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Waking Up from the Turkey Coma
December 7

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this episode by catching up on the details of what happened during November Sweeps on your favorite shows.


First out of the box is The Price is Right. Here at the Block Party we have been very critical of the bad stuff that has happened at Studio 33. But when the good stuff happens, we must praise it. And these three sweeps related items have been VERY GOOD.


First off, the Halloween episode was another feather in the cap of the production team. The costumes on Drew and the models were genius. Everyone was dressed as their favorite pricing game. Drew was hilarious as "The Yodely Guy". The set designs were outstanding with incredible attention to detail. The items on the Grocery Game were all items you can use for pranks on Halloween night. They included eggs, soap, toilet paper and shaving cream. This was another example of the evil genius of Associate Producer Scott Robinson, who has been using that game as his personal platform.


Secondly, the 7000th episode celebration had lots of nice tweaks. Those tweaks included $7,000 handed to the contestant instead of $7 in Lucky Seven, and 7,000 mile trips in Most Expensive. In a nice tribute to the show and its history, the second half of the show had the playing of the first three games in order from Episode 1. They were Any Number, Bonus Game and Double Prices. The Showcases used prizes from 1972 and translated them nicely to prizes of 2009.


And on Veterans Day, we had the annual salute to the Military. This was a nice theme that started in the Bob Barker era and has been continued in the Drew Carey era.


In the two months of Season 38, Drew and Rich have used and their personal/professional internet presences to promote the show. They interact with the fans in ways that have been needed for a while. Drew has been A LOT better in his hosting and everything on the show seems relaxed and FUN. Who would think we would see cars like a 2010 Mercedes or a 2010 Nissan Cube on the show, if ever? Could this be the start of the show coming into its own? These examples bode well for the gang at Studio 33 and I couldn't be happier for them.

I want to revisit Let's Make A Deal. In my initial review after the show's debut in early October, I had stated that the show was very solid. I also noted there were some pacing and announcing issues that had to be worked out.


Over the past two months, I have seen the show evolve and the show has gotten better. Jonathan Mangum's announcing has improved and he has been treating the winning and losing prizes with equal importance. The show feels faster in its pacing and doesn't feel like the hour drags. Wayne Brady has grown into the role and really has a fantastic chemistry with the contestants. I would not be shocked if he got a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2010 for Best Game Show host. The only "weak" point is spokesmodel Alison Fiori. She needs to be more than a "Hi Wayne" mannequin and more of an active partner and presence in the show.


Even with all that, Let's Make A Deal is one of the best shows of 2009. This is appointment television.


The Amazing Race is still great fun to watch, and this season has been no exception.  Over the past month, we have whittled the teams down to the final three. We have Megan and Cheyne who have dominated the competition and have won 5 legs. We have Brian and Ericka who came back from a pretty fun Speed Bump to get into the final three. And the final team is the arguing gay brothers Sam and Dan. The Harlem Globetrotters, Flight Time and Big Easy were eliminated last week. They gave up and took a 4 hour penalty after a Road Block in Prague, Czech Republic when one of the Trotters wasn't able to unscramble the word FRANZ.


And I have a word for the Trotters. This is a not a social game, this is a million dollar race. Did you honestly think that Dan was going to give Big Easy the answer? It's a game. They have done what it takes to win the Million Dollars. They have stolen cabs. Contrary to what Brian thinks, you have to play dirty to win. That's the deal.


Who will win the million in Las Vegas? I am calling the upset. Megan and Cheyne have dominated, but there will some mistake along the way where Sam and Dan will take advantage to win this. They may be annoying and loud, but they have been playing the game the whole way. Brian and Ericka have been consistent, but I don’t think they have the push or desire to win this.


2009 has been a big year for Amazing Race. You had a bad ass deaf contestant in Luke Donald and the production values have been consistently high.  Winning 7 Emmys haven't slowed them down one bit.  


But the Amazing Race will have some major competition with Survivor. The Island of Samoa has become Russell Hantz's personal playground. It has been fun as hell to watch Russell find not one, not two, but THREE Immunity Idols and actually use them! The first time he did it, he got rid of Erik and his idol. He personally didn't need it. But the 2nd time he did, it was the right move and he prevented himself from being voted out.


Russell is one of the best Survivor players of all time. He has been playing the game since moment one. And in this week's episode, he was the puppet master. Dave upset Shambo by not only killing her prized chickens but criticizing how she cooked it. Russell may have sent Shambo over the edge by changing Aiga's plans from eliminating Dave to eliminating John. Right now, he is in control of the game. I was one of the people who thought he was being too aggressive early on, but that was my mistake. If he doesn't win, he SHOULD win the audience award. He is that good.


We come back to the states with "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire". They have just completed the "Tournament of Ten" where Sam Murray won the million dollar prize by being the ONLY person to go for it and answer the question correctly. Buzzerblog reports that the ratings for the show have gone up to a season high 2.6. This doesn't matter to me, because this was an absolute gimmicky mess.


Only one of the 10 people went for the money. In this economic climate you are NOT going to have people risk a guaranteed check for the POTENTIAL of a million. That sounds like a failure to me. And we all remember what happened to primetime Deal or No Deal after they used whatever gimmick they could to give away the million. We had spoilers all over the place screaming they were giving away the Million. Ratings peaked for Deal and then they tanked. Audiences didn't care anymore, and the show went off the air. This WILL happen for Millionaire, whether Regis is in the host chair or not.


And to see this happen to Millionaire is very sad. The 2008-2009 season has been a season of gimmicks and hocus-pocus. True gameplay on Millionaire is dead. And no matter what people say, Nancy Christy is the last TRUE Million-Dollar Winner on Millionaire, not Sam Murray.   


Speaking of gimmickry we have to talk about the fall of Deal or No Deal. According to Buzzerblog, Deal or No Deal's ratings are down to a 1.1. And as a viewer, you can understand why. You have had gimmicks like Family Reunion week, Nurses Week, and Infra-Red Week where certain cases could be seen by the home audience.


Did ANY of those gimmicks add anything new or interesting to the game? They didn't.  You combine that with incredibly bad casting decisions by the coordinators, and you have game play that be could be described as either dumb or ill-conceived, It doesn’t take a genius to see that Deal or No Deal is heading down the path to being cancelled in 2010.  


Now that catch-up is over, let's start with some music news. Did anyone know that Adam Lambert released his album out called "For Your Entertainment"? Adam Lambert has been all over the TV with his publicity tour which started with an over the top performance of the title track on the American Music Awards. That performance included men on leashes, male on male kissing, simulated male on male fellatio and flipping off the audience.


That did lead to a very nice first week sales of 225,000 of his album. But did he gain any new buyers with that performance?  It offended viewers so much that 1,500 complaints were lodged at ABC. That led to cancellations at Good Morning America and as of December 3, Jimmy Kimmel Live and New Years Rockin' Eve.


ABC had a right to cancel his future performances. While I may like Mr. Lambert as an artist he not only pushed the envelope, he tore it to itty bitty pieces. He was waving his freak flag. However, Mr. and Mrs. Middle America didn't like it.


And as for this season's winner Kris Allen, his debut CD first week's sales was the worst for an Idol winner. He sold a paltry 80,000 copies. In that same week, Carrie Underwood's album, "Play On" sold 83,000 copies. And Alison Iraheta's debut album did even worse. According to Hits Daily Double, her new CD will sell between 25,000 and 30,000 in her first week.


You can see why Adam outsold Kris and Alison combined. Adam presented "the bad boy envelope pusher" image. And it got people talking. Kris and Alison did a minimal press and radio tour. You barely knew their respective albums were out there. While positive critical reviews of their albums are nice, they needed to get out there and sell them. Adam did it, Alison and Kris did not. 


But the big winner in album sales is Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle. Her highly anticipated debut release, "I Dreamed a Dream" sold 700,000 copies in the United States in the first week. In a Columbia Records press release, that not only gives her the best first week sales of 2009, but also the best-selling album debut by a woman in the Billboard SoundScan era. Her success was a not a surprise to me or anyone else. Expect her to go platinum and to have a long career.

It’s holiday time and there are four game show related books that I would like to recommend to stick in someone's stocking.


Howie Mandel just released "Here's The Deal--Don't Touch Me". This is his autobiographical look at his struggles with OCD and ADHD.


Tom Bergeron's book, "I'm Hosting As Fast As I Can: Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood" is a humorous look at his career and gives us some of his life lessons to stay normal in Hollywood.


Announcer Randy West has taken his friendship with legendary announcer Johnny Olson and turned it into a loving biography called "Johnny Olson: A Voice In Time".


Finally, the self-proclaimed "Game Show Guru" Scott Hostetler has released his book called "Winning Game Show Secrets from The Game Show Guru" on his webpage at


Scott has appeared on 18 Game Shows, most recently of which was GSN's Catch 21 where he was the first person to win $25,000 in the bonus round without using a power chip. If you are even thinking of auditioning for a game show, this is the book for you. There are quizzes and funny anecdotes about his appearances.


Any of these books would make a great gift for the game show fan in your life.

A part of my game show life died since I spoke to you last. Ken Ober passed away suddenly at the age of 52. If you are an 80's baby like me, you know him from the classic MTV Game Show "Remote Control". This show which debuted in 1987 was the first non-music related show ever to debut on MTV. It tested participants on their knowledge of television, music-video and pop-culture trivia. It also provided a launching pad for the careers of comedians Adam Sandler and Colin Quinn. Ober ran the program like his own basement party. He gleefully teased players who gave wrong answers.


And because it was the first of it's kind, MTV gave the show room to breathe and grow. It was raw and there was nothing like it on that channel. After the show ended, he later hosted shows like "Smush" and "Make Me Laugh". Most recently, Ober also was a producer on "Mind of Mencia” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”


Denis Leary commented to MTV: "Kenny Ober was and always will be the quickest wit in the room. He was fall-down funny from the moment he was born -- a smart, fast and hilarious human being who made many of us, including myself, laugh until we cried. As the star and host of 'Remote Control,' he was a welcoming ringmaster who helped to kick-start the careers of numerous talents including Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn and myself. He will be remembered always by each of his friends not only for his massive talent but for his true, deep and enduring friendship."


Ober was a massively underrated host who should have been a bigger star than he was. This is a tragedy and hopefully in death he will get the recognition he so richly deserves. He will be missed.


Block Party Quick Hits Time:


--In a huge deal, Comcast will be a 51% owner of NBC Universal, and GE will retain the remaining 49%. It was announced earlier this week that GE would buy back the 20% stake owned by Vivendi SA, which is estimated at $5.8 billion. Comcast will pay $6.5 billion in cash and $7.5 billion in assets including the Comcast-owned cable TV networks. The value of the NBC Universal owned businesses - the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, several cable networks, Universal Studios, the Universal Studios theme park, and local television stations - is set at $30 billion.


--Kevin Pollak has been tapped to host "Our Little Genius" on Fox. The concept from the Fox Press Release: Little geniuses must answer increasingly difficult questions as they work their way up to win their family hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, there is one catch: the little genius' parents can stop the game at any time and choose to walk away with the winnings for their family. To help them make informed decisions during the game, these moms and dads of average intelligence may check in with a panel of leading adult experts ranging from Ivy League professors to renowned doctors to award-winning scientists to see how they performed when answering the same questions. "Genius" premieres Wednesday, Jan. 13 following "American Idol", and makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Jan. 19


--American Idol 9 debuts January 12.


--Shark Tank returns to ABC on January 8th.


--Launch My Line debuts on Bravo and Shear Genius comes back on February 3.


--A new season of "Last Restaurant Standing" debuts on BBC America on January 5. Also one of the boldest shows of 2008 made it's stateside debut this past week. "Britain's Missing Top Model" took 8 disabled models and had them compete for a Marie Claire magazine shoot. BBC has some serious cojones for bringing it over here. Check it out.


-- Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls has been added as the third and final judge on NBC's upcoming acappella singing competition series, "The Sing-Off". Scherzinger joins previously announced judges Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men.


--Get Well wishes go out to my man, Regis Philbin. He just underwent hip replacement surgery and will be off for about 4-6 weeks. This happened as his 2nd stint as syndicated rules Millionaire host were moved up to capitalize on the small ratings bump from the Tournament of 10. They were supposed to be shown in the spring. The hospital room also includes Carrie Ann Inaba who went under the knife to relieve spinal pressure.


--"Fantasia For Real", a reality series about the life of American Idol 3rd Season winner Fantasia Burrino will debut on VH-1 on January 11.


--ABC will debut "Thin Ice" a skating competition program on Friday March 19, and Sunday March 21.


--Rumors are swirling that the American X-Factor will be located in Las Vegas.


--Reality show winners over November Sweeps included Donny Osmond who won Dancing With the Stars. This was incredibly predictable. The 5'7" and under America's Next Top Model winner was Nicole Fox. The Next Iron Chef is Jose Garces. And Irina Shabayeva was the winner of Season 6 of Project Runway.


--Project Runway will jump right into Season 7 on January 14th.


--Right around Thanksgiving, A New York Times article challenges the extreme weight loss measures used on "The Biggest Loser." The franchise has expanded to Asia.


--Scream Queens gets a second season on VH1


--Mike Sexton is tapped to host "Shuffle Up and Deal"


--Alex Trebek tapes some clues in Detroit.


--American Gladiators: The Movie is in pre-production.


--1 v.100 is now in its second season on XBOX Live.


--The Singing Bee will return on January 15th for Season 2 on CMT.


--Dance Your Ass Off is auditioning for Season 2.


--In an interview, Wayne Brady comments on his hosting gig on Deal. “I didn’t think I was going to be on a game show after ‘Don’t Forget the Lyrics’, but ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ seemed like a lot of fun. I get to give away money, see people dress up, and improvise right in the middle of a screaming audience of happy people. What more can you ask for?” Brady also saw this as a chance to host a historic game show. “The only reason I signed on is because you know it’s not everyday that you become a member of an institution, and that’s what 'Let’s Make a Deal' is and has been for years,” Brady stated. “To step into Monty Hall’s shoes; it was an honor to be asked.”


--GSN Radio's last broadcast was November 13th. This was a terrible loss for the game show community. Not only was this the best thing that GSN has put out in the last 2 years, they showed a lot of contempt for their listeners by telling them the show was being cancelled less than 24 hours before their final broadcast. This was a terrible disservice to the fans and to Marianne Curan and Bob Goen, who deserved a lot better.

--Party Gaming buys WPT for $12.3Million Dollars.

--Finally, Representative Barney Frank has a hearing on December 3rd to discuss HR 2267 – the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. This would establish a federal regulatory and enforcement framework under which Internet gambling operators could obtain licenses authorizing them to accept bets and wagers from individuals in the United States. The legislation comes in response to the enactment of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which restricted the use of the payments system for Americans who gamble online. In addition, Chairman Frank announced today he is introducing separate legislation to delay the implementation of regulations pursuant to the 2006-passed UIGEA, which are set to go into effect December 1, 2009. The regulations were completed by the Bush Administration at the last minute, and the legislation will stop Federal regulators from enforcing the UIGEA until Congress has had a chance to decide national policy.

Coming Soon... Jason Block: The Movie. E-mail him at with script ideas.