Wednesday, December 7, 2016

While I was gone

While I was on my winter medical vacation, the biggest game show story was the surprising cancellation of Celebrity Name Game after three seasons. Sure the show regularly trailed the field among syndie gamers, but the numbers were hardly terrible compared to other genres. In the latest available week, Craig Ferguson and buddies had actually scrambled to a season high.

The show couldn't have been that expensive. Prize money was chintzy and the top prize was tough to get. The celebs on the show were not high up the alphabet lists, and Craig himself hadn't moved into the later expensive years of a host's career on a show.

All the execs involved made the usual noises about how great the show was and how great Craig was and how greatly they believe in the format. So everything is great except the show is dead. I really liked the lively Pyramid knockoff, and at least it had three good years.

By the way, school's been out for the last couple weeks in the comments on this blog. For the most part the comments have been reasonable and civil, but there have been exceptions. I run a loose ship on comments, anyway, but I'll be watching things a little more closely now.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Just a brief note literally from an IPad as I lie in a hospital bed. The worst is definitely past, and I'm well on the way to that fabled total recovery. The details are not germane to the blog, and HIPAA is invoked. Let's just say that if the situation wasn't life threatening, it was a helluva lot closer than I wanted. Extensive emergency surgery was required. My enormous thanks to all the superb medical professionals who got my unruly system back on track.

I expect to resume blogging within the next five to seven days. See you then.

UPDATED UPDATE: Well, I changed my mind about HIPAA. Seems like weird theories grow on the web in the absence of full facts. I warn readers that the facts here are not for the squeamish.

Last Thursday I developed sharp pain in my abdomen. I also had a lot of gas, and not sweet smelling gas, either. Things got worse over the next several days. Finally I was retching uncontrollably and vomiting what looked like liquid excrement.

What had happened was that a small hernia had opened in my abdominal wall. A part of my small intestine had gotten caught in the opening, producing a complete blockage. With no way to rid itself of the poison, my body was ejecting excrement back through my stomach and up the esophagus.

Monday night my wife and I went to an emergency room. The capable staff quickly diagnosed the problem from x-rays and cat scans. I was ambulanced to Lewisville Medical Center and scheduled for emergency hernia repair.

Luckily the surgery was successful. (If it hadn't been successful, I wouldn't be blogging now, would I?) Again, many thanks to all the great people who got me through this literally rancid experience. And thanks for the concern and good wishes from readers. For better or worse - and I know that opinions differ - this blog will soon resume normal business.

One other thing. Just be happy I didn't include any pictures with this post.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

GSN daytime

I'm pretty lazy today, plus I'm not feeling too good, either. So I'll just reprint a post from Game Show Paradise about the ratings for GSN's new daytime lineup...

Douglas Pucci provided the numbers for the new shows on GSN's daytime schedule for November 21. WoF isn't doing well at all, though it doesn't look bad compared to Window Whatever (faint praise). The other shows are so-so. None of the shows get any 18-49 viewers, but that's pretty normal for GSN daytime.

GSN 11/21, in total viewers (adults 18-49)
10:00a Whammy 202K (27K)
11:00a Wheel of Fortune 149K (25K)
11:30a Wheel of Fortune 161K (22K)
12:00 Wheel of Fortune 146K (16K)
12:30 Wheel of Fortune 177K (19K)
3:30 Chain Reaction-Catherwood 295K (29K)
4:00 The Chase 239K (23K)

UPDATE: As I mentioned, I'm having some health problems right now. So I won't be updating the blog for the next few days.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Movie review

Just watched the Legends of the Hidden Temple movie. It should have been subtitled: Catalog of References to the Game Show.

Which is fine with me, because they're referring to the best kid game show ever. The story of the movie is simple: three terminally cute kids run through the hidden temple. Along the way they meet every bit of the old game show you can imagine, from Kirk and Olmec to the scary temple guards to the green monkey (who swipes every scene he's in).

The movie's production values are decent, though the CGI effects aren't the best ever. The target audience of kids and their parents will enjoy the thrills and spills, and there's even some coy humor. Like all the kids on the game show, the kids in the movie have a tough time assembling the silver monkey from those three little pieces. Kirk has trouble himself with the gadget at the end of the flick.

There's a heavy hint of an upcoming sequel, but the movie never tips its hand about a possible revival of the game show itself. That's what we would all like to see, right?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Sneaky peekie

Like a few other people, I'm going to be out of the house when GSN runs its sneak peek of Divided today at 7:00 PM Eastern. So I won't be able to review the show. But that didn't stop me from blathering about it on Game Show Paradise. Not much can stop me from blathering on and on about any subject...

Divided has featured briefly in a few GSN promos. They list it as "coming in January." I'm sure we'll see much heavier promotion as the official premiere date gets closer. I assume they're slipping in the sneak peek today to see if it holds the audience during the Harvey Feud marathon. They probably want a read on how the show can perform without much promotion.

I wrote a blog entry about the sneak peek quite a while ago, when I noticed it on the ScreenerTV schedule. At first I thought it was just a blooper, but it looks like the sneak peek is really gonna happen.

As for GSN only caring about "reality trash," I don't think that's true at all. I do agree that GSN worries too much about younger demos, which has led to some bad programming decisions. But if they can lure the young'uns with traditional game shows, they're perfectly happy to do it. That's why Idiotest keeps getting renewed with only so-so total viewer numbers.

Speaking of reality trash, non-game show Window Whatever is getting horrendous numbers. 155K total viewers and a 0.02 18-49 rating for the November 22 ep. Look for this thing to disappear in a hurry. GSN's reality shows have crashed and burned lately, unless they've got naked girls.

UPDATE: Guess what. I managed to squeeze in a viewing of the Divided sneak peek. Long story short: I liked it. Four contestants have to agree on answers to tricky questions while the clock and their prize money tick down. This leads to spats and whines, but things never got too far out of hand on the sneak ep.

A bespectacled (?) Mike Richards took time off from his TPiR and LMAD showrunner duties to host. He refereed the spats pretty well and kept the show moving. The half-hour length worked to hold my attention. It's a lot better than window decorating, anyway.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Odd bit of Jeopardy history

Remember Ben Ingram?

If the name doesn't ring a bell, Ben was the Mr. Nice Guy Jeopardy contestant who won the 2013 tournament of champions. This was one of the more anticipated T of C's ever, because the other two players in the final were Julia Collins and Arthur Chu. They had racked up winning streaks of twenty and thirteen games. Ben was no slouch himself with an eight-game win streak. But the Julia-Arthur clash was sort of matter vs. antimatter, fan favorite vs. fan, well, not so favorite.

In the tournament final Julia was never a factor and Ben edged out Arthur, much to many viewers' relief. Now Ben Ingram's girlfriend, Liz Hutchens, will take her own shot at the answer and question game this Friday. She's a registered nurse in Pineville NC, and like all Jeopardy contestants, she's keeping mum about the results ahead of the broadcast. "All I can say is I hope everyone enjoys the episode."

She also says she didn't feel any competition with her famous (in Jeopardy circles, anyway) boyfriend. She did feel like she was playing against the buzzer.

UPDATE: Liz did a bit worse than Ben. In fact, she finished third with zip in the bank. Can't win 'em all.

HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: In the sidebar I've added links to the ScreenerTV schedules for GSN and Buzzr. As always, the schedules are subject to last-minute changes. All times are Eastern.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Making Olmec come alive

As everybody knows by now, Nick '90s nostalgia has burst all bounds, blown past all barriers, and generally gotten out of hand.

With the Double Dare special and the Legends of the Hidden Temple movie this week, Google News is getting stuffed - no Thanksgiving reference intended - with Nick stories. Aging millennial writers are reliving the glory days of their childhood, when they plopped themselves in front of boxy TV sets and watched Olmec and the green slime. One of the more interesting items is an interview with Legends showrunner Scott Stone.

Scott has some funny stories about how they brought Olmec to semi-life. Hint: it was all very low-tech. He also addresses the mini-controversy about the show being "rigged" to produce few winners. He says they really wanted more kids to make it through the Temple Run. But the poor young'uns would freeze up on the way and get too scared of the temple guards to do things right.

There's an intriguing tidbit about a new game show in development at Nick, but he gives no details. Finally, he has a tip for any kid game show. "Try to create a show where [kids] get to do what they do every day at school, but get prizes for it." Legends did that very well, which is one of the reasons it's the best kid game show ever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ratings: Craig comes back home

You didn't think that Celebrity Name Game would stay away from its traditional rating for very long, did you? Family Feud also had a good week for November 7-13. Otherwise there was little change. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 6.8 - up four ticks in that good week
Wheel of Fortune 6.1 - up a tick, the runs on GSN don't seem to be hurting
Jeopardy 5.8 - flat
Millionaire 1.6 - flat
Celebrity Name Game 1.3 - up a tick, Craig's back home!

Paradise Run is racking up consistently good numbers for Nick. Hey guys, why not try a few more game shows? At least they're doing a Double Dare one-off, which could turn into a new run.

GSN slipped back a smidge in the November 14-20 week. 399K/258K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 36th in the windows. Window Whatnot didn't help with its terrible numbers.

Monday, November 21, 2016


I'm always causing trouble. The latest tiff occurred on Game Show Paradise.

Commenting about GSN's recent schedule shuffle, I said: "To be honest, I've never had much use for Card Sharks or PYL/Whammy. Both formats always seemed simplistic and dull to me. So if one show replaces another, I have no strong feelings about it." Another poster took exception and told me: "I suggest imagining yourself as one of the contestants on those programs as you watch them. You just might become as happy and excited as them and start enjoying those programs."

Which hardly seemed like the worst rebuke I've ever received. It wouldn't qualify as a rebuke at all on Game Show Forum, where I rank between pond scum and really smelly pond scum as an object of derision. But other posters piled in - for and against - and pretty soon a moderator had to warn everybody.

I summed it up this way...

"Sorry, but I just find the random button-pushing on PYL/Whammy and the acey-deucey on Card Sharks to be pretty boring. (I always make an exception for Michael Larson, who produced the most brilliant solve in game show history.) Other people obviously like the shows because they've both had decent runs in a number of different versions. No big deal, just different strokes."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cash Cab on speed

Imagine Cash Cab with Ben Bailey driving maniacally at 100+ miles per hour.

That's more or less Shotgun, NBCSN's new quizzer for the high-velocity set. Fearful civvie contestants ride in the passenger seat of a race car driven by a professional. They have to answer trivia questions as the car rolls at a fearsome pace through a twisty-turney course around the Irwindale Speedway. Which, by the way, looks like a low-rent facility. In fact, Wikipedia (usual caveats) says it's due for demolition.

The pro drivers don't have to ask the trivia questions. Instead, host Rutledge Wood sits comfortably in a booth above the track and radios the queries to the animated (and/or terrified) contestants. I watched a lot of footage on the NBCSN web site, and the show is enjoyable enough. You just have to get past the miscellaneous screaming and hollering as the cars careen around various obstacles.

After the ride the contestants usually say how great the experience was. I'll take their word for it. I'm just a game show blogger. I don't have to ride in those cars.

UPDATE: Shotgun did so-so numbers. 250K total viewers and a 0.05 18-49 rating. Way down from its NASCAR lead-in but not horrible.