Friday, February 24, 2017

Go ape

Say what I will about Game Show Forum, sometimes the oldies board to end all oldies boards does come up with a gem about a long-lost game show.

Or how about a show that was never found to begin with, so it really can't be lost? I'm talking about What Have You Got To Lose. If you don't recognize the title, don't feel bad. Hardly anybody else knows anything about the show. But Burt Ward of long-ago Batman fame can tell you all about it.

Back in the 1980s the erstwhile Robin was scrounging around for something to do. So he got a company looking for a tax write-off to finance a game show, the above mentioned WHYGTL. (How do you like them initials?) The show would have featured Adam West as the host and an orangutan as the house expert. And I mean a real orangutan, the one who "played" opposite Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way You Can. You can learn the primate-ish gameplay details from the linked story.

Burt insists the show was a genuine effort that they tried to syndicate. Things didn't work out, but the concept sounds like a hoot. Bananas, anyone?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hippin' and hoppin'

Hollywood Squares never dies. It just goes hip hop.

VH1 will bring back Hip Hop Squares starting March 13. It's the pop music answer to the Peter Marshall chestnut. The new version hipped and hopped through a couple seasons on MTV2 back in 2012. I reckoned the show was okay, mainly because it stuck pretty close to the original format. But when Hip Hop Squares expired after twenty eps, I figured it was done and dusted, as the Brits say.

Then came news a few months ago that another channel in the MTV universe - and what a universe it is - would revive the revival. DeRay Davis will host the new series, replacing Peter Rosenberg, who I thought did just fine. I also thought Davis was adequate at best on GSN's oinker Mind of a Man, but what do I know?

I'm not sure if the move of Hip Hop Squares from MTV2 to VH1 is a promotion, demotion or neither. Viacom is making noises about downplaying all its minor networks in favor of biggies like MTV. No matter how you look at Viacom's strategy, VH1 will string the show across the week of March 13-17, then settle it into a regular Monday night slot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ratings: syndies mostly get happy

The week of February 6-12, which happened to be the first week of sweeps, was mostly kind to syndie game shows. There were even a couple of season highs, though one of them was sadly meaningless. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Family Feud 7.7 - up three ticks to a season high
Wheel of Fortune 7.0 - up a tick
Jeopardy 6.8 - up a tick
Millionaire 1.7 - down a tick, every party has a pooper
Celebrity Name Game 1.5 - up a tick to a season high, as if it matters any more

To Tell the Truth crashed to its worst numbers ever. 2.8M viewers and a 0.7 18-49 rating. Can the show survive at this level? The numbers make Match Game look like a hit.

GSN got decent ratings for the February 13-19 week. 434K/308K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 35th and 30th in the windows.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Schedule, schmedule

A poster on Game Show Paradise complains about the Buzzr schedule...

Our nearly 11 month old has been home sick the last couple of days so I've been off work to take care of him. I've noticed the daytime [Buzzr] schedule doesn't exactly have any pattern to it in some ways.

To be honest, I'm starting to wonder if there's any pattern to the entire Buzzr schedule. I know, it's just a barely watched diginet that isn't even available in a large majority of U.S. households. But they sure do some funny things on weekdays.

For three-fourths of the day they program almost nothing but Match Game, Family Feud - at least they're now mixing in some Combs eps - and the B&W trio (To Tell the Truth, What's My Line, I've Got a Secret). Then comes prime time on the east and west coasts, and they suddenly switch to six other shows, most of which will appeal only to the hardest-core of the hardcores.

Maybe I'm sour because the only current prime time show I like much is Password Plus. And maybe Buzzr figures they can't possibly meet the prime time competition from other outlets. So they'll just toss up a salad bowl of shows and save their biggest names - MG and Feud - for other hours when the competition is less intense.

It still seems like an odd way to program a diginet.


As I've noted, one of the funnier results of the recent spate of game shows on the broadcasters is the recent spate of deep-think Interweb pieces about our little genre.

Hollywood Reporter - never known for deep or any other kind of thinking - has posted a long lecture about game show hosts. We learn that a host should be a tender therapist who can mutitask with a good temperament. There are four T's in there someplace, the article says.

The (unintentionally) funniest comment in the story: Alex Trebek must be "one of the world's most empathetic men." I've heard a lot of adjectives applied to Alex, but this e-word is not usually one of them. Most of the time he gets slammed for being Grumpy Gus with contestants when they don't live up to his exacting standards.

The pictured Mike Richards offers some accurate but obvious advice. A good host "has to be able to listen and communicate. It's all about listening and reading a particular situation." He goes on to praise Drew and Wayne, as you would expect from the TPiR and LMAD showrunner.

The article wraps up by cautioning a would-be host: "You are the center of the show, but you're not supposed to seem like you're the center of the show." True enough. It's those people playing to win who should seem to get the attention.

UPDATE: Speaking of Alex Trebek, he gets a lot of net notice for his rap readings.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Going negative

A thread on Game Show Paradise discussed an interesting question about one of my top ten game shows, at least in my latest list.

If this show [The Chase] ever returns to GSN with new episodes, one thing I'd like to see is The Beast give low offers that are in the negatives like in the U.K. version. I think that would be interesting. Do you sacrifice money in order to increase your chances of going to the final chase?

Seems like a bad risk to me, taking a cut in prize money just to get another civvie in the final chase. Another poster on the board commented that he heard GSN's producers didn't allow Mark Labbett to make negative offers. To be honest, I always thought the producers themselves made the offers and Labbett only relayed them. (Sort of like Deal or No Deal and the banker.) Gotta control that prize budget, especially on a mid-sized cable net.

Wikipedia (usual caveats) tells me that The Chase has expanded to Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Norway, Russia, Serbia and Turkey. I see stories now and then about the Aussie and original Brit versions, but I can't say I've seen anything about the Norwegian variety. It's called Jaget if you wanted to know.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Job just didn't work out

I pretty much avoid the IBM Watson stories that turn up so often in Google News. Sorry, but I'm just Watson-ed out. Yeah, I know the machine beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy. You don't have to tell me a giga-zillion times.

But this story shows that even Watson is fallible. A cancer center fired the poor gadget when it didn't deliver on the promise to cure disease and bring world peace. (Okay, I made up the world peace thing.)

I've gotten laid off a couple times myself, so I can sympathize with our silicon friend. One consolation: another medical outfit likes its results with Watson. Every job can't work out perfectly.

As for Watson's daddy IBM, the news is mixed. It's long been a punching-bag for stock market analysts, thanks to its declining revenues and general lack of buzz in the tech world. Lately, though, a contrarian point of view has arisen, which points to the company's solid profits and dividends. A cash cow isn't all bad, even if it's not as sexy as a market darling like Apple.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Civvie name game

You know that game show news is sparse when I post an entry about contestants' names.

I saw this story in Google News about the Shaffer family from Illinois, who played (and won) on Family Feud. The caption to the picture in the screenshot: The Shaffer family of Waterloo will appear in an upcoming episode of Family Feud. From left, Tammy Slager, Mary Beard, Kathy Warren, show host Steve Harvey, Nancy Quernheim and Bill Wirth pose during a show taping last year in Atlanta.

So nobody is named Shaffer but the family played under that name. Brilliant me figured that the four female contestants were sisters using their married names, and the male contestant was the husband of another sister. Turns out I was almost right. (Even a blind squirrel...) The story linked to an earlier article about the family, which said that "Shaffer" was indeed the maiden name of the ladies, but the gentleman was a cousin.

I know, this is trivial beyond belief, but I was desperate for something to write about today. There was a puff piece interview with Pyramid host Michael Strahan in People, but it was too fluffy even for a game show blog.

Some more trivia: the guy in the picture, Bill Wirth, looks vaguely like Drew Carey. Just sayin'...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oh jeez, it's just a game show

What is it about The Wall that inspires long, thumb-sucking pieces of deep thinkery on the web?

A while back a cogitating pundit declared the show to be the "most American" game show. I posted an entry which laughed at that exercise in faux profundity. But now The Atlantic comes along with a 2,000-word essay that praises the previous pundit and offers its own "insights" into the fun little show. A sample:

NBC's massive, money-mongering wall suggests, on the one hand, the teeming sense of omni-possibility that has accompanied a tech revolution and a century's worth of swaggering American hegemony. But The Wall also suggests, in its "these are deserving people" approach to its mind-boggling financial rewards, a certain fatigue - about politics, about voracious consumerism, about power itself.

Stuff like this gives me more than a certain fatigue - about babbling pundits, big long words, and blasts of hot air from tireless hot air purveyors on the Interwebs. The Wall is just a game show, for crying out loud. Take your "omni-possibility" and "voracious consumerism" elsewhere. There must be a lot of academic journals which would love such rubbish.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Shuffle up and deal on Buzzr

Have no idea if this is real or just a quirk on the ScreenerTV schedules. But that web site is now showing a major shakeup in the Buzzr weekday schedule starting February 28. So far the prime time schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday of that week is up on ScreenerTV (all times Eastern)...

Tuesday Feb 28
8:00 PM Let's Make a Deal
8:30 PM Let's Make a Deal
9:00 PM Tattletales
9:30 PM Tattletales
10:00 PM Press Your Luck
10:30 PM Press Your Luck

Wednesday Mar 1
8:00 PM Let's Make a Deal
8:30 PM Let's Make a Deal
9:00 PM Tattletales
9:30 PM Tattletales
10:00 PM Super Password
10:30 PM Super Password

No word yet on what happens the rest of the week. There are plenty of other changes throughout the day. Basically, Match Game and Family Feud get cut back a lot. Maybe Fremantle execs really are tired of complaints about overuse. Other shows slot in here and there with no apparent pattern, except the three black-and-white stalwarts (TTTT, WML, IGAS) always stay together.

You can check out the schedule here. We'll see what happens as more days are added to the ScreenerTV listings.

And in some real game show Kremlinology, the Buzzr web site is now showing more recent color versions of To Tell the Truth in its banner. A hint of things to come?

UPDATE: I posted this entry on Game Show Paradise and got a little skepticism. My reply...

As I said in my original post, I have no idea if the ScreenerTV schedule is accurate or not. It's kind of hard to imagine the site just coming up with an entirely different schedule out of nowhere. And Fremantle has been hearing from media types - though not the game show Interwebs - about the Match Game/Family Feud overload.

That said, I haven't gotten any press releases from Buzzr about a schedule change. Usually, a lot of stuff from the diginet lands in my inbox about anything new or different. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

UPDATED UPDATE: I'm starting to think this is just a goof on ScreenerTV. As another GSP poster noted, has the current weekday schedule all the way through March 17. So it looks like the current lineup will endure for a while.

UPDATED UPDATED UPDATE: Yep, the new schedule was just a temporary goof by ScreenerTV. The site now has the current schedule for as long as the eye (or the web site) can see. We're not done with the Match Game/Family Feud overload.

Top ten

A reporter for the local news site in Fenton, MI had some time on her hands. Looks like things aren't hopping in Fenton lately.

So she wrote a long article on how game shows are always popular. Well, sometimes they're more popular than other times. The reporter even got a bunch of quotes from Fenton residents about game show history. "I'm enjoying the revival of Match Game. It was stupid in the '70s and it's stupid now, but they've hit just the right nostalgic note to make it kitschy fun."

The Match Game revival isn't setting the Nielsen world on fire, as I noted a few days ago. And the "stupid" talk oddly echoes Gene Rayburn's confession that MG was a "silly" game. But the 1973-82 version is still the best game show ever and that includes everything.

The reporter concludes her story with a list of the top ten game shows: Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Match Game, The Price is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Hollywood Squares, Password, What’s My Line, Newlywed Game. She belongs on Game Show Forum with her collection of oldies.

My own top ten from a while back included Cash Cab, Lingo and The Chase. I wonder if the reporter has even heard of these shows.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mark this game

A thread on Golden Road asks which former pricing games should be brought back for an all-retired ep on The Price is Right.

A couple posters, not surprisingly, take the chance for a jab at Drew Carey. They want Barker's Markers - or Make Your Mark as the game was retitled after Barker's own retirement - to make a comeback. The reason is a notorious incident where Drew screwed up the rules.

It was the October 16, 2008 ep, as explained on U.S. Game Shows Wiki and stored for posterity on YouTube. The producers decided to let the screwup stand in the playing of the game, but then retired Make Your Mark after the episode.

Naturally, the Golden Road posters want some embarrassment for Drew if the game ever returns. "Let the producers take a jab at Drew for messing up the rules." "Shorter game, plus drilling Drew." This is the board that pines for Bob, after all.

I dunno, the game is pretty simplistic and hardly the most entertaining thing ever on TPiR. But from the Golden Road point of view, it would be a nice way to remind everybody that Drew isn't perfect. He might even get some humor out of a one-time return.