I was always a fan of Jason Elliott's InSites on this site. The free-form
nature. The non-sequitur topics. The fact that the title is punny. There's
always been a special place in my heart for GSNN's flagship column.
So when I got the idea to slip in and take it on for this year, I was pretty
much over the moon.
Don't get me wrong. The Numbers Game had a great two-year run, but it kept
getting hampered by the fact that my life was chaotic at the time and that there
were only so many ways one could spin ratings. That and I didn't have my own
laptop that I could take with me wherever whenever. I hope that I can get back
to doing that some time, but I basically need a format that could enable me to
speak my mind, yet at the same time, not do any heavy analytical thinking about
it. I've seen what that sort of thing does to a person. It ain't pretty.
So here, without further ado, are MY InSites. Starting with...
GSN, the network for... something.
The last five years were banner for our favorite cable network ever, even
through the take-it-or-leave-it name-and-format change, but it seems that as of
late, GSN has, once again, been caught in a funk. High Stakes Poker, still one
of the best card games on television, continues to draw in the numbers as one of
GSN's best performers, and some of the best programming on the network happened
over the summer with "Grand Slam" and "Without Prejudice?" (judging by fan
response on the latter, I'm probably the only one who enjoyed it).
At the same time, though, there was the downturn of the play-TV industry that
had "Quiznation" heading for the hills, while I kept waiting for new episodes of
many a daily quizzer (GSN would bless us with more "That's the Question" in the
fall). And as the network readies its latest entry, "How Much Is Enough", I'm
crossing my fingers and hoping beyond hope for more "Chain Reaction" and
"Lingo". Heck, I'll even settle for an ep or two of "Camouflage".
All in all, it's been a very quiet quarter for the guys down in Culver City.
Almost TOO quiet.
It's no secret that GSN has fallen on hard times since those magical days of
2002 when Rich Cronin took the reins and brought in some fresh takes on old
ideas, but it appears to me that aside from the pickup of the Corbin Bernsen-hosted
"Enough", set to bow in January, they haven't done ANYTHING in order to stand
out in the face of this new wave of games that came with the dawn of the
writers' strike of 2007. Part of that can be attributed to the changing of the
guard, and the changing of the tone (more classics, less crap). But an
opportunity like this doesn't come often. Strike while the iron is hot.
Of course, there is another side of this quandary, and that would be that in
order to crank out new product, you need steady income. ABC learned that lesson
the hard way in 2002 with its once-golden scheduled-one-time-too-many
"Millionaire", and now five years later, GSN's overreliance on foreign-import "Quiznation"
has brought up a serious problem. Compare it to America's overreliance on
foreign oil, and you'll see what I mean.
The only thing is that GSN seems to "get the pills from the thrills" and, at the
same time, "get the thrills from the pills".
So what's the solution? One word: extension. Focus on the strengths and go from
there. GSN is taking a serious step in that direction with its pickup of season
six of the World Poker Tour to compliment its Casino Night block. Now we just
need a steady stream of promising games to appease the rest of us. And maybe
pick up a few new eyes as well.
Just make sure you pace yourself. After all, we don't need a million
"Camouflage" clones, no matter how addictive the original game is.
And now, on a completely different note... Jason had the Game Show Alphabet. I
would be doing him a disservice if I didn't complete it, so...
Game Show Alphabet...
Next up, we had P... and TWO shows.
The first was a kids' game in 1989 based on a popular board game that utilized
teams, an arm-wrestling judge, and a still-fresh-from-Head-of-the-Class Brian
Robbins as host. He would later go on to produce "Smallville". No word on the
The second show was a 1997 entry that was ALSO based on a
popular board game. It only lasted one season, but it showed Alan Thicke at his
best and gave the game show world a memorable moment: that being Erik Estrada
accidentally punching a contestant's nose to bleeding.
Both shows went by the name... of "Pictionary."
Moving on finally to my little pet project on this column... "The 25 Days That
Rocked the Game Show World," starting with the latest in said string...
Ever since its inception on CBS in 1972, "The Price is Right" has known many
producers, many directors, many writers (one of whom I'm hoping is reading...
Hi, Stan, love the book), and many MANY models, but only one host in the
unequivocal Bob Barker.
That is, until...
OCTOBER 15, 2007 - The Drew Carey Era begins
After a search that spanned nine months and attracted some likely (and
not-so-likely) names to the Bob Barker Studio, CBS aired the first episode of
TPIR without Bob at the helm. The lucky man chosen to carry on his proud
tradition... Drew Carey. The story goes that suits at CBS were so enamored with
his performance on the Michael Davies tome "Power of 10" (whose second season
will air in 2008) that he was given an offer without going through the formal
audition process. And after almost two months of watching the portly comedian
from Cleveland make TPIR his own, the game show fan world is in a rare state of
agreement... Drew Carey was just the man for the job.
Today, some five months after he made what came to be known as "the
announcement" on "The Late Show", we all realize that he has come a long way.
Still, even the wisest man has yet another thing to learn.
Just ask Bob Barker.
Chico Alexander likes to use dashes in his writing. Get used to it. E-mail
him at email@example.com.