Childhood - March 17
Switching things up this
week for obvious reasons.
The weekly rant, or an
homily for my childhood.
"Take your fondest
memory... hold it close to your heart and don't let go."
-Randy Amasia, 1957-2001
Children of the 80s and game show fans alike lost a hero
this week with the passing of Peter Tomarken.
I can't say anything more
that a) my colleagues have also said or that b) would
sound cliche... But I will try.
First of all... I can
remember my first glimpse of the man from Olean doing
what he does best. It was winter break of 1985, the
first real break since starting kindergarten. After
hearing Bob Barker foretell of holiday reruns (to
explain his hair switching from brown to gray and back
to brown). I was, in that essence, like at least
thousands of other kids my age... Waiting in some
sadistic fashion for someone to hit a yellow block and
Peter to say "Stoooooop at a Whammy."
That familiar voice...
the voice that talked of "instant experts", shops in
Saint Louie Mo, and being just a little bit paranoid...
that voice is silenced now, by the ebb and flow of the
Sea of Time.
Thanks to the fine folk
at USA, an entire generation knows about this man.
Thanks to the fine folk at GSN, a new generation will
As for me... Well, I
never met the man. My only connection with him was an
old beat-up eMachines that I won as a web contestant on
the final episode of "Paranoia." That and several years
of watching the show that made him the man he is
As insensitive as it may
sound, consider the numbers... 1983, the year his first
show he hosted, Jay Wolpert's "Hit Man", premiered. 6,
the number of shows that he hosted, not including failed
pilots. 3, the number of years "Press Your Luck" ran on
CBS. 8, the number of years "Press Your Luck" ran in
off-broadcast reruns on USA. Fans of his erstwhile
Even casual viewers my
age know the man, as is proven by my friend, Chris
Neumann, an artist whose first glimpse of GSN (and to
record, his only glimpse) was an episode of "Inquizition".
"I don't even really remember him," he said, "even
though I saw the show so much as a kid."
And that's what we kids
remember. Our childhood.
Probably something in me
thinks that my childhood is now officially over.
Goodbye, beautiful world, nothing will ever be the same
But all has been said
that needs to be said... We forge on, as always, with
one foot in the past and one in the here and now.
Here is my foot in the
past... He lived a life of love. Reportedly, he didn't
like a single show he hosted, but he loved hosting. More
than that, I like to think that he loved to make other
people happy. In that, he died doing what he loved
most... making other people happy. Now he proceeds on to
his eternal reward with that knowledge.
Here is my foot in the
present... There's one final number... 18... The number
of episodes GSN will air on Sunday in his honor. Rewatch.
Some of our readers are
of the school of thought that this grief we as a
community feel is only temporary, and that we all will
see him and Rod Roddy and Gene Wood and Ralph Edwards
again. I understand and respect that.
But for now, on behalf of
a generation, Peter... Thanks. For the memories... For
the joy... For everything. Just.... thanks.
Now... back to business
The weekly ratings, or
Anything to Win... also the subtitle of American Idol 5.
It seems that the Winter
Olympics has put a damper in game show viewing...
Actually, in syndicated viewing all around. We'll start
with the quizzers in daytime first off... The sweep has
been over for quite some time now, and here are the
results... Cue the lights, please, Bruce.
Wheel of Fortune: Last
sweep, an 8.9, down 10 percent from last year, but still
a top draw in syndication. For obvious reasons. The week
of February 27, it rose to a 9.2, still down seven
percent from last year.
Jeopardy!: Last sweep, a
7.2, down 13 percent from last year, when it was
beginning its Ken Jennings love-in, the Ultimate
Tournament of Champions (I met Jerome Vered and Steve
Chernicoff during last year's GSC. Nice blokes, those).
Last week, only down 12 percent, as it scored a 7.4 up
from the sweep.
Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire: Last sweep, down 11 percent to a 3.3. The
week in question, down 3 percent to a 3.4, up from the
sweep, but still two-tenths off its season best.
I guess the search for
that elusive person to run the 15 has killed the
mystique a tad. We haven't had a million-dollar winner
since Kevin Smith.
Family Feud: Of the
year-to-year game show comparisons, Feud was the only
show not to add or subtract, staying constant at a 2.2.
The week in question.... also a 2.2.
In primetime, there are
really three big games... American Idol, Deal or No
Deal, and Survivor.
Of those, one used to be
really big, one still is really big, and one's well on
its way to get really big.
First, used to be.
Survivor experienced another first with "Exile
Island"... The first season to average less than 20
million viewers. Thanks in part to the Olympics, Dancing
with the Stars, and American Idol, "Survivor" only
manages 15 million viewers each night. Which is still
pretty good if you think about it. Thursdays at 8p is a
hard nut to crack, and even with third-and fourth-place
finished during the sweep, it still managed to attract a
Then, still is. American
Idol has become more of an event than ever. This week's
shows are among the top of TV, drawing 28.09 million
viewers for Wednesday's elimination and 32.77 million
for the two-hour performance show. What can be said that
hasn't been said before, except... Go, Fox.
We've seen the past and
the present. How about some future shock, kiddies. Deal
or No Deal, while still not mirroring its hit status
from December, is still a pretty solid hit for NBC. The
first week's Friday show tied with "The Ghost Whisperer"
at a 7.6/13 in households (second), 12.09 million
viewers (second) and a first-place 4.0/12 among adults
The next Monday at 8,
it's all about Howie. The show scored 9.0/13 in the
overnights, 14.68 million viewers and a 4.9/13 among
adults 18-49, all first. That Friday, a reprise of the
last Friday, with a household rating of 6.4/12 (second),
10.38 million viewers (second), 3.4/11 (tied for first).
Finally, Monday. Big
numbers on Monday, growing out a 9.9/15 in the
overnights, 15.38 million viewers and a 5.2/14 among
If I may revisit that
statement from that site that will remain nameless,
"While Deal Or No Deal may be unlikely to deliver the
12.7 million viewers that it averaged during its
December broadcasts when it begins airing weekly on
I don't mean to say I
told you so, but... in your face, Mr. X. But still, the
Wednesday shows worry me. I'm hoping a premature burnout
is not imminent.
Let's go to cable. If you
read the site, you know that "Flavor of Love" was quite
the hit for VH1, topping out at 5,880,000 viewers. You
can bet that it's a birthday present that Flav would
want, as it may open the door for more of that kind of
show on VH1.
I guess we can all
forgive the network for the stinkfest that was "But Can
They Sing" now.
Also of note, GSN's
Anything to Win, episode "Tonya Harding: Her Story" on
Sunday delivered the highest ratings for an original
telecast in primetime this season, with a 0.7 in
households. That translated into an above average
575,000 viewers. If GSN wants an example of why the
network should be kept on some systems, this would be a
And finally, the happy
ending. Let's talk endings. "Beauty and the Geek" was a
darling for the WB over the summer. It continued to be a
darling on Thursdays as well, as we await the third
season switchover... Overnights, the finale scored a
fifth-place 2.9/4, delivering 3.76 million viewers. The
finale of the initial summer run yielded 4.06 million.
Not bad considering the competition ("Dancing with the
Stars" and "CSI" mainly).
A happy ending indeed.
welcomes your memories of childhood at firstname.lastname@example.org.