Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ratings: syndies tumble, GSN rolls

Let's just say that syndie game shows have seen better weeks. Every show except one (which was flat) was down for June 15-21. The result was a three-way tie for the top spot. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down a tick to a season low
Family Feud 5.9 - down a couple ticks to create the tie
Jeopardy 5.9 - flat
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick to tie its all-time low
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - what else, down a tick

For the tiebreaks I used the viewer averages from TV by the Numbers. Wheel of Fortune 9.4M (weekend repeat 3.8M), Family Feud 9.0M, Jeopardy 8.9M. Compared to prime time broadcast in the summer months, these numbers look pretty good.

GSN recorded a small but interesting milestone for the June 22-28 week. The network snuck onto the list of total day viewer averages at TV by the Numbers with 377K. GSN has been creeping up the charts lately, and even TV by the Numbers has finally taken note. It's a terrific total day number by the network's historical standards. For all of second quarter 2015, TV Newser says GSN averaged 408K/311K/431K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 39th, 31st and 35th in the windows.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Times change

Game Show Confessions put up the screenshot about an awards show.

I wasn't surprised that Press Your Luck never got a Daytime Emmy nom. The format has never appealed to me much, since it basically consists of hitting a button and seeing what happens. (Unless you're Paul Michael Larson.) But I was a little amused to see that, back in the day, a game show could give away the "prize" of a trip to the Daytime Emmys.

If a game show tried that prize nowadays, the contestant might well ask, what the hey are the Daytime Emmys? An awards show that once garnered twenty million viewers on broadcast TV is now reduced to a fill-in on what used to be the TV Guide Network. (And while we're at it, whatever happened to TV Guide, too?)

Not that I'm crushed to see a show biz awards show fade into insignificance. I wish all the self-congratulation borefests would go away. I only cover the Daytime Emmys on this blog because they have a few game show categories. But the "prize" on Press Your Luck reminded me of how time chips away at everything, including game show bloggers.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

LMAD on tour?

Google News always offers plenty of stories about the endless wanderings of The Price is Right's live show. But will Let's Make a Deal follow its Fremantle soulmate onto the road? That's what this story from the Paramount Arts Theater (PAC) in Huntington, WV says:
After last season's success (in spite of a reschedule because of weather) to hosting a tour of The Price is Right, the PAC is spinning the wheel, so to speak, on another tour of a classic game show, Let's Make a Deal, which will take place on Oct. 20.
Sorry, don't have any more details on who will host this touring show or what else might be happening with the production. As the story states, Todd Newton brought the TPiR live show to the theater a few months ago. So it looks like something will pull into town on October 20. I'll keep a watch on the web for any other dates and locations for this putative LMAD tour.

It does seem like a natural to put a live version of the big dealing on the road. The CBS show will soon start its seventh season and gets more than respectable numbers. Why not send a touring show around the country? You just have to pack up a few prizes and zonks.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Red Corvette

The local Lubbock, TX newspaper notes resident Ron Riley, who got a nice birthday present.

Ron won a red Corvette on Wheel of Fortune in 1991. Taxes being what they are - too freaking high - he sold the car and never drove it. So this year his wife presented him with a 1991 Corvette on his birthday as a replacement.

Which got me thinking about how many gazillions of game show prizes have been sold over the years to meet the taxman's demands. Now and then people have proposed exempting some amount of game show winnings from taxes, but the idea has never gotten anywhere. The IRS wants your money, now.

At least this story ends happily, with an impressive automobile in the winner's garage. In case you want to know, today's Corvettes start at $55,000. Which is a pricey neighborhood to start in. 1991 models range somewhere above $30,000.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Game show foxtrot

Noting the less than overwhelming ratings for Fox's game shows this summer, commenter Rick Silas wants better lead-ins for the shows.
Fox's problem is they expected these shows (5th Grader and Bullseye, as well [as Boom]) to self start. They should have run after that damn Gordon Ramsay show (MasterChef, I think) to achieve max exposure. I think someone at the network is truly trying to kill all these shows.
Fox did provide Bullseye with a MasterChef lead-in and got very so-so results. Bullseye dropped about half of Ramsay's viewers and 18-49 demo.

It looks like Fox's game show formats just don't have much appeal this summer. (Personal disclaimer: I liked Boom, was meh on Bullseye, and dumped on 5th Grader's glacial pace.) Meanwhile, ABC is rolling with great numbers for Celebrity Family Feud. Which suggests Fox might have picked the wrong format and, at least as importantly, the wrong host. Steve Harvey had no trouble self-starting, regardless of the lead-in. In fact, he's helping lead-out Battlebots get quite respectable summer ratings.

Fox's game shows haven't bombed horrendously, but another season looks iffy at best for any of them. I don't know if different lead-ins would change anything.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bomb squad

Just watched the debut of Boom, the Israeli import that's kicked around in development at Fox forever. The show was goopy, silly, loud, and literally in your (or the contestant's) face. In other words, I liked it a lot.

You probably know the basic premise. Teams of contestants try to defuse "bombs" by cutting wires that correspond to correct answers for multiple-choice questions. Cut the wrong wire and the bomb explosively emits mass quantities of yellow custard, pizza sauce, maple syrup, or other varieties of goop. The yucky spray hits the hapless contestant, the audience, the host, and random passers-by. (Okay, I made up that last one.)

There's a money tree, of course, with questions/bombs of increasing difficulty. We've got to borrow something from Millionaire, after all. The reason the show took so long to surface in all its gloppy glory on Fox was the serious issue of terrorist overtones. All the same doubts arose when the show originally ran in Israel.

The good news is that the show seemed much more in the spirit of Double Dare than the Tsarnaev brothers. The ambiance was light and comedic, not dark and frightening. The show generated considerable suspense as each wire was cut, host Tom Papa ran the proceedings competently with sometimes sardonic humor, and the pace was brisk enough to get through two complete games in the debut. It was a fun way to pass an hour.

UPDATE: Fun or not, Boom was something of a bust in the ratings. Oh well, I still liked it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Assassins inspire game show

Maybe a game show based on assassination is just what we all need.

A bunch of sources are chattering about a game show supposedly in development based on Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the 2005 Brangelina epic about a married pair of assassins. I'm not sure exactly how this format would work. Would cheap extras be hired to get killed by conniving contestants? Maybe the doomed extras would wear red shirts from Star Trek.

Okay, I don't think that anybody will really get bumped off. The Hollywood Reporter story says: "The series will feature married couples who compete in a high-octane, high-stakes game." That's what they always say about any show in development. You usually don't hear about low-octane, low-stakes projects.

Hollywood Reporter goes on to note this summer's minor renaissance in game shows. The secret behind the sort of resurgence? "Game shows have become appealing to networks as they can be produced cheaper than other reality fare, provided host fees are low." Yep, those low production costs have helped keep our little genre alive for a long time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ratings: Steve gets to the top

With the usual caveat that it's not really an apples-to-apples comparison, Family Feud finally knocked off Wheel of Fortune for the top spot in the syndie game show ratings for the week of June 8-14. Of course, Steve benefits from multiple runs each day, while Pat and Vanna have to make their numbers off only one showing. But it's still a milestone of sorts. TV News Check posts the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.1 - actually down a couple ticks, but still nabs the top spot
Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 5.9 - down four ticks to land just behind the Sony soulmate
Millionaire 1.7 - up a tick to get off the series low at last
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat as usual

Pat and Vanna still edged ahead in viewer average. TV by the Numbers has the totals. Wheel of Fortune 9.5M (weekend repeat 4.3M), Family Feud 9.2M, Jeopardy 9.0M (weekend repeat 3.3M). It was an odd week with all sorts of preemptions, but the numbers are still pretty good.

GSN kept rolling in the June 15-21 week. TV Newser says the network ran 478K/357K/491K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended prime time. GSN ranked 31st, 26th and 27th in the windows. Those ranks are very high by historical standards.

Replanting a money tree

Chad Mosher reports that syndie Millionaire will return to a non-random money tree for its new season this fall.

Chad says that he doesn't know if the questions will also be of increasing (instead of random) difficulty. He would be "surprised" if the difficulty levels didn't return to their classic increasing pattern, but he doesn't know for sure. I have to think that a money tree wouldn't make much sense with random difficulty, but we'll see.

The 50:50 lifeline will also return, replacing Jump the Question. The other lifelines, Ask the Audience and Plus One, will remain unchanged. All in all, the shift is back toward the original version of the syndie. Chris Harrison will run a show rather similar to what Meredith Vieira hosted back in 2002.

With Millionaire's ratings bumping along at all-time lows, it's no surprise that the show is getting a makeover. The producers may think that nostalgia for the good old days (and good old rules) might help revive the syndie. The Nielsen Company will decide if the rules changes work better than the quest in the last couple seasons for the next Steve Harvey.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Feuding for humans and machines

ABC premiered Celebrity Family Feud and Battlebots last night. I wanted to watch the U.S. Open instead, but I did my duty and took in both of the ABC efforts.

Or at least I watched a little of them. I saw the first Feud segment and got the idea pretty quick. The Braxton family acted like a bunch of spoiled rotten reality celebs, probably because they are a bunch of spoiled rotten reality celebs. The family of Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) was mostly okay, though his mother sounded like she wanted to be as spoiled rotten a reality celeb as the most obnoxious Braxton.

The questions were off-color, seemingly calculated to send Game Show Forum into a spasm of tsk-tsking. Steve Harvey played off the families as usual, though his shtick seemed far more fake with celebs than with civvies. At one point Harvey sucked up to the Braxtons by talking about how many records they've sold. A required plug by Steve, but still irritating. I switched back to the U.S. Open. At last the Braxtons weren't playing in that.

Wouldn't you know, the golf tournament turned ridiculously melodramatic, so I saw very little of Battlebots. I did get a glimpse of smoking metal in the center of the stage, while Chris Rose and some other guy were yelling something. Then they showed a replay of a couple gadgets chewing into each other. My human chauvinist self prefers carbon-based contestants. Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth won the U.S. Open in an absurd finish.

UPDATE: The Nielsen Company smiled on both shows. Celebrity Family Feud scored 8.5M viewers with a 2.4 18-49 rating. Battlebots got 5.4M viewers and a 1.9 18-49 rating.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Soska-ed

GSN's upcoming horror game show Hellevator is getting a lot of media attention by the standards of our little game show network.

That's partially because of producer Jason Blum's rep as the master of "respected" horror projects like the Paranormal Activity series. But there's also that pair of twisted twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska. They got the gig to host the show.

I can see why they landed the job. The sisters are creepy looking in a sexy way, or maybe sexy looking in a creepy way. If Hellevator is going to be an offbeat game show - and it sounds like one of the wilder projects ever on GSN - you don't want somebody normal and reassuring like Mark Walberg. You want somebody who looks good in fake blood and general gore.

The sisters' Wikipedia article offers a few gems. Turns out Jen and Sylvia are big supporters of "Women in Horror Month." I don't think that's a month when the female sex is supposed to be really horrible, but what do I know? They're also fascinated by "body modification," though Wikipedia assures us that they don't "have any extreme modifications themselves."

Yeah, they sound like the right duo for this show.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A new nadir every day!

Gotta admit I don't keep up with BuzzerBlog as much as I used to. They have shoved a lot of their stuff onto Facebook, and I just don't get there that often.

So little did I know that moi was the subject of the latest BuzzerBlog, well, whatever you call a Facebook rumpus. Seems that BuzzerBlog has gone whole hog on defending Buzzr's bonehead decision to persecute the fantastic What's My Line YouTube channel. As readers of this blog know, I think this is the dumbest p.r. move possible for Buzzr, regardless of the legalities of the situation, which are murky at best. (At least some WML eps appear to be public domain. Which might make all of BuzzerBlog's huffing and puffing about fair use completely irrelevant for those eps.) In order to protect their incredibly valuable right to show one (1) What's My Line episode in the dead of night to an audience of literally dozens, Buzzr is alienating the classic game show fanbase they claim to be serving.

For expressing my incendiary opinion, Buzzerblog posters and commenters have complimented me for reaching a "new nadir," defecating (to use the polite term) on Buzzr, having a "problem," pandering to "the ultra nerdy area of fandom," and being an "obnoxious moron."

All I can say is, thank you, I try hard to upset the apple cart every day. And I'm going to keep right on turning over every apple cart in sight. It's just too much fun. Anyway, right now it looks like much of the WML channel is still up and running, while the creator of the site tries to placate and/or fight Buzzr's lawyers.

As somebody once said, why can't we all just get along? The WML YouTube channel is no threat to Buzzr. If anything, the YouTube outlet helps the subchannel by generating interest in one of the classic shows on its schedule. Once upon a time Buzzr people were happy happy joy joy over the "thousands of old clips on YouTube from these game shows from superfans," and how they helped create interest in Buzzr's library of old formats, not to mention ad revenue on YouTube.

One Fremantle guy - Fremantle is Buzzr's corporate parent, of course - said it best, before the lawyers got ornery. "When we see a fan of our show who has gone through the hassle of uploading (content from) it, it’s not an indication of them stealing from us — we see it as fan loyalty." Let's go back to those good old days...which were a few weeks ago.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Contestants are funny

Game Show, the interactive spoof of our little genre, has played almost everywhere. Recently the play has come to Duluth, and it gets a mostly favorable review from the local theater critic.

Or at least the critic loves the audience members who get shanghaied into participating in the game show within, well, Game Show. He really appreciates the goofy answers they come up with to the game's trivia questions. Like which famous novel begins: "Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff." No, it wasn't To Kill a Mockingbird, as one hapless contestant guessed.

The critic is less impressed with the scripted story in Game Show, which is all about backstage machinations surrounding embattled host Troy Richards. He does note the background music "from classic but mostly long-forgotten TV game shows from yesteryear." Little does he know that those long-forgotten shows can set off yelling matches on the Internet.

One of these days I'll have to take in a production of Game Show. I've read so much about the spoof, I might as well actually see it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Self-congratulation

Just to let everybody know that they're doing real swell, GSN has put out a press release burbling with good Nielsen news.

I don't begrudge our little game show network some bragging rights. They have come a long way in twenty years, as my weekly ratings post have chronicled. Shows like Skin Wars and Idiotest are even doing semi-respectable 18-49 numbers. The ancient-skewing GSN only occasionally knows anything about that demo.

Next month the network has new seasons of The Chase and Chain Reaction ready to launch. If previous ratings are any indication, they should perform quite nicely, thank you. Down the road a little are Steampunk'd, a reality skein which sounds iffy, and Hellevator, a horror game show which sounds intriguing. Then there's Man vs. Fly, an interstitial novelty which sounds goofy.

GSN bubbles about how this June is shaping up as the best June ever for the network. To me this looks like a not so veiled reference to the new "competition" from Buzzr. Although game show hardcores plastered Facebook and other sites with predictions (or hopes) of doom to GSN from Buzzr, nothing of the sort is happening, of course. Now some of the hardcores are grumbling they knew all along that Buzzr wouldn't hurt GSN.

Okay, whatever. As long as Buzzr runs forty-year-old Match Game eps in prime time, the "competition" will be a joke. But one of these days Buzzr might start running shows like current Family Feud, The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal, which would attract a far larger audience beyond the hardcores. Then the real competition might begin.

Best and brightest

A faux tweet mentioned Nation's Brightest, a game show now casting in the U.S. This looks like an American version of an international format which has been kicking around for a few years.

Don't ask me if the show will ever see the light of cable or broadcast. But there's a website where you can sign up for an audition, if you're on the bright side. And don't we all like to think we're on that side? It's better than qualifying for a Nation's Dumbest game show.

Google rustled up British and German versions of the bright-people project, which seems to have enjoyed some success in Deutschland. The Brit version expired in a hurry, according to Wikipedia. I have no idea what network, if any, might be planning the American show. Is there a cable net out there that prides itself on an intelligent audience? (The question is rhetorical.)

"Cognitive abilities" is a pretty highfalutin' phrase for a game show recruiting poster. Naturally, the girl on the poster is wearing glasses, because we all know that really smart people wear glasses all the time. Oh, I shouldn't be so snarky. There are worst things than a game show that wants intelligent contestants.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

GSN stuff

Now that our little game show network seems to be doing fine, even with the "competition" from Buzzr, GSN will trot out a couple new efforts this summer. Neither one looks like much of a game show.

Steampunk'd has always seemed like an odd concept to me. The press release says the eight-ep reality series will challenge ten contestants "to marry objects from the past and present in order to create impressive futuristic designs." Sort of sounds like Skin Wars without the naked girls. I don't want to prejudge, but will a reality show without nakedness do much for GSN's numbers?

Jeannie Mai from The Real will host. No debut date yet, just "coming this summer."

The other new thing from GSN is Man vs. Fly, a series of short interstitials not calculated to win plaudits from PETA. The promos on the network show a housefly getting smashed rather gorily. Anyway, the three-minute "show," acquired from Britain's Sun newspaper, will feature humans vs. flies. May the best lifeform win. GSN is also reportedly developing a half-hour version, which I guess will smash more flies.

UPDATE: Hellevator from horror guru Jason Blum will debut an eight-ep season later this year on GSN. A team of three rides the elevator from hell into various challenges. Twisted twins Jen and Sylvia Soska host. In a twisted fashion, I presume.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ratings: it's close at the syndie top

The top three syndie game shows all gained ground in the June 1-7 week. The result was a close run race. Now we have to remember that the race isn't really fair. Jeopardy and Family Feud get a big boost from their multiple runs every day. Wheel of Fortune has to earn its viewers with only one daily showing. But that's the way Nielsen does business. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.4 - up three ticks to maintain a precarious lead
Jeopardy 6.3 - up a couple ticks
Family Feud 6.3 - up three ticks
Millionaire 1.6 - flat as Terry winds down in reruns
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - down a tick

Pat and Vanna led all syndies in total viewers. TV by the Numbers gives the viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.0M (weekend repeat 3.4M), Jeopardy 9.5M, Family Feud 9.3M. Impressive numbers by summer standards, even with Nielsen's double (or more) counting for Alex and Steve.

Skin Wars ain't a fave of mine, but its second season debut sure didn't hurt GSN's ratings. TV Newser says the network scored 485K/349K/493K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time for the June 8-14 week. GSN ranked 34th, 28th and 29th in the windows. A terrific week by the network's historical standards.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Date in history

TV Media Insights reminds us that Bob Barker's final The Price is Right ep aired on this date in 2007.

Usually I don't take much notice of such anniversaries. They come around every year, after all, and making a big deal about them seems a little forced. But I happened to see this thread on the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's about Bob's supposed changes in hosting style over his oh-so-many years on TPiR.

Truth be told, I haven't followed The Price is Right closely enough over the decades to decide whether the thread has any validity. Some of the comments seem more influenced by off-camera happenings - the death of Bob's wife, the various model scandals - than anything Barker may have been doing in front of the camera. The thread then wanders off into chat about other hosts, almost all from the past, of course. This is the older-is-better board to end all older-is-better boards.

My two pennies are that a host's "style" (whatever that vague term may include) is pretty well set early in a show's run. Sure, some changes can creep in over the years, but what you see early is mostly the same as what you see late. When Bob Barker returned for the April Fools stunt on TPiR earlier this year, his style - making obvious allowances for age - seemed much the same as always.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Day at the races

Buzzr is a dinky little game show subchannel with a 100-year-old schedule watched by 34 people. The outfit is doing its best (or worst) to shut down the superb What's My Line channel on YouTube. Before the lawyers win, I wanted to see if the WML channel had any obvious tie-ins with the recent Triple Crown victory by American Pharoah.

Wouldn't you know, I rustled up the June 4, 1961 ep, which featured jockey John Sellers. He rode fabled colt Carry Back to wins in the Derby and the Preakness, only to fall short in the Belmont. This was part of the first long hiatus in Triple Crown winners, finally ended by Secretariat in 1973. American Pharoah ended an even longer drought earlier this month.

The blindfolded panel zeroed in quickly on Mr. Sellers. Joey Bishop made the final guess. In the ensuing chitchat, John Sellers really had no reason for Carry Back's seventh-place finish in the Belmont. Later it came out that the horse had a left front ankle injury.

John Sellers piled up a bunch of wins as a jockey before his retirement in 1997. He was elected to the Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2007 and died in 2010. His Wikipedia article mentions his WML ep, and even his winnings of $10.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Soapbox

Once in a while - like all the time - I get the itch to buck authority. A couple of admins on Game Show Paradise have been leaning on me because I've said some less than nice things about Buzzr. So I lean back...

I posted GSN's averages and rankings for the June 1-7 week, and they were excellent by the network's historical standards and better than the monthly averages for May. So much for any impact from Buzzr.

Showbuzz also posted all of GSN's numbers for prime time last night (June 10) - it was an all-original night of Idiotest and Skin Wars - and they were again very good by the network's standards. 435K total viewers and a 0.10 18-49 rating. The last number in particular is great for the old-skewing GSN.

I know it's early in Buzzr's existence and blah blah blah. But I'll say this right now. As long as Buzzr runs stuff like 1970s Tattletales in prime time, the subchannel will thrill 27 people on the Internet and go virtually unwatched in the real world.

But here's the thing. If Buzzr suddenly starts running last year's The Price is Right in prime time, it will very quickly become a real competitor to GSN. And my guess is that a real competition with GSN is exactly what Fremantle wants.

One of the Game Show Paradise admins: As for nobody using that thread, that doesn't mean that we can't move posts that "speculate" or don't really relate to the topic we're talking about here.

My comments relate completely to the subjects of the threads where I post. This thread is called "GSN Ratings Discussion." So in my comments, I've posted plenty of links to...GSN ratings. And I've discussed those ratings in detail. That's more than some other posts in this thread do. Your latest post, for instance, lectures me without saying a thing about ratings for GSN.

Anyway, the evidence is incontrovertible. Buzzr is having no discernible influence at all on the numbers for GSN. Exactly the opposite, in fact. GSN is doing better business since Buzzr launched. I realize that's not a popular viewpoint around here. This board is full of cheerleaders for Buzzr. But to follow the impact (or more exactly, the non-impact or the reverse impact) of Buzzr on GSN's ratings is completely on-topic in a thread labeled, once again, "GSN Ratings Discussion."

UPDATE: In a hilarious bit of authoritarianism gone wild, the admins at Game Show Paradise have broken my comments into two parts and sent one of the parts to a different thread. They also deleted some of my comments that they didn't like. Some people just have to throw their weight around, even on a little web board.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Big doings in Elmira

In the faux tweets I've often gibed about how The Price is Right's live show voyages to every village and hamlet in the land. But the show is a big deal to some of the towns it visits, after all. This story about TPiR coming to Elmira, NY in October reminds me of that.

Wikipedia says that Elmira is a small town of about thirty thousand tucked away on the New York-Pennsylvania border. It's the county seat of Chemung County, which has about ninety thousand people spread out over 411 square miles. We're talking semi-rural America. So when Jerry Springer brings The Price is Right to town, he and the show get attention. "It's unbelievable. We'd sell it out anyway, but this just gives it an extra bump...It's thrilling any time we have a big-name celebrity touring with a production."

The show will play at the Clemens Center, named for that guy who wrote Huckleberry Finn. I wonder what he would have thought of Jerry in particular and The Price is Right in general. Or game shows in general. Or television and modern-day America in general. He probably would have grumbled about the locals trying to get something for nothing by playing some silly little game.

But who cares about grumpy Mr. Clemens? The show will sell out, no matter what he would have thought about it.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

GSN numbers

Mentioned Skin Wars in a previous post, and even if it's not a game show, I'll give the ratings from Showbuzz. 540K total viewers with a 0.13 18-49 rating.

The viewer number is just so-so but the 18-49 rating is great for the ancient-skewing GSN. By comparison Idiotest, which really is a game show, scored 414K, 327K, 395K and 393K viewers for its four runs in the 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM hours. The 18-49 ratings were 0.10, 0.07, 0.08 and 0.11.

These Showbuzz numbers mean that GSN got 435K viewers and a 0.10 18-49 rating in prime time last night. The near-death skewing network would take that every night. As long as Skin Wars and Idiotest garner 18-49 ratings on the upside of 0.10, they'll keep getting renewed.

The old skew has long been the bane of GSN's sometimes iffy existence. As long as advertisers fall for the Sacred Demo (a.k.a. 18-49) our little game show network will have an uphill fight. As everybody knows, our little genre draws too many geezers like moi. But Idiotest has always brought in a few young'uns, so I expect it to be around for a while. Which is nice for me because I like the show. Once in a while I can even solve one of the puzzles.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Looking forward

GSN launches the new season of Skin Wars tonight. But since it's not really a game show - it's way over on the reality side - and since I don't much like it anyhow, I'll move onto the debut next month of the Chain Reaction remake. A genuine game show, and one I'm looking forward to. From Game Show Paradise...

Other poster: What's with the set?...Why does Catheterwood look like he's got 46 teeth and faking his enthusiasm? Who thought it'd still be a good idea to use two-word phrases and terms? Are the contestants all really gonna feel like they were plucked from Central Casting?...Maybe I've got a bias from having actually watched the first two versions (Cullen, Emmons/Edwards) and only tolerating the third (Lane) long enough to put together a Video Archive, but all things considered I'm not feeling any better about this revival.

I like the new look on the promo, and Catherwood (I'll avoid sophomoric puns on his name) seems much more relaxed and personable than Lane. Anyway, from Twitter...

Casey Abell:‏ Douglas, with GSN's new Chain Reaction debuting 7/16, do you have any recent numbers for the current version? Thanks.

Douglas Pucci: For 6/01-05, Chain Reaction viewer ranges: 3pm 299k-433k, 3:30 278k-476k

Casey Abell: ‏476K in the middle of the afternoon? Great for GSN, especially for a very old rerun. Wonder what the new series will do.

A few notes I didn't put on GSP: I didn't know that lots of teeth were disqualifying for a game show host. That might have ended Wink Martindale's career before it got started. And how can anybody identify "faked" enthusiasm from a 30-second promo? If anything, Catherwood probably is enthusiastic about getting his own TV show, even if it's only on a niche cable outlet. As for the "Central Casting" contestants, well, sorry for the reality check, but TV does like pretty faces.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ratings: top two syndies slip

It was a blah week for syndies in general, and our little genre was no exception. Pat and Vanna and Alex gave up a little ground and there was no change elsewhere. TV News Check has the so-so household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - down three ticks from the previous week
Jeopardy 6.1 - down a couple ticks into a tie with the Sony soulmate
Family Feud 6.0 - flat
Millionaire 1.6 - flat at a series low as Terry heads into a closing round of reruns
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - flat

Pat and Vanna still had something to smile about. TV by the Numbers says they led all syndies in viewer average. Wheel of Fortune 9.6M (weekend repeat 4.6M), Jeopardy 9.4M (weekend repeat 3.2M), Family Feud 8.7M. We get softer numbers as the weather warms.

TV Newser reports that GSN enjoyed a fine week for June 1-7. 410K/331K/425K viewer averages prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 37th, 27th and 34th in the windows. The total day rank is exceptionally high for GSN. So much for the predictions (or hopes) that Buzzr would hurt GSN's ratings.

Monday, June 8, 2015

A peek behind door number two

One of the funnier things about the game show Interwebs is how the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's has hidden most of its content away from the prying eyes of the hoi polloi. Game Show Forum, of course, is the descendant of alt.tv.game-shows, for those of you ancient enough to remember Usenet. (Use what?) For the longest time only one section of GSF, the "Big Board", has been viewable by those of us without the secret decoder ring.

It was all pretty comical, like kids scrawling SOOPER SEKRET on their tree house. But even GSF has relented, at least a little. Their section on GSN and Buzzr is now readable by any grubby character (like moi) who wanders by.

To give Game Show Forum some credit, they did break the news of Buzzr's schedule. (The subchannel seems too busy tormenting classics fans on YouTube to post the schedule on its own website.) And I agree with the poster who commented: "Believe me, Chris...there will be more Buzzr TV posts than GSN posts from now on. By this time next year, this could exclusively be a Buzzr TV section. I'm calling this right now, the ratio of Buzzr TV to GSN posts will be maybe 3:1 by year's end."

That may be the world's easiest prediction for the older-is-better board to end all older-is-better boards. It's like predicting that Google will run soccer doodles until everybody is sick of them. Anyway, once Fremantle realizes that Buzzr is going nowhere without some shows that are less than 900 years old, Game Show Forum will be complaining plenty about the vanishing classics.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Eating contestants

It's the weekend and real game show news has dried up. So why not talk about a fake game show, especially one with zombies?

This story on a horror site (a site about the horror genre, not necessarily a site that's horrible itself) reviews Fight of the Living Dead. It's a goofy faux game show that puts contestants in a women's prison and sets zombies on them. The gameplay is simple: the contestants gotta escape before the zombies ingest them.

Originally a YouTube concoction from CONtv, a DVD will soon be issued with all the eps stitched together (sorry) into a feature-length flick. The contestants are all YouTube celebs, which might make some viewers root for the zombies. I always thought zombies got a bad press, anyway. Everybody's got to eat.

As laughable as the eps seem, some cable network might pick up this idea. I can see it as a natural for SyFy. Munch, munch.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Celebs of all sorts

The six-ep run of Celebrity Family Feud has released its list of contestants.

A faux tweet already noted that NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski will bring along his clan. I spotted a few other celebs of special interest: Vicki Lawrence of Pyramid fame, Dr. Phil of whatever fame, and Bill Engvall, host of GSN's much underrated Lingo remake. This gave me an excuse to rustle up an old screenshot of Bill on the Lingo set. Never understood why the show got trashed by some game show pundits. Engvall was witty and entertaining, and the goofy (but sometimes helpful) clues were a new and clever addition to the gameplay.

The purpose of the celeb Feud run, of course, is to get Steve Harvey into prime time. ABC can read the ratings reports like everybody else, and Steve is hot right now. At least he should do a lot better than Al Roker on the last attempt at a summer Feud. Al's a weatherman, not a game show host.

It all starts June 21. There are no indications of any special rules for this edition, so I assume we'll see the same format that runs so often every day.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Old time revival

At About.com Carrie Grosvenor lists five game shows she would like to see rebooted. Deal or No Deal, Million Dollar Password, Grand Slam, Power of Ten, and Dog Eat Dog. To save time I'll just say that I agree with numbers one, two and five. Numbers three and four I could live without.

Grand Slam had too much filler between the questions, and I thought the whole "game show masters" angle was overdone. Power of Ten suffered from terrible pacing as the gameplay crawled along in alleged suspense.

The other three are certainly possibilities for a rewind, in my humility-free opinion. DOND might work as an occasional special with lots of goodies on the board besides the usual money amounts. Regis' Password version was very watchable and got good numbers when GSN reran the eps into dust. And as long as the girls don't wear too much clothing, Dog Eat Dog will always have a place in my prurient heart.

I'd also like to see Russian Roulette brought back for another round of contestant dropping. NBC tried the same exit gimmick with Who's Still Standing, but goofed around with the rules too much from one episode to the next. Just get Mark Walberg to do GSN's old half-hour format.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

In the event of your death...

Contestant stories are usually harmless little things.

People gush about how nice Pat and Vanna were, or how funny Steve was, or how helpful the staff was, or how the whole experience was surreal (a favorite word). Not often does death get mentioned. But when it comes to Bullseye in the extreme-stunt section of our little genre, the contestant prep becomes a bit, er, unusual.

Pennsylvania's Even Mack appeared in this week's Bullseye, and the preparations he endured covered quite a few possibilities. As he says: "They called me in to do a physical. It was the whole works – heart check, lung check, blood work, EKG, literally everything. And the form said 'In the event of your death,' and I'm like 'Oh my God. That's on the contract. Are you serious?'"

Well, yes, they were serious. The stunts on Bullseye are certainly physical enough, after all. There were consolations, though. As Evan puts it: "There was a bunch of good-looking people out there, so it was distracting. There were guys with chiseled jaws and girls with barely anything on." The show did have its side benefits.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ratings: syndies up and down in May sweeps

TV News Check does its usual sweeps analysis as the May period expires. Syndie game shows bounced around, with one big jump and one big fall compared to last year's May sweeps. The household ratings and the changes from May 2014...

Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - down a couple ticks and in second place among all syndies after the sour judge
Jeopardy 6.4 - down a tick
Family Feud 6.0 - up nine ticks as Steve smiles
Millionaire 1.6 - down five ticks as Terry exits
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - sorry, it wasn't around last May

TV by the Numbers doesn't bother with this sweeps stuff. They just give the viewer averages for the week of May 18-24. Wheel of Fortune 10.0M (weekend repeat 3.7M) to lead all syndies, Jeopardy 9.6M, Family Feud 8.8M.

Douglas Pucci reports that GSN averaged 460K/322K viewers prime time/total day for the May 25-31 week. A very good week by the network's historical standards. For the entire month of May TV Newser says that GSN averaged 378K/285K/398K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 39th, 33rd and 37th in the windows.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Copyright police

Just posted some ominous remarks at Game Show Paradise...

I was afraid of this when Buzzr was announced. Even commented on the possibility at Game Show Follies. But the guy who runs the terrific What's My Line channel on YouTube has posted this comment:

Today's YouTube Rerun for 6/2/15: Watch along and join the discussion -- while you still can. For those who may not yet be aware, the WML channel is currently under direct attack by Fremantle due to totally unjustifiable, outrageous copyright claims which they've only started filing because they just launched their new TV station, Buzzr.

I intend to fight this in any way I can (the CBS WML series is not copyrighted and never was), even if I have to go as far as to hire a copyright attorney. But the WML channel's days may be numbered no matter what I do, folks.

So much for the idea that Buzzr was just a project to get people to post videos on YouTube. Now that Buzzr is trying to make money off old game shows, Fremantle is fighting the people who want to post classic videos.

Yes, I can respect Fremantle's intellectual property rights. They own the shows - at least some of CBS What's My Line is probably still under copyright - and they can enforce their rights to them. But it seems like such enforcement would alienate the very fans they're trying to attract to the TV subchannel.

Anyway, I hope the superb YouTube WML channel somehow survives, along with thousands of other classic clips on YouTube. Like most people in the U.S., I can't get Buzzr on my cable system.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The baby on the program

It's a bit of grim irony. Just as I've Got a Secret is about to return to regular airings on the Buzzr subchannel, Betsy Palmer has died at age 88.

Her obituaries naturally lead with that role as Mrs. Vorhees in Friday the 13th. After all, the deadly mom gig was her most recent brush with fame. You can't expect many post-baby-boomers to recall her panelist job on a game show that began back in the Paleozoic 1950s.

But YouTube never forgets, and maybe Buzzr will bring in a few new fans as well. My favorite segment with Betsy on IGAS was the "George Lugner" stunt on the July 30, 1958 ep. Fabled producer Mark Goodson appeared as Mr. Lugner, a "mystery guest" (who, of course, was well-known to everybody on the panel except Betsy). Seems that Betsy, who was then "the baby on the program," had never met Goodson.

The panel played along with the ruse, going through goofy questioning until Betsy finally figured out that something was awry. She was always sort of a foil on the show, not quite treated as a dumb blonde stereotype but hovering somewhere close to it.

This was unfair to an actress who compiled quite a respectable record on Broadway and early television. Betsy Palmer once said: "I was always trying to prove that I wasn't the girl next door." R.I.P.