Tuesday, February 18, 2020


Back when the world was young (in 2011) GSN tried a weird Dating Game offshoot called Love Triangle.

The Wikipedia article recounts the goofy premise. A dater involved with two other people decided which one to keep hooking up with and which one to dump. Yeah, it even sounds lame in Wikipedia-ese. The show struggled through a single season before GSN axed it. The host was current chatfest operator Wendy Williams. For some unknowable reason her talk show draws pretty decent ratings, though it's not at the very top of the talker chart.

Wendy Williams is now in trouble for a tasteless joke she made about the tragic death of Drew Carey's former fiancé Amie Harwick. (See yesterday's post.) Ms. Harwick fell to her death from her apartment balcony, apparently as part of a violent assault. Williams' comment on the tragedy: She was killed - not by Drew - but by the ex. Come on down!

Yes, she really used the tagline from TPiR to describe the terrible death. The studio audience reacted with nervous silence, and even some of her diehard fans took to Twitter to denounce the idiotic remark. Have to admit, I'm not a Wendy Williams fan, especially after the Love Triangle fail. But this seems like a new low even for her.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Grim news

Normally this blog is all about fun and games. But there's much grimmer news today related to our little genre.

Amie Harwick, former fiancé of The Price is Right's Drew Carey, has died in an apparent homicide. She was in a tempestuous relationship with another man named Gareth Pursehouse. The LAPD arrested Pursehouse after Ms. Harwick died from an assault at her apartment, and he's being held on $2 million bail.

I wrote about the relationship between Drew Carey and Amie Harwick a while back. The linked story says that the couple planned to marry but later broke up. Ms. Harwick's life then clearly took a disastrous turn. She filed a restraining order against her alleged assailant, but to no avail. R.I.P.

UPDATE: TMZ reports that The Price is Right has canceled this week's tapings. Drew Carey issued this statement...

Amie and I had a love that people are lucky to have once in a lifetime. She was a positive force in the world, a tireless and unapologetic champion for women, and passionate about her work as a therapist. I am overcome with grief. I would like to thank you in advance for giving myself and everyone who loved Amie privacy while we try to work through this tragic situation.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Mr. Clark

Another slow Sunday sent me to the random page button on U.S. Game Shows Wiki.

Back came the entry on a gentleman you've probably heard about, Dick Clark. I have to say that the entry is disappointingly brief for such an important figure in game shows and American TV in general. The wiki does manage to note that Dick hosted various versions of Pyramid. They also offer lists of other game shows he hosted and produced. This guy was all over the genre back in the day.

Clark was always a relaxed, competent presence on the shows he hosted. Nothing seemed to ruffle him, not even when William Shatner went berserk and trashed the Winners Circle.

The linked story offers an interesting quote from Dick Clark. I'm not a big game show fan, but I was on every one of those [Pyramid] shows for over seven years and I never lost interest in that game. And that's saying something for a guy with a short attention span.

For somebody who wasn't a fan, he sure had a hand in a lot of game shows. He deserves a bigger entry on the game shows wiki.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

HQ hits the dustbin

I never learn my lesson. Stories about online game show HQ draw almost zero attention from my readers, according to comment counts and per-entry viewer totals. But I'm posting a faux tweet, a video embed and a full blog entry about HQ today. Maybe I'm trying to drive away readers, no?

First, I should say that HQ is a former game show. It's getting canceled and the company behind the show is going out of business. That's why I'm spending so much time on a subject that my readers apparently couldn't care less about. But what the hey, the decline and fall of HQ is an occasion for solemn thoughts on how all things must pass. (Right, George Harrison? He has sadly passed, too.)

It's always been a dream of game show producers to launch a completely interactive show where the entire audience can participate. For a while it looked like HQ had seized the dream, as literally millions of viewers turned up to watch and play on the quizzer. But corporate infighting, game cheaters, a bunch of copycat shows, the dismissal of popular host Scott Rogowsky, and the drug-overdose death of co-founder Colin Kroll all contributed to the project's demise.

No doubt these factors were important in the show's downfall, but I think the main culprit was the simple caprice of the viewing and playing public. People just got tired of the trivia fest and audience numbers cratered. The company behind HQ tried other game shows, but none of them worked once the bored public had moved on to the next fad, whatever it might be.

Maybe somebody will come up with a new twist on an interactive game show that will make it more than a passing novelty. But for now the HQ story is finished.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Alfonso talks about his previous life

Alfonso Ribeiro hangs out on GSN lately with Catch 21. But you may have heard about his previous life on Fresh Prince.

He doesn't expect a return to the fabled sitcom. Alfonso told Wendy Williams that a reboot of Fresh Prince would be impossible because there's not enough money to lure Will Smith back to the small screen. Will Smith is not coming back to TV, y'all. They can't pay him, right? That's never gonna happen.

Probably not, now that I think about it. On a grimmer note, Alfonso noted that the death of James Avery would leave any possible reboot adrift. And there is no show without James Avery, he was the anchor to that show.

He then segued into promoting a game show reboot, his own Catch 21. Alfonso, Witney and friends have a new season coming this year, and it doesn't hurt to talk it up.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Chili with the G.O.A.T.

People who read this blog know that my hometown is Cincinnati, though I haven't lived there for thirty years.

One thing a Cincinnati native never forgets is Cincinnati chili. This is a one-of-a-kind concoction that combines spaghetti, cheese, onions, beans and a special kind of thin, not so spicy, almost sweet chili. Wikipedia offers an insanely complete article about the dish.

So what does this have to do with game shows? As it happens, Jeopardy's Ken Jennings puts out a podcast with sidekick John Roderick. The latest installment chats about Cincinnati chili among other kinds of chili.

Ken has never tried the dish himself. But he did watch somebody else eat it once, and he was "appalled." Clearly, this guy doesn't appreciate the finer things in life. My family still eats the stuff here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We get cans of the special chili from the local Kroger's and combine it with spaghetti and onions and cheese...and then we chow down.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Taking your baggage to court

Once upon a time GSN ran Baggage, which I always thought was one of the very best descendants of the ancient Dating Game. The show played off the suitcase reveal gimmick of Deal or No Deal for a fun half-hour of dating-based gamesmanship. Baggage lasted on GSN for over 300 episodes, partly because it skewed very young by the network's geriatric standards.

Of course, the host was the irrepressible (or insufferable, depending on your point of view) Jerry Springer. Much to the relief of the contestants there were no fisticuffs on Baggage, unlike Jerry's raucous talk show. As many of you probably know, the talk show is mercifully gone but Jerry soldiers on with a syndie court show.

I'm not a big fan of such faux-legal projects, but we all gotta make a living. Springer has earned a renewal for his Judge Jerry effort, and he promises that he won't seek a Supreme Court appointment. In fact, Jerry has always harbored political ambitions. He was once mayor of my hometown Cincinnati. But the talk show pretty much finished off that possible career.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Ratings: Alex is king of the hill

Not much change for syndie game shows in the week of January 27-February 2. But Alex did manage to get back to the top of the chart. And there was a bit of movement where I least expected it. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Jeopardy 6.3 - up a tick to #1
Wheel of Fortune 6.2 - flat
Family Feud 6.1 - down a tick, maybe we need another daily run!
25 Words or Less 1.0 - flat
America Says 0.7 - flat
Funny You Should Ask 0.4 - down a tick, it finally moved but not in the right way

Pretty much the same as the previous week for GSN. The network drew 408K/297K viewers prime time/total day for the week of February 3-9. GSN ranked 26th and 21st in the windows. One other note: our little game show network got 85K/59K 25-54 viewers prime time/total day.

While I'm on GSN, I said that Get a Clue fell off the Show Buzz Daily charts. Well, Rob Belushi and friends made the latest chart for February 10 with 302K viewers. Not terrible but far from Common Knowledge at 501K viewers.

A schedule change for GSN: now that America Says is out of new eps, the network will move the triple run of the show from 9:00 PM on weekdays to 7:00 PM.

Monday, February 10, 2020


So I was innocently (or guiltily) watching a Cash Cab rerun from 2010 on GSN yesterday. And Ben uncorked this question: In 2003 Game Show Network unveiled an 11 foot bobblehead named Chucklehead in honor of what iconic host?

To betray what a cluttered mind I have, I knew the answer to this question. As the screenshot indicates, in 2003 GSN rolled out a large bobbling image of Chuck Woolery. He was the host of "seventeen" shows on the network at the time, as Pat Sajak once said on Wheel of Fortune. For whatever reason - probably because they never watched GSN - the contestants on the Cash Cab ep thought the bobblehead was of Johnny Carson.

Ben told them that they should have thought about game show hosts. (Though Johnny did host the ancient Who Do You Trust.) Little did the contestants know that their goof would show up later on, of all places, GSN.

Which got me thinking about the history of our little game show network. In 2001 GSN was in desperate straits and near collapse. Sony sold a half-interest in the network to Liberty Media and brought in a new exec team of Rich Cronin and Bob Boden to save the operation. As it turned out, Chuck Woolery was a big part of GSN's subsequent turnaround with a little word game named Lingo and a lot of his old shows in reruns. GSN even ran a reality series called Naturally Stoned about the guy, which was actually the immediate inspiration for the large bobblehead.

Of course, GSN survived and has even snuck into the top twenty cable nets in the latest week. Sony has reacquired the interest in the network they sold in 2001. Chuck Woolery eventually went on to political punditry, where (as political pundits do) he has garnered much praise and much distaste. And on Cash Cab reruns his bobblehead is still recalled. Though I have no idea where the bobble creation is today.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

New season for Catch 21

No surprise but Catch 21 will be back with new eps this year. A Las Vegas Sun story says the show is looking for local contestants to tape new episodes in May and June. The story mentions that Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson will return as the host and dealer.

While the reboot hasn't produced enormous ratings for GSN, the numbers have certainly been respectable. The new episodes of the reboot have often landed on the top 150 charts at Show Buzz Daily. The story doesn't say how many episodes GSN will tape in the new batch, but there will probably be plenty of them.

There are the usual rules and requests. Contestants must be at least 18 years old. And GSN looks for "people with great personality from all walks of life who want to have some fun." So if you don't have much of a personality and you don't want to have fun, well...

I assume that America Says and Common Knowledge will also get new seasons sooner or later. The show on the bubble may be Get a Clue, which fell off the Show Buzz Daily charts quickly. Not to mention that GSN is apparently taping Master Minds, the reworked Best Ever Trivia Show. We'll see what happens with all the originals.