Pass/Fail: Part 1 - May
friends... It's that time again. Another TV season has
come and gone, and it's time to assess what has come of
it in the world of game shows.
So far, the season has
seen two high-profile casualties... "The Apprentice:
Martha Stewart" and "Fear Factor." But more on that
later... Now let's take on the big guys...
When Guatemala started, it sampled 17.78 million, the
first time a Survivor started with less than 20 million
(Vanuatu started with 20.06 million). The finale scored
with 21.18 million. Panama started stronger than
Guatemala with 18.9 million. By contrast, it ended a tad
weaker with 17.07 viewers. Enough to place it in the top
10, but just... In contrast, Palau ended with 20.31
Final grading: It isn't
the hit it was five years ago, but big ratings warrant
the show's continuation on CBS's schedule, and it's also
why they fought tooth-and-nail to get Probst to return
for another strand. Good move on CBS's part.
THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA
STEWART (NBC): We started in second place with 7.65
million people watching, mostly out of queer curiosity.
Net viewership dropped to 7.47 million for the finale.
It's series low was a 5.80 million showing
Final grading: stick to
"good things". FAIL.
THE AMAZING RACE
(CBS): Family Edition... wasn't a good idea. Started
with only 10.71 million viewers, then peaked at 11.37
million for the finale after a season of holding stiff
at 11 million levels whilst not contributing to growth
in the Tuesday at 10p hour. The mea culpa season to
follow, after showing a decline in the hour, started
weaker, with a 9.37 million sampling that didn't really
get back up there, even with a finale. Not really
a good sign for a show that has had a history of
struggling to maintain a viewership.
Final grading this term:
Blame network for this one. They screwed with a good
thing. Here's hoping that Sunday proves to be a fitting
home for a show that is in desperate need of one.
FAIL, with review pending for one
more season at least.
(Syndication): The show began, for all intents and
purposes, in a depression of sorts. We were just getting
a new superchamp in the offing, when all of a sudden,
we're stuck with the news that a 6.2, while still good
for second place among syndies, was a quarter lower than
last year, when America was asking the question, "When
will Ken Jennings lose?"
Eventually, he did. Some
will argue that the show hasn't been the same since.
This last week, Jeopardy!
was unchanged at a 6.4, down 10 percent from last year.
So the bleed is salved, and the show had a net positive
Final grading: stay the
course. You may not be the life of the party that your
brother is, but you're still AT the party.
And speaking of which...
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
(Syndication): Top of the heap in syndication is
still top of the heap. When we started, we saw an 8.1
rating, down 10 percent from the year ago, but still at
the top of its game. This week, with a few weeks left in
the season, it's a 7.9, down only 2 percent from last
Final grading: This,
Jeopardy!, and the two KingWorld offerings can only mean
that 2007 is going to be a hell of a year.
DEAL OR NO DEAL (NBC):
What started as a delight to critics who have had
one too many bad days has become a delight to a network
that's in need of a hit like an addict is in need of a
hit. With each broadcast, it continues to prove skeptics
wrong, only having been beaten twice in the ratings, not
enough to do any lasting damage. When we started in
December, the peak was the Wednesday showing: 14.17
Let's go back to that
statement that was made way back in February from a site
we frequent that has a writer which is in dire need of a
decent accredited old-time journalism class taught by a
student of Walter Cronkite...
"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 Mondays, the show is still
likely to provide the best lead-in that The Apprentice
has had since Friends left the airwaves in May 2004."
I believe my colleague
and good friend Alex Davis put it best... "Deal or No
Deal is still on TV."
I'll just concur by
giving this acronym: SRIFOS.
Final grading: The move
from Friday to Thursday will tell the tale, especially
given that it'll be up against CSI and Grey's Anatomy,
but for now... PASS.
AMERICAN IDOL (Fox):
Highest rated season to date. What more need be said.
Final grading: ....
c'mon, what do you think I'm going to say here?
Next week, some more of
these season enders. But right now...
The Weekly Rant, or I
betcha if I had breasts and a British accent, I'd be
pretty darned popular, too.
Here's to the winners...
To Taylor Hicks, who
showed that a solid performance can be a budding pop
diva with a starlet's face.
To Michael Falk, who
showed that, even with the most anticlimactic Jeopardy!
tournament showing, the Yogi was right: "It ain't over
'til it's over."
To Aras Baskausas, who
proved that while we've still only seen one honest
person win the game, still people will choose the lesser
of two evils if forced to. And certainly nothing will
beat coat-tail riding on the side of Danielle for
To BJ and Tyler, who
showed that by using your brain and acting as a team,
you can overcome anything, including a casual trip
around the world. And it also helps that you're versed
in several foreign languages.
To online Lingo champs,
who prove that they can run with the best of the big
dogs on TV. Unless, of course, you have a personality
that rivals potting soil. Then the TV players will not
only mop the floor with you, they'll laugh and sing
To Thorpe Schoenle, who
knew when to say Deal.
To Cheryl Jackson, who
didn't know when to say Deal... but at least had a good
time at it.
To Rebecca Jarvis, who
proved that you don't have to win to feel like a winner.
And finally, to you, the
best game show fans in the world... Keep on playing.
With that, Chico
Alexander is heading on vacation. E-mail him at
email@example.com... He'll answer from the
road this weekend.