Thursday, March 23, 2017

Geniuses at play

Just watched one of the debut episodes of Bracket Genius on ESPN2. It's pretty much College Bowl. Teams from various institutions of higher learning go at each other in a briskly paced quizzer.

There are some differences. The teams wear college shirts instead of business clothes. There are four teams each episode and they play two preliminary rounds, with the winners facing off in the final elimination round. And Trey Wingo hosts instead of Robert Earle, who is 91 and probably wouldn't want the job.

There's no studio audience, which creates a hushed, library-like atmosphere. Wingo tries to liven things up with frequent wisecracks and exhortations to trailing teams, but the show does seem a little too studious and quiet. The set has a lot of faux red brick and decorated blackboards, including prominently displayed sponsors' names. (Hi there, Geico!)

The college kids are friendly and appealing, and it's impossible to root against any of them. One team will win a hundred grand at the end of the tournament, so good luck to everybody.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Final gong

Chuck Barris, the madcap producer who gave us Dating Game, Newlywed Game and Gong Show, has died at age 87.

Chuckie baby had long since faded from public view, really since the demise of Gong Show in 1980. He wrote some books and invented a ridiculous story about spy exploits, but otherwise he pretty much dropped out of sight. The movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, about his fictional CIA career, brought a small wave of attention in 2003, but it was a minor bit of fame at best.

His shows have lived on, though. Newlywed Game went through many permutations, and reruns of Sherri Shepherd's version still turn up on GSN in the wee hours. ABC has reportedly ordered a revival of Gong Show, and Dating Game has spawned so many variants - game shows and reality shows - that it would be silly to try to count them all.

Barris gloried in his tastelessness, so there's no reason to rehash all the arguments about how he lowered whatever standards TV might have. He was the unabashed King of Schlock and loved every minute, though he would sometimes get defensive about his less than shining reputation. His personal life was stained by tragedy when his only child died of a drug overdose. He once said, only half-jokingly, that his tombstone would read "Gonged at last." R.I.P.

Another day, another goof

Some people have been known to like naked desire. It just doesn't work so well on Wheel of Fortune.

The game show Internets are chortling - they're laughing a lot, too - over the latest contestant goof on Pat and Vanna's little word game. Some poor schmoe named Kevin (I can't find his last name right now and I really don't want to) blew the puzzle in the screenshot. As observers noted, you don't have to be Tennessee Williams to fill in the "m" for the classic play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Instead, Kevin went with "k" for naked desire, which does make some sense. One Twitter denizen noted that A Streetcar Naked Desire is apparently the porn version of the Williams play. I wouldn't know about such things, of course.

I do enjoy Pat's sharply pronounced "no" after the hilarious goof. Except I feel a little guilty about joining in the harsh laughter. The poor contestant has just entered the game show hall of shame, and there's no exit. (Isn't that something from Sartre?)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ratings: close at the top for syndies

TV News Check went back to their usual format for syndie ratings. They gave the changes from the previous week instead of the previous year's sweeps period. The top three syndie game shows were within three tenths of a point of each other. The tight race in household ratings...

Family Feud 6.7 - down three ticks from the previous week
Wheel of Fortune 6.5 - up three ticks
Jeopardy 6.4 - up a couple ticks to help create the close race
Millionaire 1.7 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat, as it heads for Nielsen Boot Hill

Of course, the race is unfair because Wheel of Fortune only gets one run per day to generate all its ratings. But you knew that already, I hope.

GSN turned in its usual numbers for the week of March 13-19. 417K/291K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 35th in the windows.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Crushed?

A British radio site is wondering just what CBS will do with its Candy Crush game show, due this summer. In other words, how will they translate the app into a TV show?

At first the site thinks the network will stick pretty close to the app's gameplay. "Sounds like we're basically gonna be watching people play Candy Crush on massive iPads to be totally honest, but we're staying open to the idea that it could actually be genius." Frankly, the massive iPads idea doesn't sound too genius-y to me, or to whoever wrote the blurb on the site. So they entertain other notions, like a combo with another well-known project.

"The show is being created by one of the producers behind the hilarious obstacle course show Wipeout, so maybe it's gonna be a hybrid of that and some Candy Crush-based app fun?" This sounds like a definite possibility, with contestants careening around those "enormous, interactive game boards" promised by CBS. Except it's hard to imagine how they might work the big balls into Candy Crush.

We'll see soon enough. The debut is set for July 9. Get those enormous game boards ready.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Comment on comments

It's a slow weekend, so I'll get meta and self-referential in this post. I'll discuss comments on this blog.

A long-time commenter is mad at me over a warning I gave her about a comment on a post a while back. You can rummage around for the thread if you're interested. It's important to note that I didn't delete the comment. I just posted a mildly worded warning because I thought the comment pushed one of the few lines I've drawn in the "Legalities and Technicalities" at the end of this blog.

I run a loose ship on comments. There are only a few rules, and I'm pretty soft on enforcing them. In particular, you can criticize me all day long - and some commenters do exactly that - without getting anything deleted or even warned about. I will sometimes respond to criticism because I have a right to comment, too. But I rarely delete anything or even warn about anything, though I might think a comment is silly, unfair or obnoxious.

So please read the rules at the end of the blog and comment all you want. It's easy to follow the rules and still have plenty of room for complaints, comments or compliments, as the image says.

UPDATE: Oh jeez, I had to gently warn another commenter in the same thread. Didn't delete his comment, though. It's a loose ship.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jerry's story

On its never ending journey, The Price is Right's live show comes to Montgomery, AL. And quiet old Jerry Springer hosts.

Jerry's been known to talk occasionally, and in the linked interview he chats about how he got started in the live TPiR business. It was sort of an accident. He took the America's Got Talent winners on tours now and then. The company which ran that operation also ran the live TPiR show, so they asked Springer to host it. Along with Todd Newton and Mark Walberg and others, he's been doing the live show "since 2011 or 2012".

Jerry zeroes in the secret of TPiR's success, whether it's the live or studio version. "Everyone has an opinion on how much a can of soup costs. That right away draws everyone in. You can play the game the first time you watch it." True enough, but I'm terrible with prices myself. I would be the world's worst TPiR player.

The interview then ambles onto other subjects. Jerry's thrilled to be a grandpa, in case you were wondering.

Friday, March 17, 2017

NBC summer games

The broadcast networks are rolling out their summer schedules. A faux tweet noted the CBS premiere of Candy Crush on July 9.

Now NBC has announced the return dates for two game shows. The Wall, which got the best ratings of any of the winter broadcast game shows, comes back on June 22 for its second season. NBC brags about the show's nice Nielsen news, which is understandable. The Plinko ripoff is more entertaining than it should be. Stealing a good idea can pay off nicely.

Hollywood Game Night, which I figured was pretty much done on NBC, returns on August 7 for a fifth go-round. There's not much good Nielsen news to brag about here, but the network has to burn off the unaired eps sooner or later. NBC has already sold the reruns to GSN, as our little game show network recently announced.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hippety hoppety

Finally got around to watching Hip Hop Squares on the VH1 web site. I sampled the first episode.

Long story short: it's okay. There are a couple things I don't like. For some reason there are no civvie contestants. Instead a couple of (minor) celebs play for civvies from the audience. Uh no, let the civvies play for themselves. The second goof is a random bonus round that seems like the most after of afterthoughts.

Otherwise, the show is entertaining enough. The basic Hollywood Squares format remains intact, and the set has been spiffed up. They've even got dancers hip hopping around. DeRay Davis, looking a tad heavier than in his GSN Mind of a Man days, hosts amiably enough, though he seems over-caffeinated.

The questions were all about the tackier parts of pop culture, including various body parts. With one exception: one question actually quoted the Declaration of Independence. And that's not a bluff.

Meanwhile, the most important review - from the Nielsen Company - was favorable for the first two eps. About two million viewers and 18-49 ratings at or above the big one-point-oh.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ten years

Yeah, it's been nearly a decade since Drew Carey took over The Price is Right.

Gold Derby, which seems to be a pop culture site, interviews Drew about starting on TPiR and a lot of other things. They even get into the nuts and bolts of various pricing games. But the best stuff is the natural fear that Drew experienced when he took over for the Legendary Bob. "It wasn't about being as good as Bob Barker because I knew I was going to be different no matter what. If I do this show, am I going to screw it up and get it cancelled? That's all I didn't want to do was to be the one that ruined it."

He then goes to laugh about how some people think he's ruined the show, anyway. Maybe he's been reading Golden Road. Then the interview drifts onto other things, like Drew's first appearance on Johnny Carson's show back in 1991.

As it happens, I saw that ep a while ago on Antenna TV. After Drew's standup act, Carson waved him over to the couch and told him that he was "funny as hell." It was true.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

More on GSN's sort of upfront

Sometimes it helps to have friends in certain places.

A kindly person at GSN sent me the press release for the sort of upfront the network will run in April. For the most part the release only confirms what the linked story in yesterday's post discussed. But there are a few more tidbits about GSN's development slate. In addition to Blast Your Past, the network lists three other developing projects...

D.I.Why. Contestants try to follow instructions from videos. Really, that's the concept. It's a stunt show, obviously, with the usual ticking clock. Josh Ostrovsky hosts.

The Tower. You might call this the Towering Inferno of Trivia. Contestants answer questions while building a tower on a "giant video game board." At least it's not a teensy-weensy video game board.

Pointless. Yeah, the U.K. show (see screenshot). Rumors about a GSN version have floated around for a while, and it's now officially in development.

One more funny note. The e-mail with the press release commented: "I was secretly laughing to myself when I read a few weeks ago that you thought Hollywood Game Night would be a good addition for the network because I knew it was imminent. Anyway, I wanted to confirm your excellent instincts!"

Gee, it was just a guess. But thanks for the compliment.

UPDATE: Some things never change. Game Show Forum finally deigns to note GSN's sort of upfront. Typical comment: "I can't wait to see how they butcher Pointless given The Chase and Divided."

Believe it or not, even GSF rated The Chase in their top fifty list, the one (1) show from the last ten years to make the grade for the oldies board to end all oldies boards. Even Cash Cab couldn't make the list because they picked so many obscure mediocrities (or worse) with decades of dust on them. Some rigged shows actually made the list. Talk about butchering the entire genre.

Ratings: Millionaire likes February sweeps

TV News Check did their usual comparison of syndie game shows to the year-ago February sweeps. The big percentage gainer was Millionaire, thanks to better time slots and an even-keel host. Pat and Vanna weren't so lucky. The February sweeps household ratings, with the changes from last year...

Family Feud 7.4 - up three ticks, and one more reminder that Steve gets to add up all his daily runs
Wheel of Fortune 6.7 - down four ticks, and one more reminder that it only gets one daily run
Jeopardy 6.6 - down a tick
Millionaire 1.7 - up three ticks in the big percentage move
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - down a tick as if it matters any more

After a mildly encouraging start, Caraoke Showdown has hit the skids (sorry). The latest ep got 202K viewers and a 0.06 18-49 rating. It's not going to get a renewal at those levels.

GSN had a pretty average week by recent standards for March 6-12. 400K/285K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 40th and 33rd in the windows.