Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ratings: one unfortunate season low

Syndie game shows budged up and down for the week of May 15-21. None of the shows made big moves, but there was one sad season low. Not that it mattered much any more for the show in question. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.1 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - up a tick
Jeopardy 5.6 - flat, not a lot of excitement so far
Millionaire 1.6 - up a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - down a tick to a season low as the show wanders off to the end

All the reruns are taking a toll on Craig and friends. It is a little depressing to watch the show trudge off to Nielsen Boot Hill. Maybe GSN will pick it up sooner or later.

Same old, same old for GSN in a not very merry month of May. 356K/254K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 37th in the windows. Okay by historical standards, but below GSN's best levels.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tears for fears

MTV's debut of Fear Factor has come and gone. So how did the fear and loathing develop?

First thing to say is that some would dispute whether Fear Factor is a game show at all. It does verge on reality TV, but basically it's just an extreme version of Beat the Clock. So I'll channel my inner Game Show Newsnet and include the show in our little genre.

MTV hyped their version as a gentler, kinder rewind of the often gross original. It's true that nobody on the new show had to drink donkey semen. But the first stunt involved buckets of cockroaches getting dumped on the contestants, so some grossness remained.

The other two stunts were physically demanding but not gross at all. In fact, the swimming pool hijinks (see screenshot) reminded me of Dog Eat Dog, noted for eye candy but not for gross-out crudity. Four teams of siblings competed, with one team given the heave-ho after each stunt.

Ludacris hosted in an unassuming manner. I barely noticed him, which probably means he did okay. During the commercials I switched over to the Extra Innings baseball package. Not all the games were thrillers, but at least nobody got cockroaches dumped on them.

UPDATE: Fear Factor performs well for MTV. 936K viewers and a 0.47 18-49 rating. Fear pays.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bottle of whine

On Game Show Paradise there's something called "GSN Schedule updates thread." As you would expect from the game show Interwebs, a more honest title would be: "Whines about GSN running shows with less than 30 years of dust on them."

This was the thread that went bonkers when some clever fellow thought Toddlers and Tiaras was coming to GSN. (He had somehow misread an ad for Emogenius.)

The deep thinkers on the thread refused to be embarrassed when their cries and whimpers were revealed to be laughably baseless. Instead, they groused that GSN didn't deny the idiotic rumor. As if anybody in the real game show business pays much heed to boards like Game Show Paradise.

A typical comment on the thread: "Honestly, GSN is a train wreck anymore." They might as well just leave it at that and forget about further remarks. But they keep finding variations on the theme. Right now they're grousing about how David Goldhill's departure means that GSN won't ever run any oldies any more.

Just to break a bit of news to these folks, GSN's oldies are simply cheap filler for some low-rated hours. Meanwhile, GSN has actually doubled down on traditional game shows, as their upfront presentation, recent acquisitions, and current wall-to-wall traditional schedule make clear. But don't expect Game Show Paradise to notice what's really happening at GSN. They probably think that Goldhill's successor will bring Toddlers and Tiaras to the network, first thing.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Architecture class

An odd item turned up in Google News today, an article on a mile-high skyscraper that never got built.

The game show connection is the would-be architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a pioneering media manipulator, taking to television in the 1950s to appear on the popular game show What's My Line. (His profession, the home audience learned, was "World Famous Architect.")

As it happens, the essential WML channel on YouTube has preserved Mr. Wright's turn on the show. He was 88 years old at the time and that created a few problems, but he managed well enough, thank you. The panel guessed him quickly and Mr. Wright complimented them as "extraordinarily intelligent." He was rather critical of the studio's acoustics, though.

One more note: this was one of the few times that the ladies on the panel - Dorothy Kilgallen and Arlene Francis that night - stood to shake hands with a guest. By 1956 Frank Lloyd Wright was a living legend and merited such special treatment.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Where are they now?

So I'm watching this Match Game '75 ep on Buzzr, and Gene seems entranced by a contestant named Suzanne Gormley. Or at least he likes her dimples. (No, this isn't the "nipples" contestant of blooper fame.) For some reason she seems vaguely familiar to me, too. She says that she's an aspiring show biz performer, so I start to wonder if she's got an IMDb page.

Wouldn't you know, she does...I think. At least there's a page for "Suzanne Gormley" with exactly one (1) credit. Starsky and Hutch in 1977. No way I could have remembered her from that show, even if this is the same Suzanne Gormley. I never watched the cop drama.

There's no doubt that Suzanne had one more ep on Match Game, which YouTube has preserved. It's also her last episode, when the show bids farewell to her and her $8,450 in winnings. (Not a small amount, equal to almost forty grand in today's money.)

A little more Google digging turns up a 2016 Facebook page with Suzanne and her husband, a gentleman named Schlicher. It's definitely Suzanne in the picture (see the screenshot). The dimples don't lie. There are lots of friendly greetings on the page, so Suzanne seems to be doing well. Maybe she should have tried out for ABC's Match Game. She was a pretty good contestant, after all.

Friday, May 26, 2017

I can name that tune in 1.42 seconds

Just watched the debut of Beat Shazam, Fox's computerized reincarnation of Name That Tune.

To kill the suspense, I liked the show more than I thought I would. Sad confession: I was never a big Name That Tune fan, because I'm not the most musical guy on the planet. In fact, my singing voice can neuter dogs from thirty feet away. But Beat Shazam kept up such a brisk pace of song-guessing that I got into the swing (couldn't resist) of things. Of course, the older the song, the better my chance of guessing it. I'm a certified old person.

Three teams of two contestants competed. They were gradually whittled down to a final pair who faced off against the dreaded Shazam itself. I'll spoil things a little by revealing that the final pair didn't take it to the limit but walked away from the last song, which could have doubled their winnings. Turns out they knew the tune. Cue the sorrowful irony.

Jamie Foxx hosted in an enthusiastic manner. I got a little annoyed when he indulged in some mildly racial banter with one team of contestants, but he didn't push it too far. A while back there was a rumor that Meghan Trainor was "in talks" to co-host. The talks apparently didn't progress, because October Gonzalez showed up in the role. She provided some eye candy and a bit of dancing and otherwise didn't get in the way.

Empire's Terrence Howard also turned up briefly in a plug for the Fox show. The network has to do some business here. Next week I'll take in Fox's Love Connection and blather about that remake.

UPDATE: Beat Shazam beat everything else on broadcast network TV last night in the Sacred Demo. 3.64M viewers and a 1.2 18-49 rating. Love Connection also fared well in the demo. 3.29M viewers and a 1.1 18-49 rating.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blotto about Plinko

With nothing better to do, the Internet likes to go nuts about record wins on game shows.

Considering some of the other stuff that inspires insanity on the net, maybe that's not such a bad thing. Today The Price is Right gave the net nerds something to get really goofy about. Ryan Belz of Millerton, PA set the new record on Plinko, landing three of his chips in the top slot on his way to $31,500. Ryan went suitably crazy, as did the studio audience and various tweeters.

It's not the cash amount, which is rather modest compared to many, many game show hauls over the years. Instead, as several have intoned, it's the game itself that counts. Plinko has already spawned a high-tech (and high-payout) knockoff in The Wall. So it's nice that the time-honored favorite has produced its biggest winner yet.

Various web pundits have weighed in, with one calling Ryan the "God of Plinko." He's a very happy Plinko player, no doubt.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

7 in 30

Today I was watching a rerun - sadly, that's all there is left of the show - of the doomed Celebrity Name Game. And speaking of doomed, the second contestant in the bonus round was left with the impossible task of nailing seven clues in the allotted thirty seconds. Her partner had bombed pretty badly in the 45-second part of the round and had only gotten three clues.

Everybody including the civvies, the celebs, Craig Ferguson, the studio audience and even clueless moi knew that the second contestant had no chance. But then it dawned on me. Why was the job so impossible? On the old Dick Clark Pyramid (which CNG rips off in a lively manner) people used to nail seven clues in thirty seconds routinely. Often the front game ended 21-21 because they got every clue.

Older-is-better fans would explain this by saying that contestants, along with everybody and everything else, were better back then. The real explanation, of course, is that Dick Clark's Pyramid featured much easier clues. The screenshot shows "London Fog," for instance, which would have been off the difficulty scale for the old Pyramid.

Which makes the disputes over the "best" time limit for Pyramid (and Pyramid clones) pretty silly. It all depends on how nasty the showrunners get with the clues. Celebrity Name Game is a syndie show in the gazillion-channel universe. They have to guard the prize budget, so the clues turn a lot trickier than back in Dick Clark's era.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ratings: syndies slip and slide

Spring has sprung and the ratings are tumbling. Syndie game shows weren't immune to the trend. Everything was down except for the one show where it doesn't matter any more. TV News Check brings the unhappy household ratings...

Family Feud 6.2 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 5.6 - down a couple ticks, be like the soulmate!
Millionaire 1.5 - down a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat, as if it's still important

From what I can tell, the jury remains out on ABC's Match Game. There's conflicting info on the web about the show's fate, but the numbers were unimpressive at best for the show's second go-round. ABC's version wasn't nearly as bad as some other re-dos of the classic, so I hope it scrapes through to a renewal.

More of the same for GSN. 349K/253K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 36th in the windows.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Purchasing power

Now that I mentioned Buzzr yesterday, I happened to be watching a Match Game '75 ep on the diginet today. A guy maxed out on a round and won $5,600. ($100 for the front game, $500 for the top prize in the audience match, and $5,000 for matching Richard Dawson on "Dragon FLY.")

I've whined here and there about the shrinking value of cash prizes over the decades. As it happens, the government - having engineered all those years of relentless inflation - has now provided a helpful "inflation calculator." Sweet of them. You can learn how much your money has shrunk over time.

By an odd coincidence, the max prize in this February, 1975 ep of Match Game was worth about $26,000 in today's dollars. Which happens to be not far from the max amount on ABC's current version of the show.

Needless to say but I'll say it anyway, prizes on other shows haven't always kept pace with inflation. One of the most glaring examples is the pity five-bucks-a-point for contestants who bomb on Family Feud's fast money round. Come on, guys, spring for a few extra dollars.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dishing up Buzzr

Oldies diginet Buzzr has taken a big step forward: a deal with Dish satellite service.

Subscribers can now watch Buzzr on channel 245. The most recent estimate I saw for the diginet's actual household reach was 33 million from Fremantle veep Jennifer Mullin last October. With the Dish deal - couldn't resist the alliteration - Buzzr has upped its reach toward the magic 50 million mark.

The linked Facebook post speculates that Buzzr doesn't get any per-subscriber money from Dish. This seems likely because Buzzr is such a narrow niche network. The extra households are no doubt worth plenty to Fremantle.

Maybe I'm just imagining it, but the ads on Buzzr seem to be getting a bit more mainstream. This could mean that more advertisers are willing to look at the diginet, at least those who don't mind an obvious old skew in the audience. Infomercials have also come to Buzzr, so I assume that it's starting to generate a few more bucks for Fremantle.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Load up on charisma

Done it a few times before, so I just decided to write about the most recent game show item I ran across in Google News.

At least the title was interesting. Charisma lands local family on Feud. Maybe the show has installed charisma detectors and this bunch set them off big time. They're the Griffin family from St. Joseph, MO, and they're "kind of a thing." Turns out they were the right thing for Family Feud.

The Griffins went through the usual cattle call audition. Over two thousand families turned out for the round-up in Kansas City, and they got winnowed down to about 600 in the first cut. A mere 19 actually made it to a taping.

The biggest challenge? "Figure out which personalities were the biggest and which ones were the best and which ones were made for TV...and not too hot for television." I dunno, Feud likes it hot. I think that last remark was ironic (wink).

The family hints that they did pretty well on the show. Especially with the answer about the "construction worker and lipstick on his tools."

Friday, May 19, 2017

World tour

Sony is going mobile with Jeopardy. They just released Jeopardy World Tour, which lets you play on iOS and Android mobile devices anywhere in the whole wide world.

Sadly, you only get a "shortened version of the traditional Jeopardy experience." But when you're on the go, who has time for an entire half-hour (minus commercials)? Meanwhile, stodgy old me will still just sit in front of the big screen and miss the clues along with ten million other viewers.

Sports Jeopardy has been mobile for a while, according to the linked story. Also, soulmate Wheel of Fortune boasts of no less than a "series of mobile games." You might call it the world series, right?

These games allow players to celebrate their love for each show in between episodes, and they may encourage users to watch more of the original shows, as the series are kept top-of-mind. This sounds like the usual puffery. Though I will say that mobile Alex looks pretty much like the real thing (see screenshot). Maybe they should have a version with the long-lost - and briefly returned - mustache.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Do not disturb

I wasn't going to write about the Great Memo Rumpus concerning Family Feud's Steve Harvey. But then I wasn't going to start a game show blog, either, and it's been seven years now.

Anyhoo, if you glance at the entertainment news at all, you know that media mogul Steve got trashed for a memo he sent to his staff. He's tired of getting interrupted all the time, and he's gonna get really p.o.ed when it happens.

To be honest, the memo could have been worded a little better. There will be no meetings in my dressing room. No stopping by or popping in. NO ONE. Do not come to my dressing room unless invited. Do not open my dressing room door. IF YOU OPEN MY DOOR, EXPECT TO BE REMOVED.

Okay, removed to where? Death row? Harvey got mocked and slammed for his imperious attitude toward the people he employs. There have been some counter-arguments, though, expressing tepid support for the put-upon Steve.

This all sounds like the diva drama that Richard Dawson used to generate on Feud. Maybe there's just something about that show which makes the host a little touchy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

No joke

This is not an Onion spoof. Snoop Dogg will host a rewind of Joker's Wild on TBS.

To be fair, the Snoopster has shown up on game shows before, most notably The Price is Right (see screenshot). But as a TBS exec says: "When you hear the words 'game show host,' Snoop Dogg probably isn't the first name to pop into your head." Well, no, but Drew Carey wasn't necessarily the first name, either, and he's done okay on TPiR.

The linked story makes it sound like the reboot won't be too close a copy of the hoary original. The new version "will feature giant dice, playing cards, streetwise questions and problem solving." Yeah, but will the joker show up? I hope so.

TBS has tried a few original game shows in recent years, with little success. They probably looked at the ABC reboots and figured that a tried and true format might be the best idea. The linked story has the obligatory reference to Jack Barry and the rigging scandals. At least Snoop won't have to worry about that issue.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ratings: syndies muddle along

Steve and Alex lost a bit of ground in the latest week. Otherwise, not much happened for syndie game shows. TV News Check has the household ratings for the May 1-7 week...

Family Feud 6.3 - down a couple ticks, maybe they should add some more daily runs
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - flat
Jeopardy 5.8 - down a tick to slip out of the tie with the soulmate
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat as the shadows gather

Match Game got the worst numbers I can recall for its latest run on Sunday May 14. 2.6M viewers and a 0.6 18-49 rating. I don't know about a third season. Meanwhile, the third go-round for To Tell the Truth lands on Sunday nights this fall.

More of the same so-so numbers for GSN. 367K/254K viewers prime time/total day for the week of May 8-14. The network ranked 41st and 35th in the windows.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Prejudge, again

No sooner do I post my grumpy lecture about not prejudging game shows, then another writer has done it again.

This time the prejudgment comes from Fansided, which at least is a web site I've heard about. A writer named Cheryl Wassenaar - never heard of her, but she's never heard of me, either - dumps on CBS's upcoming Candy Crush sight unseen. But she has watched the promo, and that's enough to tell her the show will really stink. This Week in Bad Pop Culture Ideas: Candy Crush on TV.

Of course, she doesn't really know if it's going to be such a bad idea or not. Still, based on a few seconds of footage from the game, she decides: "It just doesn't seem like it'd be fun to watch other than shouting and asking the contestants why they did not see the move that was clearly the best option." The obvious question is: why don't you wait to watch the show before deciding whether it's fun or not? Is it necessary to get snarky and condescending before the show even debuts? There will be plenty of time for snark and condescension after we've all seen Candy Crush.

The writer does admit that the show might somehow be entertaining. She was wrong about the Angry Birds movie, after all.

Sunday, May 14, 2017


Like any critic I have to fight against prejudging shows before I watch them.

Usually I win the fight, sometimes I don't. Readers of this blog know that I had probably made up my mind in advance of seeing the SSSniperWolf effort Clickbait on Fullscreen, for instance. Sure enough, I gave the show a sour review after I had actually been exposed to its toxins.

So I really shouldn't throw too many stones at a web site called Vocativ - no, I had never heard of it, either - when they trash Jamie Foxx's upcoming Beat Shazam sight unseen. My guess is they don't like Foxx himself for some reason, so they snark their way through comments like: "Jamie Foxx will host the show with a $1 million jackpot, and we have so many questions, starting with 'why?'"

Well, why not? The show might be entertaining, after all. I have a question or two for Vocativ, like "why don't you wait to see if Beat Shazam is any good?" But this is a site that runs stories about pregnancy porn, so I don't expect much of an answer.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Time flies

At age 68 Vicki Lawrence is still going strong. This note turned up in Google News about her Mother's Day appearance in Branson, MO.

The story accurately notes that Vicki "participated in nearly every major game show televised in the '70s and '80s." That's true enough, but why stop with the seventies and eighties? Her IMDb page lists these game show credits, ranging from 1973 to 2015...

It's Your Bet, Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Password All-Stars, Showoffs, Word Grabbers (unaired), Stumpers, Chain Reaction, Card Sharks, Password Plus, New Battlestars, Go, Trivia Trap, Body Language, Celebrity Double Talk, Super Password, Win Lose or Draw, Match Game 90, 10K Pyramid, 25K Pyramid, Match Game 98, Weakest Link, Pyramid (Osmond), Hollywood Squares (Bergeron), Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader, Celebrity Family Feud

Maybe it would be easier to list the game shows she hasn't done. Personally, I think of her first as a Pyramid celeb, though she played everything well. Good luck to her on any other game shows she might try.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I listened to an entire podcast!

Checked Game Show Forum for the first time in a long time.

Someone had posted a link to his podcast about game shows. So I decided to do something that very few people can claim: sit through a whole podcast. Turns out that it was number eleven in the series. So far it's gotten 128 views on YouTube. The unwashed masses haven't exactly been flocking to it.

The audio was extremely poor and the video wasn't much better. The podcasters chewed over various items that you've seen on this blog and elsewhere on the game show Interwebs. These guys had been googling game shows just like me.

They chatted about Judge Judy's game show, the fictional host of the Gong Show revival, the Daytime Emmys for game shows, Celebrity Family Feud's contestant list, etc. There was even a (negative) shout-out to Zach Horan somewhere in there. The podcast did have a Game Show Newsnet moment when it wandered onto the American Idol rewind, but by and large it stuck to the genre.

The #1 super biggie, astronomically most important topic, though, was the succession at GSN. With David Goldhill departing, the pundits palavered about the future of the network. Various ideas got tossed out, none of which seemed all that relevant to me. Interactive game shows? They've already got an extensive online gaming operation. Too much Harvey Feud? Guys, most of the network's lineup is not Harvey Feud. Check the flipping schedule if you don't believe me. They didn't even seem to know that Baggage, Catch 21 and Mike Richards' Pyramid are still on GSN, albeit in reruns.

More of this and that went by, but nobody really said anything that caught my attention as a brilliant forecast of the network's future. But you can listen for yourselves and decide. The little girl (see the screenshot) had a lot of fun.

SLIGHTLY RELATED UPDATE: Happened to watch a May, 1992 ep of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show last night. In his monologue Johnny mentioned plans to create an all-game-show cable network. He couldn't wait to satisfy his Wink Martindale craving at 2:00 AM.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Click this bait?

A while back I noted a new online game show called Clickbait from pay site Fullscreen.

I've seen enough cheap and sleazy online game shows for several lifetimes. But this is a full-service game show blog, so I did my duty and signed up for a free trial on Fullscreen. And then I watched the debut episode of the thing called Clickbait.

It was pretty awful but it was designed to be pretty awful. Three contestants competed in gross and/or painful stunts. Feminists will be unhappy that the female contestant was the wimpiest. For instance, she could only bring herself to touch the electrified miniature truck once. Come on, girl, show some courage.

The wimpy girl should have gone to the chair of shame at the end of the show, but she got out of it by sucking up (not literally) to the winner. Instead, the other male contestant got the chair and had some band-aids pulled off him. A great moment in game show history.

It's ridiculous to complain about the show's stupidity because that's a feature, not a bug. SSSniperWolf a.k.a. Lia Valentine a.k.a. Alia Shelesh a.k.a. Whetever the Hey hosted in a surprisingly amateurish manner. But maybe she was trying to be amateurish, to contribute to the general cheapness and silliness.

One good thing. The show only lasted ten minutes. Then I cancelled my free trial on Fullscreen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tale of two acquisitions

One of GSN's goals for lo these many years is to find another Harvey Feud. Which means a show that can shoulder much of the prime time burden and churn out consistently good ratings. The network recently acquired two possible candidates for the job: Cash Cab and Hollywood Game Night.

Some early returns are in, and neither show looks like a match for Steve when it comes to grabbing the Nielsen Company's attention. But Cash Cab seems to be performing significantly better than Hollywood Game Night. Ben and his passengers averaged 287K viewers in prime time on Saturday May 6. Jane and her celeb buddies could only draw 203K viewers in prime time on Sunday May 7.

From what I can tell, these are pretty typical numbers for the shows on our little game show network. I'm tempted to say that Ben Bailey is more appealing to GSN's viewers than Jane Lynch, and Cash Cab's questions are more varied than Hollywood Game Night's constant pop culture queries. And maybe I'm right. Or maybe there's some other explanation.

Anyway, GSN's hunt for the next Harvey Feud goes on.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Ratings: syndies bob up and down

Syndie game shows inched up and down for the week of April 24-30. None of the changes were very big, but TV News Check has the household ratings, as always...

Family Feud 6.5 - up a couple ticks
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down a tick into a tie with the soulmate
Jeopardy 5.9 - up a tick, for once it moves opposite to Wheel
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - flat, as the reruns amble off to Nielsen Boot Hill

Good news and bad news for The Wall in its return. The ratings were down from the first season, but the numbers were okay by NBC standards in the time slot. 4.7M viewers and a 1.1 18-49 rating.

GSN seems to have settled at a lower level, though it's still doing alright by historical standards. For the week of May 1-7 the network got 347K/247K viewers prime time/total day. GSN ranked 40th in both windows.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Long strange trip

Watching a rerun of GSN's Pyramid this morning got me into a nostalgic mood. This show has been through a lot, no?

Starting with a ten grand top prize in 1973 - oddly enough, GSN's frugal remake often played for ten grand in today's shriveled currency - Pyramid has endured more than four decades and a whole bunch of revivals and redos. It's now landed on broadcast prime time, admittedly during the summer.

YouTube has preserved a bit of the very first week, with Lassie's mom and Meathead as the celebs. The fuzzy screenshot shows that Rob Reiner was well on his way to hair loss, though he tried to make up for it with hair length. Dick Clark, as always, was his professional and super-competent self.

Other game shows have wended their way through a bunch of versions and a lot of decades. But Pyramid spans almost the entire life cycle of American commercial TV, when you consider its sixties ancestor Password. Bob Stewart got the idea to make everything the lightning round, and the rest is (continuing) history.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Second wall

The Wall, the most successful of the winter game shows on broadcast TV, returns tomorrow for its twenty-ep second season.

Everybody (including me) says the show is a Plinko ripoff, and everybody (including me) is right. The show has also spawned a few unintentionally funny deep-think pieces about what it means for American culture, or some such nonsense. But The Wall does jazz up the gameplay with enough twists and turns to keep the viewers tuning in.

The linked story describes the contestants on the second season debut. They're the usual nice people who the show loves to reward with fleeting fame and a chance at fortune. Sour critics have dumped on The Wall for such "deserving" contestants. Maybe the critics want undeserving rats playing the game.

It all begins again tomorrow at 10:00 PM Eastern. Watch the bouncing balls.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Brief note

With nothing better to do, I hit the random page button on U.S. Game Shows Wiki.

The resulting entry couldn't have been shorter or more to the point. Faux Pause: A short-lived series that was essentially Mystery Science Theater 3000 for game shows. The entry noted that the show ran on GSN in 1998-99 and the hosts were Mary Gallagher and Sean Donnellan.

And that was all, folks. Not that there's much more to say. YouTube has performed an invaluable service to humanity by saving a few bits and pieces of Faux Pause, including a clip reel courtesy of Mary Gallagher herself. (She's also got a YouTube channel of her own.)

The effort reeked of Michael Fleming - not literally because for all I know, the gentleman smells quite nice - in its cheapness and clunking unfunniness. But this was back when GSN was available in maybe three dozen households and the network was worth maybe three dozen pesos. At least Faux Pause was better than Extreme Gong, if not by much.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Like grandfather, like grandson

A faux tweet mentioned an odd genealogical fact.

Hunter March, host of GSN's upcoming Emogenius, is the grandson of Hal March, host of the (in)famous 1950s quizzer $64,000 Question. Or at least that's what Hunter says on his web site, and I have no reason to doubt him. Putting their pictures side by side really doesn't reveal too many family similarities (see the screenshot). Maybe if Hal had electrified his hair a little...

I have no idea if there's been another grandfather-grandson host combo on TV game shows. Sounds like a nice trivia question for Millionaire. I have to say it, but there will obviously be one crucial difference. Hunter's show won't be rigged.

I won't go into my usual rant about the rigging scandals. My views are well known to anybody who reads this blog. I understand that an alternate school of thought has developed. You might call it the Albert Freedman school, after the Twenty One producer who recently died. The scandals weren't much, just a ballyhooed nothing cranked up by politicos and newspapers.

I don't agree. At all. We'll leave it at that.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Nationally lampooned

Ran across an article on Google News that has next to nothing to do with game shows. But one sentence does bring back a few memories.

Lampoon briefly produced a comedy game show called National Lampoon's Funny Money for the Game Show Network. Believe it or not, some debris from that doomed game show is still floating on YouTube, where I got the screenshot.

The linked article then dawdles along to the many other disasters that have befallen the National Lampoon brand over the past couple decades, including two prison sentences, various financial meltdowns, and Kato Kaelin (remember him?) But that little game show did its own part in sinking the ship.

Theoretically, the show wasn't such a bad idea. But theoretically, the Titanic would dodge the icebergs. Funny Money gave comics a chance to do their stuff, and then combined the (hopeful) laughs with a goofy quizzer involving a couple of civvie contestants.

There were just a few problems: the comics generally weren't very comical, and the quizzer was pretty dumb. Host Jimmy Pardo did all he could, but so did the Titanic's captain. The show slipped below the waves almost faster than the boat. National Lampoon went onto bigger and better flops.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This is news?

Okay, I guess it is news. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy will continue through the 2019-20 season with their current hosts in place.

Not that there was ever any doubt about the shows getting renewed. As Sony likes to remind us, they both draw audiences of around ten million. That's a big number in today's zillion-channel universe. And if you don't take Nielsen's add-'em-up syndie method very seriously, Wheel is the top-rated game show on TV. (Family Feud gets to add up its two or four or whatever daily runs to make its number.) The one uncertainty about the shows was whether Alex Trebek would return for more years of answers and questions.

Alex is getting close to the big eight-oh, after all, and his last contract renewal set off alarums and excursions about a possible retirement. Things look to have gone more smoothly this time. Mr. Trebek will be reading the clues into the year 2020.

The one syndie game show that seems to live year by year is Millionaire, and it's safe through at least one more season starting in fall, 2017. We all know the sad fate of Celebrity Name Game, unfortunately.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ratings: Wheel and Jeopardy rebound

The Sony soulmates had a little to smile about for the week of April 17-23. Otherwise there wasn't much going on with syndie game shows. TV News Check posts the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.3 - down a tick
Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - up three ticks for its sole daily run
Jeopardy 5.8 - up three ticks as it again moves in tandem with Wheel
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat

The latest ep of ABC's Match Game got 3.4M viewers and a 0.8 18-49 rating. Not terrible but hardly great. Maybe the show can hang on with these numbers, though Alec Baldwin's reportedly large salary is a drawback.

GSN had kind of a blah month of April. 365K/260K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 39th and 36th in the windows.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Everybody wants to produce

The news that Judge Judy, of all people, is producing a new game show got me thinking. Dangerous, I know.

Seems that everybody believes they can produce the next game show classic. Or at least a show that will survive to a second season. To give her credit, Judge Judy is teaming with Scott St. John, a very experienced producer with shows like Deal or No Deal and Celebrity Name Game on his resume.

Jimmy Kimmel tried to make his big fan segments into a game show, and the Nielsen Company was unimpressed. (I didn't mind the show myself, but I don't have a Nielsen people meter in my house.) As I wrote a few days ago, the newest try on Comedy Central, Taskmaster, will have no fewer than twelve showrunners. They can share the blame (or credit) for the show's fate.

In Producers on Producing the ultimate game show maven Mark Goodson reflected: "It is strange in a way to have dedicated most of your adult career to such a special corner of the show business world." Game shows are a highly specialized breed, and not everybody - in fact, very few - can get them right. We'll see if Judge Judy has the knack.