Thursday, February 25, 2010

None Of This Is Confirmed...

It does look very likely right now that we will have a new game show in the fall on CBS to replace As The World Turns. While I should stress that this is more rumor than anything else, I thought I'd give my thoughts on each of the shows that are reported as being in the running for the slot. Let's take this in no particular order, and with the company that owns each show listed next to the show's name:

Pyramid (Sony): The frontrunner apparently, and while it wouldn't be my first choice, it's always a good show to have around. It's probably time someone went ahead and did The $1,000,000 Pyramid (and let's face it, that's what this would be).

Catch Phrase (Hasbro): No, not the show Art James hosted, but rather an adaptation of the board game. I own a lot of board games, but not this one, so I looked on Hasbro's site for the instructions. Catch Phrase, as far as I can just a variation on Pyramid. The big difference: rather than one team trying to get as many words as possible before time runs out, once one team guesses a word, it's the other team's turn. When time runs out, the team whose turn it is loses the round. That's it. CBS, if you're going to revive Pyramid, revive Pyramid. Frankly, I'd rather have Password anyway...oh, wait...

Password (Fremantle): I would love to see more Password, but with both Pyramid and Catch Phrase in the mix, I'm guessing it's highly unlikely. Oh well.

Apples To Apples (Mattel): Yes, you read that right. This is a board game I do own, and it's one of the least likely things to translate to television you could possibly imagine. Frankly, I'd rather have this than Catch Phrase, if only so I can see how it comes together, but I wouldn't want it at the expense of a proven success.

Press Your Luck (Fremantle): Probably my first choice of the shows on this list. I would love to see this come would fit in perfectly with The Price Is Right and Let's Make A Deal...and let's face it, it's not going to happen.

Dirty Rotten Cheater (Jonathan Goodson): Believe it or not, this would be my second choice. I don't think it flopped by any fault of the show itself, but simply because nobody watched Pax in primetime. If CBS were to give this one a try, I think it could really work...but it's not a name people know.

The Dating Game (Sony): Please, please, NO.

The Money Maze: I think the fact that I don't know who owns this show proves I don't want it back. It would be better than The Dating Game, though.

There you have it! Looks like we're going to get a word game. Let me stress one more time than this is all more rumor than anything else...but as there's no real news this week...


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Done Deal...Howie's

It's official, and it's no surprise: Deal Or No Deal will end in September.

I like Deal Or No Deal. I always have. I like it, but I certainly don't think it's the greatest game show ever made. I watched on the night it premiered, and I wrote a review, which I no longer have but recall saying that in an ideal situation, this show "would settle down in an inconspicuous afternoon slot for eternity" and that the show would flop because, six years after Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? "a million dollars for opening a suitcase isn't going to cut it."

In hindsight, of course, I was more right than wrong - but hindsight is easy, and at the time, I was more than a little surprised to see this show become a primetime hit. Let me clarify what I said above, though - I like Deal Or No Deal and always have...when it's played without any gimmicks.

Deal Or No Deal wasn't the first primetime hit to collapse into gimmicks - look at Millionaire or The Weakest Link - but it certainly did so spectacularly. There were gimmicks done that I have never heard of before and certainly hope to never hear of again - A Star Wars show where the banker is Darth Vader! A show where, if the contestants don't win more than a certain amount, the host has to jump into a giant cake! A show where identical twins play together and both get to pick a case! The Million Dollar Mission, which allowed for as many as thirteen $1,000,000 cases...if all the remaining cases have the same amount, what is the banker supposed to do? Does the game end right there?

Eventually of course, and like Millionaire and The Weakest Link before it, the primetime version burned itself out...but it didn't matter because by that point we all knew that, like Millionaire and The Weakest Link before it, the show would end up in daytime syndication. Initial reports of a new host ended up not happening, and the producers surprised us by, while not keeping the $1,000,000 jackpot five days a week, managing to make $500,000 (we were expecting $250,000). As I said, I already thought that this was a better daytime show than anything else, and was pretty excited about this revelation. I assumed it would be similar to the British version (which is amazing, and still chugging along, if only because it was a daytime show to begin with). Upon actually seeing it, I found that it certainly wasn't the British version - it was essentially the American primetime version without the models, and maybe a little faster paced. It also should be noted that, while the British version has all twenty-two of the contestants at the start of each show stay on until they get picked to play, the American show had a new set of twenty-two contestants every what happens to the seventeen who aren't picked? They're just sent home in disgrace?

The daytime version managed for two years, managing to cut costs eventually by moving production to Connecticut (it looked exactly the same to me)...but ultimately it couldn't last, and perhaps after all those gimmicks, I should be happy we got as much Deal Or No Deal as we got. There will no doubt be a revival of this show eventually, and I for one think this show could be a ten-year success. Perhaps we need to avoid gimmicks; perhaps it should be a daytime show from the beginning, but there must be a way to do Deal Or No Deal right, even if the current producers didn't find it.

One final note: the show did have a few $1,000,000 winners, but they all had more than one $1,000,000 case. Nobody ever managed to win the jackpot ($1,000,000 in primetime, $500,000 in daytime) in regular play. Oh well.

See you next week,


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Something Special: I Went To A Taping!

All right, question time. In terms of game shows, what is pure Americana? The obvious answers would be "AMERICA'S GAME!" (Wheel Of Fortune), "AMERICA'S FAVORITE QUIZ SHOW!" (Jeopardy), and "AMERICA'S FAVORITE GAME SHOW!" (The Price Is Right), and while these are certainly good guesses - they have those names trademarked, after all - I have an even better answer: pure Americana is the local high school quiz bowl show.

You know the kind of show I'm talking about, right? Local high schools send teams of students to compete in what is essentially a redo of the old College Bowl format (which hasn't been on television in years, but was hosted by Allen Ludden, Art Fleming, and Pat Sajak at different points in its history). I'm sure wherever you are in America (and probably even out of it), you can find at least one of these shows in your area. I myself am in the Boston area, and while many of these shows have been on for decades, Boston's WGBH is actually premiering a show called High School Quiz Show on March 22 with host Dhaya Lakshminarayanan. I even applied to intern on it - and after that, how could I not go to the taping?

Everyone who goes to a taping of High School Quiz Show has to agree not to reveal too much, so I won't, but I will say this: once they got started, they were done with the half hour show within an hour, and that's a good thing. I've heard many horror stories about half hour shows taking five hours to tape, and indeed the few shows I've seen taped in Los Angeles took a while. A local high school quiz bowl show is running a smoother taping than national shows. Go figure.

I'll have more about High School Quiz Show on March 25, and even more after the episode I saw airs.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wink...How Could You?

There is some news today, and in my book, it's not good.

If you know anything about game shows, you probably know the name Wink Martindale. One of the most legendary hosts of all time, Wink hosted the third most shows ever (after Bill Cullen and Tom Kennedy) and second most shows of anyone still alive (Bill Cullen died in 1990). A few weeks ago, it came out that he would soon be hosting a new show, but we had no idea what the show was or what channel it was on. I got very excited, thinking this would be some wonderful new revival that would replace As The World Turns and put Wink on CBS five days a week.

Needless to say, I was jumping to conclusions.

The new show is titled Instant Recall, and it premieres on March 4 on Game Show Network. The idea, as far as I can tell: a contestant is put into a Candid Camera-type practical joke situation. As with all shows of this sort, hidden cameras film his\her reaction. After being told that it's a joke, the contestant is asked a set of questions about what just happened and can win cash and prizes by answering correctly.

That's it. Wink Martindale is coming back for that. What's wrong with this picture? That's among the dumbest concepts for a game show I've ever heard, and Wink's not going to make it any better. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that that's one of the few game show ideas that should have a washed-up comedian as the host. As good as some of them have turned out to be (Howie Mandel, Jeff Foxworthy, Dennis Miller) the fact is that I'm getting tired of washed-up comedians hosting game shows...and now one of the most legendary hosts of all time is hosting that? Are you kidding me?

The sad part, of course, is that since Wink is hosting, I'll probably check it out...and that means it worked.

If you're wondering, I have no idea what, if anything, is replacing As The World Turns; I will, however, have something special next week.