Fall Back - May 18
Well, the upfronts are
coming fast and furious, and many of our favorite
primetime competitions are safe and sound. "Survivor",
"The Amazing Race", "Dancing with the Stars", and "Deal
or No Deal" will return this fall, while "American Idol"
and "The Apprentice" will be back midseason. The hybrid
CW is getting another round of "Top Model".
Oh yeah, and as final
proof of the devil's work on earth, "The Bachelor" will
be back as well.
But perhaps the big news
on the game front is the surprise arrival of ABC's "Set
for the Rest of Your Life", one of the three pickups
But the timing and the
placement concern me.
ABC's "Set" for
What's the worst thing
you can do for a mid-season game show? Slot it opposite
Here's the situation. In
the wake of the success of "Deal or No Deal" (and it's
quite a success, mind you... More on that later),
everyone, much like the situation seven years ago, is
looking for its own "Deal" breaker... or its own "Deal"
period. Endemol and "Deal" creator Dick de Rijk were
happy to oblige, selling three properties to NBC, Fox,
and ABC. So far, only the ABC entry, in which pairs
compete for a regular stipend, hence the title, has
earned a spot on the schedule.
That spot: Tuesday at 8p
upon the conclusion of "Dancing with the Stars".
Let's look at the
calendar. Assuming a September launch for "Dancing with
the Stars", that show would complete its run at the end
of November sweeps, which would clear the way for "Set"
to premiere in December, to run presumably to the end of
One out of two things
1) Another "Deal"
scenario, in which the show launches in the December
doldrums and catches fire as NBC did.
2) It could fizzle, catch
buzz with no one, and then once Fox enters the fray with
"American Idol", meet a certain and swift death. As "NCIS"
proved, the best you can hope for against that is a
We'll see what fortune
ABC will wrest from this gambit... but if you were going
to bring a knife to a gun fight, you could've brought
back "Millionaire" instead of an unproven ringer. But
that would be a smart move to make, and networks aren't
want for smart moves.
I guess this is why we
only WRITE about these things.
But back to the show that
started this whole mess to begin with...
Another week, another
Earlier, I said that
"Deal or No Deal" was quite a success. I was being
modest. The show had faced numerous obstacles... House,
Idol, the President, the Ghost Whisperer... yet still
managed to come out smelling of roses. And it's a good
thing, because we all love the drama that unfolds on the
Here's what happened
The two hours that Deal
or No Deal was scheduled for were dominated by the game
and the President on the East Coast, and the game itself
on the west coast. NBC placed first for the first hour
with a 8.8/14. That number rose in the second hour with
a 10.9/15, one of the highest scores in the show's
six-month history. It wasn't enough to beat "Grey's
Anatomy," but if you won all the time, the Numbers Game
wouldn't be interesting.
But still, there's a rule
that has to be followed with this sort of thing, as
written by Nintendo wunderkind Shigeru Miyamoto:
"Promise what you can deliver, then deliver more than
what you promised." I'm sure the Donald wouldn't have
minded terribly if his show started at 10:25 instead of
10. After all, other nets aired their lineups in their
entirety. What's wrong, NBC? You know you're going to
screw it anyway, you might as well screw it on the side
of caution. Give all of us all of the show, not half of
us three-quarters of it.
As long as you get the
job done, I suppose.
And while we're on
What happened to once a
week? Apparently NBC hasn't learned a damned thing from
"Millionaire" or "Weakest Link." So not only did they
renege on a promise not to overdo the Deal, they went
behind the best counsel of Endemol and have put their
prized goose in jeopardy.
But all is not lost, as
the show will run once a week for the rest of its
season, up until the June 3 season finale. Then it's a
summer without. Bitter, I know. But remember the old
saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Going down to syndie
"Wheel of Fortune" for
the second week of sweeps is down 3 percent from year to
year with a 7.8, but still it's the top show in
syndication. Jeopardy!, unfortunately, dropped to a 6.4,
with 7 million viewers watching the prelude to a
tournament. "Millionaire" holds steady, albeit off by 3
percent at a 3.1 with 3.43 million watching. Family Feud
is clinging to its 2.0 rating as it drops 5 percent from
John O'Hurley can't come
The Weekly Rant, or
shameless plug, my a cappella alma mater just released
its first CD!
"Family Feud". Cute.
Addictive. Hard to follow.
We all see the signs:
ill-timed tourneys and specials for sweeps, schedule
jumping, and episodes that will only show in double run
So what does this have to
do with the upcoming Feud on "Game Show Marathon". Well,
if they want to ratchet up the enjoyment factor,
And I'm not talking set
revamps either. I happen to LIKE the Feud 2005 set just
fine. After all, if you can't change, you can't grow.
And if you can't grow, you can't evolve. And if you
can't evolve, the game show as we know it is dead.
What I propose is what
FremantleMedia is actually hinting at, based on
conversations I've had with Dan Berger and Alex Davis,
who just happened to be close to production of "Game
Show Marathon": having the shows serve as pilots for a
companion series to the Feud.
Let's break it down,
- The Price is Right and
Family Feud are moot points. They are already running
and from what I understand, doing quite well for
- Press Your Luck: its
last revival was as "Whammy!" in 2002. While it had its
own merits (as the late great Peter Tomarken would
demonstrate in an episode of its second season), let's
face it. It wasn't exactly the show with the fierce cult
following that we remember from our youths. Of course,
taking away the first question round will do that. Throw
in the Press Your Luck modicum with the Whammy attitude
and you may have something. Yes, cry foul at the CGI
Whammy if you must, but come on... It's 200-freaking-6,
- Beat the Clock: last
seen on Pax in 2003, it wasn't bad, and Gary was pretty
good at host, but when you try to build a game around a
simple game (see Match Game 90), it tends to lose a bit
of its charm.
- Card Sharks: 2001 was a
bit of a disappointment. Actually... it was a big
honking disappointment. We may need a few more years for
- Let's Make a Deal: the
least said about the 2004 version, the better. Not that
the game wasn't bad aesthetically, but Billy Bush was a
- Match Game: this would
probably be the prime candidate for revival. After all,
celebrities are big nowadays, thanks in no part to
celebreality shows like "Dancing with the Stars",
"Skating with Celebrities", and even "I've Got a
Secret". And besides, the last time we saw a blue card
was in 1999. Take away the endless jokes relating to
Bill Clinton and a part of the male anatomy, and maybe
add some of the best comedy writers in the business (I
nominate Joel Hodgson), and you could have this one
ready by spring of 2007 at the earliest.
Sure you can't exactly
bring back the classics as classics (how many sad little
individuals cried foul when Feud abandoned the
home-grown needlecraft sets for more modern tones?), but
in this day and age, to paraphrase Bill MacDonald, "even
bad game shows are better than no game shows."
Just reminds you of how
good the good ones are.
Chico Alexander wishes
he could be part of "DDR with Famous People". E-mail him