Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The CEO

Haven't heard much about David Goldhill lately.

In case you don't know, he's the guy who runs GSN. This year will mark a decade for him at the little game show network, which has gotten less little under his guidance. That gives him a tenure which is easily longer than either of his predecessors, Michael Fleming or Rich Cronin.

Goldhill's time at GSN has not been without its oopsie doopsies. His record with originals has been spotty at best, but you could say that about any cable outlet. It's tough to create a new show that becomes a consistent money maker. Also, GSN currently relies way too much on Steve Harvey's Family Feud. But again, lots of cable outlets lean on one or two tentpole shows to keep the operation going.

Anyway, I happened to see a quote from David Goldhill in a long article about online gaming. He says this about GSN's online operations...

Because we're not restricted by having to pay real winnings, we can pay out $120 for every $100 played. No land-based casino could do that for more than a week without going out of business.

Yeah, it's a lot easier to keep the clicks coming when the players usually seem to win. But even GSN Games has run into problems, with a rash of recent layoffs. No formula is foolproof.

Monday, February 27, 2017

This never happened with Ben

Anybody who reads this blog knows about my cynical attitude toward show biz awards.

So how can I resist writing about the highlarious screwing of the pooch at last night's Oscars? I just wonder if host Jimmy Kimmel, at least for a moment, wanted to crawl into a time-warp and return to the security of that little game show with Ben Stein.

I didn't see the goof live. You would have to pay me a lot of money to sit through the Oscars, which tilted the scales at nearly four hours this year. But I have seen what can only be described as the blooper reel of the meltdown.

Jimmy has always been quick with a quip, which is a valuable tool for a game show host. So he made the best of the rumpus, or at least he didn't make things worse. Calling out Steve Harvey - another member of the game show corps - was a little edgy, but a lot of viewers had probably made the connection already.

Next time they should just keep the envelopes in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls' porch. That usually worked out okay for Johnny Carson, who hosted the Oscars a few times himself.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bert the actor

A poster on Game Show Paradise's thread about "Game Show Hosts in Other Media" mentions Bert Convy acting in Nanny and the Professor.

This got me interested, so I checked Bert's IMDb page. Turns out this guy had quite an acting career, with 73 credits from 1951, when he was just eighteen, to 1990, the year before his death. It's unlikely that anyone would confuse Convy's acting ability with Olivier's, but the guy was good enough to keep getting work in a bunch of TV shows.

One of his odder credits was on One Step Beyond, an ABC anthology show that ran from 1959 to 1961 and offered a lot of goofy, way-out subjects. It was more or less the alphabet net's (Variety speak) version of Twilight Zone. YouTube has preserved Bert's episode for your viewing pleasure. He plays Professor Andersson, a poor sap who's lost in the desert with a couple of annoying companions. Strange things happen, but none of them involve a game show.

Bert appeared in no less than seven eps of Love Boat, and his acting career generally veered toward that kind of light entertainment. It's a little hard to imagine him playing Hamlet, after all.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Another list

A faux tweet noted that Marc Summers is predicting a "big possibility" that Double Dare will return to Nick. This probably won't mean much to Marc, but he's also been listed as the top game show host from those nostalgia-tinged old days on Nick.

Nick's classic era has produced endless retrospectives on the game show Interwebs. Millennials love to reminisce about those good old days, which really aren't that old...at least compared to my own good old days. (I'm a grumpy 65.)

This particular list of game show hosts is pretty accurate by my reckoning. I might have put Kirk Fogg at the top because I think Legends was the best kid game show ever. But Kirk still gets into the list at number three, so I can't complain too much.

I'm not sure if Double Dare is a "timeless classic," but even grumpy me has to admit the show was a lot of fun. Nick could do worse than to bring back the green slime.

UPDATE: The documentary is on the way.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Go ape

Say what I will about Game Show Forum, sometimes the oldies board to end all oldies boards does come up with a gem about a long-lost game show.

Or how about a show that was never found to begin with, so it really can't be lost? I'm talking about What Have You Got To Lose. If you don't recognize the title, don't feel bad. Hardly anybody else knows anything about the show. But Burt Ward of long-ago Batman fame can tell you all about it.

Back in the 1980s the erstwhile Robin was scrounging around for something to do. So he got a company looking for a tax write-off to finance a game show, the above mentioned WHYGTL. (How do you like them initials?) The show would have featured Adam West as the host and an orangutan as the house expert. And I mean a real orangutan, the one who "played" opposite Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way You Can. You can learn the primate-ish gameplay details from the linked story.

Burt insists the show was a genuine effort that they tried to syndicate. Things didn't work out, but the concept sounds like a hoot. Bananas, anyone?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hippin' and hoppin'

Hollywood Squares never dies. It just goes hip hop.

VH1 will bring back Hip Hop Squares starting March 13. It's the pop music answer to the Peter Marshall chestnut. The new version hipped and hopped through a couple seasons on MTV2 back in 2012. I reckoned the show was okay, mainly because it stuck pretty close to the original format. But when Hip Hop Squares expired after twenty eps, I figured it was done and dusted, as the Brits say.

Then came news a few months ago that another channel in the MTV universe - and what a universe it is - would revive the revival. DeRay Davis will host the new series, replacing Peter Rosenberg, who I thought did just fine. I also thought Davis was adequate at best on GSN's oinker Mind of a Man, but what do I know?

I'm not sure if the move of Hip Hop Squares from MTV2 to VH1 is a promotion, demotion or neither. Viacom is making noises about downplaying all its minor networks in favor of biggies like MTV. No matter how you look at Viacom's strategy, VH1 will string the show across the week of March 13-17, then settle it into a regular Monday night slot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ratings: syndies mostly get happy

The week of February 6-12, which happened to be the first week of sweeps, was mostly kind to syndie game shows. There were even a couple of season highs, though one of them was sadly meaningless. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 7.7 - up three ticks to a season high
Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - up a tick
Jeopardy 6.8 - up a tick
Millionaire 1.7 - down a tick, every party has a pooper
Celebrity Name Game 1.5 - up a tick to a season high, as if it matters any more

To Tell the Truth crashed to its worst numbers ever. 2.8M viewers and a 0.7 18-49 rating. Can the show survive at this level? The numbers make Match Game look like a hit.

GSN got decent ratings for the February 13-19 week. 434K/308K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 35th and 30th in the windows.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Schedule, schmedule

A poster on Game Show Paradise complains about the Buzzr schedule...

Our nearly 11 month old has been home sick the last couple of days so I've been off work to take care of him. I've noticed the daytime [Buzzr] schedule doesn't exactly have any pattern to it in some ways.

To be honest, I'm starting to wonder if there's any pattern to the entire Buzzr schedule. I know, it's just a barely watched diginet that isn't even available in a large majority of U.S. households. But they sure do some funny things on weekdays.

For three-fourths of the day they program almost nothing but Match Game, Family Feud - at least they're now mixing in some Combs eps - and the B&W trio (To Tell the Truth, What's My Line, I've Got a Secret). Then comes prime time on the east and west coasts, and they suddenly switch to six other shows, most of which will appeal only to the hardest-core of the hardcores.

Maybe I'm sour because the only current prime time show I like much is Password Plus. And maybe Buzzr figures they can't possibly meet the prime time competition from other outlets. So they'll just toss up a salad bowl of shows and save their biggest names - MG and Feud - for other hours when the competition is less intense.

It still seems like an odd way to program a diginet.

Therapist?

As I've noted, one of the funnier results of the recent spate of game shows on the broadcasters is the recent spate of deep-think Interweb pieces about our little genre.

Hollywood Reporter - never known for deep or any other kind of thinking - has posted a long lecture about game show hosts. We learn that a host should be a tender therapist who can mutitask with a good temperament. There are four T's in there someplace, the article says.

The (unintentionally) funniest comment in the story: Alex Trebek must be "one of the world's most empathetic men." I've heard a lot of adjectives applied to Alex, but this e-word is not usually one of them. Most of the time he gets slammed for being Grumpy Gus with contestants when they don't live up to his exacting standards.

The pictured Mike Richards offers some accurate but obvious advice. A good host "has to be able to listen and communicate. It's all about listening and reading a particular situation." He goes on to praise Drew and Wayne, as you would expect from the TPiR and LMAD showrunner.

The article wraps up by cautioning a would-be host: "You are the center of the show, but you're not supposed to seem like you're the center of the show." True enough. It's those people playing to win who should seem to get the attention.

UPDATE: Speaking of Alex Trebek, he gets a lot of net notice for his rap readings.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Going negative

A thread on Game Show Paradise discussed an interesting question about one of my top ten game shows, at least in my latest list.

If this show [The Chase] ever returns to GSN with new episodes, one thing I'd like to see is The Beast give low offers that are in the negatives like in the U.K. version. I think that would be interesting. Do you sacrifice money in order to increase your chances of going to the final chase?

Seems like a bad risk to me, taking a cut in prize money just to get another civvie in the final chase. Another poster on the board commented that he heard GSN's producers didn't allow Mark Labbett to make negative offers. To be honest, I always thought the producers themselves made the offers and Labbett only relayed them. (Sort of like Deal or No Deal and the banker.) Gotta control that prize budget, especially on a mid-sized cable net.

Wikipedia (usual caveats) tells me that The Chase has expanded to Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Norway, Russia, Serbia and Turkey. I see stories now and then about the Aussie and original Brit versions, but I can't say I've seen anything about the Norwegian variety. It's called Jaget if you wanted to know.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Job just didn't work out

I pretty much avoid the IBM Watson stories that turn up so often in Google News. Sorry, but I'm just Watson-ed out. Yeah, I know the machine beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy. You don't have to tell me a giga-zillion times.

But this story shows that even Watson is fallible. A cancer center fired the poor gadget when it didn't deliver on the promise to cure disease and bring world peace. (Okay, I made up the world peace thing.)

I've gotten laid off a couple times myself, so I can sympathize with our silicon friend. One consolation: another medical outfit likes its results with Watson. Every job can't work out perfectly.

As for Watson's daddy IBM, the news is mixed. It's long been a punching-bag for stock market analysts, thanks to its declining revenues and general lack of buzz in the tech world. Lately, though, a contrarian point of view has arisen, which points to the company's solid profits and dividends. A cash cow isn't all bad, even if it's not as sexy as a market darling like Apple.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Civvie name game

You know that game show news is sparse when I post an entry about contestants' names.

I saw this story in Google News about the Shaffer family from Illinois, who played (and won) on Family Feud. The caption to the picture in the screenshot: The Shaffer family of Waterloo will appear in an upcoming episode of Family Feud. From left, Tammy Slager, Mary Beard, Kathy Warren, show host Steve Harvey, Nancy Quernheim and Bill Wirth pose during a show taping last year in Atlanta.

So nobody is named Shaffer but the family played under that name. Brilliant me figured that the four female contestants were sisters using their married names, and the male contestant was the husband of another sister. Turns out I was almost right. (Even a blind squirrel...) The story linked to an earlier article about the family, which said that "Shaffer" was indeed the maiden name of the ladies, but the gentleman was a cousin.

I know, this is trivial beyond belief, but I was desperate for something to write about today. There was a puff piece interview with Pyramid host Michael Strahan in People, but it was too fluffy even for a game show blog.

Some more trivia: the guy in the picture, Bill Wirth, looks vaguely like Drew Carey. Just sayin'...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oh jeez, it's just a game show

What is it about The Wall that inspires long, thumb-sucking pieces of deep thinkery on the web?

A while back a cogitating pundit declared the show to be the "most American" game show. I posted an entry which laughed at that exercise in faux profundity. But now The Atlantic comes along with a 2,000-word essay that praises the previous pundit and offers its own "insights" into the fun little show. A sample:

NBC's massive, money-mongering wall suggests, on the one hand, the teeming sense of omni-possibility that has accompanied a tech revolution and a century's worth of swaggering American hegemony. But The Wall also suggests, in its "these are deserving people" approach to its mind-boggling financial rewards, a certain fatigue - about politics, about voracious consumerism, about power itself.

Stuff like this gives me more than a certain fatigue - about babbling pundits, big long words, and blasts of hot air from tireless hot air purveyors on the Interwebs. The Wall is just a game show, for crying out loud. Take your "omni-possibility" and "voracious consumerism" elsewhere. There must be a lot of academic journals which would love such rubbish.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shuffle up and deal on Buzzr

Have no idea if this is real or just a quirk on the ScreenerTV schedules. But that web site is now showing a major shakeup in the Buzzr weekday schedule starting February 28. So far the prime time schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday of that week is up on ScreenerTV (all times Eastern)...

Tuesday Feb 28
8:00 PM Let's Make a Deal
8:30 PM Let's Make a Deal
9:00 PM Tattletales
9:30 PM Tattletales
10:00 PM Press Your Luck
10:30 PM Press Your Luck

Wednesday Mar 1
8:00 PM Let's Make a Deal
8:30 PM Let's Make a Deal
9:00 PM Tattletales
9:30 PM Tattletales
10:00 PM Super Password
10:30 PM Super Password

No word yet on what happens the rest of the week. There are plenty of other changes throughout the day. Basically, Match Game and Family Feud get cut back a lot. Maybe Fremantle execs really are tired of complaints about overuse. Other shows slot in here and there with no apparent pattern, except the three black-and-white stalwarts (TTTT, WML, IGAS) always stay together.

You can check out the schedule here. We'll see what happens as more days are added to the ScreenerTV listings.

And in some real game show Kremlinology, the Buzzr web site is now showing more recent color versions of To Tell the Truth in its banner. A hint of things to come?

UPDATE: I posted this entry on Game Show Paradise and got a little skepticism. My reply...

As I said in my original post, I have no idea if the ScreenerTV schedule is accurate or not. It's kind of hard to imagine the site just coming up with an entirely different schedule out of nowhere. And Fremantle has been hearing from media types - though not the game show Interwebs - about the Match Game/Family Feud overload.

That said, I haven't gotten any press releases from Buzzr about a schedule change. Usually, a lot of stuff from the diginet lands in my inbox about anything new or different. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATED UPDATE: I'm starting to think this is just a goof on ScreenerTV. As another GSP poster noted, buzzrplay.com has the current weekday schedule all the way through March 17. So it looks like the current lineup will endure for a while.

UPDATED UPDATED UPDATE: Yep, the new schedule was just a temporary goof by ScreenerTV. The site now has the current schedule for as long as the eye (or the web site) can see. We're not done with the Match Game/Family Feud overload.

Top ten

A reporter for the local news site in Fenton, MI had some time on her hands. Looks like things aren't hopping in Fenton lately.

So she wrote a long article on how game shows are always popular. Well, sometimes they're more popular than other times. The reporter even got a bunch of quotes from Fenton residents about game show history. "I'm enjoying the revival of Match Game. It was stupid in the '70s and it's stupid now, but they've hit just the right nostalgic note to make it kitschy fun."

The Match Game revival isn't setting the Nielsen world on fire, as I noted a few days ago. And the "stupid" talk oddly echoes Gene Rayburn's confession that MG was a "silly" game. But the 1973-82 version is still the best game show ever and that includes everything.

The reporter concludes her story with a list of the top ten game shows: Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Match Game, The Price is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Hollywood Squares, Password, What’s My Line, Newlywed Game. She belongs on Game Show Forum with her collection of oldies.

My own top ten from a while back included Cash Cab, Lingo and The Chase. I wonder if the reporter has even heard of these shows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mark this game

A thread on Golden Road asks which former pricing games should be brought back for an all-retired ep on The Price is Right.

A couple posters, not surprisingly, take the chance for a jab at Drew Carey. They want Barker's Markers - or Make Your Mark as the game was retitled after Barker's own retirement - to make a comeback. The reason is a notorious incident where Drew screwed up the rules.

It was the October 16, 2008 ep, as explained on U.S. Game Shows Wiki and stored for posterity on YouTube. The producers decided to let the screwup stand in the playing of the game, but then retired Make Your Mark after the episode.

Naturally, the Golden Road posters want some embarrassment for Drew if the game ever returns. "Let the producers take a jab at Drew for messing up the rules." "Shorter game, plus drilling Drew." This is the board that pines for Bob, after all.

I dunno, the game is pretty simplistic and hardly the most entertaining thing ever on TPiR. But from the Golden Road point of view, it would be a nice way to remind everybody that Drew isn't perfect. He might even get some humor out of a one-time return.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ratings: blah week for syndies

There wasn't much movement for syndie game shows in the January 30-February 5 week. And what movement there was, was down. TV News Check has posted the less than lively household ratings...

Family Feud 7.4 - down a couple ticks for all those daily runs
Wheel of Fortune 6.9 - down a tick
Jeopardy 6.7 - flat
Millionaire 1.8 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - flat, it was that kind of week

GSN has started plugging Divided as their new "hit show." The quizzer has produced decent ratings and demos, even if "hit" is a little bit of an exaggeration. But it's been so long since a new original on GSN even pulled okay numbers, that I can pardon the network for some puffery.

Meanwhile, GSN had some other news to be happy about. 468K/320K viewers prime time/total day for the week of February 6-12. The network ranked 30th and 29th in the windows. Best viewer totals and ranks in a while.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Size matters

A while back a cyncial critic proclaimed The Wall to be the "most American" game show. It's so big and flashy, after all.

Turns out that bigness and flashiness are features, not bugs. In a Parade interview host Chris Hardwick reveals that the sheer size of the show got him hooked. "When I was a kid, I watched a lot of game shows. And all those shows were big and flashy so I always wanted to do a big, flashy game show."

He's certainly getting his wish with the jumbo-sized, whiz-bang version of Plinko. Chris immediately qualifies his admiration of the sheer scale of the show by plugging the "very intimate" relationship between him and the contestants. (He put it that way, not me.)

This got me thinking - dangerous, I know - about my own preferences in game shows. My all-time favorite, Match Game, was hardly that big and flashy, unless you find flash in orange shag carpet. Some other shows on my recent top fifty list were also kind of quiet and small-scale. But I listed some pretty loud and elaborate ones, too. Variety is the spice of game shows.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Musings about Alex

I just love long deep-think pieces about game shows. Critics get all philosophical and faux insightful about our little genre.

The latest example is this essay on a site called Ringer (no, I've never heard of it, either). A bemused critic named Claire McNear says over and over again that Alex Trebek gets disappointed when contestants don't win enough money on Jeopardy. That's after she says Alex may be a robot. She embeds eleven (11) YouTube videos to prove her case.

Well, Claire, Alex probably does get a little bummed when nobody wins big money, like the infamous triple-zip finish in the screenshot. As you note yourself, game shows like to give away big prizes to keep the audience entertained. But I don't know that this "insight" is worth 1,233 words and 11 videos.

Along the way, Claire McNear also says that Pat Sajak shows "chivalrous pride in his charges' victories" and Steve Harvey is "like a golden retriever who's just caught a ball." First time I ever heard Steve compared to a golden retriever. I think he's more like a sheepdog, rumpled and a little exasperated as he herds his players through the surveys.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Final match?

I'm starting to wonder how long audiences will be getting ready to match the stars on ABC.

Nielsen is frowning on the alphabet net's (warning, Variety speak) reboot of the greatest game show ever. The ratings for the latest Match Game ep on February 8 were noticeably anemic compared to the rest of ABC's Wednesday lineup. The cancellation bear smells blood...

ABC shows with total viewers and 18-49 ratings, Feb 8
The Goldbergs 6.1M 1.8
Speechless 5.5M 1.6
Modern Family 7.3M 2.3
Black-ish 5.3M 1.5
Match Game 3.5M 1.0

You don't have to be a math wiz to spot the weak sister in this bunch. Match Game also lagged behind all the other broadcast networks in the 10:00 PM hour. As if that's not enough bad news, Match Game is ABC's worst performing game show, too. Even To Tell the Truth, not a Nielsen star by any means, is faring better.

I gave the show a mostly favorable review, and I still don't mind ABC's reboot. Alec Baldwin's version won't make anybody forget the 1973-82 classic, but it's far from terrible. Still, I have to wonder if Baldwin himself may be putting off some viewers. Although he's kept reasonably calm on Match Game, his otherwise abrasive personality and well-known political views could be alienating part of the potential audience.

Baldwin himself sounds bored with the show. In an interview with Esquire - the web site still exists though NBC has put the unwatched cable network out of its misery - he says the MG gig "was not something that's on my bucket list." They're paying this guy two hundred grand per ep?

Friday, February 10, 2017

From pageant to TPiR

If there's anything the Internet likes, it's a beauty pageant contestant on a game show.

Come to think about it, a beauty pageant is sort of similar to a game show. Except you don't have to know trivia, guess words, survive stunts, or price the next item up for bid. But it's still a competition, after all. I'm a little surprised that Game Show Newsnet - which covers just about every other kind of competition imaginable - doesn't cover pageants. Maybe beauty pageants are too politically incorrect for the site, which leans to the left.

But such considerations don't bother local web sites, which are more than happy to brighten up their pages with attractive contestants. (I plead guilty to the same offense.) So several New Jersey sites are featuring Kaitlyn Schoeffel, who won big on The Price is Right after competing in the Miss New Jersey pageant.

It's a nice story about Kaitlyn and her boyfriend deciding on a whim to stand in line for TPiR tickets, and then scoring a big payday. She doesn't claim any particular expertise in pricing merchandise. "I guess it was beginner's luck."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tale of two originals

GSN has paired its two first-run originals, Divided and Idiotest, on Thursday night.
So far the news on the shows is pretty good but a little mixed. Or maybe more than a little mixed. The two shows might meet different fates. As I say on Game Show Paradise...

Divided is sure doing better than Winsanity or Hellevator or Window Whatnot, to mention GSN's other recent originals. The total viewer numbers aren't wow level but probably okay. Idiotest has earned several renewals with similar viewer numbers. The decline in the 18-49 demo is ominous, though. It's clear that Divided is skewing older than Idiotest, and that could be the kiss of Nielsen death.

I like Divided myself, but it's a serious quizzer that mostly lacks the humor of Idiotest. Or the humor is of the grim kind, when sour contestants burn through all their money.

So I get the feeling that Divided is poised on the bubble. Idiotest, on the other hand, looks like it could get still another season. It's a good show, maybe taken too lightly by me (among others). I'm not a big fan of Ben Gleib's often sarcastic hosting style, but he's kept Idiotest going for four seasons now. A lot longer than most of GSN's other originals, anyway.

UPDATE: Idiotest stages a cute stunt with four of Ben Gleib's ex-girlfriends as contestants. GSN puts out a bit of video.

RATINGS UPDATE: Wouldn't you know, Divided bounced back for its latest eps on February 9. One episode got 413K viewers and a 0.11 18-49 rating. More numbers like that and a renewal is assured.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Once more, the old college try

It's February sweeps time, so syndie game shows are dusting off the stunts.

Millionaire is running Bachelor week and kids week and God knows what other weeks. Celebrity Name Game is bringing out new eps, which amount to a sweeps stunt for the (unjustly) doomed  show. And Jeopardy is trotting out the umpteenth college tournament next week. The contestant stories for the tourney have already started to turn up.

I've ranted before about Jeopardy doing too many special tournaments, but that won't stop me from doing it again. (Right, Britney? Or Steely Dan, for folks of my age.) The only tourney that means anything is the T of C, why does Jeopardy pull all these other stunts, blah blah blah, you've heard me before.

Besides that grumpiness, I've also noticed how chummy Alex gets with female contestants in their publicity pics. See the screenshot for a typical example. I guess the arm-around is Alex's equivalent to Richard Dawson's lip locking. No host could get away with the kissing bandit's antics nowadays. But Alex must figure he's a national institution and can at least get a chaste hug now and then.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ratings: syndies get so happy

It was such a good week for syndie game shows that TV News Check headlined the numbers. "Solid week for syndie game shows: All five entries in the genre post week-to-week ratings gains in the final session before the February sweep." The site then listed the household ratings for the week of January 23-29...

Family Feud 7.6 - up five ticks
Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - up three ticks
Jeopardy 6.7 - up five ticks, aren't we all just doing swell?
Millionaire 1.8 - up a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - up a tick but it doesn't much matter any more

The latest viewer numbers and 18-49 ratings for GSN's originals…

9:00 PM Divided 377K 0.06
9:30 PM Divided 393K 0.07
10:00 PM Idiotest 372K 0.09
10:30 PM Idiotest 410K 0.09

Divided may be teetering right on the edge for renewal. The viewer numbers are okay but the demos are dipping. It seems silly that a show's fate could hang on hundredths of an 18-49 ratings point. But that's TV, folks.

Overall GSN did fine for the January 30-February 5 week. 426K/305K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 35th and 30th in the windows. That's the highest total day rank in a while.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cramming for the chase

I was roaming around the game show Interwebs for something to write about and came across this old post on Game Show Paradise.

The poster talks about a couple of "hunters" on SyFy's short-lived and unlamented reality series, Cha$e (2008). One of the hunters was Berglind "Icey" Ólafsdóttir, co-host of GSN's not completely unlamented Cram (2003). Berglind is very easy on the eyes, as you can see from her IMDb page photo.

For those who don't recall, and that's probably almost all of you, Cram was a silly stunt show combined with a useless trivia quizzer. Contestants were forced to stay awake forever - actually 24 hours, I think - and learn reams of idiotic material. Host Graham Elwood and the lovely Icey then hauled them into the studio. The players stumbled through various goofball stunts while getting quizzed about the stupid stuff they had to "cram" (get it?)

It wasn't the worst of the six Bob Boden originals that GSN tried in the 2002-03 period. That dubious honor belongs to Friend or Foe, a shaft-your-neighbor show that host Kennedy would like to forget. (Of course, the best of the six were the terrific Lingo and Russian Roulette.)

In fact, Cram had a mild if goofy charm in its first season. Too bad the producers pretty much ran the idea into the ground in the second go-round. The show has long since vanished from our little game show network. But the beauteous Berglind is still around.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Chris Harrison's other life

When Millionaire finally gave up looking for the next Steve Harvey and brought in Chris Harrison to steady the ship, a crossover with Bachelor was an obvious gimmick.

The reality epic about looking for love in weird places pulled 7.3 million viewers for its latest ep. That may not sound huge, but this is the zillion channel universe. It's a helluva lot more people than Millionaire gets, anyway. If only a few of those Bachelor fans make their way to Millionaire for this week's crossover eps, the producers will be quite happy, thank you.

Chris Harrison gave a publicity interview to E! about this week's stunt. It's kind of interesting as publicity interviews go. One thing I've always wondered - E! must have wondered about it, too - is whether the questions are specially prepared for the bachelors and bachelorettes. Not really, says Chris, though sometimes they'll slip in one cute query for a specific contestant.

Chris name drops a lot of people from his other life, and laughs about how they handle the pressure on Millionaire. You can watch for yourself over the next five days.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ye olde shows

On Game Show Forum right now the top two threads are about a couple of old game shows. Who would have guessed?

One thread discusses Trump Card (1990-91), but there's politics rumbling barely below the surface. The thread starts with an AV Club story whose title calls the show "sh---y", when they really want to call Trump himself "sh---y". This blog is politico-phobic, so we'll leave that one severely alone.

The other thread is about Wordplay, a short-lived word game that lasted for nine months on NBC in 1986-87. As it happens, there's a fair amount of the show available on YouTube. It was far from the worst word game ever, just a little too poky and nerdy for its own good. You can check the gameplay details on U.S. Game Shows Wiki. Basically, a couple civvies tried to figure out the definitions of odd words, like the one in the screenshot. ("Deasil" means "clockwise or in a direction following the apparent course of the sun." Now you know.)

Three celebs were on hand to provide some humor, or so the showrunners hoped. The celebs were given the definitions in advance, so they didn't look completely clueless. Tom Kennedy hosted in his usual genial style, in what turned out to be his last hosting gig. The o.p. on Game Show Forum picks a few nits with the gameplay and celebrities, but he still thinks a rewind might work. I dunno, the nerdiness quotient looks a little too high to me.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Demo-lition derby

Just posted a comment on Game Show Paradise about TV's demo obsession. This relates to GSN swapping out John O'Hurley's Family Feud for Match Game...

Other poster: If the shows are getting decent numbers overall, I don't think [demos] should matter, right?

Welcome to the real world of television, with its obsession on 18-49. To take one particularly silly example, Showbuzz (actually a valuable site for cable ratings information) ranks shows on the almighty 18-49 demo. So you get craziness like Little Women on Lifetime - naw, I never heard of the show, either - ranking above O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, even though O'Reilly gets four and half times as many viewers.

Now I'll admit that some programmers are starting to break free from the thrall of 18-49. The U.S. population has aged sharply over the last four decades, and the median age keeps rising. So it's finally dawned on some of the brilliant people running TV that maybe they should appeal to older demos, too. That's why 25-54 seems to be the new trendy demo. In particular, CBS has made a mint off shows that skew somewhat older than conventional wisdom would dictate.

To get back to GSN, their daytime shows skew so old that it really makes little difference if they run Match Game or O'Hurley Feud at 1:00 PM. The audience is always going to be ancient. (I'm 65, so I'm no spring chicken myself. I just watched Match Game on GSN, in fact.) Our little game show network might as well just get as many viewers as they can for all those AARP and Life Alert ads.

Meta max

A faux tweet linked to one of many stories about Aaron Paul's trip though The Price is Right's time machine on James Corden's late night show. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away - actually in 2000 - the then unknown Aaron appeared on The Price is Right and...lost. It was an agonizing defeat as he went over the correct price of $26,368 by a mere $132.

On the Corden show they did a clever skit which worked the 17-year-old footage of Aaron's loss into his attempt to "redeem himself" in the empty TPiR studio. It's a funny seven minutes, and a bunch of stories have cropped up in Google News about it.

I should have just laughed at the skit and moved on. But no, I had to get philosophical about it. (I also needed something to write about on the blog.) So it struck me that the skit was meta material at its meta-est.

Google defines "meta" as "(of a creative work) referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential." Aaron's skit wasn't just self-referential about The Price is Right. It was self-referential about his own experience on The Price is Right. You can't get much meta-er.

Philosophy fans - and I know you're out there - will tell you that the current meaning of "meta" is something of a historical accident. "Meta" originally meant "after" in Greek. One of Aristotle's more esoteric and self-referential treatises got placed after his stuff on physics, so it was labeled Metaphysics. We've been meta-ing about lots of things ever since, including game shows.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Get ready to match the stars all the time

GSN has dropped its noon hour (Central time!) of John O'Hurley's Family Feud in favor of another hour of the best game show of all time, Match Game.

For those like me who get both Buzzr and GSN on our cable systems, this marks an interesting milestone. As I comment on Game Show Paradise...

Thanks to Buzzr and GSN you can now watch Match Game eight hours a day on weekdays (all times Eastern):

2:00AM-4:00AM Buzzr
8:00AM-9:00AM GSN
10:00AM-12:00PM Buzzr
1:00PM-2:00PM GSN
4:00PM-6:00PM Buzzr

It's my favorite game show ever and that includes everything. But talk about overkill. Sixteen eps a day? This almost makes Harvey Feud look sparingly used on GSN. By the way, this Match Game schedule survives the prime time shakeup on Buzzr starting February 6.

Other poster: Hahaha, no. Nice try. I know you're popular for posting some questionable stuff, but come on now. Harvey Feud is airing from 6pm to 2am tonight before Divided reruns come on at 2am.

Check the weekday schedules for both networks. Harvey Feud runs 31 hours on GSN, Match Game runs 40 hours on Buzzr/GSN. On weekdays the MG overkill does make Harvey Feud look almost (you missed the humor) sparingly used.

I'll admit that Harvey Feud catches up on the weekend when GSN doesn't use MG and Buzzr cuts back very slightly on the show (though Match Game still gets 11 hours on the diginet). And I shouldn't say this because the usual suspects will squawk, but at least we won't hear constant complaints about MG overkill from the game show Interwebs...like we do about Harvey Feud. We can be grateful for that.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Slow dating

Imagine a very slow combo of Love Connection and Let's Ask America. You've pretty much got Game of Dating, which just debuted on TV One.

Full confession: I checked out after the first quarter-hour of the 60-minute show. They had plodded through one entire question by then, and went to commercial before the reveal on the second question. All the while I was silently imploring them to hurry up, please, it's time. (That's a highfalutin' Waste Land reference, by the way. I'm in that kind of mood tonight.)

The show featured three teams of contestants seated in the comfort of their own homes. (See the Let's Ask America angle?) They talk and talk and watch video snippets from a first date. (See the Love Connection angle?) Once in a long while host Tony Rock asks the teams a question about the daters. Such as: is the guy hustling fashion, healthcare, medical marijuana...or something else I can't remember.

Long periods of chatter and cogitation ensue and the teams finally make their choices. Then comes the big reveal, and we're back to another long stretch of dating video and random conversation from the teams.

At the top of the show they promise that somebody wins ten grand sooner or later. I'll take their word for it. Tony Rock is competent at best as the host and actually seems a little stiff and uncomfortable. Maybe he wants things to move along faster, too.

UPADTE: Game of Dating gets blah numbers, even by TV One standards. 150K viewers and a 0.03 18-49 rating. The game may be over soon.