Game Show Central Blog
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
3 U's and You're Out
Bob Says: "It's Time"
The moment finally arrived that all Price fans knew was coming...but most didn't want to have to face. This will be Bob's last season on the show. Bob will be leaving the show on a high note, as an 83-year old man that hosted probably the most complicated game show in history with total ease. He's a living legend and a hall of famer in the TV academy. And the comfort America had knowing they could always see him every weekday morning will be sorely missed.
With that being said, Bob's departure opens an interesting and exciting period for the show. Some predictions:
1) The show will not be cancelled on Barker's leaving. TPIR still finishes in the top 3 for all network daytime shows, including soaps. While network presence in daytime has been constantly eroding for years now, it's doubtful that CBS and its affiliates would want to give up this valuable piece of real estate, even if the show does skew ancient.
2) Internal tryouts for a new host will continue in earnest. I was part of the pricing game "training" a few years ago for a candidate who will remain nameless, and you can bet that this has been continuing in earnest, with our without the network's blessing. I would not expect to see, however, a Carson-esque on-air tryout of hosts.
3) Seats for TPiR tapings this season will get increasingly harder to come by, with seats for Barker's final show a near impossibility.
Regardless of what happens, this will result in, by far, the most publicized game show host search in history. Whoever replaces Bob will face an uphill climb in order to replace a man who represented everything from a grandfather figure, to a sex symbol, depending on the generation watching him.
And as a somewhat unrelated note, not to detract from Bob's legacy, but with his leaving the show, will CBS please open the gates to allowing TPiR reruns on GSN?
Monday, October 30, 2006
I haven't blogged yet about The Amazing Race, which I was remiss in doing. It really is the best "reality game" to come along in the last few years, with the exception maybe of our dearly departed friend The Mole. It gives a glimpse of the world that sadly too many Americans just don't get out to see, especially in this day and age.
That being said, this season's results have seemed a little...fishy to me. I am rooting for team Coal Miner as much as anyone else is, but it seems just way too coincidental that each time they've come in last, it's been a non-elimination leg. Of course the producers have always said that these legs are pre-determined, and I definitely hope that's the case. But combined with the fact that the first fast forward showed up after Coal Miner's first near-elimination, it seems to be pretty fortunate for them, to say the least.
My only gripe of the show is that they spend a lot of time showing teams doing the same thing. 6 different shots of teams ordering the same plane tickets doesn't do all that much for me. But I'll definitely keep watching.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
1 vs. Sleep
I have to admit that last night's 1 vs. 100 episode was kind of a snooze. With the exception of that nasty salad question, everything was pretty predictable. The night's best moment may have been when contestant #2 nearly thought "Miss Mayonnaise" was an actual Clue character.
I'm still not thrilled about how over-produced this show has been in its first 3 episodes. I imagine even casual fans are a little confused when they hear Bob talking yet see the camera panning around the audience. These ridiculous overdubs serve only to overexplain the rules and just make the production look kind of unprofessional. It's a minor issue in the end, but (clearly) it irks me.
Also of concern, the show lost by a full ratings point to whatever crap CBS was airing at the same time. I didn't expect the show to win its timeslot against the World Series (the Cards won?!), but keep in mind that 1 vs. 100 was even with CBS last week.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I'm amazed at all the weird game show stuff I find just surfing channels lately. Like something called Play2Win. I'd heard that a PlayMania clone was coming, I just didn't think it was this soon. My first reaction when it popped up on my screen is, wow, this woman hosting the show is wearing lingerie on screen. Good for her. Second off, this looks like the cheapest thing to show up on TV in 30 years. I mean, Dialing for Dollars in the '70s looked better than this.
WOW is this bad! They're playing a Family Feud style game and the answers are on the back of construction paper! NICE!
And another thing, why is she wearing lingerie on air?!? I think the guys watching this show at 2am are just expecting her to do a striptease.
Wow, they spent 15 minutes on "Animal Names Beginning With S". Calgon, take me away.
If crap like this is getting on the air, why don't they start re-running Trivial Pursuit: The Interactive Game, or Your Number's Up?
I'm starting to realize that several pricing games have predictable values that always seem to win. For example, I think going with a $25/$35/$45 strategy on Cliff Hangers basically guarantees a win. Has there been an episode recently that strayed from that?
Also, they should just rename Magic # as "$1800", because that seems to be a winner 10 times out of 10.
And is one of the rotating models named Fire?? Sounds more like an American Gladiator.
Not much going on during tonight's Deal or no Deal episode. Funny thing I've noticed. For the amounts less than $50K, the case opening sound is the happy chime. For the amounts $100K and higher, it's the brooding stinger sound. And for the $50K and $75K cases it's the...well, I guess it's best described as a thud. The best part of these two cases being opened is there's a split second moment where no one really knows how to react. It's the game show equivalent of Bart Simpson's famous quote, "Meh."
And in vague spoiler news, ABC's Show Me the Money may contain the most interesting sideshow ever presented on a game show before, but I'll wait for their commercials to debut before I comment/get sued.
Edit: Well, ABC already put a press release out about the show, so I can spoil the fact that the game show is going to have Solid Gold-esque dancers. According to the press release: "Adding to the variety aspect of the show are the thirteen stunning Million-Dollar Dancers who are always ready to break into any style of dance, while audacious master of ceremonies William Shatner spontaneously boogies with the beauties on stage."
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Today we came to the close of the first week of Body Language with Lucille Ball as guest. It was definitely worth watching, mainly because I found myself asking, what the heck was she doing on this show? Clearly she had a long standing relationship with Tom Kennedy, which must have helped, but in 1984 I'm guessing she was sort of "between jobs", and though I doubt she needed the money, probably felt like getting her face out on TV.
Finding fault with Lucy is definitely tricky business. She's clearly a TV legend and so many of today's comedy stars owe her a ton for her groundbreaking style. But I was sort of put off by the way she was acting on this week of shows. It could be best described as sort of a victory tour for her, accepting overly long rounds of applause with no real false modesty. It wound up detracting from the game, the contestants, and not to mention her co-celebrity, Charles Nelson Reilly, no slouch in the accomplished thespian department himself. Not to mention the fact that because of the extra "Lucy time", the shows ran mercilessly long and by the end, Tom was racing through the end game like a NASCAR driver.
It also continued a disturbing pattern I saw both on this shown and (Super) Password (Plus) where Lucy got away with murder in terms of judgment calls. Several times she would only say half of a two word phrase and get credit for it, and it seemed the puzzles and clues she had to play were a tad easier than normal (one of the puzzles she gave clues for was "Lucille Ball").
That being said, Lucy has long passed, her legend lives on, these game show episodes aired over 20 years ago, and in the long run it's not really a big deal. But this is a game show blog and this what I have to yak about here, so there it is.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Whack the Deck
For the second time Stack the Deck was played, the contestant picked his free choices (in my opinion) poorly. And for the second time, he was right, even craftfully selecting the 5 as the last digit. The highlight of the game may have been Bob running right over Rich trying to announce one of the items. Seeing how much I just love Rich, I was kinda hoping Bob would just keep on talking.
Also, when are people going to realize that, at least on a non-primetime special, if you see a car in the first showcase, bid on it. Don't expect something bigger and better in the next one; it's going to be sofas.
Monday, October 23, 2006
100 to 1 Shot
As I finally caught up on last Friday's 1 vs. 100, I found myself chiding the first contestant to leave the show with nothing. He used two helps, saw that only 4 (!!) people picked his answer, and one of them WASN'T Ken Jennings. Put 2 and 2 together and...nope, he still went with the super minority.
Then, thinking Ken could do no wrong, he immediately goes out in the next round. Although, to be fair, it was probably unwise to think a guy from Utah would know the intimate details of a roulette wheel.
Incidentally, while on vacation this weekend with non-game show friends, I found a lot of them talking about "that new game show on NBC", which, according to them, was called one of the following:
*1 out of 100
*100 to 1
*1 and 100
Thursday, October 19, 2006
For the first time that I can remember, Bob finally took it to an idiot contestant who bid $1 less than a previous bid in Contestant's Row, going as far as making the guy sit on the loser's chair (believe me, I know that feeling) before he even read the ARP. Seems unfair that the dolt got to play Plinko.
Add that to the witty remark he made about gas prices during Lucky Seven ("You have enough money left to put a down payment on a gallon of gas!") and it sounds like Bob has fully recovered from the SARS-like virus that was bugging him on Wednesday's show.
And I'm sorry, I know that Poker Game can be confusing to non-card players, but what the heck did today's contestant mean when she said "I'll visit the house" after her hand was revealed?
PETA or no PETA?
When you fast forward through Deal or no Deal (there's no real other way to watch it), you sometimes miss some subtext about the contestant. For tonight's 2nd contestant, I was pretty much sure he was an animal hoarder throughout. Turns out he just legally cages exotic animals against their will (what we call in English a "zookeeper"). Seems fitting that he's now flying into "idiotic decision territory" with a live vulture right on stage.
Incidentally, I think I'm finally able to classify all DonD contestants in at least one of the following 3 groups:
1) Freakish personalities
2) Fat and jolly
3) Desperately seeking missing loved ones
I'm not sure what was more interesting about today's Price episode. That Bonus Game was the only car game played in the first half, or that the contestant managed to pull an 0-fer on it for the first time in recent memory.
Also, when are people goint to start figuring out that one of the prices in Clock Game is always $999? It's time to try 4-digit prices on this game again. It can't be that hard.
Wheel of Ads
There's a lot to love about Wheel of Fortune right now. I Tivo it every day. It looks absolutely stunning in HD. They're getting in 7-8 puzzles a day. They pick some of the best contestants of any game show (a fact I admit grudgingly, given my maddening desire to be a contestant myself). Pat's done a great job hosting since day one.
That being said, there are two things I would like to see change. First off, they need to ditch the Prize Puzzles. The proliferation of these bonuses has made too many of the games runaways. The other detractor to the Prize Puzzles is that they invariably are related to trips, and it reduces the overall quality of these puzzles. How many variations on the RELAXING IN THE SAND theme can they do before they start repeating? And I'm sorry, I refuse to believe anyone actually books a $5,000 vacation on LastMinuteTravel.com.
Speaking of questionable advertising, the wheel itself is starting to look more and more like the over-advertised stretch of I-15 between LA and Vegas every day (although we've yet to see a Danny Gans gift tag, thankfully). Even the Wheelmobile has advertising on it. I understand the opportunity for product placement on the highest rated syndicated show is too much to pass up, but there has to be a limit one would think.
I think my frustration has culminated with Astra Zeneca presenting a $1,000 gift tag/charity donation on the wheel. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate Wheel promoting a worthwhile cause such as breast cancer research on the show, but using a drug company as the vehicle is a questionable choice at best, especially given some of the controversy surrounding this particular one.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Sincerest Form of Flattery
We all know that game shows often imitate one another (how many Wheel clones were tried in the '80s?), but it's interesting to note that a few game show themes songs actually were imitations as well. Currently spending way too much time on my iPod is "Give it One" by Maynard Ferguson. Apparently a quite accomplished musician in his own right, Jackson's "Give it One" served as the theme song (and probably only good thing) about the Wheel of Fortune pilot in 1974. It bears a striking resemblance to the well-loved "Big Wheels" theme that Alan Thicke put out for the show's premiere the next year.
I'm guessing that as a pilot show only shown to network executives and test audiences you don't have to worry about music clearance issues. That certainly was the case with the lofty-ambition ($1,000,000 purse?) Bullseye pilot, which used Santa Esmeralda's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" as its theme. The actual theme put out by Hal Hidey was about as close as you can get without being a total ripoff. The great thing about the original track in this case is that it was used in the movie "Kill Bill" a few years ago. You can imagine my surprise as I'm about to see Uma Thurman kick some tail and it sounds like Bonus Island is about to float on by.
The Decisions, Decisions pilot in the late '70s also used the super-extended mix of Macarthur Park by Donna Summer as its theme, a song which was definitely suited for the time period and the occasion.
Anyways, getting back on topic, the full version of "Give it One" is available for free on the 'net if you Google hard enough for it. I won't link to it here as to not crash someone else's site, but it's worth the hunt.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
GSN advertises the heck out of Playmania, and all the buzz around it has been pretty good. So while channel surfing last night I decided to take a gander at what all the fuss is about.
I like what GSN is doing with this show, even if it really isn't much to write home about. The intangibles are what really makes it noteworthy, especially the on-air talent and the laid back nature of the format. Handling a live program is not easy and I think Shandi Finnessey definitely held her own. I especially like the banter with the camera crew and others that makes the show pretty lighthearted.
That being set, it's not going to end up on my Tivo anytime soon, and it if did, it may only be to see some of the hilarious play-at-home answers. Such as last night, during the Family Feud-esque survey game, when the question was "Name the Top 5 TV Shows With a City in the Title." Among the funnier answers were:
*LA-New York (?)
*CSI-Las Vegas (it's just CSI, folks)
*Dukes of Hazzard (which I believe was a county)
*The O.C. (which I *know* is a county)
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I have to say I am totally blown away by 1 vs. 100's performance in the ratings last night. I was expecting a slight drop from Deal's ratings, but a 20% increase? Congrats to them.
I went in wanting to like this show and came out really liking it. The set is amazing, the pacing was far more tolerable than Deal, and Bob is doing a good job. I thought the "Helps" were a good addition to the game, and I like the fact that, in the "one right, one wrong" help, the mob is encouraged to try to deceive the contestant, even if they can't lie about their original response.
Only two things irked me about the premiere, both of which are (hopefully) likely to go away as the show goes on. One is the dreaded "overdubs", where Bob injected comments into the taping that were clearly done after the taping. I can understand if it is occasionally required because something important was left out, but most of them served to add nothing to show and in fact ran the risk of making it too "chatty".
The other is the material. With two helps available, there's no harm in throwing at least one tough question at the contestant. With both contestants we saw last night there was not one question that I considered remotely challenging, given the amount of money at play.
Other than that, this show is definitely one I'll be coming back to. Much like Deal, I'm sure that later episodes will be more smooth. I'm impressed with the rating they were able to garner, although I hope they don't decide to start running it to death.
We definitely seem to be entering the second golden age of games in primetime, only 6 years or so after the last one ended. I guess TV really is cyclical like that; let's hope this cycle lasts a little longer than the last one.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
"Dark" Period; New Giveaway Set up for Grabs
GSN fans from the early days of '97 and '98 remember "The Dark Period" quite well. So dubbed by members of the alt.tv.game-shows (sigh) newsgroup, it was the six or so months where GSN inexplicably let the rights to the Goodson library lapse. With the notable exception of Price is Right (and the not so notable exception of the horrid '94 Feud with Dawson), no G-T shows aired. Instead, we got a hodge podge lineup that any fan would have considered a joke had it been shown to him earlier. Go at 8pm? 90 straight minutes of various Pyramid episodes? Hollywood Connection on the air period? Yep.
The funny thing is, while fans were ready to burn down GSN, I quietly began e-mailing contacts who actually had the network (Tulane did not then and still does not have it in their dorms, 9 years later) to start taping anything and everything for me. I guess I had the foresight to know that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Pass the Buck, Break the Bank, and Go, knowing that GSN couldn't go without Match Game and the other G-T shows for long. I also hoarded a ton of $20,000 Pyramid episodes, a show to this day I don't know why isn't rerun on GSN (while the same year of $100,000 Pyramid continues to repeat endlessly).
Anyways, all this rambling leads to the next entry in my Great Tape Giveaway. Most of the tapes in this set are indeed from that "Dark Period", so if you're a fan of Go and win this set, you can enjoy over 50% of the show's entire run. Hopefully not in one sitting.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Roar No More
In the most bizarre of random finds, I was Googling around tonight and discovered that Uproar.com either has gone out of business or dramatically scaled back their operation. This is a shame, as Uproar.com was one of the first websites to embrace online game shows, as early back as the late '90s, if I recall correctly. Their Family Feud game had been a mainstay for a long time. Hope somebody else picks up the slack!
Attack of the Daytime Emmys
I've always thought the most curious prize ever offered on the original Press Your Luck was a trip to the Daytime Emmys, mainly because the show was never once nominated for such an honor during its 3 years of existence. Interestingly, host Peter Tomarken did feature prominently in the intro to the '85 ceremony, despite not being nominated.
The prize appeared on the show for about a week or so a few months before the awards were to take place in 1985, and Peter promised the winner would have lunch with him in New York before being the show's guest at the ceremony. Without hesitation, the prize was won by Lisa on one of the first days it was offered.
Then the craziness happened. Apparently wanting to overhype the prize to death, the prize appeared again on the next show, when it was promptly hit again, this time by Ron who picked the prize on a Pick a Corner hit even though "it's only a 20 minute train ride away from me." Then he passed his remaining spins to Lisa, now the returning champion. Defying all logic, the prize appeared again on the board and Lisa was instantly offered it twice *in a row* on consecutive spins when she hit Move One Space. She declined it both times, to which Peter remarked, "You could have gone three times by now!"
Monday, October 09, 2006
I Love Deal or No Deal!
That's a title you'll never see me type again. But tonight's episode made me happy because I like it when greedy people get what's coming to them. This woman had 4 chances in a row to take deals around or more than $100,000 and continually passed them up, even after her "safety net" was gone. Ha.
Incidentally, Hayley has to be my favorite model, because the Foxy Brown afro is just that cool. And the reveal of the losing case, with all of them lying on the ground, was just kinda cool.
Stack That Deck
No complaints about the new pricing game on TPiR today, Stack the Deck. It reminds me a little bit of Two For The Price of One, just kinda flattened out really. I liked the guy's strategy today, pickng the 2nd - 4th numbers as his guesses. I would've figured 3rd-5th would be the best bet, although games like this (and Pocket Change) usually give away the last digit as a zero, and today was no exception. They need to time the winning chimes a little bit better though; the reveal is kind of slow and they were clanging away a few seconds before the actual price was shown.
Other highlights today--a dreaded $800 bid AFTER a contestant bid $801 in Contestant's Row, and a razor-thin Range Game win. Also a great math blunder by Bob in Pocket Change; the contestant lost by 45 cents, to which Bob lamented, "Only a nickel short!"
Saturday, October 07, 2006
It was about darn time to update the Wheel of Fortune Timeline page, so I added the 1998 page as well as updated the 1974 page. The 3000th episode in 1998 turned out to be a goldmine of classic clips, so the 1998 page has an above-average 24 screen grabs in there. Enjoy!
Friday, October 06, 2006
Deal or No Cat Fight
I rag on Deal or No Deal a lot on here, but I have to give credit for the weird Banker's Model vs. Contestant showdown on tonight's episode. Part of me was hoping for an all out catfight, but not on a TV-G show I suppose. Actually, looking at the Model's outfit, this must have been a TV-PG episode at least.
Did anyone else think that the 2nd contestant on tonight's episode looked like the husky guy from Lost?
I'm a sucker for a show with a good set and a ton of contestants (i.e., Winning Lines), so I'm stoked about 1 vs. 100.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Interesting week in Body Language reruns on GSN. Brian Mitchell is definitely a sharp charades player, but Phyllis is only mediocre at best. And what's up with the skimpy outfits? I swear on Monday's show she was dressed like a street walker. Although admittedly she looked far worse in The Aristocrats.
Speaking of, I came to the (not so earth-shattering) conclusion that the first round on Body Language is a complete waste of time. The scoring system guarantees that basically if one team wins both puzzles in round two, they go to the bonus round, otherwise there's a playoff. The first two puzzles are essentially practice.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
"That's The Question" bowed this week on GSN, and they seem to clearly be trying to strike gold twice using the "Lingo" formula -- fly to the Netherlands, use an existing format and set, produce 20 eps. relatively cheap and see if it sticks.
At least in this case, however, I don't think they'll be able to replicate their success with Lingo. The format here simply isn't strong enough. The puzzles are fun to play along with for a few minutes, but nothing really radical changes throughout the show. At least in Lingo there are some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Plus Lingo is a unique type of word puzzle that really hasn't been replicated before, whereas I imagine the average viewer of Question? is going to think he's seeing a high school production of Wheel of Fortune.
Actually, the hardcore game show fan in me sees a lot of resemblances here to the forgotten Wink Martindale game Headline Chasers. Heck, it even drums up memories of one of Goen's first games, the forgettable Home Shopping Game.
That's another disappointing thing here, the fact that Bob Goen, who I find really talented and witty, has been paired up with some pretty bad game show vehicles in his life. The only two good formats I think he's been paired with were Wheel (which he hosted admirably for 2 years) and the extremely-underrated Blackout.
There's some other things about the show that irked me a little bit. The contestants on the premiere certainly didn't seem that interested in the show, although the Dutch-shot Lingo episodes all suffered the same fate (and produced some hilarious bloopers as well). The mysterious woman breathlessly whispering "question" every time the buzzer is hit also makes no sense. Most curious of all is Goen's walk off at the end of the show, which dissolves to a silhouette black and white shot. I kinda expected him to launch into a 50's-esque detective spiel about a girl with gams that wouldn't quit. It's a shame he didn't.
But props to GSN for its renewed dedication to game show formats. Not all of them will stick (read: Sc(t)arface), but some will, like Chain Reaction.
Speaking of Chain Reaction, I'm glad they kept the Go bonus round in, but what's up with that weird blindfold on the guesser? It's a game show, not a firing squad.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
What the heck is this??
Game Show Central has (finally) been redesigned. 11 years (!) into the site I figured it was time for an updated style for the site.
The main pages that have always been part of the site will always be here, and you can find those on the left side of the page now. I do plan to continue updating the Wheel Timeline and Theatre pages as time permits. The Pricing Game Page will always have the most up to date info on any new pricing games that premiere on TPiR. The PYL page may be pretty much locked for now, although if any developments arise in that area (such as another Gameshow Marathon), it will of course be updated as well.
The main new feature of the site is the Game Show Central blog. It has been around in a few forms over the years (who could forget the poorly-titled "Brad Barks" from 2001?), but it's never been featured prominently. As one of the more visited game show sites on the net, I figure I need to provide something more than an occasional video addition to the site. This isn't going to be an up-to-the-minute news blog; Buzzer Blog and GSNN pretty much have that down to a science. But I do have a lot of game show opinions, tidbits, and stories rattling around in my brain and I figure it's better to spout them out here then to try them out on my coworkers (a good "Battlestars" story doesn't go too far these days in the "real" world).
So hope you enjoy the new site and come back often to check out its new beginning!