Monday, August 31, 2015

More Millionaire

Blogged about the new season of Millionaire just a few days ago. But there's not much other game show news right now, so I'll blog about it again.

After all, Millionaire is making by far the biggest format changes of any returning game show this fall. The show has released a promo with Chris Harrison and the new "back to the future" setup. The traditional money tree returns along with the 50:50 lifeline. Basically, except for the plus-one lifeline, the show is pretty much the same as Meredith Vieira's version back in 2002. Oh, the hot seat is gone. Chris and the contestants stand up.

In the screenshot - enlarging it helps - you can see the money tree and the 50:50 lifeline at the left. The promo explicitly says that Millionaire is bringing back the old format and even shows a quarter-million win, which seems to be the syndie version of the (realistic) top prize.

A YouTube commenter named pixiegirl999 grumps: "I don't think they could possibly have found a more bland, beige host than Chris Harrison." Pixiegirl, that's probably what the showrunners were looking for after a year of Terry's bellowing. Chris Harrison may be the closest thing to a male version of Meredith that they could come up with. We'll see how he does starting September 14.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Scandals of all sorts

TLC is not exactly my favorite network, because I'm not exactly the network's favorite sex. In fact, the last show I watched on TLC was the debut of Labor Games. This is a full-service game show blog, after all, and I had to write a review. As I recall, I thought the show was okay, not great, not terrible.

But given the history of our little genre, I got a few smiles from this story about the network on the Fortune site. Seems that the "scandal-ridden" TLC is turning to Labor Games, among other shows, to expunge the scandalous scent. Once upon a time, like in the 1950s, the idea of a network trying game shows to avoid scandal would have been pretty funny.

Admittedly, there are different levels of scandal. Child molestation - the problem at TLC - is hellaciously more serious than rigging a game show. Anyway, the Fortune story regards Labor Games as "a bit more outrageous," though a network exec assures us that the show is "actually kind of sweet and funny and heartwarming."

Well, it's all right, I guess. Just another clone of Cash Cab, only in a delivery room instead of a taxi.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Usual attitude

Recent rumpuses notwithstanding, the most trouble I've gotten into on the game show Interwebs concerns the attitude from many posters that older has to be better.

I realize that the genre is top-heavy with history, and many posters sigh over the good old days of Bill and Monty and Dick and all the rest of the classic hosts and shows. Hey, I do some of that sighing myself. But it gets, well, old when the past is constantly used to belittle the present. Case in point: this recent thread on Game Show Forum about the new Celebrity Name Game season.

I know, you'll say what else do you expect from the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's? These guys love the past and are tepid (at best) about the present, and they make no game show bones about it. But it's still kind of deflating to read this putdown of CNG: "Except that I'm already watching a version of that with a great host, competent players and an excellent format. Why would I carve out more time to watch the inferior carbon copy?"

I don't deny the obvious. Dick Clark was a great host, a lot of Pyramid's players were excellent, and the format was one for the, ahem, ages. (Of course, Pyramid itself was a copy of the lightning round from Password, but we'll leave that alone for now.)

But here's the thing. Celebrity Name Game also has a terrific host. A lot of the celebs and civvies are very good at the demanding game. And the format has introduced some nice twists in the Pyramid formula, like teams of two guessers instead of one and the host giving the clues in one round.

I'm not saying Celebrity Name Game is the greatest game show ever. In fact, I'm afraid for the show's future after the second season. But it's a lively and entertaining contribution to the genre, and I don't like to see the past used to dump on it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Another new season

With new game show seasons busting out all over, I almost forgot Buzzr. No, not the oldies TV subchannel. I'm talking about the newsies YouTube channel, where video kids run rampant over various classic Fremantle formats.

Next month the channel launches new seasons of Family Feud and Beat the Clock. By and large I've enjoyed the Buzzr takes on the old formats, though I usually have no clue who the hosts and contestants are. The videos treat the formats with respect, and their brevity actually works well to maintain interest. (Yes, the videos are getting less brief as time goes by. The clips used to be eight minutes or so. Now they're pushing past a quarter-hour.)

Fremantle has apparently been pleased with the YouTube channel, as they're putting a little more money into the sets and production values. A lot of the videos have gone well past a hundred thousand views, and one sort of "highlight" has racked up more than three million. Like/dislike ratios have been strongly favorable.

One weird note: Fremantle seems concerned that fans might confuse the Buzzr TV subchannel and the Buzzr YouTube channel. I might miss my guess, but I doubt that there's much overlap between the two operations' target audiences.

UPDATE: A commenter, clearly a hardcore traditionalist, dismisses the Buzzr YouTube channel as almost unknown. Well, to game show hardcores the channel probably is pretty much unknown. But last I checked, the channel has piled up 10,201,265 views for its videos. And unlike most YouTube channels, Buzzr gets people to sit through their videos in their entirety. Fremantle is appealing to an entirely new audience with the YouTube channel and seems to be succeeding. The Buzzr TV subchannel is for the traditionalists. Clever product differentiation, now that I think about it.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

More celebs and their names

Celebrity Name Game put out the press release today about the second season.

The new episodes begin September 21, a week after the other syndie game shows. Somebody always has to be different. The release talks up the show's performance in the women 25-54 demo. Which just shows that people in the game show business are painfully aware of demos, despite commenter rants on this blog about "ageism" and "bigotry."

The release also lauds Craig Ferguson for his Daytime Emmy. The host is clearly a major plus for this show, with his unflagging energy and often sardonic humor. There were some rumors about gameplay changes for the second season, but nothing major looks to be happening. The game described in the release is pretty much the same as the first go-round. Just a few tweaks to include a wider variety of clues and categories.

The release also lists some of the celeb players for the new season. Weird Al Yankovic shows up! Maybe he can record a parody song about losing on Celebrity Name Game.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Millionaire goes back to the future

As most of you know, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is taking a large gamble this season. The format is reverting almost entirely to the original syndie layout from the old Meredith days, circa 2002. And after a couple seasons of trying to find the ever-elusive next Steve Harvey, the producers have settled on Chris Harrison to lead the show back to ratings relevance.

The new eps start September 14, and I'll be watching to see how all the retrofitting works. My preseason attitude - as opposed to preseason football - is that the changes can't hurt and might help. I never liked all the random nonsense, anyway. Why scramble the money amounts and question difficulty for no apparent reason?

The linked press release also runs through a bunch of stunt weeks in the syndie's 14th season. (Has it been that many years already?) Old standby movie week rides again, along with (inevitably) a couple of bachelor-themed weeks for the new host. By the way, Chris Harrison tweeted a thank you to Chrysler for the spiffy wheels during the Millionaire tapings this summer. It does look like a nice car.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ratings: Steve again

Family Feud was again the top syndie game show in household rating for the week of August 10-16. But the moves up and down were very small in the dog days. TV News Check has the numbers...

Family Feud 6.1 - up a tick
Jeopardy 5.9 - up a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down a tick, we're not moving around much
Millionaire 1.7 - up a tick for the departing Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat in a flattish week

Although they were only third in the household ratings - allowing for the single run, again - Pat and Vanna still stayed on top of the viewer averages. TV by the Numbers posts the figures: Wheel of Fortune 9.3M, Family Feud 9.2M, Jeopardy 9.1M.

For the same week CBS reports good ratings news for The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal. The shows averaged 5.2M and 3.4M viewers, respectively, which was up nicely from last year.

No matter what their demos look like, GSN keeps racking up good total viewer numbers. 433K/316K/452K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time for the week of August 17-23. The network ranked 38th, 31st and 35th in the windows.

Old, older, oldest

I realize that the old skew of traditional game shows is a touchy subject for moi. After all, I'm skewing older every day. Last night, for instance, I got a letter from the Social Security Administration. A snail mail letter, in fact, just like in the, ahem, old days. I filled out the form they wanted and actually sent it back by snail mail. How ancient can you (or I) get?

So it's with some trepidation that I address GSN's efforts to take a tiny bit of gray out of their elderly audience. I'm part of that elderly audience myself, and I've got plenty of gray to prove it. But today I saw this entry on Game Show Network News that gave GSN's new reality show Steampunk'd only a 35% chance of renewal, despite its extremely high (by GSN standards) viewer numbers in the exalted 18-49 demo. I couldn't resist dissenting in this comment...

Just to show how old GSN skews, this 2013 story from the New York Times notes that GSN is one of the very few cable networks with a median viewer age over 65. "The only other networks [besides Fox News] to hit 65-plus are the game show network GSN and the rural news network RFD."

So now you know why GSN is trying stuff like Skin Wars and Steampunk'd. The network is desperate to get a little younger. Traditional game shows will always skew old, but even for GSN there's a limit to how ancient an audience they can tolerate. Anyway, if Steampunk'd maintains anything like its debut 18-49 numbers, the odds for renewal are 110%.

Look, I don't watch these reality shows on GSN, because I don't watch reality shows anywhere. And at the risk of sounding like the traditionalists who regularly plaster web sites with howls about GSN's programming, I don't like the network going away from game shows. But I can understand why they're doing it. After a while, you want somebody in the audience who doesn't get lots of snail mail from the Social Security Administration.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Syfy may like Krypton

A British site says that Syfy might revive The Krypton Factor for the U.S. market. The original version ran on ITV for nearly 300 eps over 1977-95. The game show has grown something of a legend, thanks to its long run and tough challenges for the contestants.

As Wikipedia says, players faced "a series of rounds that tested their physical stamina and mental attributes." It looks like Syfy may want to spring the same trials and tribulations on Americans. Dick Clark hosted a brief U.S. version in 1981, and an American syndie for kids came and went in 1990.

The report has some credibility because Syfy has dabbled in game shows and is now running Geeks Who Drink to modest ratings. I still think game shows with their old and female skew are out of place on a sci-fi network that targets young guys. But I'm all for any cabler taking a few chances in the genre. We'll see if anything comes of this rumored revival.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mark finds work

As various faux tweets have noted, Mark Walberg will take Game Plane to Discovery Family in September and the Let's Make a Deal live show to several locales in October. Game show producers learned long ago that Mark can host any game just fine. He always knows the gameplay and can quip with the best of them.

While Walberg has enjoyed a long and profitable career, he's never really broken through to a top-tier game show. Which is kind of strange when you think about it. Somebody this good should have gotten a crack at, I dunno, The Price is Right or Family Feud somewhere along the way. (I'm talking about the TV shows, not the live versions.) But it just never really happened in our little genre. The closest that Mark's come to true stardom is Antiques Roadshow, where he's treated as the rock star of the knickknacks set.

Not only can he host the games, he can play them. He dominated GSN's April Fools edition of Lingo with the network's other hosts. And he took down everybody on the TV host version of Weakest Link. At least his undeniable talent ensures that he'll never be without a gig. Now when Alex finally retires...

Saturday, August 22, 2015


As readers of this blog know, I have an inexplicable fondness for Celebrity Name Game.

Oh, the fondness is actually pretty explainable. The Pyramid knockoff is lively and funny and Craig Ferguson is a natural for the show, with a Daytime Emmy to prove it. But sad to say, the show has bumped along at the bottom of the syndie game show ratings, though it did manage a second season renewal. The new eps debut next month.

So CNG fan moi was depressed to run across this item from Chicago. WGN will bump the show from its 10:00 PM slot, where it was getting murdered by competing local news shows, to 10:30 PM. WGN will launch its own news report at 10:00 PM, centered around beloved local weatherman Tom Skilling (at the bottom of the photo).

I know it's only one market, though a huge one, and it's not like WGN is dumping Celebrity Name Game entirely. But I still get the gloomy thought that the second season may be the show's last, unless the numbers show a significant uptick.

By the way, Skilling does have this hilarious YouTube video to his credit. I'm Tom freakin' Skilling!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ain't love grand?

It's sort of Love Connection meets trivia. A couple of contestants in Jeopardy's 2013 teacher's tournament have decided to get married. Canadian Maryanne Lewell and South Carolinian Mike Townes will tie the knot in the summer of 2017. (A long engagement, right?)

Sadly, they were both eliminated in their first round games in the 2013 tournament. But that didn't stop a long distance relationship from beginning and eventually prospering. As Mike says, "We both happen to be kind of nerds, and into the same kind of thing, and with a weird sense of humour." (It's a CBC story, which explains the Canadian spelling.) Truth be told, their pictures sort of bear out the nerd claim. Not that anybody should be ashamed of nerdiness, of course. I write a game show blog, which is beyond ultra-nerdy.

If you're wondering, they plan to invite Alex Trebek to the ceremony. "I don't know if he'll come, but we'll send him an invitation." Sorry, I can't resist: he won't make them take the vows in the form of a question.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Skewing younger

While I can't review every reality show that pops up - this is a game show site - I can find the time to look at GSN's ratings.

After all, GSN is the only widely distributed network almost entirely devoted to game shows. GSN is also notorious for its age skew beyond the grave, which has long been the bane of its execs. Last night the skew got a little less pronounced, with the finale of one reality show, Skin Wars, and the debut of another, Steampunk'd. As I noted in a comment on Game Show Network News...

Total viewers don't mean much for these shows. Skin Wars got 0.18 in 18-49 and Steampunk'd got 0.16. Great numbers for GSN. Skin Wars has probably already wrapped up another renewal, and Steampunk'd will get renewed if the 18-49 numbers stay anywhere close to the debut.

Douglas Pucci has posted the 18-49 viewer totals for the shows. They're eye-popping by GSN standards. Skin Wars got 227K in 18-49 and Steampunk'd got 198K. Just fantastic for the death-skewing GSN.

So does this mean more reality on GSN? I'm tempted to say yes. The network needs something to balance out all those nonexistent 18-49 numbers from old game shows.

Oh, politics (cont.)

Google News springs the strangest things on you. Looking for bits to make faux tweets, I ran across this item from a libertarian political site run by Glenn Beck. Seems that Beck doesn't like Donald Trump and has called him a game show host. That's supposed to be a brutal putdown.

So his site went out and asked people in NYC which actual game show host would make the best president. If there was any consensus at all, it seemed to settle on Alex Trebek, who isn't even eligible because he was born outside the U.S. But Alex seems so smart, I guess.

The site also offered a poll to its readers on various game show host possibilities for the Oval Office. Right now Pat Sajak is leading the poll with 31%, followed by Chuck Woolery with 25%. (Game Show Confessions hates Woolery's politics, so this result won't make those guys happy.)

That's not really a surprise from a right-wing site, since Sajak and Woolery have made no secret of their conservative politics. By the way, the video of the passersby in NYC makes one bad goof. Chuck Barris is still with us, guys.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

GSN minimizes the damage

GSN just sent me the revised schedule for August 24-30. The most interesting news is that the Man v Fly interstitials won't be, well, interstitials any more. GSN won't run the human vs. insect battles between their real shows, because the segments just destroy the ratings for the lead-out show.

Instead, the cover e-mail comments: "We have added Man v Fly to the schedule for 8/24 – 8/28. Starting on August 24th and going forward, Man v Fly bouts will always air in the first position of the first commercial break [of whatever show contains the segment]." In other words, GSN is trying to minimize the damage by squeezing in the houseflies where they will be least noticed.

I believe GSN bought fifty of the Man v Fly segments from Britain's Sun newspaper. They'll probably burn off the videos as soon as possible, then bury the insects wherever they buried Lie Detectors. GSN has been on a ratings roll lately, and they've produced two of their best originals ever, The Chase and the new version of Chain Reaction. But their shows can't all be winners.

UPDATE: In case you're interested, I'm not going to review GSN's new reality show Steampunk'd. I'll continue to review new game shows on GSN (and anywhere else). Sorry, just don't have the time to review every reality show that comes along.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ratings: it's Steve turn at the top

The ratings race among the top three syndie game shows has become so close that mere tenths separate the, er, contestants. This week Steve Harvey inched to the top. Sure, it's an unfair rivalry because Pat and Vanna have to pile up all their numbers from a single run each day, unlike Steve and Alex. But what the hey, these are the household ratings for August 3-9 as reported by TV News Check...

Family Feud 6.0 - up a tick to take the top spot
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - flat
Jeopardy 5.8 - down a couple ticks as the show goes into reruns
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick as Terry strolls off in repeats
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat

TV by the Numbers says that Pat and Vanna did win the total viewer race. Wheel of Fortune 9.5M (weekend repeat 4.3M), Jeopardy 9.0M (weekend repeat 2.9M), Family Feud 8.8M. The same caveat applies about a single run vs. double or quadruple runs each day.

TV Newser posts continued solid averages for GSN. 464K/322K/474K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time for the week of August 10-16. The network ranked 33rd, 31st and 31st in the windows.

In my review of Science Channel's locked room game show Race to Escape, I said the show might be too complicated for its own good. Right now the Nielsen Company agrees with me. The latest run on August 15 got 244K viewers, very so-so by the network's standards. The show also dropped more than half its lead-in from Outrageous Acts of Science, which pulled 536K viewers.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Buzzr: lost and not yet found

Remember Buzzr? It's the game show subchannel you probably can't watch and 99.44% of people in the U.S. (sarcasm alert) haven't heard of.

They've posted this mysterious hint on their Facebook page, which has set off some unintentionally humorous comments. Somebody wanted to know if Lost and Found was an obscure game show coming to Buzzr this fall. A more sensible poster shot down this goofy but endearing idea. Instead he cautioned, no doubt correctly: "It's a catch-all name for rarities and other one-off airings."

Which in turn spawned requests for non-Fremantle shows like Joker's Wild and Tic Tac Dough. Of course, those shows won't see air time on Buzzr, a Fremantle project to get some value out of its oldies library. Meanwhile, the usual complaints about Buzzr reruns also turned up, along with the routine putdowns of GSN.

It probably can't hurt Buzzr to try some different stuff this fall. But the subchannel will remain a virtually unwatched oldies dustbin until they run shows that appeal to the great American unwashed, instead of a handful of Internet game show hardcores.

UPDATE: Buzzr kicks off the "Lost and Found" stuff with pilots of old shows September 7-12. And in far worse news, the subchannel has renewed its attack on the YouTube What's My Line channel.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

American Gladiators, sort of

Mixed martial arts is the bastard offspring of boxing and wrestling, a bloody mess that appeals to the young male demo.

In case you haven't noticed from the photo on this blog, I'm far, far away from the young male demo and getting farther away all the time. So the "sport" is not my cup of brutal tea. But now comes an idea to make things even more fun for the whole family: Arena Combat.

The format puts four fighters into a cage with various obstacles and knickknacks, where they claw and bash each other all over the object-strewn arena. If this sounds like a well-known stunt game show involving spandex and nicknames, that's not an accident. The main promoter of Arena Combat says it's American Gladiators "before it got watered down and turned into guys fighting with Nerf sticks."

The linked story also includes a helpful reference to the deranged game show in Running Man. Except Richard Dawson is not available to narrate the contestants' exploits. Regulators - somebody regulates MMA? - are dubious about the tangled format, which the story says is "more game than fight." At least until somebody flies off an obstacle and breaks his neck.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My showcase is missing

An irate contestant from The Price is Right made the (web) pages of the New York Times.

It all sounds like a weird lack of communication. Not to mention, as so often happens, an intrusion by the taxman. 81-year-old Allison McKay e-mailed the Times to complain that she had won a showcase on TPiR five months ago but had yet to receive any of the prizes.

A diligent Times guy arranged a three-way phone call with Miss McKay and TPiR producer Mike Richards. Seems that the show had sent their infamous "tax letter" to Allison about the taxes that had to be paid before the prizes could be delivered. Only she says she never got the letter. (The Times giggles that the letter should be "a big, brightly colored envelope, hand-delivered by a model, who says nothing because really loud music is playing over loudspeakers that can't be seen.")

To cut to the chase, the TPiR folks sound like they want badly to get the whole business behind them. Miss McKay's prizes have now started arriving, and maybe everybody will live happily ever after. The Times also found that Allison has a colorful past as a TV and night club performer, including "episodes of classics like Marcus Welby M.D., Adam-12, Ironside, Green Acres, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and The Beverly Hillbillies."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gimme a break

A few posts ago I wrote about a celeb's problems with the IRS. Since I know we all want to hear more tax news, this item from the Las Vegas Sun huffs and puffs about an $845,000 tax break.

Seems that Monopoly Millionaires Club might get the break from Nevada, even though the game show can't be seen in the state. The Nevada constitution - get this - prohibits lotteries. That's right, the home of Sin City thinks lotteries are too evil for innocent Nevadans. The Sun admits that Monopoly Millionaires Club employs a bunch of people from Nevada and spends a lot of money in the state.

A bill in the Nevada legislature - I wonder how much it costs to buy that august body - wanted to set aside $20 million in tax breaks for TV and movie companies filming in the state. But the bill died from lack of bribery, er, "traction," according to the Sun. (Am I being a tad too cynical about Nevada politics? What happens there stays there, no?)

So $845,000 is all that's left for the producers of the Billy Gardell epic. They wanted $1.5 million. Sorry, guys.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Won't watch, too modern

In case you haven't noticed, the game show Interwebs tend toward traditionalism, often bleeding into outright older-is-better-ism.

The board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's, for instance, leads with a photo of a gentleman who last hosted a game show three decades ago. Game shows are a genre top-heavy with tradition, and it may be purely natural for Internet aficionados to pine for the good old days. I've spent countless hours myself staring at grainy black-and-white videos of 1950s game shows on YouTube.

But it gets a little weird when game show fans proudly announce that they won't watch an upcoming show just because it's "modern." (This seems to mean post-1990, though the dates are kind of hazy sometimes.) That's happened many times on the Interwebs, including recently on a thread at Game Show Paradise about GSN's soon-to-debut Hellevator. Sight completely unseen - except for a tiny teaser from the network - some posters have sworn off the show as a "massive turd," to quote one elegant putdown.

Well, who knows, the show may turn out to be exactly that. But it's clear that some fans won't even try to evaluate the show fairly. They're too busy watching tapes from the 1970s. You would think that producer Jason Blum's record of commercial and critical success might buy a little interest in Hellevator from even the die-hardiest classics fans. But you would think wrong, at least in some cases.

A funny note: one poster on the thread speculates that I might like the show because "some older people" like horror movies. No doubt about it, I am an older person. Getting more that way all the time, in fact.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frank's warmup gig

Rummaging through various game show Twitter and Facebook sites, I came across the screenshot of Frank Nicotero warming up the crowd at Celebrity Name Game.

Nice to see that Frank still has a job in our little genre. Pontoon Payday didn't work out on CMT, but Frank turned in his usual wry, lively performance. I can see why shows want him for a warmup gig or three. His IMDb page says he prepped the audience for X Factor, and he's probably done the same for other shows.

Frank may always be best known for Street Smarts, of course, unless another show comes along that fits his talents so perfectly. He was a natural for the oddball quizzer, where it didn't matter if you knew the answer, but whether you could figure out if somebody else might know.

Something I did not know: Wikipedia says that Frank was a civvie contestant on Debt in 1996 and later on Ultimate Fan League. That apparently got game show producers interested in him, and a job at GSN led to the offer from Street Smarts in 1999. He's been bouncing around the genre ever since.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ratings: Alex all alone at #1

It wasn't a huge win, but Jeopardy did rack up a second straight week at number one among syndie game shows. The ratings didn't budge much as we grind into the dog days. TV News Check has the household ratings for the week of July 27-August 2...

Jeopardy 6.1 - flat but on top
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - up a tick
Family Feud 5.9 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.7 - up a tick in a tiny bit of good news for the departing Terry
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - down a tick

Alex also led the viewer averages at TV by the Numbers, though only by a smidgen over Pat and Vanna. Again, you have to remember the usual caveat about Wheel's single run each day vs. the multiple runs for the other shows. Jeopardy 9.4M, Wheel of Fortune 9.4M (weekend repeat 3.9M), Family Feud 9.0M.

GSN's August numbers are coming in a shade below their record-breaking July. But the ratings are still impressive by the network's historical standards. 434K/314K/453K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 35th, 30th and 33rd in the windows.

UPDATE: A while back I said that the Man vs. Fly interstitials on GSN probably wouldn't do much harm. Shows what I know. The first three-minute bit on Wednesday, August 13 got 235K viewers, pathetic by recent GSN standards, and badly hurt lead-out Idiotest. Looks like the flies may not buzz for long on GSN.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What's David doing?

A poster on Game Show Paradise recently asked what happened to Supermarket Sweep's David Ruprecht. The kinetic market epic was always one of the few shopping game shows I really liked, mainly because of the mad final dash.

Another poster replied that David has been hosting The Price is Right's live show and also did a Supermarket Sweep reunion with Randy West. I checked those infallible sources (heh) Wikipedia and IMDb and found out that David is also active as a Libertarian and a Lutheran. A combo of L-ans, you might say.

IMDb surprised me a little with a long list of David's acting credits. He seems to have guested on every 1980s TV show and even appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) as a "radio voice." Well, he always did have a nice voice. David turns 67 this year so he's probably semi-retired now, though game show hosts seem to keep going forever nowadays, at least when their shows keep going forever.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Civility, cont.

Wouldn't you know, right after I posted about civility on the game show Interwebs, I saw an entry on Game Show Network News about yet another rumpus. Actually, it's a replay of a rumpus from two years ago. I won't go into the details. You can find them with a little scrounging. But I did leave a comment on the post. And no, I'm not trying to be Miss Manners to the game show Internet. But maybe we could all step back and calm down a little...

Chad [Mosher] is fixated on something that happened two years ago. Don't quite know why, but people get fixated on the strangest things sometimes.

By pure accident I happened to have written today about civility on the game show Interwebs, before I read this post by Scott [Rahner]. I then followed some of the links provided by Chad to the rumpus two years ago, and found much of the usual sputtering rage on Game Show Forum. (Yes, it is what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board.) A particularly sweet sample...

"And in a long and sundry line of numbskulls who have skulked back here, thinking we forgot them (but we didn't), he'll pick up and try to create a new brand for himself as if he wasn't previously a nothing-burger moron a-hole blogger who was caught being a complete dumbass."

Now you know why the board formerly known as Matt Ottinger's is such a bastion of calm, reasoned discourse. Long story short, nonsense like this goes down all the time on game show Internet boards and twitter feeds. Just ignore the noise.

Letters, we get letters

Got an interesting e-mail today. Unfortunately, I can't tell you who sent it because it was a private e-mail, after all, and the sender had some frank things to say about a certain well-known figure on the game show Interwebs.

I can say that the e-mail was very apologetic about some, oh, interactions between this blog and another site. (Is this infuriatingly vague enough?) Which got me thinking - scary, I know - especially because I just had to do something I hate to do and rarely do at all. I had to remove a comment from one of the entries on this blog - yesterday's entry, in fact - because the commenter used gross profanity.

Am I being too prissy and sensitive? Oh, maybe. The problem is, if I allow profanity and obscenity in the comments, things would probably go downhill in a hurry. I realize the game show Interwebs are often a yellfest and not for the faint of heart. I'm not kidding with that remark about the "Internet wars" over game shows.

But I try to keep the language somewhere within bounds. I'm not attempting to be holier than thou. Hey, I ain't holier than anybody. But I don't think my guidelines on commenting here are all that restrictive. Criticize me all you want, just keep the language halfway clean.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The stuff you run across

Typing "game show" into Google News dredges up some goodies and some doozies. I try to make the goodies into faux tweets. This doozy will get a full entry.

The linked story is from my home DFW area. The author is apparently the bar correspondent for a local alternative newspaper. He wanders into a place called Home Plate Sports Bar and sees GSN on the one of the screens. The network is running syndie Deal or No Deal.

The writer begins by saying how much he likes Steve Harvey's excrement. In particular, he loves the "exact amount" of excrement Steve uses on Family Feud. Sadly, this writer is not the best at grammar or anything else involving language. "Over the past couple years, I've really taking a liking to Steve Harvey." Over the past couple years, this guy should have been taking a liking to a few English courses.

He then moves on to Deal or No Deal and admits that he doesn't "fully understand how you play" the game. Which is pretty much like confessing that the rules of Go Fish are just so hard. He also doesn't have much sympathy for the contestant on the show. He likens her to "someone who is coked-up and trying to decide where to go for dinner." The guy might know about cocaine, which could be why he can't understand the gameplay on Deal.

He finally gets around to describing the bar, which I think is his job at the alternative newspaper. He likes the barmaid's "older lady bartender affability." I'm sure she appreciates the compliment.

UPDATE: I had to remove a comment on this post. The comment criticized me, which is fine. But it used gross profanity, which is not fine. Please read "Legalities and Technicalities" at the bottom of this blog for guidelines on commenting. Once again, if you feel the guidelines are too confining, there are plenty of other blogs to comment on.

Friday, August 7, 2015

These are celebs?

Buzzr, the YouTube cousin of the game show subchannel, has released a new series of Celebrity Name Game eps. I sampled one of the videos, which probably told me all I needed to know.

First thing I noticed is that the videos on Buzzr are getting longer. This one ran 16:24, really not all that much shorter than the grown-up syndie version, once you take out the commercials. The video ground through three rounds of clue-giving, plus a ninety-second bonus round. I liked the basic Pyramid-ripoff gameplay, but I missed the super-quick pace of Buzzr's older eight-minute efforts.

The "civvies" and "celebs" were all YouTube young'uns that you've never heard of, unless you're a YouTube young'un yourself. In one round the clues were, you guessed it, YouTube channels. The players did pretty well on that round, as you might expect. Old fart moi, of course, didn't know what any of the channels were.

Overall, the level of play wasn't exactly brilliant and wasn't exactly hopeless. Just sort of in-between, though the winning team did well in the bonus round. Host Damian Washington exaggerated the ghetto accent and was no threat to Craig Ferguson's Daytime Emmy. But he didn't flub the gameplay and kept the show moving. The video wasn't nearly as good as the syndie but it wasn't a complete waste, either.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Inter my stitial

GSN has sometimes shown an odd itch to stuff interstitial clips between their shows.

The network tried GSN Live in the afternoon from 2008 to 2011. The clips even got their own Wikipedia article, which is something of an achievement, after all. Stuck between GSN's real shows from noon until 6:00 PM, and then from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM, the clips did no great damage but didn't seem to do much good, either. After a while GSN decided to spend the money elsewhere, or not spend it at all.

The network also ventured Big Saturday Night, goofy game show clips that cut into a couple of okay if kind of overblown quizzers on Saturday night, 20Q and Money List. The whole idea didn't work so well and even got a typically apocalyptic induction from Game Show Garbage, though no Wikipedia article. GSN quickly moved on.

Now the network is trying Man vs. Fly, silly three-minute clips they bought from Britain's Sun newspaper. As the name might reveal, the game pits a human contestant vs. an insect buzzing around a closed white room. This sample shows a rather befuddled human flipping pancakes (literally) at his six-legged foe. The fun and frivolity starts August 12 on GSN, inserted between their nighttime shows.

As with GSN Live, I can't see the clips doing much good or much harm. But I do sense that another Game Show Garbage induction might be on the way.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

One for you, nineteen for me

Happened to watch a couple episodes of Celebrity Name Game today. I'm a sucker for the lively Pyramid knockoff.

As so often happens, I wasn't well versed on some of the celeb players. This is a low-rated syndie game show, folks. They don't get the A-list. So I did what everybody else does when they need some pop culture info. I went to Wikipedia.

One of the celebs I checked on was actress Teri Polo. She was a pretty decent player on Celebrity Name Game, by the way. Among many other tidbits Wikipedia told me that she once posed nude for Playboy. Which I can well believe. The lady is built like a brick outdoor restroom.

Another, less pleasant factoid was that Teri quite recently filed for bankruptcy. Like most nameless civvies, I just blandly assumed that TV celebs existed in some parallel universe free from money problems. I followed the Wikipedia reference to a People story - reasonably reliable by the standards of celeb journalism, I guess - and found out that the IRS has socked Teri with a $772,000 claim. That brought on the bankruptcy petition.

Well, I can sympathize. The IRS recently penalized me for underwithholding last year. Okay, it was only $100.44, not three-quarters of a mill.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ratings: syndies limp through the week

It was a blah blah blah July 20-26 week for syndie game shows. Alex won the household ratings (barely), Pat and Vanna won the viewer numbers (barely). And all of the shows (barely) moved. TV News Check has the lively ratings...

Jeopardy 6.1 - up an entire tick, wow
Family Feud 6.0 - down a tick, boy oh boy
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - flat to round out a flat week

TV by the Numbers has a little better news for Wheel. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 9.3M (weekend repeat 4.2M), Jeopardy 9.2M, Family Feud 9.0M. Numbers of all sorts wilt in the July heat, but Pat and Vanna finished behind only the loud judge in viewers.

TV Newser reports that GSN racked up another fine week for July 27-August 2, though not quite as hot as previous weeks. 447K/328K/463K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. GSN ranked 34th, 28th and 30th in the windows.

UPDATE: A bit of other GSN news. The Man vs. Fly interstitials begin August 12. Scrambles the times a little. See the advance schedule in the sidebar for details.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Smart Martha

At least Buzzr is trying to sell digital antennas. The game show subchannel has released a video on its Facebook page telling people how to buy an antenna and hook it up to their cable box.

Here's the problem. Nobody except the diehard-iest classic game show freak is going to bother with buying a digital antenna and hooking it up to their box, and then watching over the air TV instead of their usual cable/satellite provider. I'm a diehard classic game show freak myself, and I'm not going to bother with all this. Either Buzzr gets onto cable, or Buzzr is going to remain almost completely unwatched.

The good news is that Buzzr is gradually getting onto a few more cable systems, though the process is slow. A wag on what's left of what used to be Matt Ottinger's board jokes that Buzzr's new cable placements have doubled its audience from two to four. One of these days Buzzr might be widely distributed on cable and then have a chance to develop an audience outside a few Internet classics junkies. Of course, they'll only really develop an audience - and a genuine rivalry with GSN - when they program some stuff less than 80 years old. Not to mention any names, but Steve's Family Feud and Drew's The Price is Right.

One grumpy old man note: Buzzr's video obeys the p.c. gender shibboleths. "Smart Martha" is pitted against "boring Billy". Oh well, I guess they would have gotten NOW on their case if they had dared to reverse the usual gender roles.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

From Sister Christian to Pawn for Gold

Old rock stars never die, they just fade into game show hosts.

Jack Blades, bassist and vocalist for '80s group Night Ranger (best known for power ballad Sister Christian), will host a game show called Pawn for Gold. He'll tape the show in South Dakota for something called the Badlands TV Network. Don't know a thing about the network, but the name is a killer.

Bankrolling the entire production is pawn shop mogul Chuck Brennan, who runs the Dollar Loan pawn shop chain and - honest to God - the Brennan Rock and Roll Academy. That's right, rock and roll's got an academy run by a pawnbroker. Only in America.

I don't know if this game show will ever get out of South Dakota, but it sounds like pure cheesy fun. The linked story says the show "will feature live music performances and a set boasting state-of-the-art LED technology." The whole thing happens at Badlands Park, which supposedly opens this November and will offer "a massive pawn shop, an in-house mint that produces specially branded gold and silver coins and bars, a gun shop and indoor shooting range, a tattoo parlor, a wall displaying 300 playable guitars and a 1,700-seat performance venue that will host weekly concerts by national acts."

I hope the tattoo parlor doesn't use any of the products from the gun shop. At least the story got me to listen to Sister Christian one more time.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Oh, politics

Just when I thought Game Show Confessions had packed it in for good, the site recently posted a few new comments.

I agree with their favorable opinion of Boom, though neither of us is likely to save the show from the clutches of the dreaded Nielsen monster. But I can't go along with the site's dissing of Chuck Woolery (see the screenshot) because they don't like his politics.

Hey, I don't much care for Steve Harvey's bootlicking with Obama, either, mainly because I don't much care for Obama. But that doesn't lessen my respect for Steve as the most accomplished Family Feud host since Richard Dawson. (For the record, I didn't much like Richard's own political pontifications, but I still admire his earlier work on Feud and Match Game. He did turn bored and tired as both shows went on, but that had nothing to do with politics.)

My unsolicited opinion is that political differences are often at the root of some of the bitterest quarrels on the so often bitter game show Interwebs. People can get plenty exercised enough about a game show without letting the host's political views color their opinions. Chuck Woolery is still a fine game show host, no matter what you think of his politics.

And by the way, where did GSC get that ancient picture? I'm sure Chuck wishes he was still as young as that hoary photo portrays him.