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Spare Change
February 18

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away... Atlanta... there was this gentleman. Let's call him "Candler". That's his name after all. Candler came up with a product called Coca-Cola. The selling point, for well over 100 years, has been the secret formula, one that made the concoction so very intoxicatingly delicious. The formula was so good as both practicum and lore that people would, upon pain of death, refuse to divulge it.

It stayed the same over two World Wars, two recessions, the Great Depression, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq... well, you get it.

Then in the 1980s, someone changed the formula. The reaction was quick and massive. People didn't just "not like" it... They HATED it. Coke switched back to the original formula, and the rest is cola-wars history.

GSN would do very well to learn from this example.

Last month, we had the premiere of "Carnie Wilson: Unstapled", which briefly glossed over her work on "The Newlywed Game", and "Hidden Agenda", a reality farce cleverly disguised as a game show. The latter... was just an incredibly needless half-hour of my week that I'll never get back. As soon as the run is over, I'll send GSN an invoice for my time. As for the former... well, Carnie is a fantastic host of a fantastic game, and we wish nothing but the best for her in THAT regard, but she's a flawed character. And if I'm being honest, the problems that she has and how she chooses to address them IF she chooses to address them are better left between herself and her family, her friends, and her god. I just want to see her make newlyweds squirm.

I made the bold prediction of "Six weeks... Gone". I'm guessing that it will come to fruition at least in part, due to the upcoming premiere of Wink Martindale's new series, "Instant Recall". It may be hosted by a living legend, but I'm not holding out much hope for that either.

These are just samples of GSN's almost-willful engineering of their network for failure. GSN Live was cut to size... GSN Radio was switched off... "20Q" and "The Money List" were plugged into a programming block that intended on entertaining by insulting our intelligence... Engaging and whip-smart AJ Benza was fired from "High Stakes Poker" in favor of poker-star and pretty-face-with-a-pair-of-boobies-attached Kara Scott (not discounting the hosting skills of the latter, just mentioning a change that needn't have been made).... And the less said about the Game Show Awards, which, when they weren't honoring the icons and legends, were pathetic at best... the better.

And then there are the future plans of "Life at Stake", which reads as "The Biggest Loser Lite", and the as-of-yet titled documentary series on bunco. Pardon me for a moment, but... BUNCO?! Good luck with that one.

These reality prospects may give way to the ultimate reality of all... nonexistence. My sister, who helps with the site from time to time, has to say "What happened to basics? What happened to bare minimum?"

Let me pause from the listing of grievances to tie in yet another industry standard. For years, Nintendo had been the leader, the ultimate titan, in the video-game industry. Somewhere along the line, they started to believe their own hype and, instead of wanting to stay competitive in the face of mounting competition in the 1990s with the CD-ROM based Sega Saturn (BUZZ!) and the Sony Playstation (DING!), both of which were cheaper and more versatile to market and develop for, they decide to force-feed us on the bulky, expensive, cartridge-based Nintendo64. What does Dr. Phil say? "How'd THAT work out for you?" And don't even get me started on the Virtual Boy. Don't think I've forgotten about that molded red turd-log of a platform. They turned the tide with the Gamecube and the Wii by embracing the norm and improving upon it.

And in the end, that's what GSN boils down to nowadays, a lack of desire, a lack of knowledge, a lack of wanting to stay competitive. They just want numbers, and numbers translates into dollars, and to that end, they'll try ANYTHING to grab an audience, up to and including not ASKING you what you want, but telling you what you want. In going for the numbers, you're going to alienate your core audience, the people that made you. That's desperation, that's shameless, and the world is calling you on it. We're not being mean. We're being real. And we wouldn't be so hard up on it if we didn't care so much.

So before we head into Dark Period II: Electric Boogaloo, GSN has to face the fact that it is staring down a fork in the road. One way may not restore the network to its glory days, but will come rather close. The other way will spell further doom and disaster.

They want to stay face front, but they're doing it wrong. And they're doing anything and everything, up to and including allegedly putting a show on the air with Nadya "Octomom" Suleman.

Yeah, review past episodes of "Vegas Weddings Unveiled" with Darva Conger and "Fake-a-Date" with Evan Marriott, both of which didn't get past the Fox-Reality-Panic-Rebrand of 2005 and get back to me. That is, if you still exist or are even relevant by then.

Game Show Alphabet Redux

In this day and age, the big thing in love, television style, is "The Bachelor". And if you take away all the backstage shenanigans, and the most shocking _____ ever hype that drives me to run headfirst into a wall, it's actually quite charming.

This week's entry predates that by about 15 years, with a show about love and romantic pursuits, coming to us from our good friends in Italy, where it was known as "M'ama Non M'ama." The premise: true/false questions culminating in a chase around a ginormous daisy for a new car (for the player) or a trip and some cash (for the object of his/her pursuit).

See, in Italy, "Ama" means "love." And "M'ama" means "love me". And "Non M'ama" means "love me not." Thanks, John Harlan!

The pilot for the American version of "M'ama Non M'ama" was hosted by Alex Trebek before "Jeopardy!" became a thing. When it was greenlit by USA, production moved to Canada, and Ross Shafer, who would eventually inherit another game show that he didn't pilot (the 1990 version of "Match Game"), was tapped to host...

"Love Me, Love Me Not": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Me,_Love_Me_Not_(game_show)

Chico Alexander is on a romantic pursuit of his own. E-mail him with tips and giant daisies at chico@gameshownewsnet.com. (C-Note: Due to circumstance beyond our control, 25 Days that Rocked the Game Show World will return next week).