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Summer Session: Spin 101 - June 7

Ah, summer. For most of us, it's a time of rest and relaxation. A time to reflect on the spring of our year, prepare for the harvest of the fall, and remember that during the summer, we're pretty much at reign to do whatever the heck we want.

Unless you happen to be a writer for a we-try-harder game show news service... Wait a sec...

Well, it's Summer School at the Numbers Game, and I'm your professor. For the next few weeks we'll see, by the numbers, which summer games are at the top of their game, and which ones should head back to grade school. So grab your number twos, folks, because class is now in session. Open your textbooks to page one... last week.

"Hell" Spawned

On Monday, we got the latest import that Fox thought was an easy sell... "Hell's Kitchen." Based on the British show of the same name, it brings its star chef Gordon Ramsay to America to open and run a 12-man operation in Los Angeles. At stake: a restaurant.

The hype: From Fox's website: "The contestants believe they have what it takes to work in the adrenaline-fueled atmosphere of a busy kitchen... but they haven't worked for the perfectionist Ramsay before. A man they may fear and respect in equal measure, Ramsay will be assessing their performance and driving them to achieve the best. For him, failure is not an option, and nothing and no one will get in his way."

The opening numbers: Disastrous. Sorry, I was talking about the service. Downsides: fourth place in viewers (6.80 million) and households (4.2/7). Good news: it actually fared (^_^)ing well in its opener amongst key demographics (3.2/7 for adults 18-49 - tied for second). Also of note, a 33 percent lead-out over "Nanny 911".

What that means: While it's far from the bang-out success that Fox was hoping for, it could be on its way. That depends on what happens with last night's double feature.

The push: Gordon Ramsay is probably as well known in the UK as Emeril is here, and the UK edition posted one of the highest marks for ITV this year.

Beat the "Geek"?

Wednesday saw the premiere of the WB's "social experiment", "Beauty and the Geek". From the minds that gave us "Punk'd" and "For Love or Money", brainless beauties are paired with sheepishly shy guys for life lessons in each other's main skills.

The hype: From the WB's website: "During these competitions, the geek must try to pass his brains onto the beauty, while the beauty tries to pull the game out of the geek. They're so far apart on the social spectrum that they're practically different species, but if they make it to the end, they could both walk away gifted and gorgeous."

The opening numbers: Bad news, when you're on the WB schedule, fourth place is a triumph. The numbers: 2.2/4 in households, 3.17 million viewers, 1.6/5 in adults 18-49... all fifth place. Good news: some demos that don't pop up often popped up to catch the show: adults 18-34 (2.2/8), persons 12-34 (1.9/7), women 18-34 (2.7/9), women 12-34 (2.4/8), men 18-34 (1.6/6) and men 12-34 (1.4/5)... all second.

What that means: The niche audience the WB is known for... well served, but could do better. An encore presentation is usually a good sign. We'll see if that continues on Wednesday.

The push: The WB's been killing for a breakout game for a while, only having it's biggest success with last year's "Superstar USA" and "Studio 7"... which isn't saying much.

"Dancing" Queens

Right afterwards, fans of ballroom dance headed to ABC, where several famous dancers teamed with famous celebrities for the US adaptation of the BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing", "Dancing with the Stars".

The hype: From ABC's website: "Dancing with the Stars has broad appeal, offering viewers dazzling costumes, dancing, celebrity gossip, behind-the-scenes training and contemporary music performed by a live 15-piece band. The format has already been an international hit in several countries."

The opening numbers: nothing short of exceptional. In it premiere, it scored top of the hour on all three major fronts: 9.4/15 in households, 13.48 million viewers, and 4.3/12 for adults 18-49.

What that means: Big audience... but could go either way. Were the people intrigued by what they saw? Did they clamor for something different or just.. something? Will they stick around for more?  Next show will tell the tale.

The push: The same production house that made the original British series is responsible for this adaptation. No way that they can screw up, right? And flipping Tom Bergeron's involved and still in top form after H2...

NBC's Bouncing "Baby"

And finally this week, NBC rolls out the US adaptation of ... yep, another British series, "Hit Me Baby 1 More Time". Like "Weakest Link" and "Hell's Kitchen" before it, producers went the extra mile in importing the host along with the format, giving the US its first glimpse of UK DJ Vernon Kay.

The hype: From NBC Universal Media Village: "Hit Me Baby is #1 with a bullet!" This came as they released the numbers for the premiere show.

The opening numbers: apparently NBC wasn't joking... to a point. Again, from NBCUMV: "Last night's debut of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" hit the highest adult 18-49 rating for a new summer unscripted series premiere in nearly two years, winning its slot among all adult viewers under the age of 50." As for total households, at 5.5/9, "CSI" was the only thing stopping the show from total victory. And with the latter in the 9 ranges for reruns, that will continue to be a tall order.

What that means: Probably a convenient move leaving out total viewers. I have to hand it to the NBC spin machine. My hat is off.

The push: Nostalgia factor, especially if you were a child of the 80s or early 90s.

We'll see what the follow-up grades are for these entries next week. Big thanks to Mediaweek and Zap2it for these scores. Until next week, remember... the numbers never lie.

Chico Alexander
is waiting patiently for a reality series involving Dance Dance Revolution to some extent. E-mail your requests at  chico@gameshownewsnet.com.

 

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