought they were going to a reality show audition, for instance.

All this is not exactly news. But then not everybody writes a game show blog, so I shouldn't make fun. And sadly, the Cash Cab no longer rolls on.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Yet another dump on Dylan

As the new season of Chain Reaction tapes with Mike (Hey There Vagina) Catherwood, Game Show Garbage takes time to dump on former host Dylan Lane. At least they're dumping on something game show related, instead of a Simpsons episode.

Lane certainly deserves some of the criticism. He tended to be a little stiff, though not the android life form GSG pronounces him. But the Garbage men have to exaggerate to live up to the site's image. Lane could drop in a quip or three and seemed to get along well with the contestants. And it's not his fault that he was good-looking.

A tougher knock was his occasional trouble with the rules. I can remember a couple screwups, which didn't help the show's professionalism. Anyway, his show biz career rapidly petered out after Chain Reaction. In fact, he seems to have left entertainment entirely, and there was never any doubt that GSN would get a new host for the remake.

We'll see how the Vagina guy does. I look for some spicier chains, but that's just Catherwood's image.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Last line

The YouTube What's My Line channel has reached the final CBS episode from September 3, 1967 (with commercials!)

As hardcore Line-niks know so well, John Daly was the last mystery guest and managed to fool everybody except Bennett Cerf. The episode also offered some pleasant flashbacks, both on tape and "live" in a way, with the civvie contestants from the first episode in 1950. The cancellation of the show sounded a modern and rather ominous note, as TV Guide pointed out in its story, "End of the Line." Demos did in WML. John Daly and company were just skewing too old. The bane of game shows had already raised its head in 1967.

To be fair, the overall ratings were in the tank, too. But after seventeen years almost any show will get a bit tired. And the syndie What's My Line would return for seven more years of job-guessing.

The YouTube site will apparently continue to fill in some eps that it missed along the way. But the site has reached a milestone, which is also a tombstone. At least the CBS version of What's My Line went out in style.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

He's b-a-a-a-a-a-a-ck

It wasn't exactly the best kept secret since the Manhattan Project, but now it's official. Bob Barker returns to The Price is Right on April Fools Day.

It's like he never left, right? Well, no. A lot of water has flowed over the CBS daytime dam since Bob relinquished his duties, and Drew Carey has become an 11:00 AM institution of a sort. But there are still those who pine for Ye Olde Days of Bob.

One of the piners hangs out at the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's. Gazing at a video of Bob and Drew together, he grumps: "Look at that two-shot of them in the video clip. A shining star next to the dimmest of dim bulbs. (SHAKES HEAD)" To which a Bob-phobe replies: "I know he's done some stupid things, but that's not a nice thing to call Barker."

Oh yes, the ancient fight over whether Drew is a worthy successor to Bob. It seems like a long time ago now - and it really was a lot of years ago - but that was the ragingest of raging game show controversies once upon a time. The years pass, other controversies come and go, and nowadays most people don't seem to care all that much. There are too many other things to argue about in our little genre.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More on the end of a game show

On Game Show Paradise I yak some more about the end of Let’s Ask America

Other poster: All [the joy over the axing] does is perpetuate the completely untrue image of the 'Internet fans' as a collective of self-entitled, neo-Luddite traditionalists who react to the words 'new' and 'different' in approximately the same way a mongoose reacts to a cobra.

That's a completely untrue image? Um, okay. Anyway, as I said in the blog entry, I liked Let's Ask America and wish it could have done better in syndication and on GSN. The three-year run is a little misleading. The show only lasted that long because Scripps stations were more or less stuck with the in-house product. Nobody else wanted the show much at all, and after a while even the Scripps stations weren't interested.

As for Bill Bellamy replacing Kevin Pereira, I thought the change was desperation, an attempt to find the next Steve Harvey (who never seems to come along). Millionaire has tried the same Hail Mary, with predictably poor results. As Baba Wawa might say, wumors are wunning wampant that Millionaire will soon follow Let's Ask America into that Nielsen good night.

One more thing: a commenter at the BuzzerBlog Facebook page wanted Let's Ask America replaced on GSN with classics. The elegant reply: "Why can't you guys watch that s--t on YouTube?" And for some reason, I'm always the guy who gets slammed as anti-classic. Oh well, who said life is fair (wink)?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ratings: daylight savings does syndies no good

Don't you love turning the clocks back, or forward, or however the hey we have to turn them twice a year? Syndie game shows sure didn't like the onset of daylight savings time. Every one of them got clobbered for the week of March 9-15. TV News Check brings the grim household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - down nine ticks to tie the loud judge for the lead among all syndies
Jeopardy 6.7 - down seven ticks to end just a hair behind the soulmate
Family Feud 6.4 - down six ticks, this is getting tedious
Millionaire 1.7 - down a couple ticks to tie a season low
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - what else, down a couple ticks

TV by the Numbers says that the top three still led all syndies in total viewers despite DST. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.9M (weekend repeat 4.0M), Jeopardy 10.2M (weekend repeat 3.2M), Family Feud 9.9M. As always, pay no heed to the silly six-fold numbers for Weekend Adventure.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Let's not ask America

As far back as January, Paige Albiniak was dropping hints in Broadcasting and Cable that Let's Ask America might be heading for the final Nielsen question. Paige doesn't make things up. She's usually very well informed on the syndie market, and she was right again this time. Let's Ask America is getting the ax after its third season.

Another sign of impending doom was the failure of the Bill Bellamy eps to turn up on GSN, as announced last summer. The first two seasons of Kevin Pereira episodes didn't do much business on GSN and soon went into late night exile. The show won't even have that slot starting March 30.

I liked the show and thought it was a fun variant of the survey format. But the numbers were always modest at best and Let's Ask America never expanded much beyond a handful of Scripps stations. Originally intended as a cheap substitute for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, the show just didn't find enough of an audience. The much ballyhooed switch from Pereira to Bellamy as host for the third season didn't help.

Still no word on another season for Millionaire. The ratings have continued to droop with Terry Crews, which is not a good sign.

Chess ladies

Haven't done anything non-trad for a while, so I'll put in a word for Internet chess.

Which is at least a game, unlike improv comedy or some of the other stuff covered on other "game show" sites. Right now FIDE is running a knockout tournament - don't worry, they're not literally knocking each other out - for the women's world championship. The tourney started with 64 players a few days ago and it's now down to the round of 16. The players face each other in two-game matches with rapid and blitz tie-breaks if necessary.

The Internet broadcast is okay but not too entertaining. A dour Ukrainian grandmaster named Evgenij Miroshnichenko comments accurately but drily on the games. Elisabeth Pähtz, who was knocked out in the tournament's first round, assists in the commentary. But she's not nearly as funny as she was at the Gibraltar Open earlier this year. Miroshnichenko's severity seems to have rubbed off on her.

The whole issue of women's chess has always been a sore point. FIDE sort of has to run women's tournaments because there are only two female players in the world's top 100 (and none in the top 50). But that glaring gender imbalance produces much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Once more through all the dreck

Via the game show board at Sitcoms Online, I saw this long blog post about The Price is Right's tangled legal history. I'll spare you all the stuff you probably know too much about. Instead, I'll just get to the blogger's bottom line:
The show has still continued to get its fair share of lawsuits from its models, including a pregnancy lawsuit and a sexual harassment lawsuit...Ever since the Beauty scandals started up I viewed Barker much differently...He didn't treat his Beauties very kindly. He can't be that nice of a guy.
The blogger seems not to notice how the first part of his conclusion undermines, in a way, the second part. Since the post-Barker TPiR continues to get lawsuits from the show's models - and, boy, do the writs keep coming - it would tend to indicate that Barker was not the real issue. The show may just be legal crapola waiting to happen, no matter who the host is. After all, you've got a lot of lovely models, a successful show making a ton of money, and a bunch of Hollywood contingency fee lawyers hovering in the wings. Sounds like the perfect storm for courtroom proceedings.

I long ago lost interest in the legal contretemps. On this blog I cover TPiR's legal wranglings when there's a notable twist or turn in the endless saga. But I can't say I enjoy it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The fictional Pat and Vanna?

There's no excuse for the picture of Cheryl Ladd, except to note that she will play a game show hostess on Showtime's Ray Donovan.

Playing opposite her "as an obnoxious and self-important game show host" will be soap actor Jack Wagner. Just one whiny question: why are game show hosts so often portrayed as crummy characters you wouldn't want anywhere near your living room? This lamentable trend dates back at least to Richard Dawson's eeeeeeeeeeeevil turn as the master of the sinister ceremonies in 1987's Running Man.

Sure, some game show hosts may be insufferable. I wouldn't know, I've never met any of them. But so often their fictional counterparts are comic jerks at best and vicious heavies at worst. Gee, you'd think that script writers have something against unscripted entertainment. Hm...

No matter, I won't be watching Mr. Wagner as the obnoxious and self-important person. I don't get Showtime. I'm sure he'll do a nice job in the role, though.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bundle up

Happened to see this story about Canada's regulators forcing cable operators to unbundle channels. The writer thinks this is just swell, except that there could be a lot fewer cable channels in the future. How this outcome would be so swell is not made clear.

An odd comment in the story: GSN is one of the "least-watched" channels the writer will be happy to see die. I don't know how well our little game show network is doing in the frozen North, but down here GSN is a top thirty network. I guess the Canuck isn't much of a game show fan.

Unbundling is coming to the States, too. And it could have a real impact on the eventual range of cable options available to viewers. GSN might survive the less bundled future, but a lot of small, offbeat networks could face a grimmer fate. For a long time TV viewers were stuck with the crushing NBC-CBS-ABC broadcast triopoly. Are we going backwards to that glorious era of enforced lack of choice?

A lot of broadcast execs wouldn't mind that outcome. I'm not sure how many TV viewers will be thrilled.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A bomb full of slime

The title of this entry doesn't sound promising for a new show. But Fox's Boom is coming June 25, whether or not America is ready for exploding slime bombs.

This Israeli import has been bouncing (or bombing) around Fox for while. A year ago there were reports of internal conflict over the project, with sales guys shying from the terrorism-related issues. That rumpus seems to have settled down, as the show looks to take a more lighthearted Double Dare-ish slimy approach.

Host Tom Papa is already making the media rounds talking up the show. "Even though it's a fake Wile E. Coyote bomb, they have a chance to win real money. There's something really intense about it. This money could change people's lives. And they're cutting this wire. It's very real."

It better be real or the S&P people will do an Our Little Genius act and end the proceedings. As goofy as the format sounds, I'm kind of looking forward to Boom. I always liked the slime splashes on Double Dare.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


A few years ago I predicted that GSN's window for pre-1990 shows - usually the definition of "classics" on the game show Interwebs - would eventually shrink to a couple hours on weekday mornings. Nothing I've ever said has gotten me in more trouble. The prediction, which was pretty easy for anybody who's been watching GSN over the years, got me labeled as anti-classic, evil, foul-smelling, and a real poopie pants.

Hey, three outa four ain't bad. Anyway, the prediction comes true beginning March 30. Pre-1990 shows will get two hours on weekday mornings and that's it. Admittedly, a show from the 1990s, Shop Til You Drop, will occupy the 10:00AM slot on four weekdays. Can we consider that a semi-classic? Or maybe move the classic yardstick from 1990 to 2000? I just report, you decide.

To point out what should be obvious, I'm far from anti-classic. I purely love a lot of the old shows and often blog about them. Lately I've been OD'ing on What's My Line thanks to its superb YouTube channel. And my favorite game show of all time (and that includes everything) remains the 1973-82 run of Match Game.

At least Gene and the gang will still get the 8:00 AM hour Monday through Friday. In all honesty, though, I have to wonder how long even this shrunken window for pre-1990 material will last on GSN. With Fremantle's Buzzr subchannel set to run many classic shows, GSN may just abandon the sub-niche completely. Sigh, but there's always YouTube.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ratings: syndies do okay

TV News Check got back to its usual format of listing changes from the previous week for syndie game shows. And the news wasn't too bad for the week of March 2-8. None of the shows fell and a few gained a bit. The okay if not great household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.7 - flat but leads all syndies
Jeopardy 7.4 - up a tick
Family Feud 7.0 - up three ticks
Millionaire 1.9 - flat and Terry will take it
Celebrity Name Game 1.5 - up a tick to tie a season (and series, of course) high

TV by the Numbers showed the big three leading all syndies in viewer average. Wheel of Fortune 12.5M (weekend repeat 5.1M), Jeopardy 11.5M (weekend repeat 3.6M), Family Feud 10.7M. I know about the demos, but the total viewer numbers make most broadcast prime time "hits" look like nothing special.

TV Newser says that GSN cooled a bit from the torrid pace of the previous week. But the network still enjoyed fine ratings for the week of March 9-15. 487K/351K/505K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended prime time. GSN ranked 34th, 28th and 29th in the windows.

Broke A$$ Game Show has settled into good if not spectacular numbers by MTV standards, according to Showbuzz. The latest run pulled 701K total viewers with a 0.33 18-49 rating.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Our little genre's first lady

The Daytime Emmys next month will honor Betty White with a lifetime achievement award.

If anybody deserves it, Betty does. Long ago (and rightly so) dubbed the first lady of game shows, Betty has appeared on so many classics of the genre that she is herself a classic of the genre. Probably most associated with Password, she has appeared on dozens of other game shows. I got tired of counting them all in the "Self" section of her IMDb page. She spans many versions of some formats over five decades of playing the games.

Which was the secret of her success: she could play. She wasn't just a clueless celeb brought in to fill a panel or victimize a hapless civvie partner. She could literally put points on the board...or even destroy a toaster, as she proved on Super Password.

Besides the game shows she also enjoyed a pretty nice career as an actress, talk show guest, and all-round TV institution. But our little genre benefited the most from her talents, IMO. And it also got her a husband. Congratulations, Betty.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


No, this entry's title does not refer to the ancient Fleetwood Mac album.

That album was called Rumours, anyway, with the odd British spelling for a collection mostly recorded in California. (Yeah, I know about the band members from the U.K.) Instead, I'm talking about the screenshot from Game Show Confessions. The rumors of an American version of Pointless are based largely on this tweet from, appropriately enough, Mark Labbett of The Chase.

Who knows if the rumo(u)rs will come true? The Chase has turned into a nice critical and ratings success for GSN, though not a ginormous Nielsen crusher. So people might be looking at other possible British game show imports.

Rumors constantly fly around the game show Interwebs. A comment on yesterday's post says that this casting call, which I mentioned in a faux tweet, is a "fake" because it's really for the upcoming Neil Patrick Harris variety show. Well, even if that rumor is true, the call might really not be a fake because lots of stories have mentioned that the Harris project will feature game show segments. Just like the show's Saturday Night Takeaway original in, you guessed it, Britain.

So reader beware. I just link to the material on the web and let you decide. I take all rumors with a metric ton of salt, but they do make the game show Internet more interesting, if not more reliable.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Final months

On the YouTube What's My Line channel, we're really counting down to the finale of the CBS run. This episode from July 2, 1967 came just a couple months before the end. In fact, only nine more eps remained after this one.

I guessed the first contestant, Corky Carroll, as soon as I saw him. His appearance practically shouted "surfer dude," and Arlene Francis took almost no time to identify him. He even has a Wikipedia article as the country's first prominent surfer.

The second contestant didn't look the part, but the panel nailed her quickly as a pig breeder. Then the mystery guest segment was fun as musical comedy legends Adolph Green and Betty Comden fooled the panel for a while, though Adolph's wife Phyllis Newman was a guest panelist. Bennett Cerf eventually caught on.

With all the quick guesses, the show had plenty of time for a fourth contestant, a fireworks maker. The panel kept their perfect record as Bennett again guessed. After all those years Arlene Francis and Bennett Cerf knew what they were doing when it came to figuring out people's jobs.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Home alone

The video got put in the sidebar, but I'll link to the Inside Edition version. Kristin Sausville wound up all alone in Final Jeopardy yesterday. The other two players just couldn't get above the big ZEE-RO.

In keeping with the episode's gameplay, Kristin missed the final clue. It was something about Social Security, and Kristin's got a ways to go before she starts drawing her monthly benefits. Which assumes that Social Security will still be around when she reaches her sixties. But that's another discussion.

This goofball Jeopardy finale has set off a small wave of stories. USA Today says that a similar result happened in 2005, and they're right. It was an Ultimate T of C game on February 23, 2005. Jeff Richmond was the lonely guy on that show, but he did better than Kristin and nailed the final clue.

Kristin posted a nice tweet that sympathized with her opponents. She also defended them from some of the taunts on Twitter and elsewhere. A touch of class from a true Jeopardy champion.

UPDATE: A commenter on this entry points out other lonely souls on Final Jeopardy. It's so sad and happy at the same time to be all by yourself.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I promised a review of the new version of Body Language on the Buzzr YouTube channel. Would I let you down?

For what it is, it's not bad. In fact, the production values appear to have improved slightly from Buzzr's first couple of series, Family Feud and Password. At least the set looks like it cost, oh, twenty bucks instead of five (slight exaggeration). And the video runs a little longer - twelve minutes - so we can get in some more gameplay.

It's just a few rounds of charades, nothing very special. One team is a bit more competent and wins the front game pretty easily. Sadly, they don't win the huge money bonus round.

The contestants are the usual YouTube youngsters, and they make the most of their chances to plug their video channels. Host Cynthia Luciette violates the laws of physics by talking faster than the speed of light. This girl can pump out 88 bazillion words per nanosecond. But she's nice to everybody and keeps the game moving.

The video's gotten nearly 50K views in a week, with a 481-9 like-dislike ratio. Compared to most of the stuff on YouTube, it probably looks okay to passers-by.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What, me retire?

Just about everybody in show biz has taken a turn as Alex Trebek's rumored heir, once the 74-year-old quizmeister retires.

Dan Patrick, Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Pat Sajak, Barack Obama…okay, I'm sort of kidding about that last one. Anyhoo, you can put away the Ouija boards for now. Alex just re-upped for at least three more seasons, though the 2017-18 year. Pat and Vanna are also onboard through 2017-18, which means they'll watch the minimum on the bonus round gradually creep up and up.

Sooner or later Alex will probably step down. The guy does turn 78 in 2018, and even Bob Barker only kept going until age 83. Pat and Vanna are comparative youngsters, but there were a few rumbles about their eventual replacements, too. We'll all have to rumble about something else for a while.

The shows are still solid. They both just completed successful February sweeps, with improved ratings from the previous year. This makes me wonder how long Steve Harvey might stay at Feud. Ten years? Twenty years? The guy's only 58, after all.

UPDATE: Got a partial answer on Feud. The show's twitter feed says Steve Harvey is signed for another five years. That'll make ten and counting.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ratings: syndies mostly sweep upward

February sweeps just wrapped, so TV News Check does their usual comparison to last year. Syndie game shows mostly had reason to smile. There was one exception, and you can probably guess it. The guy who shouts the most didn't do so swell. The sweeps ratings and the changes from last year...

Wheel of Fortune 7.6 - up a couple ticks compared to 2014 and leads all syndies
Jeopardy 7.4 - up four ticks to more than keep pace with the soulmate
Family Feud 6.8 - up ten ticks as Steve grins ever so brightly
Millionaire 1.9 - down three ticks, sympathy to Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - up three ticks from its debut week, as Craig settles in

As always, Pat and Vanna also led all syndies in total viewers for the week of February 23-March 1. TV by the Numbers doesn't do sweeps stuff, they just give weekly viewer averages. Wheel of Fortune 12.6M (weekend repeat 5.7M), Jeopardy 11.5M (weekend repeat 3.5M), Family Feud 10.1M, Millionaire 2.7M (from a press release).

GSN rocked for the week of March 2-8. In fact, it was the first time I can ever recall the network's prime time average climbing above a half-million. The viewer averages from TV Newser: 506K/366K/544K prime time/total day/extended prime time. GSN ranked 30th, 26th and 28th in the windows. Fantastic by GSN's historical standards.

Fronting up with GSN

The GSN upfront has come and gone. I know you can't wait for the news. Most notable for me was the host of the Chain Reaction revival: radio guy Michael "Psycho Mike" Catherwood. I checked his Wikipedia article and he has impressive tats, a daughter named Magnolia, and a song parody called Hey There Vagina. Hm, we may get some offbeat chains (and whips?) on the new eps.

The network has greenlit reality epic Steampunk'd and game show Lie Detectors. The first is something about sci-fi art, the second has comedians trying to fool a not so gullible (I hope) audience. GSN has also acquired a bunch of three-minute interstitials called Man vs. Fly, which feature people vs. houseflies. May the best life form win.

In development are the previously announced Jason Blum horror game Hellevator and fact-ordering contest Winsanity. Plus the network is working on a Skin Wars spinoff, which is not a huge surprise. And then there's Window Warriors, a reality effort about shop windows. Did I ever mention that I hate shopping?

GSN wants to get hipper. Translation: they're tired of a 0.07 18-49 rating. We'll see what happens with any or all of these shows.

UPDATE: GSN has posted a bunch of photos from the upfront. Plus a new logo!

Monday, March 9, 2015

YouTube follies

While I'm palavering about Buzzr, Fremantle's planned game show subchannel, I want to give the project a little love for their YouTube cousin.

The Buzzr channel on the video supersite has been posting short versions of classic game show formats. Featuring YouTube young'uns in an attempt to appeal to other YouTube young'uns, the videos have met with many grumps from the notoriously grumpy game show Interwebs. BuzzerBlog, Game Show Garbage and Game Show Forum have all dumped on the videos.

Like that matters. Who cares what a few grousers (like me) on game show sites think? The real measure of success is YouTube views, and Buzzr has racked up plenty. Their first series, a seven-part Family Feud, has garnered over 650K views so far, with like-dislike ratios of 1,931-54 or so.

Even more importantly, the Buzzr channel is trying to reach new viewers who have little or no interest in old-style game shows. (This outreach may well account for some of the grumpiness from game show sites.) I've nitpicked some features of the channel's Feud and Password versions. But I really like how they're trying to lure a different audience to our little genre.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Buzzr's first show

At what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board, they're discussing a mega-critical question: "What will be the first show on Buzzr?"

Buzzr, of course, is Fremantle's game show subchannel set to launch May 31. Naturally, the thread starts with a swipe at Steve Harvey for not being Richard Dawson. After all, this board leads with a picture of a guy who last hosted a game show thirty years ago. Stories have already appeared saying the subchannel won't use Harvey Feud at the beginning, so that show is probably out.

My guess is Match Game as the most obvious pick from the Fremantle library. The board doesn't take the topic seriously, and the thread ends with a bit of the usual bickering. But it's a mildly interesting question as we ready ourselves to be present at the creation.

By the way, Buzzr's YouTube cousin has posted their new logo (see the screenshot) and their twelve-minute version of Body Language. I have no idea if the logo will show up on the TV subchannel. But I will get around to reviewing Buzzr's Body Language sometime this week. Don't look now, but some of Buzzr's boiled-down YouTube game show videos have already racked up well over 100K views.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My greatest hits

At About.com Carrie Grosvenor agrees with me that it's a good game show day when GSN brings back Chain Reaction.

She then goes on to recount some of the format's oddly long and convoluted history. I covered a lot of this historical ground in a couple of old blog posts. "Rusty chains" from December 30, 2011 chatted about the original NBC version with Bill Cullen in 1980. I noted that the basic format was pretty much the same as GSN's, though the chains were looser than the later version's. The money was better, too.

"Middle link in the chain" from July 6, 2013 chewed over USA Network's 1986-91 version. As the screenshot shows, by the final season this show had acquired a look and feel very close to GSN's eventual 2006-07 incarnation. Even the colors are eerily similar. But the chains are still a little looser.

What will GSN's new 2015 version look like? Got me, but it's a safe bet that Dylan Lane won't be part of the package. He really wasn't as bad on the show as some Internet posters would have you believe. But Dylan seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, or at least the show biz part of the planet.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Her turn to spin

Game show contestant stories are a dime a dozen on the Internet. In fact, they generally don't even cost a dime…or a penny.

But this story about Michelle Andersen, a recent winner on Wheel of Fortune, is a little more interesting than most. That's because the story reminds everybody of just how freakin' hard it is to get on the show. Lots and lots of people try out and only the few, the proud, the expert puzzle-solvers make it to the studio. Michelle had to go through a string of auditions before she got her crack at the consonants and vowels.

The story also offers the usual touches for Wheel sagas. Pat and Vanna are so nice (and so is Jim Thornton) and the game is so difficult under the lights. The taping whooshes by in a flash and you barely have time to think about all the stuff that's happening on the set. Michelle says she'll never yell at a contestant from her TV room at home again.

Presumably this includes the poor soul who's getting web-smashed for her Seven Dwarfs screwup. To be honest, "Sneeky" sounds like a good name for a rapper Dwarf. Or maybe a New Jersey denizen of an MTV reality show.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Happy Gilmore, cont.

While I'm on The Price is Right, I might as well dump this video on you. You get to watch Bob Barker dump, well, something on Adam Sandler.

It's a pretty funny bit (honest!) for a Comedy Central charity event. A stunt double obviously fills in for the 91-year-old Bob in a few of the scenes, but the legendary TPiR host does a lot of good stuff himself. The final battle is a little much, though it's nice to see harps put to good use.

The show rolls on Comedy Central at 8:00 PM Sunday. It's for a good cause: financing Bob Barker's hip replacement (just kidding, I think). I hope that the birth-death dates given for Mr. Barker don't prove prophetic. Sandler's dates? I'm not too worried about them.

One other thing. The skit works in a Drew Carey reference without mentioning his name. Those clever little writers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Only on a game show

Some human interest stories from our little genre are ridiculously hard for me to resist. So I'm not even going to try.

Today on The Price is Right an 88-year-old lady won a motorcycle. Really. You can watch the video it if you don't believe me. And the hometown newspaper ran a story about it.

The lady's name is Betty Boehm, and sadly she doesn't plan to do wheelies on her new possession. Or maybe I should be happy that she's not going to barrel down the highway. "My son rides a Harley-Davidson, but I don't think he's interested in it. I'll probably sell it."

She should find a buyer for the Triumph bike with an 865cc engine and five-speed transmission. Betty's a retired teacher and principal, though not a motorcycle mama. She's also confident in her TPiR abilities. "I pretty well know what all the prices are." Apparently.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ratings: Craig hits a new high

Syndie game shows mostly got happy during the week of February 16-22. But Craig Ferguson had a special reason to smile. Not to mention that he's creeping up toward fourth place in the pecking order. TV News Check posts the nice household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.6 - up a couple ticks to lead all syndies
Jeopardy 7.4 - up three ticks
Family Feud 7.2 - up seven ticks as Steve bounces back big from a couple of down weeks
Millionaire 1.8 - down a tick, Terry can't catch a break
Celebrity Name Game 1.5 - up a tick to a new season high

The big three took the top three slots in total viewers among all syndies. The sextuple counted Weekend Adventure doesn't count. At least Nielsen doesn't count it right. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 12.5M (weekend repeat 6.4M), Jeopardy 11.8M (weekend repeat 4.0M), Family Feud 10.9M. A whole lotta viewin' goin' on.

TV Newser finally got their cable chart up. GSN did more nice business for the week of February 23-March 1. 445K/349K/499K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 36th, 29th and 32nd in the windows. Yeah, I know the demos skew near death.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Game show self-congratulation

Readers of this blog know about my sour attitude toward show biz award shows. It's just great to watch the glitterati congratulate each other, in shows that go on longer than Senate speeches.

But the Daytime Emmys do "honor" game shows, so I'm sort of forced to cover them. In recent years the show has bumped further and further down the media food chain. Nobody wanted the sucker, not the major networks, not the CW, not HLN, not even a piddly little online site.

Just when it seemed like the show was finally going to give up the statuette ghost, the old TV Guide channel (now known as Pop, as in Pop Warner football) has signed on for a two-year hitch. My guess is that nobody will watch the awards, but the producers still promise: "Even if you don't watch daytime TV, you're going to love this show."

Love it or not, I'll let you know which game show wins. This is a full-service game show blog.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Check your local (blog) listings

A poster on Game Show Paradise notes a change in GSN's schedule, and I respond...

Other poster: Was GSN announcing schedule changes for March? Because I was very surprised to see Minute To Win It being shown this morning and that made my day so good today.

You should check the sidebar at Game Show Follies a little more often. The schedules for the first couple of weeks in March have been up for a while now. The Fieri Minute To Win It eps run at 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM on Saturday. Generally speaking, GSN seems to be releasing the schedule for two weeks in advance on Wednesday or Thursday. I put 'em on the blog as soon as I get 'em.

The next big change on the schedule will be the debuts of Monopoly Millionaires Club and It Takes a Church in late March. Check the blog a couple weeks in advance for how those shows are listed. I assume both will get some reruns, but we'll see.

Have to admit I don't follow the GSN schedule as closely as I used to. Scott Rahner at Game Show Network News tracks every little twist and turn in the schedule, based on the pds I post.