Friday, November 17, 2017

I can't stand zucchini, either

By now the game show Interwebs have moped and moaned over the near-miss on Wednesday's Wheel of Fortune.

Grandpa and granddaughter Frank Harary and Laurel Haim narrowly missed out on the million bucks. BAKED ZUCCHINI nailed them in the bonus round. Since Frank was such an appealing grandfatherly sort, the sympathy has really flowed.

I'm not completely heartless - some rumors on the Internet notwithstanding - so I can condole with the unlucky duo, too. Not to mention that zucchini really sucks and baking the stuff doesn't help. But some of the web commentary has gone blotto.

For instance, this entry on SB Nation - isn't that a sports site? - soars way over the top. The writer tries to pin the blame for the sad loss on...Pat Sajak? The host's alleged misdeed was pronouncing the given letters R S T L N E too quickly.

Oh, please. Everybody knows that WoF spots you those letters in the bonus round. So when Laurel got stuck on "fried" as the first word in the puzzle, it was hardly Pat Sajak's fault. She happened on "fried zucchini" after time expired, but by then of course it was too late. And she was still wrong, anyway.

Yes, it was depressing when Pat opened the folder and revealed that the duo had missed out on the million. What can you say? Sometimes the rules work against likeable contestants.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Depths of YouTube depravity

Sometimes you just gotta suck it up when you're a full-service game show blogger.

It ain't always Jeopardy and What's My Line and Pyramid and other high-class stuff from Griffin and Goodson and Stewart. Sometimes you gotta go to the depths, the abyss, the circles of hell, the metaphysical abomination that is...the cheap Internet game show.

All right, once in a while the shows are sort of fun. You Posted That is from a YouTube channel called Smosh, which I had never heard of but then I don't spend most of my life on YouTube. I tried the first episode and lived to tell the tale, or at least write the blog entry.

Three online "celebs" I had also never heard of conspired with a host, announcer and musical team - all of whom, wait for it, I had never heard of, either - to play games with their old social media posts. For instance, they tried to fill in blanks in various tweets that they wrote four or five years ago. This sounds like a laugh riot, no?

Well, sometimes it was a bit humorous. Like when one of the contestants decided to play Goodson and critiqued the scoring system. He got docked five million points when he goofed a question. The eventual winners wound up dancing with their future ghosts. The spirits seemed to enjoy the party.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

HQ the review

A faux tweet noted that live mobile-app game show HQ is piling up impressive audience figures. Since I'm a full-service game show blogger, I figured a review of the show was in order.

Fortunately, lots of players have uploaded episodes to YouTube, so I could sample here and there. What I saw was an entertaining interactive quizzer that gets the job done in thirteen minutes or so. The money isn't big - on one ep sixteen lucky winners went away with $78.13 each - but I don't care about that. The idea is to spend a little time with trivia.

Scott Rogowsky hosts in a thumpingly emphatic manner, which might get wearying for a half-hour and unendurable for an hour. But it works for a few minutes, though some of his material sounds scripted and corny.

The 12-question quizzer starts easy and gets tough fast, as the assembled multitudes are winnowed down to a select few. (Don't worry, there are second chances for the vast majority who goof a question or four.) To avoid mass googling, there are only a few seconds to respond to each query. On the eps I watched, I knew some of the more classical stuff but flunked badly on recent pop culture. I'm an old fart, after all.

If HQ's success continues, you can expect more live game show apps to invade the field. I don't know how such a format would work on TV, where interactivity has been an elusive goal for the genre. But I wouldn't be surprised to see somebody try, sooner or later.

UPDATE: Maybe HQ really has arrived. The show has spawned its first laughable deep-think piece, on a site called The Outline. A writer named Molly Sauter offers a mostly sour take on the quizzer, along with profound thoughts...

Everything about HQ, from its push notification demands for attention to the flat plasticky graphics to the well-groomed holoman at the center feels like a gloss on complicated questions about how we want to interact with technology and how we want technology to interact with us.

Good golly, Miss Molly. That's like, heavy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ratings: syndies slide

It was a drab week for syndie game shows. You'd think the numbers would start to pick up as we head into the peak viewing months. TV News Check has the dreary household ratings for the week of October 30-November 5...

Family Feud 6.3 - down a couple ticks
Jeopardy 6.0 - down a couple ticks before the T of C starts
Wheel of Fortune 5.9 - down only a tick, which is okay this week
Millionaire 1.6 - down a tick
Funny You Should Ask 0.5 - flat, which is good because this show doesn't have many ticks to lose

A couple of cable notes: last Wednesday (November 8) BET's Face Value tumbled to 196K total viewers. I'm not sure if that's a new low, but it ain't good. Meanwhile, GSN's Divided scored 300K viewers at midnight. That's okay for a show that its own network seems to dislike.

Overall, GSN perked up a bit for the week of November 6-12. 351K/261K viewers prime time/total day. The network ranked 38th and 36th in the windows. Best prime time numbers in a while.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Other people's money

We all have prurient interest in the loot that other people take home. So Forbes feeds our prying instincts with a list of the top earning TV hosts for the year ending June 30, 2017.

A couple of game show people make the money roll. Michael Strahan of 100K Pyramid clocks in with $21.5 million. (You sure it's not 21.6? Or maybe 21.4?) My guess is that he makes more from the Good Morning America and NFL gigs than he earns from Pyramid. But what do I know? I'm not his agent. Too bad for me.

Media conglomerate and Family Feud host Steve Harvey checks in at $42.5 million. He's got 99 shows and movies and books, so who knows how much of the loot comes from Feud? At least he's got plenty enough to ignore the brickbats from the oldies boards...if he even knows those boards exist.

Both these guys look like food-stamp candidates compared to top earning host Dr. Phil at $79 million. Maybe it's the Southern accent.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Garbage truck

Now that I hit a lick on BuzzerBlog, I'll take a glimpse at Game Show Garbage, another site I hadn't visited lately.

At least there aren't any phallic Feud images on GSG's top page. There is the screenshot of Vanna, with a link to a trashing of her ancient TV-movie turkey Goddess of Love. I'll leave the flick alone, though I've heard it's one of those so-bad-it's-good projects.

There's also a review of three recent game show debuts: BET's Face Value, GSN's Snap Decision, and syndication's Funny You Should Ask. Maybe I'm mellowing in my dotage, but I don't disagree all that much with the site's verdicts on the trio. Funny is pretty much of a dog, and the other two are okay offshoots of Street Smarts.

I do disagree with the site ranking Face Value above Snap Decision. I honestly don't see much difference in quality between the shows. None of the three efforts has wowed the Nielsen Company, by the way. Snap Decision has vanished from GSN, and the other two shows are limping badly.

Game Show Garbage has always hated GSN's Divided, and the site offers another casual dump on the show in the linked review. GSN itself apparently shares the dislike, as Mike Richards and friends have gotten exiled to midnight. Maybe I'm missing something, but I think the show is an entertaining blend of quizzer and argument.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Buzzing along

It's been a while since I checked BuzzerBlog's Facebook page. On a slow news weekend I figured I'd take a look.

First thing that greeted me was the, er, odd image of Steve Harvey on Family Feud in the screenshot. At first I thought it was some kind of penis reference, much like the usual slams on Harvey's show that you see on the oldies boards. (Shows you how my mind operates.) But then I remembered that BuzzerBlog generally likes Steve. So I'm not sure what the intention is, other than to attract notice. Well, it caught my eye.

The recent entries on the page are mostly the usual snippets of game show news. There's a lot of overlap with my own faux tweets, in fact. One obvious exception is the heavy emphasis on Brit game shows, which has characterized BuzzerBlog from the beginning. The site gives a middling review to Joker's Wild, and there's an on-site report from Baltimore about the Marc Summers documentary.

There is also a bit of predictable politics. An entry slams "many old white guys" for being "stupid and sleazy." (Guess this doesn't include Marc Summers.) As an old white guy myself, I'm familiar with such politically correct - and routine - drubbings. Funny thing, though. Old white guys tend to watch a lot of game shows. Let's hope our little genre doesn't make us any more stupid and sleazy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Alexander's horse

Readers of this blog - and anybody else who ran across my top 50 list - know of my high regard for Cash Cab. In fact, the failure of Game Show Forum to include the show in their top 50 is enough, on its own, to disqualify that board as a serious judge of game show quality. So there's lots of good news lately, including the Cash Cab Thanksgiving weekend marathon on GSN and the long awaited return of new eps to Discovery on December 4.

Ben Bailey is making the media rounds to plug the reboot. "I was excited when they first announced it...One game into filming I was like, 'did we ever stop?'" Ben's showing a little discretion here. When Discovery first announced the reboot, he complained loudly that he was left out of their plans. Give the network credit, they quickly corrected the mistake and hired the only cabbie you need for the one cab that pays you money.

The showrunners will tart up the new series with celeb guests, which purists (like me) will grump about. But what the hey, the cab rolls again. That's enough to keep us diehards happy. And by the way, Ben, I happen to know the name of Alexander the Great's horse. Yes, I need help.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

More number theory

First posted about this on the weekly ratings report. But an ancient actuary can never pass up a numbers chat. So I'll expand a little.

As a faux tweet noted, Buzzr chief Ron Garfield says the diginet has grown its viewership 40% since spring. He also says the average viewer household watches over two hours a day. The only source mentioned is "internal numbers." No idea what that means, but these are the first figures I've seen anywhere on Buzzr's actual viewership.

Pure speculation on my part, but the "internal numbers" might include some local market Nielsen and/or comScore data from stations that carry the diginet on a subchannel. There might also be some local comScore set-top box data for cable and satellite viewership. I don't think that Buzzr buys a full set of Nielsen national ratings. Few diginets buy those numbers, at least in these early stages of the networks.

There's always feedback on how Buzzr makes the phones ring for its direct response ads. The main takeaway is that Garfield is claiming significant percentage growth, though (no doubt) from a small base.

One thing is certain. The diginet skews very old. It seems like every Medicare supplement insurer pitches their products on Buzzr. Not to mention drug companies hawking old-age meds and lawyers chasing hip replacement and hernia mesh cases.

There's no way to quantify the impact on Buzzr's most direct competitor, GSN. After two big years GSN has seen a downdraft in their 2017 numbers. This may be cord-cutting, a lack of strong new shows, or maybe even some slight effect from the upstart diginet.

Of course, GSN depends on Buzzr parent Fremantle for much of its programming, most notably Steve Harvey's Family Feud. And Fremantle enjoys the licensing fees from GSN. It's an odd blend of competition and cooperation.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Don't blink

Just watched the debut ep of Fuse's Trivial Takedown on YouTube.

As I type the video has pulled 369 views. Which should tell you something about the popularity of Fuse, a cable net that "accommodates a wide range of music tastes, while targeting a demographic of young adults between 18 and 34 years old." I can just barely remember being 34 years old. That's when I got married.

Long story short, the quizzer is an okay rewind of Channel 4's Blink, with pop-culture clues flashing on and off while sort-of celeb contestants try to figure out who or what the clues are. The players on the first show were Chico and Glozell. One wore a wig and weird lipstick, and the other didn't. The wig got tossed around a lot. Glozell tried to bust some moves, too, with no luck.

I knew maybe two or three of the clues, but the target demo ain't me by more than three decades. So sue me for being old. Also, don't blink. The show goes by fast, as the disembodied host voice (Matt Richards) keeps reminding you.