Friday, March 31, 2017

A game show connection

When ABC started its 100K Pyramid rewind last summer, the celeb list looked a bit familiar. A lot of celeb players from Celebrity Name Game showed up on the ABC remake. I speculated that the network might be using CNG - which is a Pyramid knockoff, after all - as a farm team for celeb talent on its new version of the old format.

I have no idea if my idle thought was true or not. But it really does seem that GSN has picked up some civvie contestants from Celebrity Name Game for stints on Idiotest. This story about contestant Jodi Wofford (see screenshot) says...

A producer of Celebrity Name Game remembered Wofford from her appearance on the show and called her in November to find out if she would be interested in competing on another game show the next month.

That other game show was, of course, Idiotest. Now comes news that another civvie pair, Kimia Semani and Brigitte Benchanan, have made the trek from CNG to Ben Gleib's visual puzzle fest. Sure enough, the linked story comments...

The two were invited to be contestants on Idiotest because of their past involvement on Celebrity Name Game.

Hey, you find contestants wherever you can. Though the gameplay connection between the word game and the puzzle game seems a little tenuous.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Vanna regrets

A few stories have turned up on the game show Interwebs about Vanna White's regrets.

No, she doesn't rue her life as a letter-turner on Wheel of Fortune. Instead, she's a bit contrite over some revealing photos taken in 1982, which later turned up in Playboy in 1987. By then Vanna was famous for her alphabet chores on that little game show.

This story from the Washington Post recounts Vanna's legal tangles with Hugh Hefner and his magazine. Eventually she gave up the lawsuit struggle and acquiesced in the mild nudity. Life went on and the letters kept turning. But Vanna still wishes she hadn't posed for the pictures, which Playboy bought from photographer David Gurian, who didn't work for the magazine.

Vanna explains: "I did these lingerie shots and from the moment I said I would do them, I thought, 'I shouldn't be doing this, but I'm not going to ask my dad for money, so I'm just going to do it!'" Well, she did do it, as the screenshot shows, and that was that. We all do crazy things when we're young and silly...or old and silly, as in my case.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The category shows

On my usual daily glance at Google News, I saw some stories about an upcoming NBC show called The Handmade Project, hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

The idea is that contestants compete in making things by hand (duh). One story called it a "game show" but most articles labeled it a "reality competition." Oh yes, once again it's that wavering line between reality TV and this blog's little genre.

In a way, you could call any game show a "reality competition." On Wheel of Fortune the players are competing and the contest is real (there's a federal law to guarantee it.) But this new show from NBC definitely seems to fall outside the boundaries of game shows, at least as grumpy old moi defines them. Subjective judgments decide the winners, and there looks to be plenty of whiny personal interaction between the players.

In other words, The Handmade Project has "reality TV" written all over it. So I probably won't cover it here, again thanks to my hidebound conservatism on just what constitutes a game show. But there's always Game Show Newsnet...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ratings: hoops hit Pat and Vanna and Alex

March is the cruelest month for the Sony soulmates. Hoops preemptions hit Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy hard. But Steve and Chris didn't mind the March 13-19 week. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.9 - up a couple ticks
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down seven ticks thanks to basketball
Jeopardy 5.8 - down six ticks as it suffers along with the soulmate
Millionaire 1.8 - up a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat as if it matters any more

Hip Hop Squares has been averaging 1.6-1.8 million viewers on Monday night for VH1. Along with good demos, the show should have no trouble getting a second season.

GSN's first quarter of 2017 was acceptable if not a blowout. 431K/302K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 37th and 33rd in the windows.

Cash Cab minus Ben

Discovery is bringing back Cash Cab. Usually this would gladden my aged heart, but there are a couple of real question marks.

First, Ben Bailey is nowhere to be found. This is a toughie, because the rubber-faced Ben was such a crucial ingredient in the original run. When Discovery tried a variant of the show with some other driver in Chicago, it flopped worse than Heaven's Gate.

Second, the new version will sometimes feature guest celebs behind the wheel. Uh-oh, such supposed star power could mean overly media-wise people faking reactions. Even worse, the reactions could look fake. A big part of the charm of the original was that Ben seemed honestly happy or rueful, depending on the outcome of his inquisition.

I know, I'm sounding like an old grump wishing for the good old days of, what, five years ago when Cash Cab went to the Nielsen chop shop. The new show might be just great, with a terrific host and occasional celebs adding to the attraction. At least the original is now on GSN for comparison purposes.

Monday, March 27, 2017

To tell the ratings truth

As a faux tweet noted, host Anthony Anderson of ABC's To Tell the Truth promises the show will live for a third go-round.

Anderson says the show will tape another thirteen eps in June for a summer run. Although I haven't seen any formal announcement from ABC, I believe the guy. Why would he pretend otherwise if the show's been cancelled?

I'm mildly surprised by the news. TTTT's numbers have been lukewarm at best, even by the shriveled standards of current-day broadcast. The last original eps got four million or so viewers and 18-49 ratings right around the big one-oh. But that seems good enough in today's broadcast world to get another shot in the good old summertime.

The show is an okay rewind of the classic format. I've never been a big To Tell the Truth fan myself, because the questioning often seems hit or miss. The new version's questions sound even more random as panelists interrupt each other, with Anthony also chiming in.

But enough people like the show, at least in the opinion of ABC execs. And their opinion is the one that counts.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Alex Trebek, investment guru

A Canadian newspaper decided to ask Jeopardy's Alex Trebek about investments. So he talked about buying on dips in the stock market - always a good idea - and investing in a California winery - not such a good idea, at least for Alex. He lost a couple million on the winery, which somehow didn't make money in the middle of wine country.

These investments carry risk, kids, and you can lose your shirt, your pants, and your underwear. Alex also discusses philanthropy. He has the ultimate celeb perk, a charitable trust. It gives away money to Kenya (my old Peace Corps stomping ground) and other places in Africa. Too bad I didn't get any celeb moolah when I was teaching on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Alex says he doesn't want to spoil his kids by leaving them everything, which sounds like there might be unpleasant surprises in the will. If you want to know, his son operates a Mexican restaurant and his daughter is in real estate. They should just be careful about those wineries.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A stream of GSN

I'm one of the Neanderthals who still has a complete (or "fat") cable bundle. But if you're tired of cable bills - who isn't? - there are other ways to get GSN, our little game show network.

One funny mistake: the linked article says GSN runs "Card Sharks, Match Game, To Tell the Truth and Press Your Luck." In fact, the network doesn't program TTTT right now, but three out of four ain't bad. Anyway, the article reviews various non-cable options for GSN, including DirecTV, Sling TV and Hulu.

In particular, the article says Hulu offers access to such goodies as Steampunk'd. I can't imagine why anybody would want access to that show, but there's no arguing tastes.

The article doesn't discuss game show oldies diginet Buzzr, but of course it's available free...or almost free. You just have to spring for an antenna to catch the over-the-air signal, assuming Buzzr has a subchannel in your area. Luckily for me, my fat cable bundle from Time Warner or Spectrum or whatever already offers Buzzr. Which does run To Tell the Truth.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Summer with Fox

The broadcast networks continue to roll out their summer schedules. Now it's Fox's turn.

As a faux tweet noted, the network's reboot of Love Connection with Andy Cohen debuts May 25. Fox is pairing the revival of the old Woolery chestnut with Beat Shazam, where Jamie Foxx will herd contestants through battles with the music app. Beat Shazam promises a life-changing jackpot, as opposed to Love Connection, which only promises a life-changing date. By the way, Fox is also running the Miss USA pageant on May 14, and they hope for a correct reveal of the winner.

Computer apps seem to be the latest source for game show ideas, with CBS rolling out Candy Crush (hosted by Mario Lopez) not long after Beat Shazam. I can't wait for the game show version of Minesweeper. Well, actually I can wait for that...a long time, in fact.

If I had to bet - and I never bet on anything because I'm stingy - I would say Love Connection has the better chance of the Fox duo. At least it has a history of success and a bunch of fans who want to see how the revival works. Not to mention prurient interest in other people's dates.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Geniuses at play

Just watched one of the debut episodes of Bracket Genius on ESPN2. It's pretty much College Bowl. Teams from various institutions of higher learning go at each other in a briskly paced quizzer.

There are some differences. The teams wear college shirts instead of business clothes. There are four teams each episode and they play two preliminary rounds, with the winners facing off in the final elimination round. And Trey Wingo hosts instead of Robert Earle, who is 91 and probably wouldn't want the job.

There's no studio audience, which creates a hushed, library-like atmosphere. Wingo tries to liven things up with frequent wisecracks and exhortations to trailing teams, but the show does seem a little too studious and quiet. The set has a lot of faux red brick and decorated blackboards, including prominently displayed sponsors' names. (Hi there, Geico!)

The college kids are friendly and appealing, and it's impossible to root against any of them. One team will win a hundred grand at the end of the tournament, so good luck to everybody.

Even by the less than high standards of ESPN2, Bracket Genius went almost unwatched. 87K and 100K viewers for the two debut eps. By comparison, ESPN2 averaged 285K/179K viewers prime time/total day in the latest available week.

COMPLETELY UNRELATED UPDATE: A commenter asked for numbers on GSN's Cash Cab reruns. So I went to Douglas Pucci. The ratings are pretty good. 300K and 344K viewers for the March 20 eps. Starting March 27 GSN will give the show eight more runs per week at 11:00 PM Monday through Thursday.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Final gong

Chuck Barris, the madcap producer who gave us Dating Game, Newlywed Game and Gong Show, has died at age 87.

Chuckie baby had long since faded from public view, really since the demise of Gong Show in 1980. He wrote some books and invented a ridiculous story about spy exploits, but otherwise he pretty much dropped out of sight. The movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, about his fictional CIA career, brought a small wave of attention in 2003, but it was a minor bit of fame at best.

His shows have lived on, though. Newlywed Game went through many permutations, and reruns of Sherri Shepherd's version still turn up on GSN in the wee hours. ABC has reportedly ordered a revival of Gong Show, and Dating Game has spawned so many variants - game shows and reality shows - that it would be silly to try to count them all.

Barris gloried in his tastelessness, so there's no reason to rehash all the arguments about how he lowered whatever standards TV might have. He was the unabashed King of Schlock and loved every minute, though he would sometimes get defensive about his less than shining reputation. His personal life was stained by tragedy when his only child died of a drug overdose. He once said, only half-jokingly, that his tombstone would read "Gonged at last." R.I.P.

Another day, another goof

Some people have been known to like naked desire. It just doesn't work so well on Wheel of Fortune.

The game show Internets are chortling - they're laughing a lot, too - over the latest contestant goof on Pat and Vanna's little word game. Some poor schmoe named Kevin (I can't find his last name right now and I really don't want to) blew the puzzle in the screenshot. As observers noted, you don't have to be Tennessee Williams to fill in the "m" for the classic play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Instead, Kevin went with "k" for naked desire, which does make some sense. One Twitter denizen noted that A Streetcar Naked Desire is apparently the porn version of the Williams play. I wouldn't know about such things, of course.

I do enjoy Pat's sharply pronounced "no" after the hilarious goof. Except I feel a little guilty about joining in the harsh laughter. The poor contestant has just entered the game show hall of shame, and there's no exit. (Isn't that something from Sartre?)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ratings: close at the top for syndies

TV News Check went back to their usual format for syndie ratings. They gave the changes from the previous week instead of the previous year's sweeps period. The top three syndie game shows were within three tenths of a point of each other. The tight race in household ratings...

Family Feud 6.7 - down three ticks from the previous week
Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - up three ticks
Jeopardy 6.4 - up a couple ticks to help create the close race
Millionaire 1.7 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat, as it heads for Nielsen Boot Hill

Of course, the race is unfair because Wheel of Fortune only gets one run per day to generate all its ratings. But you knew that already, I hope.

GSN turned in its usual numbers for the week of March 13-19. 417K/291K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 35th in the windows.

Monday, March 20, 2017


A British radio site is wondering just what CBS will do with its Candy Crush game show, due this summer. In other words, how will they translate the app into a TV show?

At first the site thinks the network will stick pretty close to the app's gameplay. "Sounds like we're basically gonna be watching people play Candy Crush on massive iPads to be totally honest, but we're staying open to the idea that it could actually be genius." Frankly, the massive iPads idea doesn't sound too genius-y to me, or to whoever wrote the blurb on the site. So they entertain other notions, like a combo with another well-known project.

"The show is being created by one of the producers behind the hilarious obstacle course show Wipeout, so maybe it's gonna be a hybrid of that and some Candy Crush-based app fun?" This sounds like a definite possibility, with contestants careening around those "enormous, interactive game boards" promised by CBS. Except it's hard to imagine how they might work the big balls into Candy Crush.

We'll see soon enough. The debut is set for July 9. Get those enormous game boards ready.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Comment on comments

It's a slow weekend, so I'll get meta and self-referential in this post. I'll discuss comments on this blog.

A long-time commenter is mad at me over a warning I gave her about a comment on a post a while back. You can rummage around for the thread if you're interested. It's important to note that I didn't delete the comment. I just posted a mildly worded warning because I thought the comment pushed one of the few lines I've drawn in the "Legalities and Technicalities" at the end of this blog.

I run a loose ship on comments. There are only a few rules, and I'm pretty soft on enforcing them. In particular, you can criticize me all day long - and some commenters do exactly that - without getting anything deleted or even warned about. I will sometimes respond to criticism because I have a right to comment, too. But I rarely delete anything or even warn about anything, though I might think a comment is silly, unfair or obnoxious.

So please read the rules at the end of the blog and comment all you want. It's easy to follow the rules and still have plenty of room for complaints, comments or compliments, as the image says.

UPDATE: Oh jeez, I had to gently warn another commenter in the same thread. Didn't delete his comment, though. It's a loose ship.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jerry's story

On its never ending journey, The Price is Right's live show comes to Montgomery, AL. And quiet old Jerry Springer hosts.

Jerry's been known to talk occasionally, and in the linked interview he chats about how he got started in the live TPiR business. It was sort of an accident. He took the America's Got Talent winners on tours now and then. The company which ran that operation also ran the live TPiR show, so they asked Springer to host it. Along with Todd Newton and Mark Walberg and others, he's been doing the live show "since 2011 or 2012".

Jerry zeroes in the secret of TPiR's success, whether it's the live or studio version. "Everyone has an opinion on how much a can of soup costs. That right away draws everyone in. You can play the game the first time you watch it." True enough, but I'm terrible with prices myself. I would be the world's worst TPiR player.

The interview then ambles onto other subjects. Jerry's thrilled to be a grandpa, in case you were wondering.

Friday, March 17, 2017

NBC summer games

The broadcast networks are rolling out their summer schedules. A faux tweet noted the CBS premiere of Candy Crush on July 9.

Now NBC has announced the return dates for two game shows. The Wall, which got the best ratings of any of the winter broadcast game shows, comes back on June 22 for its second season. NBC brags about the show's nice Nielsen news, which is understandable. The Plinko ripoff is more entertaining than it should be. Stealing a good idea can pay off nicely.

Hollywood Game Night, which I figured was pretty much done on NBC, returns on August 7 for a fifth go-round. There's not much good Nielsen news to brag about here, but the network has to burn off the unaired eps sooner or later. NBC has already sold the reruns to GSN, as our little game show network recently announced.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hippety hoppety

Finally got around to watching Hip Hop Squares on the VH1 web site. I sampled the first episode.

Long story short: it's okay. There are a couple things I don't like. For some reason there are no civvie contestants. Instead a couple of (minor) celebs play for civvies from the audience. Uh no, let the civvies play for themselves. The second goof is a random bonus round that seems like the most after of afterthoughts.

Otherwise, the show is entertaining enough. The basic Hollywood Squares format remains intact, and the set has been spiffed up. They've even got dancers hip hopping around. DeRay Davis, looking a tad heavier than in his GSN Mind of a Man days, hosts amiably enough, though he seems over-caffeinated.

The questions were all about the tackier parts of pop culture, including various body parts. With one exception: one question actually quoted the Declaration of Independence. And that's not a bluff.

Meanwhile, the most important review - from the Nielsen Company - was favorable for the first two eps. About two million viewers and 18-49 ratings at or above the big one-point-oh.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ten years

Yeah, it's been nearly a decade since Drew Carey took over The Price is Right.

Gold Derby, which seems to be a pop culture site, interviews Drew about starting on TPiR and a lot of other things. They even get into the nuts and bolts of various pricing games. But the best stuff is the natural fear that Drew experienced when he took over for the Legendary Bob. "It wasn't about being as good as Bob Barker because I knew I was going to be different no matter what. If I do this show, am I going to screw it up and get it cancelled? That's all I didn't want to do was to be the one that ruined it."

He then goes to laugh about how some people think he's ruined the show, anyway. Maybe he's been reading Golden Road. Then the interview drifts onto other things, like Drew's first appearance on Johnny Carson's show back in 1991.

As it happens, I saw that ep a while ago on Antenna TV. After Drew's standup act, Carson waved him over to the couch and told him that he was "funny as hell." It was true.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

More on GSN's sort of upfront

Sometimes it helps to have friends in certain places.

A kindly person at GSN sent me the press release for the sort of upfront the network will run in April. For the most part the release only confirms what the linked story in yesterday's post discussed. But there are a few more tidbits about GSN's development slate. In addition to Blast Your Past, the network lists three other developing projects...

D.I.Why. Contestants try to follow instructions from videos. Really, that's the concept. It's a stunt show, obviously, with the usual ticking clock. Josh Ostrovsky hosts.

The Tower. You might call this the Towering Inferno of Trivia. Contestants answer questions while building a tower on a "giant video game board." At least it's not a teensy-weensy video game board.

Pointless. Yeah, the U.K. show (see screenshot). Rumors about a GSN version have floated around for a while, and it's now officially in development.

One more funny note. The e-mail with the press release commented: "I was secretly laughing to myself when I read a few weeks ago that you thought Hollywood Game Night would be a good addition for the network because I knew it was imminent. Anyway, I wanted to confirm your excellent instincts!"

Gee, it was just a guess. But thanks for the compliment.

UPDATE: Some things never change. Game Show Forum finally deigns to note GSN's sort of upfront. Typical comment: "I can't wait to see how they butcher Pointless given The Chase and Divided."

Believe it or not, even GSF rated The Chase in their top fifty list, the one (1) show from the last ten years to make the grade for the oldies board to end all oldies boards. Even Cash Cab couldn't make the list because they picked so many obscure mediocrities (or worse) with decades of dust on them. Some rigged shows actually made the list. Talk about butchering the entire genre.

Ratings: Millionaire likes February sweeps

TV News Check did their usual comparison of syndie game shows to the year-ago February sweeps. The big percentage gainer was Millionaire, thanks to better time slots and an even-keel host. Pat and Vanna weren't so lucky. The February sweeps household ratings, with the changes from last year...

Family Feud 7.4 - up three ticks, and one more reminder that Steve gets to add up all his daily runs
Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - down four ticks, and one more reminder that it only gets one daily run
Jeopardy 6.6 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.7 - up three ticks in the big percentage move
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - down a tick as if it matters any more

After a mildly encouraging start, Caraoke Showdown has hit the skids (sorry). The latest ep got 202K viewers and a 0.06 18-49 rating. It's not going to get a renewal at those levels.

GSN had a pretty average week by recent standards for March 6-12. 400K/285K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 33rd in the windows.

Monday, March 13, 2017

GSN's sort of upfront

As a faux tweet noted, GSN is holding a media upfront that's not a traditional upfront. If this sounds complicated, they're gonna have "data metrics" meetings with ad agencies throughout April instead of the usual big breakfast shindig.

The metrics will tell the advertising folks that GSN's "audience is less fickle than most audiences and do a lot less channel surfing than other audiences," according to network veep John Zaccario. That's all very well, but the big news in the linked story concerns GSN's programming plans.

Kind of funny to say it, but our little game show network seems to be going back to, well, game shows. Or "shiny floor" shows, as GSN's favorite weird phrase puts it. The biggest surprise for me is a renewal for Winsanity, which definitely did not wow the Nielsen Company. But it does have a shiny floor, and it will have a new format. (Maybe the renewal isn't such a huge surprise because the Donald Faison vehicle has been showing up in GSN promos lately.)

Divided gets another season. A casting call and good Nielsen news had already tipped that renewal. Idiotest is also getting another go-round. You just can't stop Ben and the puzzles. Hunter March from AwesomenessTV will host a new show called Emogenius, based on those annoying little emojis. Another show called Blast Your Past is in development, where celebs "poke fun at awkward childhoods." And the network took my advice from a few posts ago and picked up Hollywood Game Night. Cash Cab is already on board.

Finally, GSN says they're going to get more interactive with the home audience. They always seem to say that.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Going mobile

The Wheelmobile never takes a final spin.

Wheel of Fortune's Winnebago is on the road again, looking for contestants amid the great American unwashed. The big van rolled into Paso Robles, CA this weekend, and the hopefuls turned up for a shot at 30 minutes of fame and, well, fortune. "I tried out for the Wheel of Fortune about eight years ago when I lived in Fresno and I didn't get in, but now it is my chance to do it again and I'm really excited." If at first you don't succeed...

Wannabe contestants play a stripped-down version of the game, and it probably helps to guess a few puzzles. Not to mention that you better have a BIG PERSONALITY, as the casting calls always shout. What if you have a little mousy personality? Our genre is not for you, apparently.

The linked story features an impromptu rendition of Good Golly, Miss Molly. I'm not sure what that has to do with game shows, but somewhere Little Richard is happy.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Previous life

Rummaging around the game show Interwebs, I came across a note that Let's Make a Deal announcer Jonathan Mangum had graced a number of episodes of the ancient Drew Carey Show. Well, darned if it wasn't true, as shown by a couple clips on YouTube.

Jonathan looks like a teenage version of himself - he had actually just turned thirty - but there he is with the other strange sitcom characters. Have to admit that my recall of the show is pretty scanty because I've never been a big sitcom fan, with or without Mr. Carey.

Craig Ferguson of Celebrity Name Game was, of course, a mainstay of the show, which now seems like an incubator for game show and improv comedy talent. The YouTube clips with Jonathan center around a Super Bowl ad. The show freely uses the term "Super Bowl," which I understand is now copyright protected and can bring lawyers from the NFL to your doorstep. Hope they don't find me.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Alex raps

Billboard's site Spin didn't have much else to do one day, so they interviewed Billy Wisse, Jeopardy's head writer. As you might expect, the subject was the venerable quizzer's occasional fascination with pop music.

First of all, I'm a little surprised that Jeopardy's head writer is named Billy. I figured his name would be J. Peirpont Peabody III. At least Billy doesn't pretend to be a hip hop fan. He admits his music of choice is '80s rock, though he's also partial to a country station in L.A.

Jeopardy puts their own twist on pop, of course. One clue in the Beyonce-inspired category "Becky with the Good Hair" centered on Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair. I doubt Beyonce has heard of her, but who knows for sure?

Alex reportedly likes Sinatra. That seems reasonable.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Running some more

Paradise Run will gallop though a third season on Nick. Daniella Monet will host cute kid contestants as they bounce their way through various stunts on the big island.

Very quietly, Paradise Run has performed well for Nick, regularly compiling a million and a half viewers and more than respectable demos. Daniella is a little high on sugar content for me, but the show is not pitched at grumpy senior citizens. The target audience seems to like all the running around just fine.

I still wish Nick would bring back Legends of the Hidden Temple, but the Hawaii show is hardly the worst thing on television. The kids look to be enjoying themselves, and I don't mind Nick plugging their other shows with guest appearances by their roster of child stars.

No word on when the third season will debut. Wikipedia (usual caveats) tells me that the show has racked up forty eps so far, which is certainly a decent run (sorry) by cable standards nowadays. Good luck to all the scampering contestants.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fred and the kids

Hollywood Reporter says that an ABC alum is coming back to the alphabet net (Variety speak).

Fred Savage of The Wonder Years will host ABC's new kid-centered quizzer Child Support. The show, produced by Ricky Gervais among others, was originally called Five to Survive. It sounds pretty much like 5th Grader, with adult contestants relying on kid helpers to make it through a money tree of ten questions.

Production begins next week for what looks like a summer debut. ABC is rebooting Fox game shows nowadays, it seems, to go along with classic rewinds like Celebrity Family Feud and 100K Pyramid. Fred Savage is an always likeable sort, a close approximation to Jeff Foxworthy. He should do just fine as the host. An ABC exec intones: "Fred Savage has had a significant cultural impact in television throughout his career and we are thrilled to have him be our host."

Significant cultural impact? Sounds impressive, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ratings: Jeopardy ties Wheel

Syndie game shows bobbed up and down for the week of February 20-26. Alex had a nice week and tied the soulmate. Otherwise, there were small movements here and there. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 7.4 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - flat
Jeopardy 6.7 - up three ticks into the tie with Wheel
Millionaire 1.7 - up a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - down a tick for the final week of new eps

As a previous post noted, Divided seems to have earned a renewal on GSN. The latest new eps on March 2 peaked at 372K viewers and a 0.09 18-49 rating. Pretty typical for the run so far. Overall, GSN had a so-so week by recent standards for February 27-March 5. 394K/295K viewers prime time /total day. The network ranked 39th and 33rd in the windows.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lawyers call a bluff

Once upon a time GSN ran a show called High Stakes Poker. It was the best non-traditional show the network ever created.

The show eventually fell victim to the change in command at GSN from Rich Cronin to David Goldhill. The crackdown on online poker didn't help, either. But while it was around, HSP got the network's best ratings and demos.

Plenty of High Stakes Poker is still viewable on YouTube. But GSN's lawyers have gotten ornery about poker player Doug Polk using some of the footage. They've forced him to take down 17 HSP videos from his YouTube channel.

The gripe seems to be that Polk is using the videos to make money. The linked story chortles: "The cable channel took time away from its busy schedule of rebroadcasting repeated episodes of Family Feud to protect its brand." Man, everybody rips GSN for using Feud so much. At least we don't have to hear the same whines about Buzzr using Feud and Match Game just as much if not more. Buzzr is protected by the older-is-better viewpoint of the game show Interwebs.

The story does concede that Polk's for-profit use of the videos probably goes a little too far for legal comfort. And here I thought that High Stakes Poker was long since dead and buried. You never know what will turn up in Google News.

UPDATE: A poker blogger conjugates the f-word several ways in a slam on GSN for the legal threats. It's one guy's opinion.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Tug that rope

I really don't know if you can call it a game show. Sports Illustrated used to call it "trash sport," and that may be a more appropriate term.

But ready or not, Battle of the Network Stars is coming back to ABC this summer. Yes, return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when TV actors with too much time on their hands played tug-of-war and three-on-three football. Sadly, Howard Cosell isn't around any more to announce the strenuous proceedings, but they'll find somebody else.

The show was so cheesy that it was irresistible fun. Plenty of the '70s detritus remains on YouTube, if you want to sample some of the amateur athletics. Farrah Fawcett looks fantastic in a track suit...or anything else. Howard looks not so fantastic in the rug.

Variety notes that ABC has prospered with some of its classic game show reboots. Well, if they can call Guts a game show, I guess that Battle qualifies for the moniker, barely.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Multiplying Divided

A poster on Game Show Paradise noticed a casting call for what seems to be a second season of GSN's Divided.

I haven't seen anything official on a renewal, but it wouldn't amaze me. The show has topped out at 500K viewers and a 0.13 18-49 rating. Divided has kept pace with the oft-renewed Idiotest, especially in the demo.

Naturally, the news of a renewal - if that's what it is - has brought out the usual grumps on GSP. (The board isn't quite as grouchy as Game Show Forum about anything new, but they're trying.) The oddest whine is that the contestants are all "pretty people." Lord knows I shouldn't talk, but a glance at the screenshot will reveal at least one less than gorgeous contestant.

Although viewer numbers haven't been spectacular, the show skews very young by GSN's geriatric standards. Anything that can snuggle up to and sometimes go beyond the big 0.10 in 18-49 will attract the network's favor. Man does not live by AARP ads alone.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ellen plays around

Having built The Wall, NBC has ordered a half-dozen hour-long game show eps from Ellen Degeneres.

She will host the prime time show titled Ellen's Game of Games, which will raid her daytime game segments for formats and ideas. (See the screenshot for one of the clever notions.) "We're pulling out all the stops — gigantic sets, hilarious games," Ellen says. The viewers will decide the hilarity level, though there's little doubt that Ellen likes to play those silly little games.

ABC tried Big Fan, based on a game segment from Jimmy Kimmel. The show was passable in quality, though Nielsen was unimpressed. With Ellen herself as the host, I have to think her show will generate better numbers.

NBC gives no debut date. This looks like a summer show, but you never know in the wonderful world of broadcast.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

GSN takes a taxi

Readers of this blog know about my high regard for Cash Cab.

The long-running Discovery quizzer wasn't just a tour of NYC street scenery in the company of an amiable, wise-cracking taxi driver. It was also a challenging quizzer, with questions that Jeopardy wouldn't have been ashamed of. Now the cab ride to small riches or forlorn failure is coming to GSN March 13. The network is running promos for the acquisition, which will slot in at 6:00 PM Eastern.

Needless to say but I'll say it anyway, this is one of the best moves GSN could make, in my game opinion. I don't know if the show will pull huge numbers - these aren't original eps, after all - but it'll be great to see Ben Bailey back in the (literal) driver's seat. Three strikes and you're out.

If anybody at GSN is listening, another nice acquisition might be Hollywood Game Night. The NBC run looks to be about over, and it's a fun show to fill an hour somewhere on the schedule.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ratings: syndies roll over

February 13-19 was a week when syndie game shows should have just stayed in bed. Things were dismal for everybody. If it's any consolation, the rest of the syndie world didn't fare too well, either. TV News Check has the depressing household ratings...

Family Feud 7.5 - down a couple ticks
Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - down three ticks
Jeopardy 6.4 - down four ticks, it's getting worse as we go along
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - down a tick, at least they don't have to worry about it any more

GSN enjoyed a pretty good month of February. 448K/311K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 34th and 31st in the windows.