Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ratings: really ho-hum week for syndies

There may have been more boring weeks for syndie game show ratings, but I can't remember them. Four of the shows were unchanged for the week of May 9-15, and the other moved by an entire tenth of a point. TV News Check has all the tedious household ratings...

Family Feud 7.0 - flat
Wheel of Fortune 6.3 - flat
Jeopardy 6.0 - up a tick, the big mover!
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - flat
Millionaire 1.3 - guess what, flat

As the weather warmed up, GSN enjoyed a hot week (sorry) for May 16-22. 518K/319K/503K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 31st, 30th and 32nd in the windows.

The prime time and extended prime time ratings are almost all Harvey Family Feud. So much for the predictions of Harvey burnout I keep seeing on the traditionalist game show Interwebs. The Internet boards love to trash Steve, and that means exactly nothing in the real world.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Get real, as in reality TV

Just watched the first of The Price is Right's prime time specials. It was one long plug for Survivor, which I didn't mind because the basic gameplay was pretty much the same as always. We just had a bunch of castaways hanging around, plus Jeff Probst doing stuff like extinguishing torches for the unluckier contestants.

Survivor stars - I guess you would call them "stars," right? - teamed up with Survivor fans to face the pricing games. The first pair was that hairy Rupert guy, who's definitely developing a bald spot, and an admiring fan. They didn't do so great, but you can't win 'em all.

The show cranked on as usual, though the prizes might have been a bit ritzier than on your typical daytime TPiR episode. I've never been big on shopping game shows because my knowledge of the price of anything is very limited. But the accustomed pace and noise and celebrations kept my interest.

CBS did the special no favors by scheduling it against The Voice and Dancing With the Stars. But even if I'm not the biggest TPiR fan, I'd rather watch the fun and games instead of wannabe singers or wannabe dancers. What can I tell you? I'm a game show fan.

UPDATE: The special does okay in the ratings, though it obviously lagged behind the competition on NBC and ABC. Drew and company score 6.2M total viewers with a 1.3 18-49 rating. Those were CBS's best numbers for the night.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A try at the wheel

The Wheelmobile pulled into Wichita, KS and lots of wannabe Wheel of Fortune contestants turned out.

The Pat and Vanna of the tryouts are Marty Lublin and Meggan Kaiser. They run a low-tech version of the show - Meggan has to write the letters, not just touch the screens - to see who can figure out the puzzles. (At least Pat can't yell that Meggan just touches the letters and they light up for her!)

The wannabes are mostly true fans. "I've wanted to be on Wheel of Fortune, The Price Is Right – any game show – all my life. This is like pure bliss just being here." The video in the linked story does show lots of folks getting excited as the tryouts kick off. There's even a note about how one fan found her fiancé through the Wheel Facebook app. Love blossoms through game shows. Ain't it grand?

The Wheelmobile will be in Wichita all weekend. Come one, come all.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

And now a problem from our sponsor

A Media Village opinion column reminisces about the supposedly good old days when a single sponsor could dominate a game show.

The writer says that such single sponsorship offered a lot of advantages to the folks paying the freight. No doubt it did, as the show became more or less one long ad for whoever was footing the bill. As the writer puts it...
Sponsorship was a rarefied status back in the day, meaning that advertisers and their agencies had major input into and control over the series to the point where in many instances they owned the programming.
Yes, that's definitely true. But it did lead to the unpleasantness back in the 1950s, when some sponsors decided that straight game shows might be too boring or unappealing.

So the sponsors pressured the producers to make sure that the gameplay was staged dramatically and the more telegenic contestants won. We all know what happened next.

The opinion column somehow omits all this less than edifying history. In fact, the rigging scandals burned the broadcast networks so bad that they made sure no sponsor could have direct control over a game show. Which is something to keep in mind when you read the column in Media Village.

Friday, May 20, 2016

What a good show!

In a little noticed change, GSN switched out reruns of Whammy at 11:00 AM for reruns of Lingo. Which gave me the first chance in quite a while to watch Chuck Woolery and the five-letter puzzles on a TV screen. And what a good show Lingo was.

When I was in the habit of putting together top ten lists of game shows, I'd often include GSN's original Lingo. Not that I didn't like the Bill Engvall reboot - which was unfairly maligned, in my opinion - but the original was just about perfect. The format had everything you could want in a game show. Clever gameplay, a quick pace, lots of play-along value, an assured and competent host, even some touches of humor. What's not to like?

Woolery's GSN version was so good that even a few posters at Game Show Forum - not given to praising any show with less than three decades on it - have favored it over the 1987 original. Of course, GSN's version was a tremendous improvement over that slow, clunky first incarnation of Lingo with Michael Reagan. But it's still almost treasonous on the oldies board to end all oldies boards to favor such a recent version of any game show. (Sure, other posters on the board have disagreed with this heresy. But it's telling that anybody at Game Show Forum would dare to prefer a version with relatively little age on it.)

Strangely enough, one of the few real controversies about the show erupted over the female co-hosts. The Lingo eps currently running on GSN feature Shandi Finnessey. I don't mind the eye candy she provides, plus the bookkeeping chores she handles for Chuck. On the famous other hand, my wife wishes she would shut up and go away. Even the best shows can't please everybody about everything.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Jezebel, the web site that puts the cat into catty, is upset over Jeopardy's latest celeb player stunt.

Over the years I've groused a lot about Jeopardy's sweeps stunts, so I can't really complain when Jezebel joins in. But as you might expect, the meow-ing site gets personal with the catcalls (sorry). Under the title "Celebrities Should Not Play Jeopardy," one of Jezebel's more feline critics - and that's saying something - dumps on Anderson Cooper, Lara Logan and Michael Steele for their less than stellar gameplay.

The odd thing is that the critic undermines her own thesis by praising another set of celeb players - Chuck Todd, S.E. Cupp and Jonathan Franzen - for their good gameplay. So I guess her real position is: "Celebrities Who Are Bad At Jeopardy Should Not Play Jeopardy." I can agree with that. But then civvies who are bad at Jeopardy shouldn't play the game, either.

As I've written a zillion times, the only Jeopardy stunt that means much is the Tournament of Champions. But when the show tries for a few extra ratings tenths with some celeb contestants, I can live with it. Sure, some of the celebs won't do so great at the game. But you can say the same about lots of other contestants who have tried the tough format.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Richard the jerk

A faux tweet linked to a WGN podcast from Nick Digilio that rambles through a discussion of various old game shows.

The main topic is the stupid parting gifts that losers got. But Nick and company range over a wide variety of classic game show arcana. In particular, Digilio dumps on Richard Dawson for being a jerk on Match Game after he got the host gig on Family Feud.

I've done some of that dumping myself over the years. There's no doubt that Dawson was visibly and audibly sour during his last three years on Match Game. But you gotta remember that Dawson's schedule was getting crowded with Feud romping as the number one game show. Match Game must have seemed like more and more of a chore to him, and nobody likes to do chores.

The podcast also rips the old Wheel of Fortune for spending so much time on shopping for silly overpriced merchandise. At least the show has cut out that nonsense now, much to everybody's relief. There's also the standard complaint that Buzzr repeats episodes too much. Well, as another faux tweet noted, the subchannel will run some "new" eps of Monty Hall's Let's Make a Deal next month.