Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'll Start With The Only Piece Of News

NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me will be doing a cinecast (live broadcast into movie theaters) of one of its tapings on May 2, 2013. It's kind of sad that I've already seen Wait Wait Don't Tell Me live on tour three times at the Wang Theater in Boston, I watched the TV special on BBC America, and I'm still considering buying tickets to this five months in advance.

Now, as this is my last post of 2012, I thought I'd end the year by paying tribute to some of the game show greats we lost this year (and there are plenty of them). This is by no means an exhaustive list - I'm not about to list everyone who died this year who once appeared on Hollywood Squares, and there are probably a few more prominent game show figures I overlooked. Still, here we go, in alphabetical order:

Jacques Antoine
 Legendary producer of game shows in France who created Fort Boyard and Treasure Hunt, among countless others.
Max Bygraves 
Veteran performer who hosted Family Fortunes (the British version of Family Feud) for a few years
Dick Clark
Flat-out showbiz icon - hosting Pyramid was probably one of his lesser achievements!
Denise Darcel
Host of a few game shows in the early years of television.
Richard Dawson
Icon of American game shows, most famous as the original host of Family Feud.
Bob Holness
Icon of British game shows, most famous as the original host of Blockbusters.
Ruth Horowitz
Became the Ken Jennings of the 1960s with a long string of wins on Concentration.
Rich Jeffries
Announcer on a few game shows in the 1980s.
Kenneth Kendall
Original host of Treasure Hunt in Britain.
Dave Maynard
Hosted a local talent show in the Boston area for decades.
Jim Packard
Announcer on Whad'ya Know for decades.
Jim Paratore
Veteran TV producer who created Let's Ask America.
Bill Rafferty
Host of a few game shows in the 1980s.
Bob Stewart
Legendary producer of game shows in America who created The Price Is Right, Password, and Pyramid, among countless others; as if that wasn't enough, his son, Sande Stewart, is a game show producer in his own right.
Ian Turpie
Icon of Australian game shows, most famous for hosting The Price Is Right for years.
Mike Wallace
Hosted a few game shows in the early years of television, but later became much more famous as a newscaster.

RIP to all.

Aaron

Thursday, December 20, 2012

More Of The Same

OK, the new hour-long version of Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge...

I wasn't a massive fan of the half-hour version, but still got pretty darn excited about the new expanded season. Who knows, maybe the extra time would enable them to fit in all the cool characters and great music that other versions of Fort Boyard around the world supposedly have. If nothing else, they'd be able to fit more games in.

Well, I was right about that part. They did fit more games in. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only change they made.

We have the same six teams of four kids whose team names will make any American game show fan  think of Legends Of The Hidden Temple. Each episode features two of these teams, who attempt to earn keys by participating in ten challenges (hey, that's double the half-hour version!).  Four of these challenges pit one team against the other, with the winning team earning a key, while each team also gets three challenges they play by themselves against the clock and get a key if they succeed. At the end of the show, the keys are converted into time grabbing coins in the Treasure Room - each team starts with three minutes and is deducted ten seconds for every key they fail to win. The coins grabbed are then converted...somehow...into a numerical result, and the two teams that score the most points over the season will compete in the grand final.

Now, I said it on October 20, 2011 and I'll say it again: these challenges are amazing. The amazing...kind of ends there. Yes, the Fort provides a backdrop ten times better then the same challenges would have in a studio, but, well, where are all those cool characters and all that great music? The half-hour version's Geno Segers was memorable only for his booming voice, but even that puts him above the completely forgettable Andy Akinwolere; while Laura Hamilton gets a lot more screen time here then she did in the half-hour version, said extra screen time basically reveals her to be completely forgettable as well.

I am, of course, nitpicking. This is far from a bad show and my eight-year-old self would have found it as epic as it is trying to be. For the sake of said eight-year-old self, I will hold out hope that it will reach American TV on Disney XD or any other channel. Let's not kid ourselves, though. America is probably lucky it got as much Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge as it did.

I hope there's some news next week.

Aaron

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'll Take It

OK, Take It All...

Howie Mandel, who I still think is a darn good host, welcomes five contestants for...well, let's be honest, it's a plain old Yankee Swap. As a result, I'm not going to go into tremendous detail; suffice to say that the first round contains five prizes, and after the Yankee Swap, the player holding the prize worth the least amount of money is eliminated. The second round has four prizes, after which the player holding the prize worth the least amount of money is eliminated; the third round has three prizes, after which the final two players advance to the inevitable Prisoner's Dilemma endgame (see, for example, Friend Or Foe).

That's...kind of it.

It's better than it sounds, is the good news. It's not great, but I was never expecting it to be. It was going to be decent or terrible. It was the former, and if this one sticks, then great - but I have no reason to expect that it will.

I'll probably attempt to track down the new season of Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge (which premiered a few days ago on CITV in Britain) next week.

Aaron


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Still No News

Given that I'm leaving town soon anyway and have to pack, it doesn't seem worth it to come up with something to write about right now.

Believe me, I feel terrible not even being able to post once a week, but at least I'll have something to write about next week - Take It All premieres on NBC Monday.

Aaron

Thursday, November 29, 2012

No News Review!

As there's absolutely no news, I thought I'd take a look at a random show that jumped out at me. It's a 1990s kids game show from Australia, and let me tell you, it's Amazing.

No seriously, that's the name of the show. 


I quote TV Tropes: "Amazing was easily the most popular Australian children's show of the 1990s, and holds a similar cultural significance in that country as Legends Of The Hidden Temple and Nickelodeon GUTS do in America." 

First reaction: This might the the only time anyone will ever describe Legends Of The Hidden Temple or GUTS as having any kind of "cultural significance." Second reaction: Amazing doesn't quite live up to that.

The format: it's a five-day-a-week show, and two Australian schools compete against each other for the whole week, with two new kids representing their school in each half-hour episode. The first two rounds are played in two parts. In the first part of the round, host James Sherry gives each team in turn the number of letters in the answer to a person, place, or thing they will have to identify in ninety seconds (think "It's a place, six letters..."). The clock starts, and James begins reading out clues. Once the team has gotten the answer right, they run over to a giant floor-sized keyboard (which appears to just barely work) and stomp on the letters that spell said answer. Once the correct answer has been typed, the team scores a point for every second left on the clock. The second part of the round then features one member of each team, who is given the time leftover from the first part of the round to run through this giant, obstacle-filled maze and grab plastic letters. After time runs out, each letter grabbed that was in the answer the team spelled out is worth ten points. The second round is the same, only the other member of each team runs the maze. 

The third round is the Computer Challenge, in which one member of each team plays a Super Nintendo game against each other; the team that collects the most bananas in Donkey Kong or wins the Mario Kart race or whatever scores fifty points, and the losing team scores twenty-five points. The team with the most points is then given another two minutes (one minute for each player) in the maze grabbing keys; each key is worth one hundred points, and one key is the Bonus Key which, if found, wins each team member a Game Boy. At the end of the week, the school that scored the most points over the five shows wins some computers and educational software.

If ever there was a show that could not exist outside the 90s, this is it. That's not knocking the 90s - I was a kid in the 90s, and would have adored this at the time. Watching it now, well, let's start with the good:

  • The maze itself. It's cool to the point that, like the Fun House or the house from Finders Keepers, I'm twenty-three years old, I didn't watch the show as a kid, and I so want to run through the damn thing. 
  • The rest of the set, which is quite large and impressive. 
  • James Sherry. Granted, he's not spectacular, but he manages for the most part to avoid the kids game show host stereotype. Going back to kids game shows I did grow up watching, he's far from Marc Summers or Mike O'Malley, but he certainly beats Kirk Fogg or Phil Moore. 
Now the bad:
  • The Computer Challenge. All of it. It has nothing to do with the rest of the show, it's always Nintendo and never any other system, its scoring is lopsided (why not just award twenty-five points to the winning team?)...
  • The music, in which the word "AMAZING!" is repeated a lot. 
  • The prize setup. Despite what a lot of kids shows seem to think, a computer is not a good grand prize - certainly not a computer for your school.
All in all, I like it. It doesn't live up to its title, but it's a lot of fun and I would have adored it as a kid. As I say every time I review a kids game show, I frequently have to remind myself that that's who kids TV is meant for.

I really hope there's some news next week.

Aaron

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Know, I Know, I Know

I really need to get writing on this blog back into my routine.

Here's the big news in my life - I was in New York for a few days and went to a taping of NPR's Ask Me Another. It's not a show I'm the world's biggest fan of, but I wanted to see a game show and that was the one I could get tickets to.
I'm not going to go intro tremendous detail, but here's a few things that stand out:
  • The Bell House turned out to be a dingy bar\comedy club in a not particularly nice part of Brooklyn. When I got off the subway with the friend I was seeing this with, we were wondering if we were going to get mugged.
  • The show tries very, very hard not to stop to do retakes, but they had to at one point because the computer controlling the buzzers crashed. It took about fifteen minutes to reset everything, after which they threw out the question they had been reading.
  • Like a few other shows I've seen live - Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and Have I Got News For You come to mind - after the main action of the show is recorded they rerecord some sections that didn't come through right, with the audience expected to clap and laugh as if it were the first time. They also take an intermission after a couple rounds.
  • Special guest Cristin Milioti dropped the F-bomb on public radio. It will probably get edited out, of course, but it sure made the audience laugh.
  • All in all it was a lot of fun, and if you're willing to go to a dingy comedy club to see a public radio game show, by all means, do so.
I hope there's news next week. I doubt it, but I hope.

Aaron

Friday, November 16, 2012

No News. At All.

Given that I'm a day late as well, it doesn't seem worth it to come up with anything this week.

I'll be back on Thanksgiving!

Aaron

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This Won't End Well

"I usually point to Million Dollar Password as the ultimate proof that Millionaire clones have taken over the genre...well, here's an even bigger example. In March 2009, it was announced that NBC was producing a pilot for an American version of the British topical panel game show Have I Got News For You. The article contained the following sentence: 'NBC declined comment on its plans for "News," but it seems likely the network will make some changes to the show’s format in order to make it fit with the big 'event' feel seen in most primetime reality shows.'

There's your thought for the day." - From my post on October 28, 2010.

Unfortunately, it appears that said pilot is not quite dead.

It just came out that another American pilot of Have I Got News For You is being taped - indeed, if this page is anything to go by, it is being taped TOMORROW (November 9) in New York. According to that same page, the host will be Sam Seder, the team captains will Michael Ian Black and Sherrod Small, and the whole thing is being done with TBS in mind. Sam and Michael filled the same roles on the NBC pilot in 2009, while Sherrod is "replacing" the late Greg Giraldo.

I'll admit at this point that I actually wish the 2009 pilot had reached television - not because I thought it would be good, but because I just wanted to see how big a disaster it would inevitably be. I may soon learn to be careful what I wish for.

One more piece of news - according to the show's Twitter feed, the third season of Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge, with the show expanding to an hour and new host Andy Akinwolere replacing Geno Segers, will premiere on CITV in Britain on December 8. Whether it will reach TV in America, on Disney XD or any other channel, remains to be seen.

If you're wondering, the pilot I wish had reached television because I thought it would be good is the CBS pilot for The Cube from the same time period, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. This isn't because I'm a major fan of The Cube - I find it only decent. I just want to see Neil Patrick Harris host any game show.

Aaron

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There Is Exactly One Piece Of News

Take It All (the show originally announced as White Elephant) will premiere on December 10 on NBC. The host, and likely the only good thing about the show: Howie Mandel.

That's it. That's all the news there is right now.

I'm not bothering to continue - right now, I have other things on my mind. Hopefully next week there will be some news.

Aaron

Thursday, October 25, 2012

OK, The New Canadian Version Of Match Game...

A piece you can kind-of-sort-of recognize as the classic Match Game theme music welcomes host Darrin Rose and six Canadian celebrities you can kind-of-sort-of recognize (well, I knew Tom Green and Amanda Tapping...), followed by two contestants who appear to have also been chosen based on their ability to create good comedy (in the episode I watched, one was a stand-up comedian and the other was a kids book writer).

They are there to play three rounds in each half-hour episode. The first two rounds are what you'd recognize as Match Game - contestant picks Question A or Question B, host reads out bizarre fill-in-the-blank question, celebrities write down answers, contestant gives answer, every celebrity who gives the same answer is worth $50. After two rounds like that, the third round is a resurrection of Match-Up from the 1990 American version - the host reads something like "Pop ______ - corn or quiz?", the contestant locks in his\her answer via buttons on his\her podium, the chosen celebrity gives his\her answer, a match is worth $50. After each contestant has played Match-Up for 45 seconds, the contestant with the most money wins the show and goes to the Super Match.

The Super Match is played about the way you remember it - the number three answer is worth $500, the number two answer is worth $1,000, and the number one answer is worth $2,000, followed by the contestant spinning the Star Wheel, Double spaces and all. If you get the number one answer, spin Double on the Star Wheel, and match the celebrity you choose on the final question, you win the maximum possible prize of $4,000.

It can't be easy to revive Match Game. Yes, I suppose you could argue it can't be easy to revive any game show, but Match Game was such a product of its time and so dependent on the chemistry of its cast that it must be even tougher - Darrin Rose watched some classic Match Game after being hired to host this version and essentially concluded that everyone on the set was drunk. It doesn't appear that anybody is drunk here, and it's far from bad - but there's no real energy to it, the payoff is tiny (insert joke about the stereotype of low-budget Canadian game shows), and it really is only slightly better then the likes of Late Night Liars or Hip Hop Squares. If this leads to a new American version of Match Game, then great - but we won't be missing anything if it doesn't. Maybe all these really good British and Australian comedy game shows are setting my expectations too high.

I likely will have to write this review again soon, because Ryan Seacrest's production company is apparently considering a revival of Rhyme And Reason titled - get this - Rhyme, Rap, And Reason. I'm not sure there's anything I can say that can top that.

Aaron

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It Was Pretty Much What I Saw In Las Vegas...

...but I'll go through it all again anyway, at least as best I can remember it...

I arrived at the Hanover Theater in Worcester, Massachusetts around 5:45PM for a 7PM show, picked up my ticket at the Will Call window, and got in line for the contestant registration - which essentially consisted of me writing my name on a card and dropping it in a bucket. They were literally just drawing names. The theater was packed too, even on the balcony - and since contestants were literally being chosen at random, it frequently took several minutes for them to reach the stage after being called to come on down.

As the vast crowd filed into their seats, a video screen was showing a slideshow of trivia questions, facts about The Price Is Right, etc., along with an occasional "The show will start in # minutes" message. When the show finally did start, it was with a little video about the history of The Price Is Right on TV, after which a secondary announcer introduced our announcer, Randy West. Randy warmed up the audience with a few clips and instructions on how to clap and scream and go "OOOHHHH!" as each prize was revealed. Finally, Randy revealed what I had already known going in - the host would be Todd Newton.

This was followed by a little video of highlights of Todd's career, including his various game shows (Hollywood Showdown, Whammy, Powerball, Family Game Night, etc.) in addition to a lot of entertainment news reporting. Finally, the audience counted down five seconds, the curtain parted, Randy introduced Todd, and we were on our way. The set had been updated slightly from the one I saw in Las Vegas (the big doors were painted to match the current TV set rather then the thirtieth anniversary set from 2002), and there was a model in addition to Todd and Randy.

The format - the show started with three pricing games, with a completely new set of three contestants being called to come on down before each game. After three pricing games, the curtain was closed so the Big Wheel could be set up, and another little video of clips from The Price Is Right was shown.

After the video, Todd came out into the audience to play a variation of Range Game with three or four audience members who caught his eye. With each audience member, a prize taken from an actual TV episode of The Price Is Right was shown on the video screen, followed by a Range Game board divided into three zones. If the audience member correctly picked which zone the price was in based on the TV episode the prize came from, he\she won a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy.

After that little interlude, it was time for the Showcase Showdown, which featured a completely new set of three contestants. These contestants could win $500 if they spun $1 once and $1,000 if they spun $1 again in the bonus spin. The contestant who came the closest to $1 without going over, and on the TV show would have advanced to the Showcase, won $250.

The Showcase Showdown was followed by two more pricing games, after which a completely new set of two contestants was called to come on down for the Showcase. There was just one Showcase, with the contestants writing down their bids. Whoever came the closest to the actual retail price of the Showcase without going over won one prize from the Showcase, and not the biggest one at that; if you came within $100 of the actual retail price of the Showcase, you won the whole thing (neither of them did it). After each segment of the show (the five pricing games, the Showcase Showdown, and the Showcase) six instant winners from the audience were announced, who would each win a bunch of gift cards (they didn't say where to). Todd signed off. The end.

The pricing games used were:

  • Punch-A-Bunch, with $2,500 as the highest amount on the board.
  • Hole In One Or Two - not for a car, and as far as I can tell there was no cash bonus for putting the grocery items in exactly the right order.
  • Cliff Hangers, played exactly as it is on television.
  • Any Number, with a four-digit prize at the top of the board. 
  • Plinko, with $500 in the center slot. 
If this all sound familiar...it's because it's pretty much what I saw in Las Vegas. Still, I had a good time, and it was worth the $40 for a ticket.

I'll probably try to track down the new Canadian version of Match Game next week. 

Aaron

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Finally!

I just watched the premiere of the Australian TV version of The Unbelievable Truth...THEY GOT IT RIGHT!

After the BBC America version of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and the BBC2 version of Just A Minute both amounted to "point a camera at a taping of the radio show", I wasn't expecting much from the Channel 7 version of The Unbelievable Truth...but they did it!

The format, in and of itself, is pretty much what we're used to. Craig Reucassel plays host to four panelists. Each of those panelists takes a turn at giving a lecture of "information" on a certain topic; said lecture is completely made-up save for a small number of true facts (it's five on British radio, but here they don't give any specific number). At any point in the lecture, one of the other three panelists can buzz in if they think what they just heard is true; they get a point if they are correct and lose a point if they are wrong. After each panelist finishes his\her lecture, he\she gets a point for every truth that went unnoticed. At the end of the show, the panelist with the most points wins.

So...if the format is almost exactly the same, what makes this so great? Easy - they actually came up with a visual element to justify the show being on TV! During their lectures, the panelists use little props, have video clips to illustrate their "points", and so on. It really adds a whole new layer to the humor, of which there is plenty - Craig does a great job. That Channel 7 managed to make this work is truly unbelievable...and that's the unbelievable truth (sorry, couldn't resist).

As for The News Quiz USA...what is there to say? It's The News Quiz. Andy Borowitz plays host to four panelists. He asks questions about news stories, and those questions start the panelists off on several minutes of discussion\ranting about that story. It was very funny - I actually like Andy a lot more then I did Lewis Black - but it's probably never going to be anything more then an occasional special on BBC Radio 4 and that's really no great loss.

Finally, here's the big news in my life right now - I'm going to the live touring stage show of The Price Is Right on Tuesday and will report back on Thursday. I'll probably attempt to track down the new Canadian version of Match Game the week after that.

Aaron

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Few Things To Look Out For

Let's see here...
  • The Australian TV version of The Unbelievable Truth premieres on October 11. Hopefully I'll be able to track it down for a review.
  • Remember the supposed American pilot for The News Quiz, which was inexplicibly broadcast on BBC Radio 4? Two more episodes of "The News Quiz USA" will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on October 8 and October 29 respectively, with new host Andy Borowitz (replacing Lewis Black). This still seems like an incredibly weird move to me.
  • I'm not really sure if I'll try to track this down or not, but I feel like I should at least mention it - a new Canadian version of Match Game premieres on October 15. The host is Darrin Rose.
  • The winner of The Price Is Right Male Model Search will be announced on The Price Is Right tomorrow (October 5) and will begin his one-week tenure on the show on October 15.
I guess that's it for now. Huh.

Aaron

Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Forgot A Show Last Week

OK, season premieres:

Family Game Night
So here's the good news: Family Game Night got a third season. For a while, it looked like it wasn't going to, and given that Pictureka, Scrabble Showdown, and The Game Of Life all didn't work, it didn't likely that a new game show was in the pipeline for The Hub either. Still, Family Game Night is indeed back, and almost completely reformatted...

Rather then two families per episode playing five games against each other, the show now features six families per episode, called out of the studio audience before each of four games. Two games in each episode feature two families competing against each other, with the winning family getting a prize, while the other two games each feature one family, who get a prize if they win. Families can be of different sizes as well (anywhere from two to four people, as long as there is at least one adult and one kid).

After each game, all the families who played that game (regardless of if they won) draw a card containing a three-color combination (red-green-blue, for example). At the end of the show, each family enters their combination, and the family whose combination opens the Community Chest (I feel really, really silly typing that) gets to play a bonus round for a new car. The bonus round has four rows of four cards, with each row containing cards with money and Go To Jail cards; you win the car if you make it to the top of the board without hitting Go To Jail. There's no option to quit - you keep the money no matter what.

Good? Bad? I'll go with good. Sure, the concept is still really cheesy ("Families play mini-games based on various Hasbro board games" - gee, that sounds like fun) and I'm honestly guessing the budget has been cut, but the set and production values are still amazing and you try finding a show Todd Newton can't host.

As I said about The Hub in both 2010 and 2011 -  "I'm not delusional. These aren't the greatest game shows ever or even the greatest kids game shows ever, and I know they exist mostly to promote Hasbro board games. Still, I thought these shows were fun, and an eight-year-old me would have loved them. As I said, I'm going to try to be realistic. The Hub isn't going to do any of the shows I hoped it would do, but I hope the shows it does succeed." Yeah, that verdict is still about right.

Let's Make A Deal
Absolutely no change. Thank God.

The Price Is Right
Sigh...every year I dread this one...

Nothing has changed, including the fact that this show needs a rest. CBS, if you have a shred of decency left in you, you will cancel The Price Is Right. That will shut up the hardcores (you know, the people who go berserk when they think the wrong sound effect has been played) and only strengthen the show upon its inevitable return.

The Price Is Right Male Model Search
Honestly, it's about as dumb as you'd expect. George Gray provides voiceover narration as the one, the only, Mike Richards and four of The Price Is Right's models (Amber Lancaster, Manuela Arbelaez, Rachel Reynolds, and Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith) put a bunch of guys through modeling tests and vaguely related challenges (make up your own lyrics to The Price Is Right's theme music!) in online episodes lasting about ten minutes each. Supposedly, when all is said and done, three finalists will be announced on The Price Is Right by Drew Carey and viewers will vote online. I'll have more information as it comes.

I guess that's the Fall Rush. What a disappointment.

Aaron

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I Guess I Changed My Mind

Well, given that Baggage, Wheel Of Fortune, and Jeopardy have given me absolutely nothing new to write about, it's time to break down Let's Ask America...

If there's one thing I don't get, it's that every few years, some producer says "I know! We'll have a televised game show where contestants play from home via their phone or the Internet! It's the wave of the future!" It never is - these shows always flop. Trivial Pursuit: America Plays is the most recent example, and I actually thought it was a decent show, but remember WEBRIOT, hosted by Ahmet Zappa on a giant video screen? How about Inquizition? Anybody know who the Inquizitor was? Everyone from Bob Stewart to Jerry Springer has been suggested.

So here's the latest example, Let's Ask America, which began a syndication test run on Monday with host Kevin Pereira. He's in a studio, staring at a video screen on which four contestants are playing via Skype. It's a survey game, as the title should make clear. In the first round, there are three questions - think something like "Which of these do grandmothers think their granddaughters have the worst taste in - Clothes, Music, or Men?" The contestants write their answers on cards, and picking the most popular answer wins $100 for question one, $200 for question two, and $300 for question three. At the end of the round, the contestant with the least money is eliminated.

If there is a tie, it is broken via one of the dumbest things I have ever seen on television - the Dash For Cash, which basically consists of Kevin shouting something like "The first player to find a spatula in their house and hold it up to their webcam moves on to the next round! Ready, go!" Well for starters, that has nothing to do with the rest of the game, and even worse, since the contestants are playing via Skype, you don't see them running through their house trying to find whatever it is they're looking for, you just see them leave their computers and a minute or two later one of them comes back and is told he\she is moving on. What's supposed to be fun to watch about that?

Round two has three questions worth $400, $500, and $1,500 (lopsided scoring, no?), after which the contestant with the least money is eliminated; round three has two questions worth $2,000 and $5,000, after which the contestant with the most money wins the game and goes to the bonus round, in which he\she can risk any or all of his\her money on one final question. If you get it right, you get however much money you wagered; however, if you choose to risk it all, a correct answer multiplies your bank by five (while an incorrect answer, of course, sends you home with nothing). In the highly unlikely event that you play a perfect game, risk your $10,000 in main game winnings, and get the bonus round question, you win the maximum possible prize of $50,000.

Let's start with the good: take out the idiotic Dash For Cash, and you're actually left with a decent game. Kevin Pereira is not the greatest host ever, but I like him well enough. So what's wrong with Let's Ask America? You mean besides the Skype element, the Dash For Cash, the lopsided scoring system, and the generic "light game show" music?

Of course I'm nitpicking - this is far from a bad show and will hopefully do well enough in its test run to be rolled out nationally in Fall 2013. It's really no better or worse then...well, the aforementioned Trivial Pursuit: America Plays, and that show flopped. I somehow get that upon its national rollout, Let's Ask America won't do a whole lot better.

Next week - the season premieres of The Price Is Right and Let's Make A Deal, and The Price Is Right's male model search!

Seriously, anybody know who the Inquizitor was? How about VAL on Solitary?

Aaron

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not Much To Say

Man, remember when the Fall Rush was exciting?

Absolutely nothing has changed on Family Feud, and there's absolutely no other news. What fun.

Honestly, I'm just going to stop here this week - I'm sort of out of it right now anyway. Next week - Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy, Baggage...

...and probably a no news review of some kind, as I'm honestly guessing nothing will have changed on any of them either.

If you're wondering - yes, I know that Let's Ask America premieres on Monday, and I probably could track it down if I wanted to...but I'm not sure I want to. Maybe I'll change my mind, but at the moment, I feel like I ought to save that one for its national rollout in Fall 2013.

Aaron

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back To Normal...


…hopefully, anyway…

Labor Day has come and gone, and I have a few items of interest to look at. First, Game Show Garbage just announced the “winner” of its annual Patrick Wayne Award for the worst game show moment of the year. Previous “winners” include Our Little Genius in 2010 and Love Triangle in 2011...and joining their hallowed ranks in 2012 is…



…the Australian revival of The Price Is Right, which beat out Who’s Still Standing by one vote. 
 
So what did I think about all this? I’ll tell you what I thought about all this: I thought this was a really, really tough one. Who’s Still Standing was absolutely the worst American game show moment of the year, but I actually cast most of my votes for The Price Is Right, if only due to the sheer desecration of a show that’s just as legendary in Australia as it is in America (and yes, I realize that in saying that, I sound like the hardcore American Price Is Right fans who essentially want Drew Carey to drop dead). As for the other nominees...

  • ·      You Deserve It was not a bad show in my book, but was deserving of a nomination for pushing the superior Million Dollar Mind Game to Sunday afternoons (of course, while Million Dollar Mind Game was better than You Deserve It, I didn’t think it was the world’s greatest show itself).
  • ·      I never actually watched Red Or Black, but the sheer amount of scandal surrounding it – to the point that it was one of two shows specifically mentioned in a proposed British government crackdown on game shows as illegal gambling – was worthy of a nomination by itself (of course, the other show specifically mentioned in that proposal was Deal Or No Deal!)
  • ·      I never watched Billy On The Street, and it doesn’t appear to have been in any way scandalous.
 
Moving to good (or at least better) shows, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had its season premiere on Labor Day. The show has moved to a new studio (it actually looks smaller to me), but the rules haven’t changed in the least from the rules used last year…which is to say, it’s pretty far from the original conception. It’s not really worth it to complain about the format – this isn’t the original conception, but it’s still a whole lot better then a whole lot of other shows. What I am going to complain about…well, as good as the format still is, most of the suspense the show had at its peak is gone. I could name a few reasons, but honestly, the biggest problem is that if anybody wins a large amount of money, it is leaked to game show news sites weeks in advance, thus negating the need to watch every day.

As for The Price Is Right… or rather, the American Price Is Right…the fortieth anniversary special was good enough. The entire audience was composed of former contestants, nine of whom got to compete again, including a rather frail looking Paul Levine (the man who won the first ever Showcase with a difference of $4). Clips were kept to an absolute minimum, and there were no special guests – certainly no Bob Barker (he’s reportedly very upset about this). I could use this as a springboard to discuss my overall feelings about this show, but I’ll save that for the “normal” season premiere on September 24.

Next week – Family Feud!

Aaron



Friday, August 31, 2012

It Wasn't


OK, the new Game Show Network version of Pyramid…

…no wait, it’s not Pyramid, it’s The Pyramid. The name of the show is “The Pyramid”. Right, I understand the need to take the money amount out of the title – how many times can you change it? – but The Pyramid? Clunkly, no? What, are you trying to differentiate yourself from the Donny Osmond – fronted version?

What sounds to me like a heavily sped-up version of the classic theme music welcomes the infamous Mike Richards and the usual two celebrity guests. I am absolutely not explaining Pyramid from the ground up; suffice to say that each team starts out with $10,000 in their bank. Every time you get all seven words in thirty seconds (and yes, it is back to seven words in thirty seconds, not six words in twenty seconds), you get an instant $500 bonus and an additional $5,000 in your bank, meaning if you play a perfect game, you’ll have $1,500 right off the bat and will play the Winner’s Circle for $25,000. The contestants switch partners in the second game, and, well, there you have it. It’s Pyramid. Sorry, it’s The Pyramid.

Look, I can see all the complaints coming. The set is too shiny. The clock music is too loud. Mike Richards…exists. He is not spectacular, I will grant you that, but I’d take him over Drew Carey (which is all I am going to say about this topic, at least for now).

Is this Dick Clark’s version? Of course not…but would you really rather have another generic Who Wants To Be A Millionaire clone hosted by another washed-up comedian? Game Show Network recently announced that their next original series will be Family Trade, a reality show about a car dealership that isn’t a game show by any stretch of the imagination. Take Pyramid – sorry, The Pyramid – while you can get it. This is a nice revival, and I’m starting to get the feeling it will be the last straightforward, traditional game show Game Show Network produces.

I really hope this is my last post in August.

Aaron 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Incredibly Massive News!

Yeah, I came up with some more stuff I need to mention before we reach September. Let's see...
  • Game Show Network has moved the premiere of its new version of Pyramid a little earlier, by which I mean tomorrow (August 30) instead of Labor Day (September 3). Wow. Considering that I'm leaving on August 31 for a few days out of town, I hope I have time to write a review. I was kind of banking on the fact that nothing would happen until Labor Day.
  • An almost completely reformatted new season of Family Game Night begins on The Hub on September 23 - I'll probably check it out.
  • Remember Fort Boyard: Ultimate Challenge? A new season has been taped, with the show expanding to an hour (from half an hour) and new host Andy Akinwolere (replacing Geno Segers). Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it may not matter, as it doesn't look like said season will be broadcast on Disney XD in the US. Bummer. I'm holding out hope that some other US channel will pick it up, but given that Disney-owned channels in many other countries are running this show, it's a highly unlikely proposition.
  • Finally, I can't believe I didn't mention this sooner - The Price Is Right male model search! As far as I can tell, here's how it works: an open casting call for male models will be held in Los Angeles tomorrow (August 30), and the ones the producers like will advance to a five-episode online reality-competition show on priceisright.com. On September 28, the finalists of said reality-competition show will be revealed on The Price Is Right, and viewers will have until October 4 to vote for the winner, who will be revealed on The Price Is Right on October 15 and stick around for a week. This I HAVE to see.
  • RIP Bill Rafferty. There isn't a whole lot more I can say.


...exhale. I really hope this is my last post in August.

Aaron

Saturday, August 25, 2012

OK, Look...

The first thing you should know: I am a day late. I like to think it is not my fault this time - Blogger hasn't been working perfectly for me lately.

The second thing you should know: American Bible Challenge is far from the first bible trivia game show. I can think of several others, including some that, like American Bible Challenge, were not on dedicated religious channels.

The third thing you should know: Judged as a game show, American Bible Challenge is the most sickeningly sweet thing this side of You Deserve It.

Three teams with names like "Suburban Saints" and "Gospel Geezers" compete in each episode, with the winning team receiving $20,000 for their charity (which is described in quite a bit of detail) and advancing in a tournament in the hopes of winning the grand prize of $100,000 for said charity.

As with Oh Sit, I'm not going to bother giving a lengthy explanation of the show's rules and scoring system. It's a quiz show with questions about the Bible. If you're able to get past the fact that all the questions are about the Bible, the game is actually pretty well put together - but as with You Deserve It, the well-put-together game isn't enough to put the show past its overall feeling, at least in my mind, of "Aren't we great and charitable?" The theme song is sung by a gospel choir, for pete's sake. Jeff Foxworthy still isn't the next Bob Barker or something, but I liked him a lot on Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader and I like him a lot on American Bible Challenge. Of course, I liked Chris Harrison a lot on You Deserve It too.

Of course this isn't really a bad show or an early contender for the 2013 Patrick Wayne Award (at least in my mind), and I'm not its target audience either way. Apparently, its target audience found it, as the premiere got three times Game Show Network's usual ratings and is their highest rated broadcast ever. Whether this will hold up remains to be seen, but I'm guessing we'll soon have to accept the fact that Game Show Network's first genuine hit is American Bible Challenge.

I don't know how they're going to follow that, and I'm not sure I want to.

This will be my last post in August, barring incredibly massive news. I'll resume posting once a week - or at least attempt to resume posting once a week - in September.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

As Promised...

Here are the start dates for Fall 2012:

September 3: Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
Pyramid (the long-awaited new version on Game Show Network, hosted by the infamous Mike Richards. No, not Kramer - that's Michael Richards. I'm guessing a lot of hardcore game show fans would rather have Kramer, however).

September 4: The Price Is Right 40th Anniversary Special (in the show's usual daytime slot).

September 10: Family Feud

September 17: Wheel Of Fortune
Jeopardy
Baggage (premiere in syndication of the Game Show Network show hosted by Jerry Springer).
Let's Ask America (test run of new syndicated show in seven markets; Boston, alas, is not one of them. If this goes well, the plan is to roll the show out nationally in Fall 2013. The host is Kevin Pereira).

September 24: Let's Make A Deal
The Price Is Right ("normal" season premiere).

There you go. I'll post on a more regular schedule in September in hopes of covering all this, but in August, I'll be back tomorrow...hoo boy...


Aaron

Friday, August 17, 2012

Well, It's August

I'm back for a while and I have a few things to discuss.

I'll start with this: Game Show Garbage (which, in my mind, is one of the funniest sites on the Internet) has announced the nominees for its annual Patrick Wayne Award for the worst game show moment of the year. I'll discuss this in more detail when the "winner" is announced in September, but for now, here are the nominees:
  • The revival of The Price Is Right in Australia
  • You Deserve It
  • Billy On The Street
  • Who's Still Standing
  • Red Or Black
Now, forgive me for quoting a message board, but on July 6, I posted the following on the official Game Show Garbage message board:

One quick question: when are the nominees for the Patrick Wayne Award finalized? If something even worse then Who's Still Standing premieres in August, could it still be in the running for Game Show Garbage's main event? 

I realize that "worse then Who's Still Standing" is a tough order, but I wouldn't put it past Oh Sit (August 15) or American Bible Challenge (August 23)...

Game Show Garbage creator Robert Seidelman posted the following reply the next day:

The rules are that it has to have aired between August 2011 and July 2012. So American Bible Challenge and Oh Sit are out, but they can be contenders for next year.

That should give you a good idea of my expectations of Oh Sit, which I just watched the premiere of. The premise of Oh Sit is best summed up by the show's working title..."XMC: Extreme Musical Chairs". 

Yeah...Extreme Musical Chairs. 

I came into Oh Sit fully expecting to start thinking about the 2013 Patrick Wayne Award. There was no way Extreme Musical Chairs could possibly be good. 

I was wrong. That's not to say Oh Sit was a good show - it wasn't. It just wasn't a bad show either. It's a show I can't figure out how to review.

I could give a lengthy explanation of the show's rules and scoring system, but I'm not going to. What would the point be? A vaguely Wipeout-esqe obstacle course is set up in a circle around a bunch of chairs, a live band provides the music, and the scoring system is so complex I can just barely remember it . Honestly, the biggest reaction I had to the premiere of Oh Sit is that it was too violent. Most of the show seemed to consist of the contestants shoving each other, to the point that one contestant quit minutes into the show due to exhaustion, another severely twisted his ankle, and a third was disqualified for "unsportsmanlike conduct". 

I realize this sounds completely hypcritical - I gave a passing grade to 101 Ways To Leave A Game Show, and that show featured losing contestants getting thrown off speeding trucks - but the best description I can give of Oh Sit is "full-contact musical chairs", and the best reivew I can give of Oh Sit is "What's supposed to be fun to watch about full-contact musical chairs?" I could state that the hosts are awful - which they are - but somehow it feels wrong to judge "full-contact musical chairs" by its hosts.

So I can't figure out how to reivew Oh Sit. I'm sorry.


I'll come back soon with the Fall 2012 season start dates. 

Aaron

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yeah, Yeah, "A Few Days"

I know, I know - yet again, I say I'll be back in "a few days" and then disappear for over a week. I'm sorry. I did finally watch Splatalot - it's the Canadian version. It's also a Wipeout clone of the highest order.

Twelve kids each take a turn at facing a giant medieval themed obstacle course and its costumed "defenders", who make lame jokes and have names like "Gildar" and "Knightress". Hosts Jason Agnew and Matt Chin provide the required snarky commentary and little comedy bits.  After each kid takes a turn, the six with the fastest time move on to round two, which all six run at once - it's close to impossible to tell who's where, and having the defenders running around making lame jokes doesn't help. The first four contestants to finish round two advance to round three, and at the end of the show one of the kids reaches the finish line first and wins the game (no prizes, as far as I can tell) - followed, in the grand tradition of shows like this, by a "Splat Of The Day" segment. The end. All that's missing is a trademark sign-off of in the vein of "DON'T...GET...ELIMINATTTTEDDDD!" or "Good night...and big balls".

Of course there's nothing wrong with this - I'm sick of identical Wipeout clones, but I'm not this show's target audience anyway. My eight-year-old self would have thought this was amazing, and that's what matters.

If you're now saying "is there any kids game show your eight-year-old self would not have liked?", the answer is...probably not. I remember being seven years old and making a list of all the game shows on television, from best to worst. At the top of the list was Nick Arcade (a show I currently consider one of the worst game shows ever made), and at the bottom was "every adult game show in the world".

I was a really, really weird kid.

This will probably be my last post in July - maybe I'll post if there's absolutely massive news, but at the moment my heart isn't in this. I'll come back in August when I can find the season start dates.

Aaron