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.


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?


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.


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!