Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Ratings: Ken Jennings keeps Jeopardy at #1

Jeopardy slipped a little in the latest week, but guest host Ken Jennings kept the ancient quizzer at the top of all syndies. There was some other movement in the top three game shows, but the order remained unchanged. TV News Check has the household ratings for January 11-17...

Jeopardy 6.2 - down four ticks but still top of the charts
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down a couple ticks but holds onto the second slot among all syndies
Family Feud 5.4 - up three ticks, a nice week for Steve and friends
25 Words or Less 0.8 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - flat, it's slow at the bottom

If Ken Jennings can keep Jeopardy at the top for his six-week tryout, I have to think he's got the permanent job. Already there are some political doubts about Katie Couric, one of the other possibles. As always, the Nielsen Company will decide. At least it will be fun to track the numbers as the guest hosts take their turns.

Despite tough competition from NCIS, To Tell the Truth returned with decent numbers. 4.48M viewers and a 0.67 18-49 rating. ABC will be happy enough with that tally.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Buzzr merch

If you think I'm always dissing Buzzr, this entry might change your mind a little.

I happened to run across this Amazon page selling Buzzr merchandise. There are all sorts of t-shirts and sweatshirts for the diginet and their various shows: Supermarket Sweep, Match Game, Tattletales, Let's Make a Deal, etc. The site also peddles some home games: Family Feud, Card Sharks and classic Password. One ominous note: Steve Harvey's picture is on a couple of the Feud home games. Oldies fans may get the shudders.

The clothes range from twenty to thirty-two bucks, which seems reasonable enough. I was a little surprised that there weren't any coffee mugs on the page, but maybe they'll arrive one of these days.

I looked around for similar GSN merch but couldn't find any. The cable network just isn't interested in clothing their fans, I guess. But the game show oldies freak in your family can stock up on Buzzr duds.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Episode numbers

So I dropped by Game Show Central on Pluto TV, and I noticed that the currently running (as I type) ep of Bill Engvall's Lingo had its episode number listed.

This particular installment was episode #1109. The show ran in 2011, which probably accounts for the first two digits. And I assume it was the ninth episode in the series, which accounts for the final two digits.

I'm not sure if all the shows on Pluto now have those pesky little numerals. But for some reason episode numbers have always been a preoccupation on the game show Interwebs, especially the oldies boards. Not sure why, but some people track the numbers obsessively.

Looks like Pluto TV might now make the tracking a little easier. By the way, Bill Engvall was an unfairly maligned host of GSN's Lingo reboot. He was probably never going to get an even break on the Interwebs because he wasn't Chuck Woolery. But Bill hosted the show with competence and a lot of humor.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Break that tie! Break that tie!

I happened to watch Jeopardy last Friday, and I saw the Famous Tiebreaker.

Two contestants, Jack Weller and current champ Brian Chang, finished with the same pile of loot after the final clue: $37,600. So Ken Jennings posed a final final clue about Stalin. (Depressing subject, I know.) Brian rang in first and got the clue right, so his winning streak continued.

It was all over in a few seconds, but The Ringer - which I always thought was a sports site, but they've branched out lately - devotes a long grinding article to the event. The History of the Jeopardy Tiebreaker and the Quest to Revolutionize the Final Wager.

I hope there's some intended irony in such a pompous title, because the article is one lengthy slog. If you didn't know, the Jeopardy tiebreaker started only a few years ago. Before then, the show just brought back tied winners on the next episode.

After discussing the history, the article rambles along to The Final Wager site run by former contestant Keith Williams. The site offers critiques of betting strategies for the final clue. The Ringer says that the site was responsible for the high number of ties which forced the show to start the tiebreaker. For whatever reason, Jeopardy gameplay has evolved, at least a little.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The talk show man

Larry King, who led a crazily up-and-down life as a constant talker, has died at age 87.

The linked obituary details Mr. King's often bizarre biography - the eight marriages, the bankruptcies, the fraud charge, and the talk talk talk. Of course, he achieved his greatest success on CNN with his softball gabfest, where the rich and famous came for pleasant chitchat.

I was expecting a few game shows to turn up on Larry King's IMDb page. After all, our little genre specializes in offhand palaver, and Mr. King could produce offhand palaver by the ton. Sure enough, he appeared on Deal or No Deal (see screenshot), Millionaire, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, Hollywood Squares and To Tell the Truth. Game shows were hardly his specialty, but he was never reluctant to turn up where he could offer his thoughts, at length.

Mr. King's ratings finally cratered on CNN as more partisan and harder-edged hosts came to the fore. He spent his last years on the Internet, but he never stopped chatting. R.I.P.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Nice contestant story

Game show contestant stories are a dime a dozen on Google News, but once in a while one of them stands out.

This article tells about Wheel of Fortune contestant Andrew Garcia, a pastor from Thousand Oaks, CA. He's had a few tough knocks in his life, most notably an accident that left him with a disabled left arm and a lot of pain.

A surgeon managed to save the arm but Andrew still has limited use of it. So on Wheel of Fortune he applauded by using his good hand on the back of the injured fist (see screenshot). He was in a "ton of pain" during the taping, but he kept concentrating on the game and managed to make it to the bonus round.

Andrew also wanted to win a trip on the show because he missed out on a honeymoon with his wife years ago due to the avian flu. (Things haven't gotten better in the virus department, I'm afraid.) He got his wish when he copped a trip to Antigua. You can review all his exploits on Wheel at the Buy a Vowel recap.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Why all the game shows?

You may have noticed that lots of game shows are turning up on TV lately. A long, rambling article on an Oregon news site explores the reasons why.

Long story short: game shows are cheap and easy to produce. You probably knew that already, being game show blog readers. But the Oregon site tells you about it over and over. In these locked down times, cheap and easy is particularly good in comparison to scripted dramas and sitcoms.

The linked article wanders through a bunch of shows, some of them talent contests instead of game shows. Among other notes, the writer likes The Chase more than The Hustler, which is a common opinion according to Nielsen. The Chase moves at warp speed compared to Craig Ferguson's pokey quizzer.

There's also a lot of talk about how game show reboots pop up again and again. The writer likes Name That Tune, which finally got another version after decades of failed efforts to revive the show. She notes the show's Australian locale to dodge the draconian lockdowns in California.

ABC has been the most enthusiastic broadcaster in the genre and has reaped the greatest ratings rewards. Celebrity Wheel of Fortune made the top ten list of most-watched shows on all of TV for the week of January 11-17. It was one of the few non-football efforts in the top ten. Pat and Vanna soldier on in broadcast prime time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ratings: Jeopardy rockets to the top

To no one's surprise, the final week of Alex Trebek's Jeopardy episodes propelled the quizzer to the top of the syndie charts. We'll see how the ratings develop as the guest hosts take their turns. Wheel of Fortune also jumped as the Sony shows both scored season highs. Otherwise, there was little movement. TV News Check has the household ratings for the week of January 4-10...

Jeopardy 6.6 - up a whopping fifteen ticks as fans say good-bye to Alex
Wheel of Fortune 6.0 - up nine ticks to take the #2 spot among all syndies
Family Feud 5.1 - down a couple ticks
25 Words or Less 0.8 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - flat as not much happens down here

A few more syndie notes. Jeopardy got 14 million viewers for Alex's final ep. That was a 19-month high. The show drew 11.1M viewers on average for the week. Wheel of Fortune got 10.3M.

People Puzzler pulled in a nice crowd for its January 18 debut on GSN. 516K viewers and a 0.05 18-49 rating. The network will take those numbers. Master Minds kept riding high with 558K viewers. For the week of January 11-17 GSN drew 368K/309K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 28th and 20th in the windows.

You bet your life again

News from the syndie world. The Jay Leno reboot of Your Bet Your Life, due this fall, has now sold in 85% of the country.

The Fox stations are the main launch vehicle - it this rocket science? - but other station groups have bought in. The linked story mentions Sinclair, Nexstar, Scripps, Meredith, Gray, McKinnon, Standard Media, Block and Sun Broadcasting. That's a lot of stations here, there and everywhere.

No doubt Jay Leno's late night reputation helped sell the show, even without a tryout like 25 Words or Less went through. The comedy angle may also have reassured buyers wary of the dreaded old skew of traditional game shows. TV execs believe, with some justification, that comedy skews young. As Jay himself notes...

One of my favorite things to do is to talk to regular people and draw humor out of them. This is a comedy show wrapped in a game that allows me to do just that.

Groucho Marx himself couldn't have put it any better. The game was always an afterthought on the ancient original, as Groucho bantered at length with contestants and hapless announcer George Fenneman. Kevin Eubanks will co-host the reboot but will probably not endure the constant putdowns that Mr. Fenneman suffered.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Drew does wheel

Drew Carey performed well on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune last week, and various Cleveland sites have taken note.

Drew was playing for a food bank in his hometown, and he garnered fifty-five grand in winnings for the charity. The linked article uncharitably notes that he "choked" in his trip to the bonus round, but those puzzles are tough for anybody. Drew himself confessed that he was ashamed for blowing his chance at even more money for the food bank.

I watched the episode and I thought Drew was the best player of the three celebs, though Teri Hatcher actually ended up winning more money. That's why they call it Wheel of Fortune. Luck doesn't always smile on the best contestant, he observed profoundly.

Nielsen has certainly been smiling on the show. If Celebrity Wheel of Fortune maintains anything like its current numbers, the show is a lock for another season on ABC. The only possible issue might be Sony's hesitance to dilute the appeal of the syndie cash cow. But ABC can probably make it worth their while.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Links strong and weak

A generous critic has posted a rave review of NBC's Weakest Link reboot.

We all have our preferences, but Weakest Link has never been a particular favorite of mine. I'm not crazy about the Wicked Witch act from the host (Anne Robinson then, Jane Lynch now) and I don't like how weaker players can gang up to vote off stronger players. I'll admit that the show offers a nice pace and a fair amount of suspense, so I'm not trashing it completely.

The critic in the linked article likes the contestant interactions on the quizzer. Sorry, the contestant back-and-forth reminds me of reality TV at its worst, and that's not something I like to be reminded of.

The reboot has drawn sort of okay ratings for NBC, though it looks like - I just can't resist - the weakest link in the Monday night game show block. We'll see if the show hangs around the peacock net. (Hi, Variety!) Weakest Link might make do as summer filler.