Sunday, November 28, 2021

Poor Louie

Hadn't looked at the Sitcoms Online game show board in a long while. So I dropped by to see what goes on with the sitcom-ers.

Sad to say, the board's "Beautiful Ladies of Game Shows" thread seems to have gone quiet. No new entries for a while. But there's another photo thread called "Post A Picture From Your Favorite Game Shows."

I thought the most revealing photo was the one I used for the screenshot. It shows Louie Anderson looking bored out of his gourd as the host of Family Feud.

People usually rate Louie as one of the worst - if not the worst - hosts in Feud's long and winding history. To be honest, he often did seem less than absorbed in the show. The producers dumped him after three seasons (1999-2002) and brought in Richard Karn. The show's second Richard may not have been the fastest with a quip, but at least he looked like he was enjoying himself with the feuders.

On the E! True Hollywood Story about Feud, Louie made his infamous prediction that the show would be gone within a year after his departure. He was just a little off with that forecast. Family Feud is with us more than ever in syndication, cable and broadcast. Thank you Mr. Harvey, though Richard Karn and John O'Hurley did keep the show going.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Deep dark secrets

In between laying off people in 2019 and 2020 and 2021, BuzzFeed actually posts something now and then.

One of their latest stories is a listicle of supposed secrets of game shows and reality TV. The gleaned most of the material from that well-known reliable source Reddit. This may tell you something about why BuzzFeed keeps laying people off.

Regardless of the source, most of the deep dark game show secrets will not come as big fat surprises to many readers of this blog. Did you know that the wheel on Wheel of Fortune is really, really heavy? Or that they tape five eps of Jeopardy in a single day? Hush-hush stuff, right?

The screenshot shows Ben Bailey with some of the cash on Cash Cab. The money is real but winning contestants don't get to keep the actual bills. They get a check later with all the tax deductions taken out. Again, who knew?

A few of the secrets are a little more revealing. The green slime on Nick game shows apparently tastes pretty good. At least that's what some people say. The stuff still looks yucky to me.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Marathon, man

One of the hoariest TV traditions for holiday weekends is the marathon. Networks string together hours of their greatest hits. Sometimes the hits aren't so great but the marathons play out, anyway.

GSN and Buzzr are following the custom this Thanksgiving weekend. Buzzr rolls out a marathon of Sale of the Century on Black Friday. I'm not a big fan of the show but it's got "sale" in the title. So it's a natural for the biggest shopping day of the year. Onward, consumers!

GSN is running marathons of all their current originals. Even newcomer Tug of Words gets a four-pack on Saturday. Of course, just about every day on GSN brings marathons of America Says and Steve Harvey's Family Feud. Those shows will dominate the weekend, as usual.

The holiday lineup may presage GSN's future: all originals except for Harvey Feud. Match Game and Deal or No Deal are still hanging onto weekday slots, but acquisitions don't seem to be GSN's thing any more. Gotta scrimp on those licensing fees.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Harry mania

For those who slept through a number of decades, the Harry Potter franchise is enormous.

We've got the books, we've got the movies, we've got the merchandise. And now we've got the game show. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Tournament of Houses comes to TBS and Cartoon Network this Sunday. You might be wondering, how will this quizzer appeal to viewers who don't know or care much about Harry Potter and his friends?

This story tries to answer that question. The showrunners will tart up the four-part series with movie clips and a lot of cute set decorations (see screenshot). Whether that will be enough to please non-Potterites is an open question. The Nielsen Company will have the answer sometime next week. The linked story does say that there will be a few concessions to those whose knowledge of the franchise is less than complete...

More than half the questions were purposefully made multiple choice, so viewers could more easily play at home as well. "Of everything, the questions were the trickiest balance to get right," [showrunner Yasmin] Shackleton said. "But I think we got it."

Good luck with that balance. I'll watch and review an episode because I run a full-service game show blog. But how many other non-fans will also bother to watch?

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Streaming along

Last night I was hopping around the free game show streams on my iPad. First thing I noticed is that there's a bunch of 'em. And I mean a big bunch.

Our little genre is ideal for free streaming because the eps pile up so fast. Sooner or later some brainy exec decides to make a stream out of all those tapes on the shelf. And then another brainy exec decides the same thing, and then another brainy exec...and pretty soon you've got 99 game show streams.

Last night I sampled Baggage (a seniors edition, by the way), Bob Barker's The Price is Right, Get a Clue (not a bad word game even if Rob Belushi was over-caffeinated), Super Password and Catch 21 (the poor lady busted in the bonus round).

That's why I think Sony will eventually do a Buzzr-like oldies stream. They've just got too many game show eps lying around not to monetize them. That's a highfalutin' way of saying "make some money off them."

The only drawback is that Sony might be competing with themselves if they're streaming old Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy eps while the new episodes are on TV. But the old stuff probably wouldn't lure too many current TV viewers away.

This is one more example of those famously low production costs for game shows. You can accumulate plenty of material for all the free streams you can eat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ratings: Nobody can stop Jeopardy

Jeopardy kept rolling as number one among all syndies for the week of November 8-14. Family Feud hopped back into second place, while 25 Words or Less climbed ahead of You Bet Your Life. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Jeopardy 5.6 - flat but #1
Family Feud 5.4 - up a couple ticks, a good week for Steve
Wheel of Fortune 5.1 - down a couple ticks, not a good week for Pat and Vanna
25 Words or Less 0.8 - up a tick as Meredith moves up in the rankings
You Bet Your Life 0.7 - flat and may be on the bubble for renewal
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - flat and what else is there to say?

More of the same for GSN. 352K/286K viewers prime time/total day for the week of November 15-21. The network ranked 29th and 21st in the windows. It really might be a good idea to do something about prime time. GSN did hop up in household ratings, as usual. 14th in total day. The network drew 59K/43K 25-54 viewers prime time/total day.

In really exciting news The Price is Right led all of daytime broadcast. 4.07M viewers for Drew and friends in the November 15-19 week. Let's Make a Deal chalked up 2.60M.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Fireproof pants

A couple of commenters, one of them always hostile to me and one of them sometimes so, have accused me of lying on this blog.

I brushed off the comments with some humor, but maybe I owe more neutral readers a more detailed explanation. I always try to link to Internet sources when I post any assertion of fact on the blog. I can't vouch for the accuracy of all these sources. In fact, once in a while I think a source is iffy and I'll say so.

Still, one of the commenters wanted to know if my pants were on fire. I replied that I always wear fireproof pants (a joke, of course) and that you can buy them online. To my surprise, you really can buy fireproof pants on the Internet. So I was accurate without even meaning to be accurate.

A third commenter called me "egregiously uniformed" because I didn't know that Match Game had been cancelled even before the Alec Baldwin shooting incident. I asked him to provide a link to support his statement. So far he hasn't responded.

Believe me, if I had found a reliable source that Match Game was gone before the Rust tragedy, I would have linked to the story and posted about it. This would have been fairly big news.

I always try to find sources for any statements of fact that I make on the blog. If I say that Legends of the Hidden Temple got 193K viewers for its Halloween ep, I provide a link to a ratings site. To be fair, I can't be sure that every ratings site is reliable. But Show Buzz Daily seems to have a good record for accuracy.

Do I always succeed in being 100% correct in matters of fact? No, but I try to be as accurate as possible. And when I screw up, as I did a while back about Farrah Fawcett, I own up to the mistake.

On the other hand, when I speculate or express an opinion about game shows, I try to make it clear that I'm speculating or opining and not stating fact. In a manner of speaking I do attempt to wear fireproof pants on this blog. And you can buy them online.

We got rules

I'm starting to think that half of the Twitter users in the known universe watch like a hawk for every rules hoohah on Wheel of Fortune.

The perennial favorite is the dreaded "and" in the crossword puzzles. This rule often trips the wire on Twitter and leads to torrents of righteous outrage. Wheel should get rid of the crosswords just to spite the Twitter mob.

To even up the outrage, the Twitterverse also erupts when Wheel goes too easy on a player. Case in point: last Thursday a contestant didn't pronounce "craftsmanship" perfectly. The show gave him the money, anyway, and the Twitter horde steamed and stewed about it.

In general I think game shows should lean toward the easy side on contestants. We're here to have fun, not to pick nits and screw players for minor infractions. So I'm not losing sleep over how to say "craftsmanship." The contestant in question didn't win the bonus round, which might have made some of the tweeters happy.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Raising the dead

A really slow news weekend sent me to - of course! - the random page button on U.S. Game Shows Wiki. Back came a bio of Jo Anne Worley, game show stalwart from the '70s and '80s. Her IMDB page seems to list every game show made back then, though she might have somehow missed a few.

The wiki bio runs through her career in show business, with emphasis on her big break on the goofy Laugh-In (1967-70). The entry also lists a few of her game show credits, though hardly all of them.

One game show she would like to forget - and she probably has forgotten it - was a failed pilot called The Riddlers. Long long ago in a galaxy far far away, GSN dug up the video for a marathon of failed pilots with Elvira, mistress of the dark and possessor of nice legs. I actually remember watching the marathon, which they called Raising the Dead, and YouTube also recalls The Riddlers.

A guy named David Letterman hosted. He had a lot more hair on top of his head back then, though not as much beard on his chinny chin chin. The show was a mess but David was pretty good as a game show host. I hear he later went on to a talk show.

Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I was a little surprised that Jo Anne Worley was still alive. She seems to be semi-retired, though, with only a few credits in recent years. She's 84, after all.

Saturday, November 20, 2021


As expected, there are many legal battles involving the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins while filming the now scrapped movie Rust.

Alec Baldwin, the host of ABC's Match Game, was the star and producer of the film and fired the lethal shot. Two lawsuits are already pending. The latest suit from a crew member alleges that the use of a gun was not even part of the planned scene but was an impulsive act by Alec Baldwin.

Of course, nobody outside the small number of survivors present at the scene knows the real truth. I've glanced through the text of the latest lawsuit, and it paints a grim picture of gross negligence on the part of Alec Baldwin and others. Again, these are only allegations and nothing is certain.

No matter how all the lawsuits play out, it's safe to say that ABC's Match Game is gone for at least a long time and probably for good. The show got about two and a half million viewers for its last ep on July 28. Who knows if such numbers would have kept the show going under the best of circumstances?

With Match Game's host in legal limbo for years, I can't see ABC continuing with the show. Running Match Game with a substitute host would just remind viewers of the Rust tragedy.

Friday, November 19, 2021

The next talk show?

Leah Remini of GSN's People Puzzler is getting another couple weeks as guest host on the Wendy Williams talker.

If there's one thing showrunners like, it's good ratings. Leah lifted the chatfest's numbers in her first week on the show, so the producers have brought her back for another chance. They may have also noticed that People Puzzler is turning in some of GSN's best ratings lately.

It may be only a matter of time before a production company offers Leah her own talker. Especially if she can keep the ratings up in her second stint as a guest host, I have to think somebody could come calling with a yak project.

Pardon the grumps, but if there's anything I don't need right now, it's another talk show. There's too much yakety-yak already filling the media junkosphere. But if Leah Remini can deliver the Nielsen goods by running her mouth, she's got a future in TV palaver.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Pursuing trivia

Hadn't looked much in oldies land for a while, so I stopped by Game Show Forum. As you might expect, I saw a lot of Buzzr, Buzzr and Buzzr, especially Whew. Man, that show is the Holy Grail for the oldies freaks.

But the board did note the item which has taken over Google News, at least when it comes to game shows. LeVar Burton is working on a new version of Trivial Pursuit with format owner Hasbro. LeVar is a media darling who orchestrated an astroturfed campaign to get the Jeopardy host job. He actually did poorly on the show and got the worst ratings of any of the guest hosts.

So LeVar Burton is hardly a "fan favorite," as media people keep telling us. But he remains a media fave, so his new show will get lots of fawning attention. On Game Show Forum they're not too sure about prospects for yet another try at bringing Trivial Pursuit to TV. A couple efforts with Wink Martindale in 1993-94 and Christopher Knight in 2008-09 crashed and burned in the Nielsen wars.

The general GSF consensus is that a TV version shouldn't stick too close to the board game, and the pace should be pretty quick. I can't disagree on either count. It would also help if LeVar would run things a little more smoothly than he did on his Jeopardy audition.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Newlyweds meet Buzzr

Finally got around to sampling one of the 1990s Newlywed Game eps recently acquired by Buzzr.

This 1996-99 version has an odd history. In the first season the showrunners tried a radically revamped format with new host Gary Kroeger. That worked about as well as anybody could have predicted. So for the next season the producers got - who else? - Bob Eubanks to helm the show and they went back to the ├╝ber traditional format. That bought the syndie another couple seasons for a respectable run.

Buzzr has started with those Eubanks eps, and nobody can blame them. The episode I watched this morning was tried and true Newlywed Game. The questions were suggestive enough, Bob was alert and witty as ever, and the couples goofed around merrily.

The plastic surgery hadn't kicked in too obviously in 1997, so Bob looked pretty good (see screenshot). This was his signature show, after all, and he hosted with the same energy and flair that he had displayed on who knows how many eps from the '60s, '70s and '80s. The 1990s version did tart up the set a little, though some lattice work crept in here and there.

In case you're wondering, this episode did have a whoopee question. It just wouldn't have been Newlywed Game without one.