Friday, June 24, 2016

GSN bits and pieces

I'm lazy today, so I'll just repost some of my random musings from Game Show Paradise about GSN shows past and present...

Amazing Race started out as a demo hit for GSN and even got good total viewer numbers. But the network rapidly burned it out with insane overexposure. Back then GSN execs probably couldn't believe that any show on their network was getting measurable 18-49 ratings.

I was one of those who thought Dancing With the Stars would perform well on GSN. Shows what I know. Though to give myself a little credit, I also thought Harvey Feud would do okay on the network (it did).

Happened to see the 25K Pyramid ep this morning (June 20) on GSN. It was the first episode when the show returned to CBS on September 20, 1982. There were small differences in format and even gameplay from the more familiar eps later in the run. It was funny to hear Dick Clark explaining some of the rules in detail at the start of the new CBS run. Constance McCashin and Robert Mandan were the celebs.

Also, it's kind of nice that Chain Reaction is now at 1:00 PM Central. I can watch it right after Celebrity Name Game in my market. Now if GSN would only make some more Catherwood eps.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our little genre gets noticed

I'm always a little nervous when an august organ of the mainstream media runs a deep think piece on humble little game shows.

Our genre is raffish and disreputable. We don't want no stinkin' snooty critics offering deep thoughts on the world of buzzers and zonks. But the Los Angeles Times wakes up to the existence of game shows in this article that expounds on ABC's game night this summer. Why am I not surprised that a dinosaur newspaper takes note of a dinosaur broadcast network?

In fact, game shows are available all the time, on GSN or Buzzr or in syndication or even on the broadcast dinos. But ABC's night of Celebrity Family Feud, 100K Pyramid and Match Game is getting the media's notice. The LA Times article does offer a few nice factoids, like Alec Baldwin's $200,000-plus fee per ep on Match Game. But mostly it's pabulum about how game shows are comfort food TV with nostalgia value. Gee, no kidding.

One funny comment in the article refers to our supposed "era when quality scripted TV is abundant." Yeah, the latest eps of Scandal or Hawaii Five-0 rank right up there with Hamlet and Oedipus Rex.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Truthful review

ABC finally relented and let me watch the first ep of To Tell the Truth on their website.

Well, they sort of relented. The playback crapped out after the first segment, and I got tired of waiting for the site to discombobulate itself. By then I had figured out the basic idea of the show, anyway. Which was pretty much to copy the classic format...a little louder than before.

Host Anthony Anderson brought along his mother (who I can live without) and Betty White as one of the panelists. The show started with a nice tribute to Betty, which luckily did not linger for too long. The other three panelists were the typical minor TV celebs. (They're still a lot more major than me.)

The first three civvie contestants included a guy who dated Taylor Swift in high school. The questioning was the usual hit-or-miss effort. One difference from the classic format was that panelists fired off questions more or less at random, instead of taking turns. This just made the process seem more meandering, which has always been my problem with the TTTT format.

When it came time to vote, the panel goofed completely. Nobody nailed the right ex-boyfriend. Even Betty got it wrong. Can't win 'em all.

Anderson was reasonably funny, the panelists were okay, and one of the civvie impostors had a thing for Taylor Swift's mom. Or at least that's what he pretended. He was lying, after all.

UPDATE: To Tell the Truth lost a little Nielsen altitude in its second week. 4.11M viewers and a 0.9 18-49 rating. Not terrible for summer fare but hardly a hit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ratings: Feud leads all syndies

We're entering the summer lull in TV viewing, so there weren't any increases for syndie game shows. But Family Feud still landed atop all syndication. TV News Check has the household ratings for the week of June 6-12...

Family Feud 6.8 - down four ticks but still beats everybody
Wheel of Fortune 5.8 - down a tick
Jeopardy 5.5 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - flat
Millionaire 1.2 - flat, which seems pretty common this week

It looks like the only way for Wheel of Fortune to regain the top spot would be a second daily run of the show. That would pile some points onto the weekly average. Everybody else does it, after all.

GSN enjoyed another good week for June 13-19. 490K/314K/494K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 33rd, 32nd and 31st in the windows.

Monday, June 20, 2016

NBC's July games

The fifth season of Hollywood Game Night will debut July 28, according to this newspaper story.

The item includes some ignorable political chatter, but it also quotes Jane Lynch as picking the ideal civvie contestant as somebody who is not starstruck or drunk. She also likes it if a fight breaks out or somebody tries to cheat. Sounds like good game show stuff to me.

As I've said before, I'm surprised that Hollywood Game Night is still around at all, given its anemic ratings as the fourth season cratered. In fact, NBC skipped the final eps of the fourth season because the numbers were so bad. I don't know if those omitted episodes will turn up in the summer run. Guess it depends on the news from Nielsen (duh). Who knows how long this summer experiment will last?

Hollywood Game Night is looking more than a little long in the tooth and grey in the hair. Wikipedia says the show has cranked out 49 eps over three years. I like the mindless fun, even if the pop culture obsession gets wearying. When NBC finally tires of the show for good, it might make a nice pickup for GSN.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

More Buzzr tie-ins to ABC's game shows

A while back I speculated that oldies diginet Buzzr would tie into ABC's Match Game remake.

We didn't have to wait for long. A press release from Buzzr just landed in my inbox about "new" eps of Match Game 73 on the subchannel. The new-to-Buzzr episodes start Monday, June 20 and run up to the debut of ABC's remake on Sunday, June 26. For good measure Buzzr will toss in celeb versions of Richard Dawson's Family Feud, to take advantage of Steve Harvey's celebfest also debuting its new season on June 26.

As noted before, Buzzr can't do much with Michael Strahan's remake of Pyramid because it's not a Fremantle format. Maybe they could run Password as "the forerunner of Pyramid where Bob Stewart decided to make everything the lightning round." Okay, that wouldn't work.

As the screenshot shows, the fashions on Match Game 73 look pretty insane nowadays. Even with the standards of the day, Gene Rayburn caught a lot of grief for the technicolor suit in the picture. He was unrepentant about his couture.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Another game night

ABC isn't the only outfit doing a game night this summer.

NCTV17, a community TV station in Chicagoland, knocked off Hollywood Game Night for a second time this week. The show is called Game On, and it features the familiar teams of four battling it out in silly party games. NCTV17 has posted a story about the effort, with a few glimpses of the gameplay.

The idea is to raise money for the station, and Game On is apparently working out okay. At least they'll try a third edition in September. I've posted about the low-rent show before, and the stripped-down set still has a certain cheesy charm. The counterpart to Jane Lynch is host Danielle Tufano, a DJ on a local FM classics hits station. (The Wikipedia article says she doubles as program director at the radio outlet.)

I was a little surprised when NBC announced a fifth season of the original Hollywood Game Night. The ratings for the fourth go-round tapered off to near invisibility. But I guess it's cheap filler for the peacock net's (Variety speak!) schedule.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Nick nineties nostalgia exploded out of control a while back, and nobody's been able to get it back under wraps yet.

The latest blast from the '90s past was a one-day shot at the Aggro Crag from Guts. Nick brought the fabricated mountain out of mothballs (or wherever you store a fabricated mountain) for New York City millennials to try the perilous climb. A few brave souls went at the Crag, much to the delight of an onlooking Uproxx writer.

She noted the extensive product placement - also a Nick tradition - and the heavy air of rosy nostalgia. The Aggro Crag proved a tough go for the challengers. "Even with most competitors at least a decade older than they would have been on the original game show, people still had plenty of trouble reaching the top."

The Crag was never supposed to be easy. Mike O'Malley and Mo Quirk weren't around, but you can't recreate the past exactly.

UPDATE: A commenter notes that Mike O'Malley actually showed up for the festivities. I stand corrected!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Get ready to match these stars

We now know some of the celebs for ABC's Match Game reboot. This story lists: Adam Goldberg, Ana Gasteyer, Bobby Moynihan, D.L. Hughley, Debra Messing, Edie Falco, Horatio Sanz, Isaac Mizrahi, J.B. Smoove, Jenna Fischer, Rosie O'Donnell, Sherri Shepherd, Sutton Foster and Tituss Burgess.

I recognize some of the names from the genre. Sherri and D.L. hosted game shows, though the latter probably wishes he could forget the effort (TBS's disastrous Trust Me, I'm a Game Show Host.) There are also a few players from Celebrity Name Game, which seems to be the AAA team for ABC's game shows this summer.

It's really hard to say how any of these folks will perform on the show, because Match Game is such an ensemble format. A celeb who tries too hard or hogs too much camera time can spoil everything. I assume the producers will sit pretty hard on somebody like Rosie O'Donnell, who might be inclined to a rant or three.

Alec Baldwin calls the proceedings to order on June 26. As Johnny Olson used to say, get ready.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Demo rant

I was going to write my review of ABC's To Tell the Truth this morning. Only ABC's web site keeps me from watching the show for another week. Seems that Time Warner, my cable provider, isn't on their list of approved systems. Grrrrrr. I could try one of the virus traps that advertise on YouTube, but I'll wait until I can watch worry-free. I know, I should have remembered to watch the broadcast last night.

So my review will just have to wait for a few days. While I'm irritated, I'll rant on another subject, the 18-49 demo obsession. At TV by the Numbers they laud some ABC sitcom called Uncle Buck for a "solid premiere." But here's the thing. Uncle Buck actually got fewer viewers than its fellow ABC debutant To Tell the Truth. (Okay, it was close. Uncle Buck got 4.9 million viewers and the TTTT eps both got 5.2 million.)

But the sitcom managed a 1.5 in the all-important, ever-so-crucial, we-gotta-have-it, only-thing-that-counts 18-49 demo. The TTTT eps only got 1.0 and 1.2 18-49 ratings. Those few tenths of a point may not look like squat, but the demo-obsessed TV industry covets those 18-49 tenths madly.

In a way this is special pleading. Traditional game shows, the subject of this blog, notoriously skew old. That's why programming execs have always been wary of them. The demo obsession has worked against our little genre for a long time, and the bias shows no signs of receding.