Moving Day - April 6
The Amazing Race. There
isn't a game show fan that has at least heard good
things about it. The adventure. The challenge. The
critical acclaim. The constant search for an audience.
So it stands to reason
that the ninth running of the race wouldn't have all
four of these aspects in spades. Especially given the
events of the eighth season, which featured ill
adventure, ill challenge, ill critical acclaim, and,
perhaps as a result, an ill audience... either in
numbers or in just general disdain.
This was punctuated in
the brain move by CBS to move it to 10p on Tuesday night
in order to give a new series a shot. Sure, the new
series got the job done, but no one stuck around for the
Out of the Gate
Consider the time-slot
premiere of the Race, which was on March 7, one week
after its season premiere. Whilst last season saw the
show consistently place second in the 9p time slot
opposite "House", this season's move to 10p showed some
eradication of any hit status that the show might've had
in the past, instead placing third at 10p with a 6.5/10
in the overnights and 9.37 million viewers. On the
bright side, the target demo put the show at first with
The numbers hardly
changed as the weeks went by, although that 3.8/10 for
the 18-49 crowd was, since the first ep at 10p, only
good for second place.
What's a network with a
critically-acclaimed-but-audience-challenged game show
to do? Admit fault (which networks are so rarely to do
nowadays) and pick up stakes to find a more worthy home.
A Surefire Opening
Enter this week, when
returning sitcoms "Out of Practice" and "Courting Alex"
were deemed to be underperforming, resulting in a drop
from the schedule. All of a sudden, a timeslot once
inhabited by "Survivor" in its infancy became an out in
a last-ditch effort to save the franchise (sure, it got
a renewal for next fall, but what about afterwards?).
And so the decision was made to move "The Amazing Race"
to that timeslot.
But it had one thing to
contend with that "Survivor" didn't... Formidable
competition in the likes of growing young phenom "Deal
or No Deal". More on that later, though.
The result... 5.3/8,
third opposite "Deal" and Fox's "Bones". Believe it or
not, while this looks to be a harbinger of disaster for
the series, it's actually a good thing. The last
habitant of this slot scored 23 percent less. All CBS
has to do now is bide their time, make sure that
everyone knows about the show, and pull out all the
stops in order to get people to watch it.
But one would readily
admit that this move shouldn't have had to happen in the
first place. After all, just what was wrong with Tuesday
at 9p to begin with? You're going to let a little thing
like "American Idol" stop you from churning out quality
That's a b(^_^)h move,
CBS. Here's hoping you learn from that mistake.
Back to "Deal".
Monday's two-hour filler-riffic
"Deal or No Deal" may have been a bit much for the young
show to absorb, but you cannot question that it followed
the winning strategy of students of the game: get in,
ride the wave, get out.
And that it did. Final
Deal or No Deal: first,
11.2/16 in the overnights
The other big profile event, the NCAA Championship
between Florida and UCLA (which, by the way, I had to
win): 8.4/12 in the overnights in the hour against
"Deal". Good only for third (second that hour? "24".)
Wednesday's show, which
aired opposite a freshly-moved "Amazing Race", scored a
9.4/15 based on the national average. Last week, it was
a 10.7/16. Usually I wouldn't press the panic button (heh,
punny) when dealing with a bit of a dropout, but I would
seriously think about having a bit more patience when
dealing with this show, especially given that it runs
the risk of being overexposed, as "Millionaire" was five
years ago. We wouldn't want a primetime game show crash
just months before its impending birth, would we?
A Brief History Lesson
And I say "impending
birth" because of success breeding copycats. Reports
from the New York Post are suggesting that other
networks are now looking for their own "Deal or No
Deal". We all remember how this worked with
"Millionaire", did we? A brief history lesson...
- CBS: the network tapped
"Millionaire" producer Celador to adapt "Winning Lines"
for US audiences; it was done after six weeks.
- Fox: "Greed" went from knee-jerk response to solid
game after a while, but needless gimmickry and the
arrival (and cancellation) of "It's Your Chance of a
Lifetime" doomed it.
- NBC: many on the boards (among them, original "Twenty
One" champ Herb Stempel) claimed that it was trying to
kill off the revival of "Twenty One." Of the early
millennium games, this one, despite complaints that this
show was a) giving away tons of money hand over fist and
b) spoiling it when they did, performed the best,
peaking as high as #19 in viewership. Fastforward to
April of 2001 and "The Weakest Link," which, despite
early successes, was mired with special editions and
Moral of the story: we
all heard the saying before... "Want to make a hit show,
but don't have the money? Front a game show!" But, at
the risk of sounding blasphemous, networks needn't be so
frivolous about it. This will work if and only if they
nurture the game, bide its time, not put too much of its
stock on it, and wait for a return on its investment
like the rest of us.
This is the true lesson
of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?". This is a lesson
that NOT ONE DAMN NETWORK has learned, save for Fox,
who, despite its best wishes, will only put on one
"American Idol" a year. They realize the truth in the
age-old lexicon of keeping the audience wanting more.
And the result? A number-one finish. Every week since
Coincidence? You tell me.
The Weekly Rant, or
PlayMania... a.k.a GSN has eight late-night hours a week
to spend on eye candy and programming on the cheap.
If you're an avid reader
of the site (and thank you once again if you are), then
you may have heard me refer to Jeff Probst as "the once
and future Jeopardy! host". There's an interesting
reason behind that. The "once" part is obvious. He used
to host "Rock & Roll Jeopardy!" on VH1, and on occasion,
he presents clues from "Survivor" locales.
And the "future" part...
well, it just all comes down to a matter of opinion. I
mean, we all know that the hosts we know and love will
not be around forever, and a great majority of them will
choose not to try. I don't doubt that Alex would be a
part of this majority. And I sincerely think that
Jeopardy!, thanks to its constant showing in the
syndicated ratings, would last for a good long time. I
would also think that Alex would have the sense to groom
a successor of his own. Couple that with Jeff's
experience on both sides of the game (as host and
player) and his experience with trivia quizzes in
general (as evidenced by the usual "get to know your
surrounds" trivia challenges), and he's an obvious fit.
But several things would
refute my argument. Among them, the long-term contract
that Jeff has to host and produce "Survivor" for CBS.
Also among them is the appearance that Alex doesn't look
anywhere near the point where it's time to hang up his
rapier wit and reading glasses on a shelf somewhere.
But still, it doesn't
hurt anyone to prognosticate at what might be. And
besides, with Meredith leaving ABC for NBC, the future
of her stay on "Millionaire" might be called into
question, although I think Buena Vista and NBC are
working the kinks out of said deal. Per a report from
"Vieira also said she has
not yet spoken with Buena Vista about whether or not she
will continue in her role as host of Millionaire for the
remaining two years on her contract. Vieira currently
tapes the entire year of shows between September and
December, shooting four shows a day three or four days a
week. The show currently tapes at 2 p.m., and Vieira
said that one possibility would be simply to move up the
taping schedule to begin at noon."
Hey, if Hugh Downs can
host "Concentration" while doing "The Today Show", then
why the hell not?
As an aside to the small
contingent of people who will look at the whole
Katie-Meredith shuffle with derision and volume,
protesting Katie's move to CBS and promising not to
watch "Today" afterwards as if to say "We're here! We
sneer! And damned if you don't agree with me..."
Overdedicated fangirls mostly...
A friend of mine, Yuri
Broze, came up with this little gem: "Put on your big
girl panties and get over it." It's a bloody news show,
and there are far more important things going on in the
world. Grow up, will ya?
Chico Alexander would
like to wish his mom a happy birthday. E-mail him at