Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Going Out Of Town!

...which means I don't have time to write a full post.

A few bits and pieces of news:
  • As I said in July, the short-lived primetime show Hole In The Wall is being revived as a kids game show on Cartoon Network. It premieres October 6. The host is Teck Holmes (a former housemate on The Real World, apparently).
  • Hasbro's "The Hub" channel starts October 10; the new kids game show Family Game Night will premiere that day. A preview episode will air October 9 on TLC. The host is Todd Newton.
  • The Hub's other kids game show, Pictureka, premieres October 11. The host is Cory Almeida.
  • I've tracked down the names of the two people from that The Price Is Right audition I went to in June that CBS is going to fly to Los Angeles...needless to say, I didn't make it. Congratulations to Barbara J. Bodner and Christina Marie Patenaude I guess.
That might do it at the moment.

I'll be back next week.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

It Took Me Four Hours To Watch Them All...

Well, that's the new season premieres. Monday brought new seasons of Let's Make A Deal, The Price Is Right, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? and Don't Forget The Lyrics.

Let's Make A Deal: No changes whatsoever from the previous year. That's a good thing.

Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?: The rumors were true: the game has been scaled down yet again. There are now just eight questions on the board: two first grade (worth $500 each), two second grade (worth $1,000 each), two third grade (worth $3,500 each), and two fourth grade (worth $7,500 each.) If you have any money in your bank after that, you can risk it on a fifth grade question that, if answered correctly, multiplies your bank by ten. The cheats are just Peek and Copy (no more Save), and with three fifth graders, I still have no idea how they divide up the questions.

This isn't a bad show, but it's clearly on its last legs. With that format and no rollover, there is (A) a lot of padding and (B) little chance for the contestant to win anything, let alone the $250,000. Let's face it, this is probably the last season for Jeff Foxworthy and the kids. Oh, and one more note - the show double runs (two back-to-back episodes) in my area, but the second episode was a rerun from last year.

Don't Forget The Lyrics: It's the five-day-a-week premiere, and the board consists of -get this- four categories. The money ladder: $1,000, $2,500, $5,000, $10,000. If you get through the money ladder without missing, you can risk it all on the "Encore Song" for $50,000. If I have my information right, your first miss takes out the Encore Song, making the maximum prize $10,000; if you miss a second time, the game is over. The contestant also has - get this - one backup (Three Lines). The live band has been replaced by the "Myspace Karaoke." In short, this is about as scaled down as you can possibly get, and there is an endless amount of padding. Still, I was fairly impressed by Mark McGrath's performance, and let's face it, there are worse things on in the daytime. This won't last long, but it will be fun while it does.

The Price Is Right: I've been dreading this one. Rich Fields is no longer the announcer, and a couple new ones are being tried out on air; the episodes I saw had J.D. Roberto. I no longer care. More than any other, this show needs a rest. I'm won't discuss this much out of fear of enticing wrath, but suffice to say the show was past its prime long before Bob Barker retired, Drew Carey has failed to reinvigorate it, and now it's just time to stop.
I really just blew my chance of getting picked by that casting call I went to in June, didn't I?


Thursday, September 16, 2010

At Last!

The new season is here! Monday brought the season premieres of Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, and Family Feud. Let's take a look at this show by show:

Wheel Of Fortune: The season premiere was taped in Las Vegas...the smallest prize on the bonus round wheel is now $30,000...yeah, I don't really care. This show isn't changing much any time soon.

Jeopardy: Apparently on Tuesday, contestant Roger Craig won $77,000 on his second day, topping the one-day record of $75,000 set by - of course - Ken Jennings. Also, at some point this season there will be a special pitting an IBM Jeopardy playing computer called Watson against some former contestants (please, please, don't be Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter). That's about it. Come on, were you honestly expecting some major changes to Jeopardy?

Family Feud: The show is now taped at Universal Studios in Orlando, complete with shots of roller coasters during the opening. Last season's Bullseye round has been taken out; the round sequence is now Single, Single, Double, Triple, Sudden Death, and the first family to reach 300 points plays Fast Money for $20,000. The horrific family introduction videos have also thankfully been taken out; however before Fast Money, the winning family is wished good luck by some random person staying at a Comfort Inn somewhere in the country. Steve Harvey is better here than he was guest hosting Millionaire, but does seem to be trying to make this show into a comedy club; still, this is a hard game to ruin completely. Oh, and the new announcer, who even gets to name check himself in the opening: Joey Fatone!

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Take a deep breath; the new rules of Millionaire make little sense written down. The game is now played in two rounds. Round one has ten questions and ten money amounts ranging from $100 to $25,000. Both the questions and money amounts are shuffled randomly, meaning the first question could be the hardest on the board and still be worth $100. The money amount attached to each question is not revealed until after the question is answered; if the contestant gets it right, that amount is added to their bank. The lifelines have been redone almost completely; we still have Ask The Audience, but the other two lifelines are both Jump The Question, which allows you to move on to the next question - but you don't get the money amount attached to the question you jumped. You can walk away on any question in round one, but if you do so, you only get half of what's in your bank. If, by some miracle, you get through ten questions of this, round two contains four questions in classic Millionaire style: $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, $1,000,000. If you miss a question in round two, you go home with your bank from round one. The clock has been dropped completely; however so has the iconic hot seat, replaced by a podium.

This is by no stretch of the imagination bad. It's actually an improvement over what we had last year, with the clock and the worthless Ask The Expert lifeline...yet how much can you change Millionaire before it just isn't Millionaire anymore? This has little in common with the show as originally played; however, if it were launched under a different title, I probably wouldn't even be watching, so I suppose I should be happy. Look at it this way: it beats the awful multiplayer "Millionaire Hot Seat" format currently used in Australia.

Next week: The Price Is Right, Let's Make A Deal, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?, and Don't Forget The Lyrics!

As for Cash Cab...frankly, I'm starting to think the deal didn't go through.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Labor Day Has Come And Gone...

Nothing was going to premiere that day, but still, Labor Day has come and gone. As I have one more week to fill before the new shows start, I'm going to talk about something that really hits home now that my state is participating: that The Price Is Right Live stage show in Las Vegas has become a glorified lottery game show.

First, a little background. There has for years been a live stage show of The Price Is Right at a casino in Las Vegas - I think it was launched as a result of the success of The Price Is Right 30th Anniversary Special in 2002, which was taped in Las Vegas (and by "success", I mean I think it caused a riot). I haven't been to it, but as far as I can tell it's a heavily scaled down version of the television show, with the same pricing games every time (if I have my information right: Plinko, Clock Game, Hole In One, Race Game, Cliff Hangers, It's In The Bag). Despite this, the stage show manages to be so popular that - well, look at it this way: the current revival of Let's Make A Deal with Wayne Brady was originally taped in Las Vegas, and some predicted it would drive The Price Is Right Live out of business. A few months later, Let's Make A Deal moved taping to Los Angeles. My guess: the opposite happened.

There have been The Price Is Right scratch tickets from various state lotteries for years as well, but now the two have converged: I just bought a $5 The Price Is Right scratch ticket, failed to win the $200,000 (or anything else), and entered the ticket into a drawing that will pick thirty people who will be flown to Las Vegas to take part in a special The Price Is Right Live show for the Massachusetts Lottery.

Has it come to that? Massachusetts is not the first state to have this contest. I thought this show was so successful it drove Let's Make A Deal out of town! Why do they have to have ties to the lottery? For that matter, why does the lottery have to join up with The Price Is Right? What happened to the local lottery game show? Remember when just about every area had one? Are any of them still going?

Maybe I shouldn't be complaining. After all, The Price Is Right is an excellent game, and the Las Vegas stage show has had some great hosts (the most commonly used one is Todd Newton) - whereas local lottery game shows usually tended to be boring games of chance with terrible local hosts. I guess all there is to do now is see if I make it to Las Vegas.

Next week: season premieres of Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy, Family Feud, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Come to think of it, why hasn't Sony done stage shows for any of their game shows in Las Vegas?


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Is The Syndication Season Starting A Week Late This Year?

Well, it's September, and here's the list of start dates I have right now:

September 13: Wheel Of Fortune
Family Feud
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

September 20: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
Don't Forget The Lyrics
The Price Is Right
Let's Make A Deal

In answer to another question, CBS will use three different shows to fill the four week gap between the final episode of As The World Turns on September 17 and the premiere of The Talk on October 18:

First two weeks: New episodes of The Price Is Right
Third Week: New episodes of Let's Make A Deal
Fourth week: Reruns of The Young And The Restless

No, seriously, that's what they're doing. In answer to a third question, the final episode of Deal Or No Deal, as far as I can tell, is September 10. This, of course, leaves the question of when (or even if) the syndicated version of Cash Cab is starting.

I'm going to do something I haven't done in a while this year - watch the season premiere of all the five-day-a-week shows (even Wheel Of Fortune, which is showing no signs of changing). I will of course, report on each week's premieres here.

Four days until Labor Day,