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Karma Is a Funny Thing
February 25

It's often been said that if you do right in the world, it will appear that you've done nothing at all. Okay, so I got that from an episode of "Futurama", but follow me here.

I am a practicing Buddhist, and as such, I believe that the world operates on a barter system of karma, a constant shift of cause to effect. The universe has a funny way of self-righting the mistakes of man.

Consider the following four stories, all happening within days or weeks of each other.

- My friend Chad Mosher said it best: it's sad that we're talking about rigging a game show in 2010. Mark Burnett's "this is how you make a game show in the new millennium" way of doing things is reaping bitter fruit. It hasn't been a secret for a while that Burnett, possibly in a move to protect his own career, decided to pull "Our Little Genius" before a single episode aired. Now the feds are involved. It's a sticky point of argument... Does the FCC hold jurisdiction over a show that did not air? According to Section 508 of the Telecommunications Act of 1936, the story behind the alleged rigging and supplying of answers doesn't exist, at least legally, due to the fact that it didn't air. Will this save his company and Fox millions in fines? Most definitely. Will it save his reputation? Probably not. So far, nothing has come of it, but don't be surprised if more scrutiny is held to both the industry and to Mark Burnett, who at this writing has two big hit games on the schedule with a third coming.

- A week after the discovery of a contract that rendered Chris Golightly an "American Idol" ineligible, Golightly won't live up to his name and go lightly. I'll make this as plain as possible, so as to spare you all the gut-wrenching details of his press conferences/unofficial auditions. A contract was produced. You KNEW you had a contract, and didn't make sure that you got out of it before going on "Idol", a requisite if you're even going to THINK about auditioning in front of the toughest room in America. You got caught. Anything more is just desperate attention grabbing on your part. And if you're counting on AI to call you if they want you, I have news for you, buddy. The real world doesn't work that way, especially as far as this show is concerned. Face it. It's over. Give up.

- A quick look at The Futon Critic shows that GSN's "Hidden Agenda" had a good two or three episodes left to air before its cancellation (in practice if not in fact). Then GSN decided to yank it from the schedule and replace it with a similar, albeit not, series, "Instant Recall", with Wink Martindale, which is either a brilliant casting maneuver for a brilliant premise or an obvious bone to the game show world. Take your side and adjust your expectations accordingly. Personally, I'm going to give the Winker a shot, because, and this is a BIG point to the show... we KNOW him. We've been through this 19 times before. And from the looks of it, either he's going to have a fantastic time doing this show, or GSN is paying him a boatload of money to do so. Either way, both GSN neophytes and hardened game show fan veterans will at least give this a tune-in, just to see what all of the hubbub is about, which is more than what can be said to the footnote that was "Hidden Agenda".

But really, the selling point is Wink with only a scarce mention of the game he is to host, so again, cum grano salis, adjust your expectations accordingly. The point is: familiarity breeds contempt and perhaps ratings, both of which GSN could use right about now.

- Drew Carey and Wayne Brady both have cause to celebrate, as both are due to celebrate some very important milestones in their respective shows. "Let's Make a Deal" will pass the 100-episode mark, while one week later, "The Price Is Right" will celebrate Drew's 500th episode on March 10. While Drew's handling of "The Price Is Right" has been a point of contention almost to the point of comedy, you can't help but wonder why it's doing as well as it is, better than it was in the 400 or so episodes that preceded this season. And we can all point out bits and pieces that only librarians of the subject would have knowledge of, but the proof is in the numbers, and the numbers are siding with Drew, Mike, and the other fine folks at 33. 

As for Wayne, Jonathan, Tiffany, and Alison (PS: get better soon!), the end result of the revival of the daytime network game show is nothing short of spectacular. There have been some audiences, myself included, that would have given this show a fair-to-middling chance of succeeding 13 weeks let alone 100 episodes. But it's been a consistent player every day, bringing something new to the party without letting go of what got them there in the first place, and now it's being well-rewarded for such a task. Sure it has about half of the audience of "TPIR", but its audience grew from year-to-year over the less-attractive, more-expensive-to-produce "Guiding Light." This is what happens when you have a good product and a good way of producing it.

In short, misfortune invites misfortune from 1000 miles. Fortune invites fortune from 10,000 miles. Just another day in the life of the universe.

Game Show Alphabet Redux

Not much in the way of "N" shows. I should know. I went through the Tome twice.

I arrived ultimately at "Now You See It", which I thought was new and amazing when it aired at 2:30p on the CBS affiliate in Tucson (I was 9 at the time and living in Arizona). Turned out it was actually a redo of a 70s game hosted by Jack Narz. Didn't know it at the time, but in its simplicity, I found what I think most good game shows have: competition, drama, action, and strategy. This was one of the most underrated games of the last 40 years of game shows.

I guess you could say I was a weird kid.

"Now You See It": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Now_You_See_It

25 Days That Rocked the Game Show World: Day 25

And so we've reached the end of my no-particular-order countdown with a day that not only rocked the game show world, but changed the world as we know it forever.

DAY 25: September 11, 2001 - Game Called

Angel Juarbe, who had won "Murder in a Small Town X", was a New York City firefighter who got the call to head to the World Trade Center. Charles Burlingame, who was a contestant on "Greed", was a pilot of one of the damned flights that headed to the same location. Both made the ultimate sacrifice.

"Big Brother", which was still going on at the time, put the game on hold to apprise the remaining contestants of the events that had transpired.

The premiere seasons of "The Amazing Race" and "Lost" (the game show) were deferred while wall-to-wall news coverage was the new norm of the day.

A planned chase game on ABC, "The Hunter", was put on indefinite hiatus, as it didn't make sense for contestants to chase after game-created fugitives when real fugitives were to be brought to justice.

The "Jeopardy!" Tournament of Champions was shot in an empty studio.

Shows airing at the time such as "The Weakest Link", "Family Feud", "Card Sharks", and "The Price Is Right" all ran special episodes saluting America's heroes.

Even "Survivor", which had premiered the year prior, was starting to show images in its reunion shows that echoed American sentiment.

Even our own Gordon Pepper worked literally footsteps from what would become hallowed ground.

Once in a lifetime an event would come to put fun and games on hold while our collective conscience reordered our priorities. Every so often we need to remember that what we do here, in our little collective, pales in comparison to the world at large. It's a great interest to have, our game shows, but we need to remember that they are just that, interest. Our lives, our loved ones, and those we hold most dear should take precedent over all else. And as tragic an event as 9/11 was, it served as a grim reminder of that - to live out each day as if it were our last, to give love to strangers as we would give love to family, and to remember that even in the darkest of times, the sun will never fail to rise on a new day.

And fun and games did return.

And now that that's over...

I want to know about the days that rocked YOUR world. It could be a moment that you met your idol. It could be a moment that changed your life in some way. It could be your ultimate moment of triumph. Whatever it is, I want to know about it. Send them over to my e-mail address (or find me on Twitter @chairmanchico), and the best ones will be featured in a future InSites column.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Chico Alexander apparently is also a funny thing. E-mail him more funny things at chico@gameshownewsnet.com.