Friday, January 20, 2017

Another game show moment?

ScreenerTV, which used to be Zap2It and TV by the Numbers, now runs a column by a guy called the Masked Scheduler.

Google tells me that his real name is Preston Beckman and he used to be a broadcast network exec, back when the broadcast networks ruled the world like the dinosaurs they are. Beckman sounds pretty dinosaur-ish himself, as he concentrates almost exclusively on the rapidly imploding world of the broadcasters.

But he worked in that world for 35 years, so he has a tough time letting go. He recently noticed our little genre for one entire sentence: "On the other hand NBC appears to have a success in The Wall and we appear to be in another Game Show moment on the networks." (The only networks Beckman cares about are the broadcasters.)

It's true that the broadcast networks are looking at game shows for their famously low production costs. CBS has been churning out hundreds of The Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal eps for years, at a fraction of the per-episode cost of bombing sitcoms and dramas. So other broadcasters are trying game shows in prime time.

There have been some recent successes: Celebrity Family Feud, 100K Pyramid, The Wall. But there have been a lot of so-so results and some outright flops as well. The difference is that game show flops don't cost jillions. Dinosaur networks can't spend like they used to.

As the zillion-channel media universe inexorably chokes the broadcasters, cheap programming will be the order of the day. So maybe the antediluvian Mr. Beckman is right about game shows getting their moment. At least the broadcasters are giving me more to write about lately.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Wall doesn't crumble

As always, the Nielsen Company has ruled on which show gets a renewal.

Of all the new and returning game shows on cable and broadcast over the past few weeks, The Wall has produced the consistently best numbers. So it's no surprise that NBC has sprung for twenty more eps of the Plinko knockoff. At least the folks at The Price is Right can be proud that their favorite pricing game has spawned the sincerest (and successful) form of flattery.

To give the NBC version its due, they have tarted up the gameplay with plenty of twists and turns. Chris Hardwick does his usual competent job as the host, once again proving that he could host a paint-drying exhibition and make it semi-interesting. LeBron James gets more publicity - and he really needs it - for his showrunner duties. Not to mention his prize money delivery trips.

The linked story says The Wall is going international, with a French version in the works. Le Mur?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ratings: happy post-holidays for syndies

The holidays passed and syndie game shows rejoiced. There were no less than four new season highs in the week of January 2-8. TV News Check spreads the good tidings about the household ratings...

Family Feud 7.6 - up a couple ticks to a new high
Wheel of Fortune 7.1 - up a whopping nine ticks to its own new high
Jeopardy 6.7 - up seven ticks to, you guessed it, a new high
Millionaire 1.8 - up a tick to celebrate its renewal with another new high
Celebrity Name Game 1.4 - up a tick to celebrate its cancellation?

Chilly January is a peak month for TV watching, so we'll probably see some more nice ratings over the next several weeks. Meanwhile, GSN more or less maintained their numbers in the week of January 9-15. 421K/302K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 35th and 31st in the windows.

Good news for another game show: The Wall gets 20 more eps, thanks to its steady Nielsen performance. It's averaged 6.9M viewers and a 1.7 18-49 rating. Plinko scores.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Divided opinions

Lazy today so I'll just repost some of my drivel from Game Show Paradise. The subject is Divided, which (believe it or not) is a new game show that GSN debuts this week. Our little game show network doesn't do such things very often any more. The last new game show they tried was Winsanity, which didn't win.

Other poster: I think I'll be staying far away from this show.

Sure, Divided probably won't have much appeal on the largely traditionalist game show Interwebs. Maybe if GSN could fool everybody into thinking it was from 1982, it might have a chance with the Internet crowd.

The question is whether Divided will lure people who watch stuff on GSN with less than decades of dust on it. I think it's got a shot, at least more than Window Whatever did. That sucker was clearly going to bomb because the audience for window decorating is pretty limited. The audience for quizzers is a lot bigger. Divided will get a Harvey Feud lead-in and a pairing with Idiotest, which has been a consistent demo winner by GSN's geriatric standards even if the total viewer numbers aren't gigantic.

We'll know when Showbuzz posts the cable ratings this Friday. The show did earn a second thirty-ep season on ITV in Britain but then ran out of steam (seven eps of the second season never made it to air). At least it lasted for 53 eps in Blighty.

One more thing I didn't post on Game Show Paradise. I already reviewed Divided (favorably) when GSN sneak-peeked it back in November. So I won't do another full-blast review. I will update this post with the Showbuzz numbers, though.

Monday, January 16, 2017

A happy celeb

I noted actor Dick Gautier's death in a faux tweet, but now that I think about it, he deserves much more attention on a game show blog.

As all of his obituaries remarked, Gautier was an enthusiastic game show player in the 1970s and 1980s. His IMDb page lists a bunch of credits on classics from Hollywood Squares to Match Game. But his biggest imprint was on Password, where he played virtually every version of the show. Just had a knack for word games, I guess.

Oldies diginet Buzzr pays quiet tribute to his impact on the genre by showing him on two different shows in their "LOL" promo, Tattletales and (you guessed it) Super Password. That's where I got the screenshot, as he yuks it up with Bert and Vicki. He was always a jolly sort on game shows, or at least he seemed to be enjoying himself. Maybe that's why showrunners wanted his services.

Dick Gautier more or less retired from show business in the early 1990s. He was never a star but didn't mind being a supporting actor (and game show player). R.I.P.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

He's flexible

As I've said a few times, I try to keep politics out of this blog as much as possible. But Google News is pumping out a lot of stories right now about Family Feud's Steve Harvey meeting with Donald Trump to discuss inner cities and whatever else. This item from the Chicago Sun-Times is typical, and at least it offers some humor about a possible Feud match-up between the Trumps and the Obamas, or the Clintons.

All this chatter demonstrates Mr. Harvey's political flexibility. He endorsed Hillary in the election, and he's spent much of the last eight years as a particularly obsequious courtier to Barack and Michelle. Maybe he just wants to get in good with whoever is currently running the show. Which may not be such a bad idea. I'm not holding my breath on the Trump-Obama Feud clash, though.

I have no idea if the meeting between the real estate mogul and the show biz mogul will produce anything. They might try a revival of Trump Card. Every other old game show format seems to be getting a reboot.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Can't kill it

As the unrelated update to yesterday's post mentioned, Millionaire will be around for at least one more year.

In fact, if you can believe TV News Check, the show will continue for a couple more years. The chart in the TV News Check story may be wrong, but the news of a one-year renewal looks genuine. It's a press release from ABC, after all.

The show has definitely nosed up in the ratings this season, thanks to better time slots and Chris Harrison's steady hand as host. After Meredith Vieira got bored with the gig, the show went on a silly search for the next Steve Harvey. This elusive creature has never turned up, and Millionaire sure couldn't find him as the numbers eroded.

Finally, they settled on a proven host in Harrison, who seems to have righted the ship. He understands that Millionaire is a challenging quizzer, not a comedy vehicle. In fact, the show is now getting numbers that look just fine compared to many syndies in other genres.

TV News Check noted in their story - no doubt correctly - that launching new syndies has become more hazardous than defusing bombs. That's because most of the newbies are bombs. Might as well stick with something that's been here since 2002.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Singin' in the car

Spike debuted Caraoke Showdown last night, and two of the contestants - black Bryan and Chinese Bryan - were pretty good.

There were a lot of other contestants, but the show insisted on cutting back and forth between them so fast that I almost lost track. As you probably know, the basic idea is a filch from Cash Cab, only with musical games instead of trivia questions. Somewhat suspecting people get into host Craig Robinson's taxi, where they play karaoke-based games mostly borrowed from Name That Tune and Don't Forget the Lyrics.

All told there were four teams of contestants, though the editing was so hyper-kinetic that you hardly got to know them. DJ Steve Aoki also showed up for a couple minutes, but you might have missed him if you blinked. Eventually the teams got whittled down to two, and Craig brought them to a bowling alley - where else? - for a final showdown to demonstrate their karaoke chops.

That's when black Bryan and Chinese Bryan - two Chippendales, by the way - wowed the assembled bowlers and won the night. (Okay, some of the bowlers just went on playing and ignored the karaoke.)

The real idea of Caraoke Showdown was to keep things moving so fast that no viewer would dare push a button on the remote. We'll see if the Nielsen Company thinks the idea works.

RELATED UPDATE: The show got so-so numbers by Spike standards. 441K viewers and a 0.18 18-49 rating. Spike averaged 817K/481K viewers prime time/total day in the latest week.

UNRELATED UPDATE: A faux tweet noted that TV News Check thinks Millionaire is safe for two more years. Now Deadline Hollywood says the show has gotten a 2017-18 renewal. It looks like Chris Harrison and company will be around for at least another year.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fox news

No, I'm not talking about the top-rated cable news network, the bane of liberals and the consolation of conservatives.

Instead, mama Fox, the broadcast network, made a couple game show announcements at the Television Critics Association thingie yesterday. As faux tweets noted, Jamie Foxx will host Beat Shazam and Andy Cohen will helm a reboot of Love Connection.

Neither news item is a huge surprise. Beat Shazam, where contestants play a Name That Tune variant updated with the music app, has been in the works for quite a while now. I have no strong feelings one way or the other about Foxx as the host, though his name certainly fits the network.

Love Connection was supposed to return a while back with Loni Love - another appropriate name - as host. But there's many a slip betwixt cup and lip, though the project made it to the pilot stage. It looks like the rewind is really gonna happen now, with fifteen eps on Fox in the summer. As everybody says, every old game show format in creation seems to be getting a reboot.

Music and love, ain't it sweet?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ratings: Steve is happy

The week between Christmas and New Year's is not usually a big ratings winner. But Family Feud hit a new season high (with its eighteen runs a day - slight exaggeration). Otherwise the syndie news was blah at best. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 7.4 - up four ticks to the new high
Wheel of Fortune 6.2 - down a tick for its one daily run
Jeopardy 6.0 - down a couple ticks
Millionaire 1.7 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat

Of all the new and returning broadcast game shows, The Wall is doing the best. The latest new ep got 7.0M viewers and a 1.7 18-49 rating. The show seems to have settled around these numbers, which should be plenty good enough for a renewal.

After a hiatus TV Newser is posting its cable rankers again. GSN enjoyed its best week in a while for January 2-8. 455K/306K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 35th and 34th in the windows. Speaking of windows, getting mega-flop Window Whatever off the network sure didn't hurt the averages.