MSNBC: We Like Drew
Game Show Central Blog
Thursday, July 26, 2007
MSNBC: We Like Drew
MSNBC has an opinion piece (really?) on the Drew Carey pick. I agree with the writer's sentiments but not how she got to them. I don't think it matters how different the person chosen is from Bob, comparison is bound to occur, no matter what. But I do agree that his experience on Whose Line? will come in handy here. There's a show that had multiple games with varying rules; sure the format on Whose Line? was intentionally more relaxed, but Drew still had to know what was going on.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The Fox Game Show Machine
Does Fox have a patent on this? I swear to God they have a machine in their offices that takes a game show idea, puts it through a blender, and comes out with this exact same product time and time again:
1) A money tree with a safe haven
2) Three helps/lifelines/whatever
3) Mark Thompson's brooding announcing, as if every moment is a life or death decision (it's a singing show Mark, not open heart surgery)
4) Ridiculously unnecessary show previews at the start, pre-commercial, and at the end of the episode
5) Questions broken up by commercial breaks to "add to the drama" (but really just annoy viewers)
The Rich List, 5th Grader, and now Don't Forget the Lyrics for the most part have followed this exact same formula. Lyrics just doesn't hold a candle to its superior counterpart on NBC. The band on Singing Bee is far better than that on Lyrics, and by using professional singers to start the songs, you don't get the awkwardness of a contestant butchering an entire song, only part of it.
The games on Singing Bee are more creative and unique than Lyrics, which uses a flat fill in the blank format throughout the show. Also, the decision to focus on one contestant (5th Grader all over again) is a hit or miss idea that totally depends on that one contestant. By spreading the love among 6 contestants, Singing Bee can suffer through 1 or 2 bad ones (although the casting on Singing Bee has been near perfect as far as I can tell).
The show ground to an unbelievably slow pace at one point during tonight's episode, as we revealed the correct answer word by word. In a 30 minute format, getting through 5 songs is just ridiculous. Singing Bee handled so much more material in the same amount of time without seeming rushed.
Wayne Brady is, no surprise, more engaging than Joey Fatone, but even he can't save this show from looking decidedly weaker than its counterpart on NBC.
Also, I'm not going to guess which network developed their show first, but how is it that both sets wound up with marquee signs? That's just weird.
The Singing Bee was the #1 show among 18-49s last night, not too bad.
It looks like the middle game was different last night. Not sure if that reflects a broad format change or if the show employs different games a la Price is Right. I wasn't as much of a fan of the the "lyrics all over the screen" game, but it wasn't too awful I guess.
It's still a fun show...too bad they're pushing it ahead of 1 vs. 100 for Fall. Can't we all get along?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Full Speed Ahead
Monday, July 23, 2007
I figured Drew appearing on David Letterman meant something. Here's the official word.
I don't think it's a bad choice, as I opined back in June. He's a big name and he's got game show (ish) cred. I imagine his first few weeks will be dicey but he'll get into a groove, so we shouldn't judge him by the first few tapings.
The big question is, is he willing to stay for the long haul? The show can probably go on forever, so has Drew Carey decided to table any bigger plans for his career and settle in for a long run as a game show host? The show's schedule will definitely allow him to do standup and maybe even another sitcom simultaneously, but if he wants to get into movies or whatnot that could be tough.
At least the search is over! Apologies to my desired pick, Todd Newton, who always seems to be one step away from making a really big break. He's still a young guy with a lot of talent so I think we have definitely not heard the last from him.
Tonight on Letterman...
Sunday, July 22, 2007
I missed the premiere of the dueling karaoke shows while I was out of town, so I caught up on a Singing Bee rerun last night. I have to stay I was very impressed. I found very little to complain about. I thought each of the three main game rounds were solid, similar enough but with enough twists to not seem repetitive. The third round, with the two remaining contestants, seemed a bit rushed, seeing as it was the key to get to the bonus round I wondered why it wasn't made longer at the expense of the other rounds.
Other than that, very fun and entertaining to watch. I thought the material was easy at first (most of the songs were extremely easy to recognize), but the attention demanded to detail (singular will not be accepted for plural and vice versa) showed the game can be tough too.
My favorite part of the show may have been the surroundings. The set and the band are great. The contestant picking process in the beginning is great, and I really though Joey Fatone shined there. Strangely though, once the game got going, he really was just playing traffic cop. His attempts to mingle with the contestants once they got on stage were not much to write home about (it seemed the only conversation he could get going was a reply of "Sweet!").
Other than that, a solid game, easily a 9 out of 10. It'll be hard for Wayne Brady's entry into the genre to beat it -- I'll check that out this week.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
New Giveaway Set!
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Not the best news this morning...MSNBC reports that Merv Griffin is in the hospital for cancer treatment.
He seems upbeat, as this quote attests: "I'd rather play Jeopardy! than live it. I was ready for a vacation; however, this wasn't the destination I had in mind."
This was meant to be a huge post about all the game show weirdness I saw in the Netherlands, but now that I'm back I'll make it really short. They use 6 and 7 letter words on their version of Lingo now. That seems sacrilegious I guess, and I couldn't figure out the pattern. The morning episode I watched had 7 letter words, and the evening episode used 6.
Both versions had an updated format for round two, with each word actually bouncing back and forth between the teams automatically until a team got it right. This required each word actually starting with a "toss up word", unscrambled Ceasar's Challenge style, which had 10 letters.
They have That's the Question there still, which looks a lot like our version, for obvious reasons.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I'm getting pretty darn good at flipping channels in Europe and finding game shows. Ran into Greece's version of Deal or no Deal last night. It basically plays a lot like the UK version...members of the public man the cases, which are not laid out in numerical order. There are only 22 (?) cases overall and a car is offered as one of them.
Last night's episode was pretty underwhelming. A buck toothed contestant mastered the game, taking home 43,000 Euros, which was about 1/5 of the top prize, and his case had far less than that. Some things I didn't get about their version:
*The host (and, sometimes, the contestant) would peek at the chosen case's value before the audience saw it
*Random singing and clapping (to various local songs and techno hits) after "good" cases were hit
*The host kicking a soccer ball all over the stage
My buddy I'm travelling with happened to be watching in his hotel room while I was watching in mine and called me to ask, "What is this rinky dink version of Deal or no Deal they have?"
Pretty good assessment.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Deal Oder No Deal
Navigating Blogger in Greece is interesting, especially when you don't know Greek.Just spent 4 days in Germany and got to see a few good games on TV while I was out there. Germany's version of Deal or no Deal is fun and, interestingly, is called Deal or no Deal. The host even asks that as the question to the contestant. Very strange. 250K Euros is the top prize. The episode I saw last Saturday featured a woman who was trying to pull off her best Brooks impression...went 4 rounds in a row with no safety net. But unlike Brooks she came out a winner, taking home 65,000 Euros, which with the current exchange rate is roughly $8.9 Billion in US dollars.
The set and logo are very similar to the US version, same fonts and everything. Only strange thing I could find was that there was a huge lighting event at the start of each round, simliar to what Millionaire does before each question. Kind of annyoing. Despite only featuring one contestant per hour show, the show managed to be paced better than our version. The friends and family were consulted very infrequently, and there were no annoying fake-outs of case openings that were actually commercial breaks. Of course, there are only two commercial breaks for the whole hour (each one is honestly 7 minutes long).
The next day, randomly flipping through the dial, I caught the German version of the Rich List, interestingly titled...The Rich List. Trust me, I studied German for four years--they do have words for those words in German. The Rich List was fun to watch, mainly since I'd only ever seen that one infamous US episode from last year. The show moved along at a nice clip with one interesting question (name the internet extensions [i.e., .gr, .uk, etc.] for the European countries) and one lame question (name the top 30 countries in order of land mass size). The team conked out in the bonus round pretty high up the ladder, so it made for an interesting episode.That show really was Hot Potato on steroids. It's good for a 30-minute GSN-style show but as a big money primetime quiz I'm not sure what they were thinking. It just isn't novel enough to expect people to turn away from something more creative.
On to the Neterhlands this weekend which should provide some interesting viewing opportunities.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
I'm in the middle of a European tour here, so forgive the relative lack of posts over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to chime in more with some reviews of games across the world, like the one I saw here in London on Friday.
When I flipped the TV on I saw three contestants each sitting in front of 5 circular orbs, some of which had money on them, some had the word "killer". They were engaging in a bluffing game, trying to convince the others they had money and their opponents had the dreaded killer balls. After much discussion, everyone voted and the contestant with the least votes was voted off.
Seemed interesting, but what was it called? Luckily the host helped out when they went to commercial.
"Stay tuned for more action here on Golden Balls."
Excuse me? Yes, Golden Balls. I realize as a near-30 year-old I shouldn't find humor in that, but I do.
In any event, the game appears to work as follows. 4 players start and are given a random allotment of 5 balls each, most of which have cash, some of which have the word Killer on them. That's bad, more about that later. Like a card game hand, some of the balls are known to the other contestants, some of the balls are known only to the contestant who has them. The contestants then engage in a verbose bluffing session, where each claims to have the fewest Killer balls. Based on the balls that the other contestants can see plus the bluffing skills of the players, they all vote and knock the person out who is assumed to have the worst balls.
This is then done again until they are down to two players. Then the fun starts. By this point, the values of all the balls are known to the two players, but they are re-concealed so they don't which is which. Alternating, the players pick two balls at a time, one to remove from play and one to add to a five-ball jackpot. This is where the Killer balls come into play. There is always at least one Killer ball in play still at this point (and usually more). If a Killer ball is ever added to the jackpot, the last digit in the jackpot's value at that time is removed (so 25,000 pounds would immediately become 2,500). On the episode I saw, the contestants had one Killer ball remaining as they added their last ball to the jackpot, so the potential for the jackpot to soar or fall was definitely there.
With that said, it's best for the contestants to either not add any Killer balls to their jackpot ever or to add them early on. The unique thing here is, depending on their luck, the jackpot can either be huge or tiny.
Despite how strange that sounds, it's actually the most fun part of the show, due to the tension of the reveal. You'd think they'd end there, splitting the jackpot, but they instead decide to play Shafted/Friend or Foe and decide if they'll both split the money, someone will take everything, or they'll both leave with nothing.
Thanks to that poor choice of a final round, and the drawn out bluffing in the first two rounds (it's an hour show that need only be 30 minutes), the game is a mixed bag. It's really Weakest Link meets Deal or no Deals meets Shafted.
Seeing as it's an Endemol production, I'd be stunned if it never at least made it to pilot in the US. And if it does, hopefully they'll tweak the end game...and the name.