Saturday, February 6, 2016

Don't blame Drew

Yahoo - remember that Internet 1.0 site? - busts Drew Carey's chops over a painful bailout by contestant Moses McClendon on The Price is Right this week. Golden Road has all the brutal details. Except why blame Drew for a contestant's bad decision? Even Moses' wife (sounds biblical) was advising him to take the money and run.

The setup was that Drew offered Moses a couple grand to bail out of Spelling Bee instead of trying for a new car. Mr. McClendon took the cash, only to discover that he would have won the car if he had stayed in the game. Sure, it's a big ouch moment, but stuff like that happens all the time on game shows. The other CBS daytime entry, Let's Make a Deal, makes a mint by crushing contestants with zonks.

I know, it's dumb to get upset with Yahoo's bashing of Drew Carey over a cash offer to bail out of some silly little game. The bashing is mostly tongue in cheek, anyway, or at least I hope it is. Drew sounded miserable after the semi-zonk - Moses got $2,000, after all - and the host's regret seemed genuine. It's just a feature of the show. Nobody forces you to go on TPiR and face the possibility (egads!) of bad luck.

I would have kept going in the game. But I'm the sort who would probably bet it all in Final Jeopardy.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Joe Alaskey 1952-2016

The faux tweets are starting to get a little heavy with obituaries, so I'll move this one to a main entry.

Joe Alaskey, who took over for Mel Blanc as the voice actor behind Bugs Bunny and all sorts of rascally Warner Brothers cartoon characters, has died at age 63. As the linked Washington Post obit says: "He switched between characters without missing a beat, an entire comedy troupe in a single man."

Alaskey's tie to our little genre is a couple turns on Hollywood Squares and the 1990 Match Game. You can watch some of the Squares eps on YouTube. At least he got his face before the camera on these gigs. Voice actors tend to be anonymous thespians, lost behind the character in front of your eyes.

As you can see from the screenshot, Joe bore a faint resemblance to Jackie Gleason. This came in handy when Gleason was looking for someone to voice himself on the "lost" episodes of The Honeymooners in the 1980s. Although Alaskey could be "temperamental and fiercely insecure at times," he remains the voice of many childhoods, as the WashPo obit notes. R.I.P.

UPDATE: A commenter says that I should mention Joe's announcer gig on Couch Potatoes (1989). You got it.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Karaoke plus car

Once upon a time I sang a karaoke version of Girl From Ipanema. I was not completely sober at the time.

For whatever reason, karoake is getting a workout lately on TV. There's Lip Sync Battle and James Corden's Carpool Karoake segments, and now there's a game show coming from Spike. Craig Robinson (Morris from America, Mr. Robinson) will cruise the streets and pick up unsuspecting civvies, who will then endure tests of their karaoke ability. Or they will have to finish the lyrics or act out the songs. Spike calls it Caraoke Showdown.

Right now the network has only scheduled a one-time special, but maybe the show will morph into a regular series. Howie Mandel is one of the showrunners, so he might get Spike to say yes to a longer-term deal (instead of no deal). Of course, the Nielsen Company will really decide the fate of the project, as always.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pretty rough on the poor guy

A Baton Rouge website is allegedly shocked that LSU student Kevin Brown "fumbled" a couple of college football questions on Jeopardy's current college tourney.

Kevin didn't even get the questions wrong. He just didn't answer them. But I guess that Baton Rouge-ites think every LSU student should know everything and anything about college football. The site did sneak a sort of clever pun into the title: "Geaux figure."

Whether or not he impresses the folks at the web site, Kevin has a chance of advancing to the semifinals. He finished third yesterday but his $14,000 score might land him among the four wild cards. Not to mention that his movie star looks may catch the notice of Entertainment Weekly. They get all googly-eyed over handsome male contestants on the show.

When he's not playing Jeopardy, Kevin majors in environmental engineering. Does that qualify him as what we used to call a "wheelie"? All right, that was back in the Dark Ages when I went to college.

UPDATE: Kevin has lost his chance for the semis. Too many other contestants have snuck ahead of him for the wild cards.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ratings: syndies enjoy the weather

The blizzard rolled into the east coast and syndie game shows rolled to big gains for the week of January 18-24. All the shows hit or tied season highs. Steve set a series high. TV News Check has all the gladsome household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 7.8 - up five ticks
Family Feud 7.5 - also up five ticks
Jeopardy 7.2 - up six ticks, just to outdo the other shows
Millionaire 1.5 - up a tick, that renewal is looking more justified
Celebrity Name Game 1.5 - up a tick, of course

Millionaire likes to put out press releases touting its ratings, at least for the good weeks. This release talks up Chris Harrison's new highs in total viewers (2.14 million) and various demos (0.7 in W25-54, in particular). Sure, in the latest week the show got a lot of help from the weather. But Millionaire has survived a bunch of nasty timeslot downgrades to post decent ratings by current syndie standards.

GSN did nice numbers for January. 469K/362K/493K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 37th, 30th and 36th in the windows.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Running around paradise

Just watched the debut of Paradise Run, Nick's stunt game show for excruciatingly cute kids. The show struck me as an outdoor version of Legends of the Hidden Temple, minus the educational TV stuff. In other words the show was a lot of mindless fun, which is the best kind of fun.

The premise is simple: three teams of two kids race around a gorgeous resort hotel on the gorgeous big island in gorgeous Hawaii. Along the way they have to perform various challenges, like learning some Hawaiian dance moves. (The dances seemed less than authentically Hawaiian to cynical old moi. But the show is not targeted at cynical old farts like moi.)

One challenge involved solving a word puzzle, which was simple enough but still seemed rather intellectual for this show. Eventually all the kids got to the end of the run-around, where their parents were waiting for nice and warm reunions.

If I sound a little sour and grumpy about what is harmless fun, please forgive me. Paradise Run is a pleasant way to pass the time, with loads of attractive scenery and a host, actress Daniella Monet, who is state-of-the-art chirpy and empathetic with the kids. Everybody seems to have a good time, and that's what's important in a kid game show, right?

UPDATE: Paradise Run scores well for Nick in the ratings. 1.46M total viewers and a 0.23 18-49 rating.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Puppet in jeopardy

You know you've made it when you get your very own lifesize puppet.

Alex Trebek won this honor in Toronto this week, as he hosted the 100th birthday party for noted puppeteer Mary Thornton. As you can see from the screenshot, the puppet looks like a younger and hairier Alex, though he doesn't have the mustache. (Can they attach one if Alex grows back the facial hair?)

Maybe the Toronto Famous People Players theater group can do Pat and Vanna puppets next year. Except they aren't Canadian, but why let such a trifle stand in the way of puppet immortality? Now that I think about it, the Alex puppet could host a Jeopardy ep. He's dressed for the part, after all.

Alex was good-humored about the event. He remarked that he is very lucky to be the host of an extremely popular quiz show called Reach for the Top. (Check Wikipedia if you don't get the joke.) The 100-year-old lady seemed very nice, and her daughter sounded very proud. The Alex puppet had no comment but looked happy enough.