Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fuzzy wuzzy

On her About.com site Carrie Grosvenor rambles through some To Tell the Truth history, now that the show is coming back. In the never-knew-that department, I found out that gonzo journalism legend Hunter S. Thompson once appeared as a contestant. (He was the truth-teller, it seems.)

Can I allow myself some lèse-majesté? I never thought highly of Thompson as a writer. Too much of his stuff was a jumble of random thoughts punctuated by dull political rants. He battled writer's block and eventually subsisted off crumbs from ESPN(!) The suicide was, sadly, not a surprise.

But as a counter-culture celeb Thompson was a lot of fun, at least for a brief moment in the sixties. He played off that rep for a while, even appearing on TTTT in February 1967. YouTube offers a hilarious fragment, where the very proper Kitty Carlisle intones an incongruous question. "Number two, the Merry Pranksters gave a party for the Hell's Angels. Were you there...that lasted two days?"

This is not a question anybody would expect from Kitty, and Hunter looks temporarily taken aback. Or maybe his cerebral cortex, foggy from too much acid, is trying desperately to place this party among a zillion others. Somehow, he finally manages a "Yes."

A commenter on YouTube implores: "GOOD LORD! POST THE WHOLE THING PRONTO!!!!!" Oh boy, do I ever agree. I'd love to see Thompson's entire appearance.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Once upon a Pax

A poster on Game Show Paradise recalls the heyday of game shows on Pax TX (later Ion Television).

I had forgotten just how many game shows came and went on Bud Paxson's upstart operation in its early days. Wikipedia offers a helpful list. It includes everything from Twenty One reruns (not the rigged version) to Reel to Reel Picture Show, proud owner of a Game Show Garbage induction.

Like so many GSG inductees, Reel to Reel wasn't that terrible. It was just a plodding quizzer about movies, with past-prime celebs and Peter Marshall looking bored. YouTube never forgets anything, so several videos of the Pax game show originals survive in slightly tarnished glory. You can see some of the telltale color bleeding in the screenshot.

I have to agree with another poster on the Game Show Paradise thread that Ion TV won't try anything from our little genre for a long, long time, if ever. They gotta cram too many infomercials and cop shows into the fleeting hours. But once upon a time, game shows had a pretty solid perch on Pax.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Monopolizing the media

You've played the board game. You've watched the TV game show (well, maybe). Now you can go the movie, if everything works out.

Yes, that multi-hour rainy-day timewaster for almost a century, Monopoly may finally get to the big screen. Hasbro and Lionsgate have enlisted Truman Show's Andrew Niccol to script the flick.

It's supposedly a rags to riches - or Mediterranean to Boardwalk - story about "a boy from Baltic Avenue who uses both Chance and Community in a quest to make his fortune, taking him on a fun, adventure-filled journey. Along the way he will have to make his own luck, while hoping to avoid going directly to jail."

The linked story bewails the groaner Monopoly puns, but why bother? The jokes are too obvious to stop. I know, this project really doesn't have anything to do with game shows, except it may become a show based on a game. But then Monopoly Millionaires Club doesn't have much to do with Monopoly's actual gameplay, either.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Telling the truth once more

A ticket site leaked the news a few days ago, as noted in a faux tweet. But ABC made it official today. The network is rebooting To Tell the Truth for a six-ep run.

Anthony Anderson will host, with his mother as "scorekeeper" (?) and general insulter of her son. Betty White and NeNe Leakes will be two of the panelists, along with TBD in the third seat. The format sounds pretty much like the classic two fibbers and a truth-teller, though there will no doubt be some new angles. Like a house band (honest).

To Tell the Truth has been revived so often that Wikipedia spills plenty of phosphors in describing all the versions. It was famously Mark Goodson's favorite format, and apparently a fair number of producers have agreed with him about TTTT's appeal. ABC hasn't set a debut date for the latest incarnation.

Anthony Anderson's selection looks like yet another attempt to find the elusive next Steve Harvey. It was no accident that Anderson helped kick off ABC's current Celebrity Family Feud.

Bar food

A faux tweet mentioned Win it for the Bar, a YouTube quizzer that debuted June 29 on the aptly named Beer 'N Stuff channel.

So I might as well play Review it for the Blog, a fun game show enjoyed by bloggers around the world. The first episode was quick and light, featuring extensive Anheuser-Busch product placement and lots of questions about sandwiches. In fact, the cutesy name for the ep was "Sandwich of Fortune." Ouch.

For what it was, it wasn't bad. A contestant got ambushed in a bar and, under acute social pressure, agreed to answer questions. If there were enough right answers, everybody got sandwiches. This was not Jeopardy, and the intellectual challenge was not enormous. But it was a six-minute pop culture video, after all. If you want intellectual challenge, you can always take a course in differential equations.

Harley Morenstein hosted with a bartender's cynicism and occasional quips. The contestant was reasonably alert and the bar ambiance seemed genuine enough. For a quick game show snack, you could do worse.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ratings: syndies tumble, GSN rolls

Let's just say that syndie game shows have seen better weeks. Every show except one (which was flat) was down for June 15-21. The result was a three-way tie for the top spot. TV News Check has the household ratings...

Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down a tick to a season low
Family Feud 5.9 - down a couple ticks to create the tie
Jeopardy 5.9 - flat
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick to tie its all-time low
Celebrity Name Game 1.2 - what else, down a tick

For the tiebreaks I used the viewer averages from TV by the Numbers. Wheel of Fortune 9.4M (weekend repeat 3.8M), Family Feud 9.0M, Jeopardy 8.9M. Compared to prime time broadcast in the summer months, these numbers look pretty good.

GSN recorded a small but interesting milestone for the June 22-28 week. The network snuck onto the list of total day viewer averages at TV by the Numbers with 377K. GSN has been creeping up the charts lately, and even TV by the Numbers has finally taken note. It's a terrific total day number by the network's historical standards. For all of second quarter 2015, TV Newser says GSN averaged 408K/311K/431K viewers prime time/total day/extended prime time. The network ranked 39th, 31st and 35th in the windows.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Times change

Game Show Confessions put up the screenshot about an awards show.

I wasn't surprised that Press Your Luck never got a Daytime Emmy nom. The format has never appealed to me much, since it basically consists of hitting a button and seeing what happens. (Unless you're Paul Michael Larson.) But I was a little amused to see that, back in the day, a game show could give away the "prize" of a trip to the Daytime Emmys.

If a game show tried that prize nowadays, the contestant might well ask, what the hey are the Daytime Emmys? An awards show that once garnered twenty million viewers on broadcast TV is now reduced to a fill-in on what used to be the TV Guide Network. (And while we're at it, whatever happened to TV Guide, too?)

Not that I'm crushed to see a show biz awards show fade into insignificance. I wish all the self-congratulation borefests would go away. I only cover the Daytime Emmys on this blog because they have a few game show categories. But the "prize" on Press Your Luck reminded me of how time chips away at everything, including game show bloggers.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

LMAD on tour?

Google News always offers plenty of stories about the endless wanderings of The Price is Right's live show. But will Let's Make a Deal follow its Fremantle soulmate onto the road? That's what this story from the Paramount Arts Theater (PAC) in Huntington, WV says:
After last season's success (in spite of a reschedule because of weather) to hosting a tour of The Price is Right, the PAC is spinning the wheel, so to speak, on another tour of a classic game show, Let's Make a Deal, which will take place on Oct. 20.
Sorry, don't have any more details on who will host this touring show or what else might be happening with the production. As the story states, Todd Newton brought the TPiR live show to the theater a few months ago. So it looks like something will pull into town on October 20. I'll keep a watch on the web for any other dates and locations for this putative LMAD tour.

It does seem like a natural to put a live version of the big dealing on the road. The CBS show will soon start its seventh season and gets more than respectable numbers. Why not send a touring show around the country? You just have to pack up a few prizes and zonks.