The Only Constant is
An old proverb goes "the
only constant is change." And nowhere is this more
evident than in the change of the seasons known as
"fall". Usually, this is where we get the shock of all
the newness before we eventually grow into being used to
seeing things like that.
This Monday was our first
taste, as the four major syndicated series brushed off
the past season and embraced headlong into the fray of
the unknown. Even the most steadfast of formats are
getting a less-than-extreme makeover. Let's take them
each in an isolated case, and see what they bring to the
game, starting with...
Wheel of Fortune: If you've
been reading our site or any of the many fine sites out
there (our good friends at Buzzer come to mind), then
you know that there are so many changes that if we were
to go over them all in depth, it would kill the
bandwidth limit on this column. Therefore, here's a
quick rundown. A car can go to a Wheel Watchers Club
member whose contestant goes the distance in the Bonus
Round. The prize wedge is offered on the first Wheel
round instead of the second. Also, the commercial break
moved from the end of the Bonus to the end of said first
Wheel round. But perhaps the biggest - and perhaps the
most shocking - change wasn't even thought of until we
actually saw it.
That would be the opening
graphics. What Wheel opted to do this time was show a
bunch of animated shorts featuring people who are about
THIS close from missing America's favorite game show.
I've talked to a few people about this, and we all had
basically the same response...
"What the hell?" Yeah. Way
to take away from the show without having to go through
the whole rigmarole of airing a single puzzle. The same
thing happened about 1994, and back then (take into
account that I was all but 14 at the time), it scared
the living bejeezes out of me. I mean, I can see the
animation thing working over time, but it just proves my
point that Wheel is proof positive that change for
change's sake is indeed a dangerous thing.
Travis posted on his blog,
"Wheel is loud, flashy and crass." Seems like the only
thing that HASN'T changed from year to year. That and
the whole Pat & Vanna, highest rated show on syndication
Onto Jeopardy!, the
perennial second banana. Nothing's really changed, but a
couple of things have been added. A year or so ago, we
had four members of the Clue Crew - Sarah Whitcomb,
Jimmy McGuire, Cheryl Farrell, and Sofia Lidskog. For
whatever reason (I'm not going to speculate, because it
won't do a lick of good), Sofia left, leaving a vacancy.
This season, after a nationwide casting call, said
vacancy was filled by not one, but two bright young sous-emcees,
Kelly Miyahara and Jon Cannon. All five were in
attendance at the Jeopardy! taping I attended during one
of the GSC field trips.
What does this bring to the
party? Only a new face. And a new graphics package that
rivals last year (being a graphics designer, I thought
that the "waves" package last year was rubbish). It's
still the same game we've come to know and love for the
past... oh, 40 years or so.
The only thing "Family
Feud" has changed was its set, as we go from
old-school-inspired blocks to new-school inspired
lights, rust, and trapezoids. Persnoally, I think it's
superfluous, but in a cool way. At least we didn't go
back to the mish-mash was that was seasons one through
three. Metal and wood... just don't go together. It just
looks weird, like some feng shui nightmare.
Perhaps the only show to
escape change's ever-present hand is "Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire", as the only thing that got a face lift is
the show's four-year-old opening title, shorter and
That's pretty much it.
Nothing was gained in the short-term save for one job in
the game show world, but quite a heck of a lot was lost
(thanks, Harry... no, really!). We'll leave it to time
to be the ultimate judge.
Chico Alexander may have done this topic before...
Memory's a little shaky. You can reach him at
email@example.com if you think he did.