Saturday, April 29, 2017

Future shock

Several future shows in our little genre have gotten faux tweets lately. Time to sum up the coming attractions in a blog entry.

First, Mike Myers will host ABC's Gong Show reboot, due June 22. Only Myers will be playing Tommy Maitland, beloved British comedian who's actually a fictional character. Myers' face will look stuffed, as the screenshot indicates.

Game Show Newsnet points out that John Cervenka played a fictional host on Burt Luddin's Love Buffet. Let's hope that the ABC show is better than the worst original GSN ever inflicted on a suffering world. Or maybe the very worst original was GSN's own version of the gongers, Extreme Gong. I'll let you decide.

Meanwhile, BET will try Face Value, where contestants guess things about strangers based only on their appearance. As I said in the faux tweets, this looks like Identity, the short-lived NBC show hosted (poorly) by Penn Jillette. Except BET's press release sounds like they'll add some social justice warrior-ing to the mix. At least Deon Cole will host as himself, and not as a beloved fictional Brit comedian.

Finally, GSN is promoting Emogenius with a teaser that somehow makes emojis look interesting. It's a visual puzzle game reminiscent of Idiotest, a show that has served the network well. I was mostly hopeless on the sample puzzles, though I did nail Churchill Downs.

Friday, April 28, 2017

One way of looking at game shows

An automotive site has its own angle on game shows.

The linked story grinds its gears through seven "car-themed" game shows. It's a stretch to include The Price is Right, but the show does hand out a lot of automobiles. So does Let's Make a Deal, which could have made the list by the TPiR logic.

Cash Cab gets on the list, too. Well, the game did happen in a taxi. Shotgun was another variant of the game-on-wheels format. Contestants had to answer questions while professional drivers were steering them around a speedway at alarming velocity.

Pass Time was the closest approach to a truly car-centric show. The players had to predict on-set drag race times. Rounding out the list are three non-U.S. shows, which I never saw and really can't comment on. The Canadian children's show Kidstreet does sound like a cute format, though.

Needless to say but I'll say it anyway, a NEW CAR has always been the dream prize on game shows. There's just something about that new car smell.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Something of a surprise: David Goldhill is stepping down as CEO of our little game show network GSN.

Goldhill was only the third chief exec in GSN's more than twenty-year history. As the linked story notes, he oversaw GSN's most prosperous times, leading to the network's most watched and highest rated year in 2015. The following year was almost as good, so it doesn't look like Goldhill is getting pushed out.

After Michael Fleming was shown the door in 2001, Rich Cronin took over GSN and managed to steer the once dicey network to profitability. Goldhill started his reign in 2007, and the sailing was not too smooth at first. GSN finally started churning out better numbers on both the ratings charts and the financial books, and Goldhill seemed safe in his job.

But nothing lasts forever (clunking cliche alert) and Goldhill has decided to move on. Co-owners Sony and AT&T will start looking for a new chief exec to run both the TV and gaming operations.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ratings: bad week for the soulmates

Syndie game shows have seen better weeks. Pat and Vanna and Alex had a lot to complain about, and nobody else had much to cheer about. TV News Check has the household ratings for the week of April 10-16...

Family Feud 6.4 - flat
Wheel of Fortune 5.7 - down four ticks
Jeopardy 5.5 - down four ticks, again moving in tandem with Wheel
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - down a tick as the days dwindle away

GSN didn't have much to crow about, either. 327K/245K viewers prime time/total day for the April 17-23 week. I assume Hollywood Game Night wasn't a big hit. The network ranked 42nd and 38th in the windows. Worst week in quite a while.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Outer space

Haven't seen Wink Martindale for a while, but he's now achieved a bit of commercial fame. A KFC commercial, to be exact.

Wink passes in a blink (sorry for the rhyme) so you have to be awake. The commercial itself is kind of sappy, a parody of JFK's "we're going to the moon" announcement from the '60s. The video has earned a lot of dislikes on YouTube and many less than glowing comments. "Dumbest f---ing advertising ever" is a typically elegant remark.

At least one alert commenter notes Wink's brief presence, so it's nice that some people out there remember him. The Winkster is well into his eighties now, and the last show he hosted was GSN's very forgettable Instant Recall in 2010. He did make a cameo appearance on The Chase in 2014, and that currently stands as his last recorded brush with our little genre.

Wink has his own YouTube channel, though it hasn't been updated for a while. There are some interesting game show oldies scattered among other videos.

Monday, April 24, 2017

More kids

Naman Shah looks like the ultimate nerd kid.

This is not a criticism, not at all. Naman just won twenty grand on Millionaire's kids week, so nerdiness literally pays off. The linked story details how Naman is the complete smart child package, right down to the impressive SAT scores. (Just for completeness, the story gives the scores on both the old and new scoring systems.)

Naman is also a member of every smart kid organization in the country, and has the predictably proud parents. His father served as his plus one lifeline on Millionaire, and helped on a question about parathogenesis. Which is something we should all know about, right?

Kids are all the rage in game shows lately, as I blogged a while back. But if our little genre gives a bit of fame and fortune to smart youngsters, that's not so terrible.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hostess with the mostest

A faux tweet noted that YouTube person SSSniperWolf will host an online game show called Clickbait for pay site Fullscreen. The teaser video in the linked story makes Clickbait look like the usual cheap, silly online game show. Which doesn't mean it will be bad, just silly and cheap. Much like me, in fact.

Turns out that the host might be more intriguing than the show. Video game maven SSSniperWolf (the SS stands for "super sexy," not the Nazi secret police) has a checkered past, to put it in very mildly checkered terms. She's gone through a name change, bouts with the law, gazillions of booty-shaking YouTube videos, and at least one bad boy lover. All this heavy traffic, plus a most pleasant appearance, has earned her millions and millions of YouTube subscribers.

It's also garnered her some highly catty criticism, especially from her fellow female gamers. This take-no-prisoners video trashes her every which way, for people who like their polemics scalding hot. There's a quote about no such thing as bad publicity, so Fullscreen probably appreciates such efforts.

Good luck with the show, Lia. Or Alia. Or Wolfie or whatever.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Math wizard

Found an odd video series on YouTube called the Math Missus.

Her real name is Sarah Smellie - honest, that's her name - and she does little math thingies for the great YouTube unwashed. The linked video goes though a couple of math (and physics) problems related to The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal.

The LMAD segment is just another rehash of the Monty Hall problem, and I've had enough of those. But the TPiR bit is more enjoyable. Sarah sets up a small version of the Plinko board and drops a bunch of ping pong balls down the center chute. This turns out to be the best way to win the ten grand, but also the best way to win $0. Moral of the story: high reward involves high risk.

Sarah doesn't mention another thing about her experiment because the math would get too involved. But the resulting distribution of the ping pong balls in the various slots looks alarmingly like a Gaussian normal distribution curve. Sure, the small sample size knocks the curve a little off-center. But all you Gauss fans - and I know you're out there - will get a small smile.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Another chapter closes

One by one the leading figures in the game show rigging scandals are dying. Another sad note: Albert Freedman, producer of Twenty One, has died at age 95.

Freedman sort of admitted to the rigging on the show and got a second-degree perjury conviction for his pains. (He served no time, of course, like all the other people involved in the scandals.) He was never overly repentant. A statement from his family says Freedman always thought that the scandal was a "witch hunt" concocted by politicos and newspapers.

You can blame lots of things on politicians and the news media, but neither forced Freedman and friends to rig game shows. Blacklisted from TV, Freedman found another job with Bob Guccione of Penthouse, of all people.

Hank Azaria played Freedman in Quiz Show, the sometimes accurate 1994 movie about the scandals. He is survived by no fewer than ten grandchildren. R.I.P.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


A faux tweet noted that Comedy Central will try a stateside version of the Brit format Taskmaster.

It's pretty much a comedic Beat the Clock, with funny (we hope) people trying funny (we hope) stunts. There's some YouTube debris from the British original if you want to get a taste of the hopeful funniness. The host will be Reggie Watts of the electrified hair and James Corden's late night show.

An honestly funny note from the linked story: the show will have nine, count 'em, nine executive producers, plus three more Executives in Charge of Production - an august title, no doubt - from Comedy Central. That makes twelve poobahs bossing around the underlings. I never knew that silly little stunts required so much high-powered supervision.

No debut date yet. Maybe the twelve showrunners haven't agreed on one.