Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lock In Those Lineups!

Well, we now know what the new "companion show" to Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? is - and thankfully, we got the good outcome. The second confirmed new syndicated show for September 2010 is a five-day-a-week version of Don't Forget The Lyrics. Since Wayne Brady obviously isn't coming back (the move to Los Angeles means Let's Make A Deal will probably be back next year), the new host is Mark McGrath.

In my book, this is good news. I like Don't Forget The Lyrics - yes, I know it's a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? clone, but so are half the game shows that premiered since Millionaire. Besides, Fifth Grader was changed pretty heavily for its five-day-a-week version (the jackpot went down from $1,000,000 to $250,000) and I'm guessing this will be too. We'll have to wait and see.

As with Fifth Grader, Don't Forget The Lyrics will rerun on MyTV (where it will replace Deal Or No Deal - face it, that show's dead) and on a Viacom-owned music cable channel - in this case, VH1. Why VH1 and not CMT, where Fifth Grader reruns? Easy. CMT is the current home of The Singing Bee.

Remember the whole battle between those two shows? Well, maybe "battle" is too strong a word - it lasted about a month before Wayne Brady beat out Joey Fatone. Frankly, I think that Don't Forget The Lyrics won because a Millionaire clone is what people have come to expect of game shows. I actually never saw The Singing Bee with Joey Fatone hosting; I eventually watched the CMT version with Melissa Peterman and was underwhelmed by the low payout (only $10,000) and host who seemed to be trying a bit too hard. Don't Forget The Lyrics, while certainly a Millionaire clone, built up some real suspense; The Singing Bee just sort of went on, with no real difference between the different games.

So let's recap: in September, we'll probably lose Deal Or No Deal, but gain Cash Cab and Don't Forget The Lyrics. We'll have to wait and see what, if anything, replaces As The World Turns.

I'm still hoping for Press Your Luck.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Yes, I Know It's January

It's that time again - time to take a look at what September 2010 has in store for five-day-a-week shows. There are several bits and pieces of news going around, and I'll get to them all in due course. Let's take this show by show...

Wheel Of Fortune\The Price Is Right: They're not going anywhere and you know it.

Jeopardy\Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: You'd think these two would be fine also, but considering that both were forced to have $1,000,000 tournaments this year, I'd say their futures are less certain. I'm not actually saying I think Jeopardy will be canceled - I just think it's more likely to than Wheel Of Fortune or The Price Is Right.

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?: Perhaps surprisingly, it's coming back next year!

Let's Make A Deal: Unclear at the moment; what is clear is that the show is moving production from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

Deal Or No Deal: It appears to be close to death. It's already been kicked out of its Connecticut studios, and Howie Mandel has taken a new job as a judge on America's Got Talent, which is in Los Angeles. We don't know for sure yet, but I don't think we'll see much more of this one.

Family Feud: It's coming back next year...with new host Steve Harvey. Yes, you read that right. If this show has that much trouble holding on to hosts, maybe they should just give up.

Cash Cab: Yes, you read that right. We already have one new show confirmed, and it's Cash Cab, in the form of syndicated reruns on episodes already aired on the Discovery Channel. Say what you will about that, I'm counting it.

As The World Turns: "That's a canceled soap opera!" you shout. Exactly. After fifty-four years, CBS is set to air the final episode of As The World Turns in September, and as with Guiding Light (which was replaced by Let's Make A Deal), they are considering replacing it with a new daytime game show. Shows being speculated about include Pyramid (which wouldn't be my first choice, but is always good), Press Your Luck (which would ROCK) and The Dating Game (please, please, NO.)

Finally, it appears that the people behind the five-day-a-week version of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? are working on a new show vaguely described as a "companion." My personal theory is that it is one of the other two game shows that ran on Fox during the same period, Don't Forget The Lyrics (which would ROCK) and The Moment Of Truth (please, please, NO.)

So there you have it. Steve Harvey is hosting Family Feud, Cash Cab is coming to syndication, and in a best case scenario, we'd have Press Your Luck and Don't Forget The Lyrics five days a week; in a worst case scenario, we'd be stuck with The Dating Game and The Moment Of Truth. There's not much left to say. We'll have to wait and see.

Only seven months, two weeks, and two days until Labor Day,


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Simon Cowell, You Are The Weakest Link...Goodbye!

There's plenty to talk about right now, but first I'm obligated to give you one more ISIHAC recap. Here's the episode broadcast December 21, 2009:

Opening: “We present I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games. At the piano is Colin Sell, and your chairman is Jack Dee.”

Recorded At: Futurist Theater, Scarborough

Panelists: On Jack’s left, Barry Cryer and Jeremy Hardy. On Jack’s right, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Jo Brand.

Scorer: “And here to keep a tally of every score, please welcome the delightful Samantha.”

Game One: Uxbridge English Dictionary
Jack’s introduction makes fun of British politician Nick Clegg.

Game Two: Pick Up Song
Jack: “You should sing along teams, and keep going when Samantha turns the volume down. If, when the music fades back in, you’re within a gnat’s crochet of the original, I’ll be awarding points, and points mean prizes. What’s the capital of Norway?”
Audience: “PRIZES!”
That explains it, right? In addition, Barry and Jeremy accompany Jo’s rendition of Here Comes Santa Claus, and Tim changes the words of Winter Wonderland to make fun of Bob Dylan.

Game Three: Sound Charades
Lionel Blair, laser display board, and Hamish…without Dougal, as he’s played by Graeme. Instead, Jeremy plays the Laird, the character he played on the spin-off sitcom You’ll Have Had Your Tea: The Doings Of Hamish And Dougal (really!)

Game Four: Any Questions
Jack reads a set of “questions from loyal listeners” for the panelists to “answer.”

Game Five: Barry and Jeremy must alternate words of a letter from Peeping Tom to Lady Godiva; Tim and Jo alternate words of the reply. Jack gets a message on Twitter from Stephen Fry while explaining the game.

Game Six: Swanee Kazoo

Game Seven: Fisherman’s Songbook

Closing: "Barry Cryer, Jeremy Hardy, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Jo Brand were being given silly things to do by Jack Dee, with Colin Sell setting some of them to music. The program consultant was Iain Pattinson, and the producer was Jon Naismith.”

That's ISIHAC Series 52, and I sincerely hope that by Series 53, we know who the new permanent host is. Moving on...

I hate American Idol. I really, really hate it. I hate it...and yet somehow I'm fascinated by it. Maybe I'm just trying to figure out why it's so popular; perhaps there's a part of me that actually likes this nonsense. It's not really a game show, but it is probably the biggest news in television right now (barring perhaps the battle over NBC late night, which I'm not even going to try to piece together.) The show is back, Paula Abdul is gone, and now Simon Cowell has said this season will be his last.

Must we walk through the career of Simon Cowell? To paraphrase, he makes 30,000,000 pounds a year and spends thirty of them on his wardrobe. Still, here goes: he was apparently some sort of record producer before he was unleashed on the world as a judge on a new talent competition on ITV in Britain: Pop Idol. This, in case you didn't figure it out, was the British version of American Idol; what's surprising about it is, it only lasted two seasons. That's not because it wasn't a hit (it was); ITV simply decided to quit while they were ahead.

Needless to say, that didn't stop Simon in the least. In 2002, while Pop Idol was between seasons, he became just as famous in America as a judge on American Idol, taking over the position of insulting British person from Anne Robinson (do you get the post title now?) After Pop Idol was canceled, he sold ITV a new talent competition on which he would be a judge: The X Factor. As far as I can tell, The X Factor is pretty much the same thing as Pop Idol (or, indeed, American Idol) except one thing: Simon Cowell created it and owns a larger stake in it. In other words, he makes more money.

The X Factor and American Idol have been their country's premiere talent competition ever since, and Simon actually added a third show in 2007 when ITV premiered Britain's Got Talent (the British version of America's Got Talent, which Simon created and produces but is not a judge on.) Now Simon is claiming he is leaving American Idol to focus on launching an American version of The X Factor. In other words, he wants more money.

First things first: I'm not sure I believe him. I could be wrong about this, but I'm pretty sure there was a time when Simon claimed he was leaving The X Factor for some reason; needless to say, that didn't happen. Let's make this more interesting by imagining that it is true, and that in 2011, there will be an American Idol without Paula Abdul or Simon Cowell. Would it work?

I think a better question is, would The X Factor work in America? It's not a name Americans know. It could be argued that in 2004, it wasn't a name the British knew either - yet that's not a fair argument because Pop Idol was already gone, leaving this new show to essentially take its place. If The X Factor and American Idol were both on, which would win?

I'm not saying they'll both have new episodes on the same night or something - I doubt any network is that crazy, and anyway, the current plan is for the American version of The X Factor to also be on Fox. American Idol will be on during the first half of the year; The X Factor will be on during the second half. In my book, this is a really bad idea because, well, if one falls, it will bring the other down with it. Making matters even worse, Simon is apparently trying to get Paula Abdul, who already appeared briefly as a judge on the British version of The X Factor, to commit to being a judge on the American version. We're shaping up for all-out war between two shows on the same network, and frankly, my prediction is that they're both gone by 2012. Not that that will stop Simon - he'll probably end up as a judge on America's Got Talent. Wonderful.

Speaking of America's Got Talent, it has been confirmed that Howie Mandel will be replacing David Hasselhoff as a judge for the upcoming season.

Deal Or No Deal must be in big trouble.

See you next week,


Thursday, January 7, 2010

More ISIHAC, And More About The Wilson Family Than You Ever Wanted To Know

Two unrelated game show things today. First, here's my recap of the ISIHAC episode broadcast December 14, 2009.

Opening: “We present I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games. At the piano is Colin Sell, and your chairman is Jack Dee.”

Recorded At: Futurist Theater, Scarborough

Panelists: On Jack’s left, Barry Cryer and Jeremy Hardy. On Jack’s right, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Jo Brand.

Scorer: “And ever hopeful for a good score this evening, please welcome the delightful Samantha.”

Game One: Chat-up Lines And How To Turn Them Down
Jack: “I have only three months to live.”Barry: “I’ll wait.”

Game Two: One Song To The Tune Of Another
Now here’s something “funny” – Jo suddenly swears in the middle of singing the words of I Will Survive to the tune of My Favorite Things. It’s bleeped out, but the commotion isn’t, and ultimately we hear the voice of the producer (Jon Naismith) telling Jack she gets another chance. No convoluted explanation either.

Game Three: As in episode three, one pair of panelists must outline their unusual medical condition (displayed to the audience via the laser display screen) to the other two, who have to figure out what it is.

Game Four: Another repeat from episode three – the panelists have to play announcers introducing radio and TV shows chosen purely on the basis on a catchy title.

Game Five: Karaoke Cokey
The title of a song is shown on the laser display board, and the audience must hum that song until the panelists guess it. It works about as well as you’d expect, certainly after an audience member blurts out the title!

Game Six: Motor Mechanic’s Film Club
Including, “in Graeme’s honor,” Bring Me The Head Gasket Of Alfredo Garcia…and way, way too many Herbie jokes.

Closing: “Barry Cryer, Jeremy Hardy, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Jo Brand were being given silly things to do by Jack Dee, with Colin Sell setting some of them to music. The program consultant was Iain Pattinson, and the producer was Jon Naismith.”

That's episode five! Now, on a completely different note, I've never been a major fan of The Newlywed Game. Yes, I realize it's an iconic game show, and it serves its purpose just fine, but the way I see it, it's only a short jump from The Newlywed Game to such horrific exercises as Three's A Crowd, the game show that purported to find out who knows a man better - his wife or his secretary?

It was every bit as scary as that makes it sound.

So I've never really liked The Newlywed Game, but someone out there must, because a new revival of it started on Game Show Network in April 2009, with new host Carnie Wilson. The game thankfully didn't change too much, and Carnie turned out to be pretty darn good, so if you like this sort of thing, by all means, watch. I myself watched today, for a specific reason. Today's episode was a celebrity edition, featuring the Wilson family - including Carnie herself and her husband. So who guest hosted? You guessed it...Bob Eubanks.

Bob is far from the only person to have hosted The Newlywed Game, but it seems like every time someone else tries, the results are so bad they have to bring Bob back to save the show. He's just that good, and that inseparable from this format - and sure enough, he hosted the show today as if he had never left. Carnie was playing against her sister and their mother (really!) for $10,000 for their charities. Let's just say I got a little too much information about this family. Quite frankly, none of the couples seemed really interested in winning the game, but it didn't matter too much since, it eventually came out, all three couples were playing for the Carl Wilson Foundation. Where's the fun in that, and why didn't Bob get this job?

Two more questions we'll never know the answer to.

Last ISIHAC of the season next week,