Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More on the end of a game show

On Game Show Paradise I yak some more about the end of Let’s Ask America

Other poster: All [the joy over the axing] does is perpetuate the completely untrue image of the 'Internet fans' as a collective of self-entitled, neo-Luddite traditionalists who react to the words 'new' and 'different' in approximately the same way a mongoose reacts to a cobra.

That's a completely untrue image? Um, okay. Anyway, as I said in the blog entry, I liked Let's Ask America and wish it could have done better in syndication and on GSN. The three-year run is a little misleading. The show only lasted that long because Scripps stations were more or less stuck with the in-house product. Nobody else wanted the show much at all, and after a while even the Scripps stations weren't interested.

As for Bill Bellamy replacing Kevin Pereira, I thought the change was desperation, an attempt to find the next Steve Harvey (who never seems to come along). Millionaire has tried the same Hail Mary, with predictably poor results. As Baba Wawa might say, wumors are wunning wampant that Millionaire will soon follow Let's Ask America into that Nielsen good night.

One more thing: a commenter at the BuzzerBlog Facebook page wanted Let's Ask America replaced on GSN with classics. The elegant reply: "Why can't you guys watch that s--t on YouTube?" And for some reason, I'm always the guy who gets slammed as anti-classic. Oh well, who said life is fair (wink)?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ratings: daylight savings does syndies no good

Don't you love turning the clocks back, or forward, or however the hey we have to turn them twice a year? Syndie game shows sure didn't like the onset of daylight savings time. Every one of them got clobbered for the week of March 9-15. TV News Check brings the grim household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 6.8 - down nine ticks to tie the loud judge for the lead among all syndies
Jeopardy 6.7 - down seven ticks to end just a hair behind the soulmate
Family Feud 6.4 - down six ticks, this is getting tedious
Millionaire 1.7 - down a couple ticks to tie a season low
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - what else, down a couple ticks

TV by the Numbers says that the top three still led all syndies in total viewers despite DST. The viewer averages: Wheel of Fortune 10.9M (weekend repeat 4.0M), Jeopardy 10.2M (weekend repeat 3.2M), Family Feud 9.9M. As always, pay no heed to the silly six-fold numbers for Weekend Adventure.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Let's not ask America

As far back as January, Paige Albiniak was dropping hints in Broadcasting and Cable that Let's Ask America might be heading for the final Nielsen question. Paige doesn't make things up. She's usually very well informed on the syndie market, and she was right again this time. Let's Ask America is getting the ax after its third season.

Another sign of impending doom was the failure of the Bill Bellamy eps to turn up on GSN, as announced last summer. The first two seasons of Kevin Pereira episodes didn't do much business on GSN and soon went into late night exile. The show won't even have that slot starting March 30.

I liked the show and thought it was a fun variant of the survey format. But the numbers were always modest at best and Let's Ask America never expanded much beyond a handful of Scripps stations. Originally intended as a cheap substitute for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, the show just didn't find enough of an audience. The much ballyhooed switch from Pereira to Bellamy as host for the third season didn't help.

Still no word on another season for Millionaire. The ratings have continued to droop with Terry Crews, which is not a good sign.

Chess ladies

Haven't done anything non-trad for a while, so I'll put in a word for Internet chess.

Which is at least a game, unlike improv comedy or some of the other stuff covered on other "game show" sites. Right now FIDE is running a knockout tournament - don't worry, they're not literally knocking each other out - for the women's world championship. The tourney started with 64 players a few days ago and it's now down to the round of 16. The players face each other in two-game matches with rapid and blitz tie-breaks if necessary.

The Internet broadcast is okay but not too entertaining. A dour Ukrainian grandmaster named Evgenij Miroshnichenko comments accurately but drily on the games. Elisabeth Pähtz, who was knocked out in the tournament's first round, assists in the commentary. But she's not nearly as funny as she was at the Gibraltar Open earlier this year. Miroshnichenko's severity seems to have rubbed off on her.

The whole issue of women's chess has always been a sore point. FIDE sort of has to run women's tournaments because there are only two female players in the world's top 100 (and none in the top 50). But that glaring gender imbalance produces much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Once more through all the dreck

Via the game show board at Sitcoms Online, I saw this long blog post about The Price is Right's tangled legal history. I'll spare you all the stuff you probably know too much about. Instead, I'll just get to the blogger's bottom line:
The show has still continued to get its fair share of lawsuits from its models, including a pregnancy lawsuit and a sexual harassment lawsuit...Ever since the Beauty scandals started up I viewed Barker much differently...He didn't treat his Beauties very kindly. He can't be that nice of a guy.
The blogger seems not to notice how the first part of his conclusion undermines, in a way, the second part. Since the post-Barker TPiR continues to get lawsuits from the show's models - and, boy, do the writs keep coming - it would tend to indicate that Barker was not the real issue. The show may just be legal crapola waiting to happen, no matter who the host is. After all, you've got a lot of lovely models, a successful show making a ton of money, and a bunch of Hollywood contingency fee lawyers hovering in the wings. Sounds like the perfect storm for courtroom proceedings.

I long ago lost interest in the legal contretemps. On this blog I cover TPiR's legal wranglings when there's a notable twist or turn in the endless saga. But I can't say I enjoy it.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The fictional Pat and Vanna?

There's no excuse for the picture of Cheryl Ladd, except to note that she will play a game show hostess on Showtime's Ray Donovan.

Playing opposite her "as an obnoxious and self-important game show host" will be soap actor Jack Wagner. Just one whiny question: why are game show hosts so often portrayed as crummy characters you wouldn't want anywhere near your living room? This lamentable trend dates back at least to Richard Dawson's eeeeeeeeeeeevil turn as the master of the sinister ceremonies in 1987's Running Man.

Sure, some game show hosts may be insufferable. I wouldn't know, I've never met any of them. But so often their fictional counterparts are comic jerks at best and vicious heavies at worst. Gee, you'd think that script writers have something against unscripted entertainment. Hm...

No matter, I won't be watching Mr. Wagner as the obnoxious and self-important person. I don't get Showtime. I'm sure he'll do a nice job in the role, though.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bundle up

Happened to see this story about Canada's regulators forcing cable operators to unbundle channels. The writer thinks this is just swell, except that there could be a lot fewer cable channels in the future. How this outcome would be so swell is not made clear.

An odd comment in the story: GSN is one of the "least-watched" channels the writer will be happy to see die. I don't know how well our little game show network is doing in the frozen North, but down here GSN is a top thirty network. I guess the Canuck isn't much of a game show fan.

Unbundling is coming to the States, too. And it could have a real impact on the eventual range of cable options available to viewers. GSN might survive the less bundled future, but a lot of small, offbeat networks could face a grimmer fate. For a long time TV viewers were stuck with the crushing NBC-CBS-ABC broadcast triopoly. Are we going backwards to that glorious era of enforced lack of choice?

A lot of broadcast execs wouldn't mind that outcome. I'm not sure how many TV viewers will be thrilled.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A bomb full of slime

The title of this entry doesn't sound promising for a new show. But Fox's Boom is coming June 25, whether or not America is ready for exploding slime bombs.

This Israeli import has been bouncing (or bombing) around Fox for while. A year ago there were reports of internal conflict over the project, with sales guys shying from the terrorism-related issues. That rumpus seems to have settled down, as the show looks to take a more lighthearted Double Dare-ish slimy approach.

Host Tom Papa is already making the media rounds talking up the show. "Even though it's a fake Wile E. Coyote bomb, they have a chance to win real money. There's something really intense about it. This money could change people's lives. And they're cutting this wire. It's very real."

It better be real or the S&P people will do an Our Little Genius act and end the proceedings. As goofy as the format sounds, I'm kind of looking forward to Boom. I always liked the slime splashes on Double Dare.