Friday, June 30, 2017

You want to be a millionaire?

As you probably know, Millionaire has found a home in Las Vegas.

Now the show wants Vegas residents to try for the million. Or I should say the quarter-million, which has become the show's de facto top prize. Millionaire will hold open tryouts at Bally's throughout July. The show will tape episodes for the new season at the same time. The showrunners also want "energetic audience members" for the tapings.

I'd be plenty energetic to get into the cool air and out of the July heat. The linked story says the current temp in Sin City is 107°, which makes my home DFW area feel Alaskan.

Millionaire has hung in there with decent ratings in the latest season. Better time slots in some markets and Chris Harrison's steady hand as host have aided the cause. (Harrison recently helped get Bachelor in Paradise through some nasty publicity about a drunken hookup.) As the linked story notes, the show is taping in a new 48,000-sq-ft facility at Caesar's Entertainment Studio.

How did Julius Caesar get to be so popular in Vegas, anyway? I've always wondered how that happened.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Two launch pads

As mentioned in a faux tweet, Snap Decision will launch in August.

Hosted by David Alan Grier, veteran of many game shows including Celebrity Name Game, Hollywood Game Night and Match Game, this comedy gamer sounds like a blend of NBC's short-lived Identity and the much longer-lived syndie Street Smarts. Contestants have to make snap decisions (get it?) about strangers interviewed on the street. They can only go on clues from appearance, clothing, accent, etc.

But enough about the gameplay. I'll review the show when GSN debuts it. The interesting twist is that the project will not be exclusive to our little game show network. It will also run in syndication on twenty Sinclair broadcast stations around the country.

Wikipedia tells me that Sinclair owns a whole bunch of stations, mostly in mid-market cities and towns. (There isn't one in my hometown DFW area, or in most other really big markets.) The double launch is apparently an attempt to guarantee as much exposure as possible for the show.

In the linked press release an exec burbles some sales talk. "We are excited about the prospects of having this show air on both broadcast and cable platforms, and we believe that this unique new model offers multiple opportunities to build the brand." Well, if the show is any good, the double launch might work.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The word will make you safe

Yet another Brit game show format gets a U.S. version. MTV debuts SafeWord July 13.

As it happens, plenty of the UK show is available on YouTube, so I sampled a few minutes. SafeWord is really more of an improv (?) comedy show than an actual game show, but there's enough gameplay to snuggle this beauty into our genre. (The reason for the question mark is that I suspect more than a bit of scripting for the celeb players.)

Terrence Jenkins, a.k.a. Terrence J, will host and a bunch of the usual MTV suspects will show up as panelists. It looks like insult comedy for millennials, which is also a pretty good description of the Brit original. In fact, one of the UK panelists got into a snit over the mean-spirited format. Maybe MTV can engineer a similar rumpus to bump the ratings.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ratings: lots of season lows for syndies

Syndie game shows have seen much better weeks. The top three all crashed to season lows for June 12-18. TV News Check blames breaking news stories for preempting a lot of time slots. For whatever reason, the news was grim in the household ratings...

Family Feud 5.9 - down five ticks to that season low
Wheel of Fortune 5.2 - down a couple ticks to its own low
Jeopardy 5.1 - right in line with the soulmate, down two ticks to a new low
Millionaire 1.5 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - flat

100K Pyramid perked up to its best numbers of the new season on Sunday June 25. 5.2M viewers and a 1.1 18-49 rating. Should be enough to keep the show around.

GSN's second quarter wasn't great and it wasn't terrible. 368K/262K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 41st and 35th in the windows.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Facebook fun and games

Call me one on the Neanderthals who has never really gotten Facebook. Oh, I've got a Facebook account because it's often necessary in the online world for commenting on web stories. And I like to comment, as many have noted.

I've also put some Facebook pages in this blog's sidebar because the social media site is just about unavoidable. But I leave the heavy-duty use of Facebook to my daughter, who's a fanatic about the thing.

Still, I may have to get slightly more familiar with Mark Zuckerberg's creation. (He did create it, right? I know there was a legal rumpus with the Winklevoss twins.) As a faux tweet noted, Facebook is getting into the TV business. They'll be creating "TV-quality" - an oxymoron? - shows for the site.

One of them is a game show called Last State Standing, which may be about a new war between the states. Or it might feature a battle between states of consciousness, states of awareness, or states of drowsiness. Looks like I'll have to review it whenever Facebook drops the project on a waiting world.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wanna be a contestant?

TV Insider enlightens us on the perpetual human quest to become a game show contestant.

For the most part the advice sounds like common sense. If you want to get on The Price is Right, be "upbeat and interesting" with the show's contestant pickers. It's better than being downbeat and uninteresting, no? For Jeopardy and Millionaire, brush up on general knowledge so you can pass the contestant exams. For $100,000 Pyramid, know the rules and dress for TV.

Some shows require videos of wannabe contestants, like Beat Shazam. Recent photos are enough for Hollywood Game Night, and pop culture knowledge is also recommended.

All in all, it sounds like you should watch the shows and see if you'd be good on them. You want to win, don't you?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Doing my duty

First, a confession. I never much liked the original Gong Show. It was icky-poo and stupid when it wasn't downright cruel to some of the performers.

Second, a review. I don't much like ABC's revival of the show, either. I won't go into a long dissertation on how Gong Show isn't a real game show, though of course it's not. It's just a talent contest gone nutty. But the show got grandfathered into the genre a long time ago, so I did my duty and watched the reboot's premiere.

Truth be told, I watched ten minutes of it. Mike Myers hosted in an artificial face that didn't move very well. The panelists were three guys who wandered in. The three acts ranged from mildly entertaining to gross to weird.

The sort of entertaining guy played the piano in unusual bodily positions. At least I could recognize the tune. The gross girl put a tarantula in her mouth and played a harmonica. No tarantulas were harmed in the making of this act. The weird guy rode wore an ape suit, rode a unicycle and played the bagpipes...all at once. What talent!

Nobody got gonged, as I recall. For those who like the weird, the gross and the mildly entertaining, this show might be for you. I'll stick to game shows.

The Nielsen Company wasn't overly amused, either. 3.9M viewers and a 0.9 18-49 rating. That might be enough to save Gong Show from the gong, or it might not be. I'm not worried either way.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Wall construction

Variety tells us that The Wall has become something of a franchise.

At least it got a second season. As the linked story says, this is "a rarity in U.S. broadcast — a shiny-floor primetime game show that has earned a second season without being a revival of a classic title." (Since when did "shiny-floor" get to be an often used adjective? I see it all the time now. I'm even starting to use it myself.)

In fact, The Wall returned last night with okay but hardly spectacular numbers, even by the shriveled standards of summertime broadcast. 4.5M viewers and a 1.0 18-49 rating. Sure, anything that doesn't go fractional - another new coinage in show biz speak - in 18-49 is sort of okay nowadays. And The Wall barely managed to avoid that.

Variety notes that the show has spawned several international versions, so no doubt the showrunners are making decent money off the project. One funny line from the story: an exec says The Wall is "an all new, created-from-scratch format." Of course, the show was created from Plinko, but why get persnickety?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brief history

A web site called Paste considers the critical question: Are We in the New Golden Age of Game Shows?

The quick answer is no, because game shows never really went away. But there have been a lot of reboots of ancient formats lately, so deep thinkers everywhere on the web are considering the history of the genre. The linked story goes sort of wrong right away, when it announces: "There was a time when celebrity game shows had an air of high class."

The example they give is What's My Line, which admittedly maintained an almost Victorian air of elaborate politesse. But at the same time I've Got a Secret was putting its celebs through goofy and definitely non-high-class stunts. Today I watched an ep on Buzzr when the panel sang a rock and roll song. Betsy Palmer was very good on the falsetto "yie-yie-yie-yie-yie-yie-yie's."

The story is correct about the genre's famously low production costs, which have always helped game shows appeal to execs looking to trim expenses. But Paste runs hilariously off the rails when it identifies Talk Show the Game Show as a genuine part of the genre.

The story then settles into a long plug for Hollywood Game Night. At least it's a real game show, even if the pop culture obsession gets annoying.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Renewed vigor

To nobody's great surprise CBS has renewed all their daytime shows, including The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal.

The one tiny morsel of speculation bait is the one-year renewal for LMAD, as opposed to two years for TPiR. CBS helpfully points out that Drew draws a lot more viewers than Wayne. 4.84/5.51 million as opposed to 3.05/3.47 million, by the network's calculations.

Does the shorter leash on Let's Make a Deal mean anything? Probably not, because three million daytime viewers in today's gazillion channel universe are nothing to sneeze at, or to cancel over. But CBS execs may be signaling that they would like to see LMAD draw more TPiP-ish numbers.

The talent is all coming back. Drew and Wayne and showrunner Mike Richards will be pricing and dealing for a while longer. Now that I think about it, Mike's Divided will also be returning to GSN.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ratings: syndies barely budge

The week of June 5-11 was almost a non-event for syndie game show ratings. The numbers hardly budged as the summer really kicked in. TV News Check has the boring household ratings...

Family Feud 6.4 - up a tick
Wheel of Fortune 5.4 - up a tick, and now for the really exciting news
Jeopardy 5.3 - flat
Millionaire 1.5 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - guess what, flat

ABC won Sunday night with its game show reboots. Celebrity Family Feud led the way with 6.3M viewers and a 1.4 18-49 rating. Feud looks like a staple of summer TV for many summers to come.

For June 12-18 GSN backed off from the previous week's big numbers. 363K/261K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 37th in the windows.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Did this help him host the live TPiR show?

Didn't have much else to do, so I rummaged around the game show Interwebs and found one of the oddest items ever.

IMDb credits Todd Newton, host of Whammy, Family Game Night and countless runs of The Price is Right's live show, with a role on Charmed. For those who don't remember or never knew, Charmed was a Shannon Doherty vehicle on the now defunct WB network. It was a fantasy series about three yuppie witches who stumble through various goofball adventures.

The show was about as far removed from my demo and interest range as possible, so I never saw a minute of it. Until today. I found the episode with Todd's supposed appearance on DailyMotion and blitzed through it, looking for Mr. Newton.

I didn't see him but I did see the role he is credited for. The character's called "Yama" (see screenshot) and he's a demon with a nasty attitude, a black horse, and lots of growls and heavy breathing. I have no idea if that's really Todd Newton on the horse, or if he just voiced the breathing and growls, or if he was actually in the show at all. But would IMDb lie to me?

Well, maybe. But I must admit, it would be nice if this role really is on Todd's resume. He should do one of the TPiR shows in that get-up.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Battle of the network reruns

A faux tweet noted the veritable plethora (R.I.P. Howard Cosell) of game show reruns on the broadcast networks last Thursday night. If you're interested in how the Nielsen Company ruled on the repeat-fest, ABC won with their lineup of Celebrity Family Feud, To Tell the Truth and 100K Pyramid.

It's not like the numbers were sky-high. But the alphabet net (Variety speak!) did take the honors in total viewers and the Sacred Demo. The linked story calls the night "repeat-riddled" and there was hardly any new material to be found on broadcast TV. Still, ABC's game show reboots showed some strength even in reruns, so they've settled in pretty well. Plus they're cheap and quick to make. What's not to like for a network exec looking for summer shows?

The reboot mania continues this week with the debut of Gong Show, hosted by Mike Myers or Tommy Maitland or somebody. I'm tempted to say that ABC's version can only be an improvement on GSN's horrendous remake, but I don't want to prejudge.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Declaration of independence

A couple days ago I got an e-mail invitation from GSN for a personal phone interview with departing president David Goldhill.

Over the years my e-mail inbox has seen a number of such invites to interviews with game show people. I've always declined them, and the latest one was no exception. The reason is simple. I want this to be an independent fan's blog about game shows, without even a hint that people in the business can influence what appears here.

This is nothing personal against Mr. Goldhill or GSN. In fact, I've been pretty gentle on the network lately. I gave a fairly good review to the second season of Winsanity and a more than fairly good review to Emogenius. But I want complete freedom to write what I think about game shows, without worrying that people in the business will cut off my access to them or that they'll stop liking me. (Everybody wants to be liked, no?)

For instance, even in my favorable reviews of GSN's latest two shows, I noted their so-so or worse total viewer numbers. (Though the demos were okay for Winsanity and good for Emogenius by GSN standards.) And when GSN puts out something like Skin Wars - which I didn't much like and which I didn't even think was a game show - I want to feel completely at liberty to express an adverse opinion.

Maybe I'm being silly or over-scrupulous. But I'd rather err on the side of caution. People disagree loudly with my blog posts all the time. Read the comments if you don't believe me. But nobody can ever accuse me of selling out to people in the game show business or allowing them to influence what I write.

Saturday rant

I've been catching a lot of grief lately from hostile commenters. So I'm gonna dump on something besides the hostile commenters, who I've already dumped on.

Doncha just love it when I'm angry? Anyhoo, the TBS reboot of Joker's Wild just put out a casting call. There's nothing particularly wrong with this call, but it does contain a few hackneyed phrases that rub me the wrong way.

Want to compete for a cash prize and have a blast doing it? No, I don't want any cash and I want to be miserable about not doing it.

Think you know pop culture, current events and some history? Oh jeeze, not more pop culture. Why don't you quiz people on microbiology or Plato's dialogues?

Are you upbeat and uber-competitive, with a dynamic personality? No, I'm downbeat, drab and don't give a flying flip about winning. You don't like it? Tough.

THE JOKER’S WILD is Executive Produced by Michael Strahan and Snoop Dogg. Doesn't it sound a little goofy to have a showrunner named Snoop Dogg? His real name is Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr. You can look it up on Wikipedia.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Emoji like a genius

Finally got around to watching the premiere episode of GSN's Emogenius.

First impression: it's a goofy but entertaining combo of Idiotest and Pyramid. Which might seem like an odd pair, but you have to watch the show to believe it. I enjoyed the gameplay, even if Emogenius (like Idiotest) is clearly pitched at a much younger demo than grumpy old moi. As we shall see.

The Idiotest part of Emogenius is the use of visual puzzles, those pesky emojis. The first couple rounds of the show featured teams of two trying to guess chains of emojis which added up to Jon Snow (I guessed that one) or other pop-culture people and things (I missed a lot of them).

Pyramid cropped up in the final round of the front game and in the bonus round. In those rounds one team member tried to send clues to their teammate - sound familiar? - but only through, you guessed it, emojis. The show helpfully provided a list of suggestive emojis for the team to use.

Things really got hairy in those rounds. One team had to communicate "Canada" but the sender kept hitting the American flag emoji. Not the best strategy, especially when the show provided a maple leaf emoji, which looked a lot more useful.

All's well that ends well, and the debut ep featured a happily winning team in the bonus round. They went home with ten grand and the thanks of a grateful GSN. Hunter March hosted the proceedings with plenty of energy and the gift of gab.

I said the show aims at the same demo as Idiotest, and the Nielsen Company agreed. The premiere episodes got only so-so viewer numbers in the 300K range but good demo ratings by GSN standards. That's the same combination which has kept Idiotest on the network for years. We'll see if it works for Emogenius.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lease mania

One of the stranger pastimes on oldies boards like Game Show Forum and Game Show Paradise is The Lease Game.

Maybe we could make a game show of this odd diversion. Guess which episodes of which old game shows are leased by GSN and Buzzr. Really, I doubt that most employees of those two organizations would know (or care about) the details of all their leases of old game shows, but that doesn't stop the speculation on the Interwebs. A typical recent comment on Game Show Paradise: " Is there any mention somewhere when GSN's current lease of Match Game reverts back to the beginning of the cycle (March 1977)? I would think that time is nearing."

This pressing issue is not costing me any sleep, but it's great to know that somebody out there is worried about March, 1977 episodes of Match Game. It would be cruel (but that won't stop me) to note the obvious: GSN just uses the oldies as cheap filler for some throwaway hours on weekday mornings. The oldies leases cost $9.95 before coupons, so I doubt that David Goldhill (or his successor) is sweating bullets over them.

Buzzr probably tracks such leases more closely, though it's strictly internal accounting for the in-house Fremantle oldies. Until Buzzr starts churning out more revenue, they only get limited runs of the shows, anyway. That's why they grind their eps into rerun dust.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ratings: Pat and Vanna hit a season low

It was a mostly blah week for syndies of all sorts. But Wheel of Fortune really took a dive. Maybe it's time for another daily run to goose the ratings on Nielsen's add-'em-up system. If it's any consolation, a couple other syndie game shows also saw declines. TV News Check has the household ratings for the May 29-June 4 week...

Family Feud 6.3 - up a tick in the only good news
Wheel of Fortune 5.3 - down five ticks to a season low
Jeopardy 5.3 - down three ticks in sympathy with the soulmate
Millionaire 1.5 - down a tick
Celebrity Name Game 1.1 - flat as it plays out the string

ABC's Sunday night game shows came back with okay but not great numbers. Celebrity Family Feud got 7.0M viewers and a 1.5 18-49 rating. 100K Pyramid got 5.5M viewers and a 1.2 18-49 rating. Enough to keep the shows around, I guess.

GSN continued the better news in the week of June 5-11. 413K/283K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 36th and 31st in the windows.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mo' money

The game show Interwebs generally look down their noses at the "mo' money" syndrome.

This means that the grizzled veterans of the game show wars usually don't like it when a show piles on prize money to garner better ratings. To some extent I can understand the objection. If a show's gameplay stinks, jacking up the prize budget isn't going to help much. Some of my favorite game shows, from I've Got a Secret to Cash Cab, played for small stakes.

But if a show has an okay format, doling out a few more bucks isn't necessarily a terrible thing. The reason for all these deep thoughts is news of a possible two-million-plus payout on the upcoming season of The Wall. Sure enough, a teaser shows the large amount (see screenshot). Since this has always been a big money show, the outsized prize doesn't seem so out of place.

Even Wikipedia notes that The Wall is a Plinko ripoff, though they also quote a critic who more or less forgives such borrowings in game shows. At least NBC isn't making a cheap ripoff.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Another dose of Winsanity

To test the Nielsen waters, GSN just ran a sneak peek of Winsanity's second season.

So what did they add in season two? Another contestant and a beard for host Donald Faison (see screenshot). There was also a notable subtraction: announcer Kira Soltanovich, as Donald does his own announcing on the new season. The result is a faster-paced, more interesting format, with the contestants playing against each other and for their individual cheering sections of the studio audience.

The basic idea remains the same. The players have to rank numerical facts in order, from lowest to highest. As in the first season, the facts are heavy on pop culture and vary widely in their difficulty. I got some and missed some, and the format did hold my attention for the half-hour.

Sad to say, the winner of the front game bombed in the bonus round, getting only two of five facts in their proper order. It would have helped to know how many years Fruit of the Loom has been turning out underwear. It's been a lot of years.

UPDATE: The sneak peek pulls so-so numbers. 282K viewers and a 0.06 18-49 rating. Not so hot, though the demo number is respectable by GSN's geriatric standards.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

More garbage

Rambling through the game show Interwebs, I stumbled across Game Show Garbage. I figured this site was defunct, but it still seems to be alive and (mildly) kicking. As you can see from the screenshot, the last update was a while ago, but at least there seem to be some updates going on. They even promise a "brand new layout" sooner or later.

So I've put the site back into the blogroll on the sidebar. I'll need something to replace the Celebrity Name Game Facebook page, sadly. But I'm afraid that my usual complaint about GSG stands. Too often the site pounds on shows that really aren't that bad. Only Game Show Garbage has to live up to its name, so it has to yelp that everything about some mediocre effort is beyond terrible and worthy of a Nuremberg war crimes tribunal.

The site also gets lazy with "video inductions," which are really just amateurish efforts to avoid writing something. Sure enough, the latest update is a video about the 1995 series of Krypton Factor, a U.K. quizzer/stunt show. You can watch an episode from the supposedly horrible 1995 Krypton Factor, and it hardly looks all that godawful to me. But once again, GSG has to yelp that it's beyond terrible and worthy of a Nuremberg...well, you get the idea.

Anyway, as long as Game Show Garbage is doing some updates, even occasionally, I'll keep it in the blogroll.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dare to be Alex

Believe it or not, the comically misnamed Game Show Newsnet does occasionally cover game shows. Sure, the game show items are buried under a bunch of stuff about reality TV, cooking shows, talent contests, improv comedy, sports, and most anything else on television. But once in a while the site does live up to its comical misname.

An example is their "Games Gone By" section. This page covers game shows from the distant past...Buzzr territory, you might say. In fact, this week's entry highlights a show that Buzzr currently carries on weekends, Double Dare (see screenshot). Game Show Newsnet calls it a "forgotten game show," so they must not get Buzzr on their cable systems.

No, we're not talking about the well-known slimefest from Nick. That's long been a source of confusion, intentional or otherwise. This Double Dare is the short-lived CBS quizzer from the '70s. Alex Trebek hosted the quiet, cerebral game where the clues to the answer in each round got more and more revealing as the round went on.

As in a certain rigged show, Double Dare featured isolation booths, though Charles Van Doren never put in an appearance. GSNN opines that the format might have been a little too slow and "brainiac" for its own good. That's certainly possible, and another drawback was that the rules got complicated with all the daring and double daring. But the show was a passable quizzer, and it adequately fills a couple weekend hours on Buzzr.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Another greatest list

Newsday has gotten into the game show ranking business.

It's a top twenty-five list, and it leans heavily toward the past. Game Show Forum would approve this selection. There's not a single show that originated in the last ten years. The most recent effort is Deal or No Deal from 2005. I think Cash Cab and The Chase, just to name a couple shows with less dust on them, are better than all but a handful of shows on the list.

64K Question sneaks onto the list, and I'll spare you my usual rant about the rigged shows. A few other entries missed my own top fifty list, like Love Connection, Gong Show and Card Sharks. The first two probably appear only because of the current revivals. The third is a dumbed-down version of acey-deucey - a dumb game to begin with - that somehow retains a following among the older-is-better crowd.

Newsday gives the top slot to Jeopardy, which is an agonizingly respectable choice, hallowed by no less than the Peabody Award people. Of course, the top game show of all time is the 1973-82 Match Game, though the Peabody folks would likely look down their noses at it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


This is hardly news, but Mike Myers will host ABC's reboot of Gong Show, due June 22.

Except he won't be Mike Myers. Instead, he'll be Tommy Maitland, a fictional but beloved British comedy legend. It's all rather complicated, but ABC apparently decided that plain old Mike Myers was too plain and old for their revival of the Chuck Barris chestnut. Then again, Barris played a fictional CIA spy for years, so maybe the subterfuge is somehow appropriate.

Media reaction has been bemused and amused. Mike Myers Returns to the Spotlight in the Weirdest Way Possible is the Vanity Fair take on the impersonation. The general opinion seems to be that Myers has been gone for so long, he might as well return as somebody else.

Gong Show isn't a real game show, of course. It's just a mostly demented talent contest. But the show got grandfathered into the genre before reality TV made the definition of "game show" much of an issue. So I'll cover it on this blog, though I'm not a big gong fan myself.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Ratings: syndies sweep down

TV News Check posts their usual sweeps roundup for May this week. They compare syndie shows to their showings in 2016. It's not a pretty sight for almost every show in syndication. The site blames the declines on mobile gadgets, the gazillion channel universe, competition from cable news, and belly button lint. Syndie game shows sure got hit hard, with one notable exception...

Family Feud 6.3 - down eight ticks from last year, ouch
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down six ticks
Jeopardy 5.7 - down three ticks, a relatively decent performance
Millionaire 1.6 - up three ticks, the big winner in syndie game shows thanks to better time slots
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - down a couple ticks for its final May sweeps

GSN perked up a bit for the week of May 29-June 4. 397K/274K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 33rd in the windows. Best numbers in a while.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Running through paradise

Nick's Paradise Run has been a pleasant winner for the network. The show recently wrapped the tapings for its third season.

The locale was the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the big island. The linked story says about 120 people worked on the show, which seems like a lot. But somebody's gotta keep track of all the young'uns scampering around.

Showrunner Scott Stone tried to make sure that the proceedings weren't too disruptive for the hotel and its guests. "We spend a lot of time telling our crew and the kids that we are here at a working hotel, and our job is to make sure that when we leave they feel like they had a good time watching us. If you watch the show, you notice the kids are always saying 'excuse me, coming through, and aloha' because we told the Hilton that we want to be invited back."

Nick has invited the show back for three seasons now, and it's been a profitable stay for all concerned. It's a cute little stunt show, and the kids do seem to enjoy themselves. There's no debut date yet for the third season, but Daniella Monet will host as always.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Ben rides again

When Discovery announced plans for a return of Cash Cab minus Ben Bailey, the result was general shock. Not least from Mr. Bailey himself.

Rest easy, Cab aficionados. Discovery has backtracked (or reversed gears) and announced that Ben will return as the wheel-turning host. The only kicker is that other celebs may come along for the ride sometimes, which still sounds a little suspicious. But with Ben around, I figure things can't go too wrong.

Cash Cab was obviously the gig of a lifetime for Ben Bailey, and the rubber-faced cabbie/comic made the most of his opportunity. He was surprisingly bad as the host of NBC's short-lived Who's Still Standing, but he might just have been out of his element on a shiny-floor set. Get him in a taxi and he does just fine.

No word yet on a debut date for the new episodes. I hope the reboot doesn't flop, and it should certainly get some initial sampling from many nostalgic fans.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Party time

An interesting thread on Game Show Forum - yeah, interesting threads happen there now and then - asked whether people like to watch their appearances on game shows. One poster replied: "Maybe it's directly proportional to what you won." Which makes sense. Most people don't want to watch themselves lose.

I see a lot of stories in Google News about watch parties thrown by game show contestants. Generally, the stories are happy ones about winners, as the GSF poster suspected. This example tells about a Georgia couple who relieved The Wall of over a half-million. They had a watch party in their back yard (see screenshot). It was a pleasant occasion, as you might expect.

A lot of watch parties happen in bars, thanks to readily available liquid refreshment. Not only that, sometimes you can play bar trivia after the party's over. If I ever appear on a game show - purely hypothetical, because I have way too much fear of losing - I might buy a round for the house. Even though I never drink any more. I'm just too old for it.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sad date

A wrestling site, of all places, reminds me of one of the sadder anniversaries in game shows. On June 2, 1996 Family Feud host Ray Combs committed suicide at a Glandale, CA hospital.

The wrestling connection is a few appearances that Combs made as an announcer at Wrestlemania and other events. The linked story recaps the facts of Combs' life and death well enough. He was facing mounting debts, health problems, marital issues, and professional setbacks when he took his own life.

At least Buzzr has now brought back some of his Feud episodes. I've always thought that he was underrated among Feud's many hosts. He had the tough job of following (and being followed by) Richard Dawson, and he's usually suffered in the comparison. But in my opinion he was quite an improvement over the bored, mumbling Dawson of Richard's later years on Feud. Just as, in a similar heresy, I think McLean Stevenson was a much better center-seat panelist on Match Game than Dawson in his later, sour years on that show.

Wikipedia tells me one thing I did not know, to use a phrase popularized by a certain talk show host. "Johnny Carson, who had given Combs his first break in show business, sent [Combs' widow] Debbie a check for $25,000, writing to her: 'I hope this will ease the burden.'"

Friday, June 2, 2017

Looking for love in all the Fox places

Finally got around to the debut episode of Love Connection on the Fox web site.

Being a quizzer and word game kind of guy, these dating game shows aren't necessarily my cup of romantic tea. I still tried to approach the project with an open mind. I did occasionally enjoy the original version, though that was mainly because the half-goofy, half-serious Chuck Woolery was the perfect host for stories of life in the dating lane.

The good news is that new host Andy Cohen is certainly competent and friendly. And there's always the cheesy fun of listening to the daters dish on each other. The first gentleman on the debut ep was a fellow named Bacon. (Yeah, the show made a bunch of painful puns. Which was appropriate enough for the general cheesiness.)

Mr. Bacon's three dates were, in order and according to his and the ladies' accounts, 1) terrible, 2) great and 3) drunken. Young lovely number two (see the screenshot) was his predictable choice for another date. The audience agreed, so the handsome couple walked off with ten grand to enjoy on their romantic rendezvous. Not bad, especially when you recall that Chuck only doled out seventy-five bucks.

Honest admission: I didn't watch the second set of dates on the show because I had pretty well gotten the idea. Fox's version is true enough to the original and it's entertaining enough for those who like a peek at other people's love lives. It's just not a quizzer or a word game. What can I say?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Kid stuff

USA Network used to run a lot of old game shows, but they've decided to try a new one.

Big Star Little Star won't give Jeopardy a run for a Peabody Award. It's just a cute little show where parents play G-rated Newlywed Game with their kids. Then in the final round they switch to G-rated Pyramid.

I just watched the debut episode with Todd Chrisley and son Grayson, Marissa Jaret and son Zev, and Chad Johnson and daughter Cha'iel. Everybody was cute and friendly, which is what the show wants to be and mostly succeeds in being. Sometimes the sugar content runs pretty high, but this is a kid show, after all.

Marissa and Zev aced the Pyramid round and won some money for charity. The pace of the show wasn't breakneck, as the parents swapped a bunch of mild jokes. Cat Deeley hosted with a lot of smiles. She smiles very well, if you hadn't noticed.

Zev seemed a little embarrassed when his mother revealed that he sometimes pees in a bottle when they're stuck in traffic. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

UPDATE: The show does okay by USA Network standards, but not great. 940K viewers and a 0.28 18-49 rating.