(C-Note: I was going to have
part two of "Pass/Fail", but after these last three
weeks, I had to write on this. Part 2 airs next week)
It's Always Something
With You, Isn't It? - June 15
Quick, what do a teacher
and her class, a soldier in Iraq, a bike-aficionado
talk-show host, a TV personality with a show about to
premiere on the same network, a Super Bowl-winning
quarterback, and an uber-singer have in common?
Answer: they were all on
"Deal or No Deal" over this past season, and they were
neither dealer nor model nor Howie nor banker.
Their status as "loved
one" is questionable at best and spurious at worst.
As NBC continues to
nurture its golden goose, which was, for the first time
ever last week, the most-watched show on primetime
television, I find a disturbing trend. Maybe it's me
watching the show through sweeps, but it seems that
there's always something aside from the game. Whether
it's a "surprise" guest, or just something to pad the
show out to an advertiser-friendly breadth of time, it's
not normal practice anymore to just have someone come
out, choose a case, open six, open five, open four, open
three, open two, open one, open another one, open
another one, etc. and field bank offers throughout.
Gordon said it best last
week in the State: the game consists of opening 26
cases. Not hard. Not timely. Not even that
stress-inducing anymore. You can finish a game in 15
minutes, 30 tops. While that may fly in syndication when
and if they pull it off in 2007, it's not going to work
as well if they do that sort of thing during May sweeps,
when everyone and their mother is looking to draw
viewers and collect ad revenue.
Consider the following:
network execs are not the brightest bulbs in the box.
This is the same occupation that decided to cancel "Everwood"
in favor of - get this - a rerun of "America's Next Top
Model". I know "Everwood" has been lagging just a tad
last season, but still... A RERUN?!
Now consider that the
kids seem to dig it.
The May 22 show, which
saw some help from Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisberger
(C-Note: Get well soon!), placed second in the
overnights for Monday at 8p with an 8.5/13.9, but placed
first in viewers with almost 14 million. The winner that
time slot: Oprah's Legends Ball. You may be darned good
and people may like you, but quoting "Boondocks" creator
Aaron McGruder, "We should all have a healthy fear of
Oprah. Oprah has the power to lay waste to entire
industries with a mere utterance. That's a power that
you have to respect. And ultimately I respect it."
The May 29 show, Memorial
Day, saw no big star power (it was out of sweeps, and
the only thing that happens was that Lisa called a
contestant "The Nutty Professor" in that cute Aussie
accent of hers) and scored an 8.9/15 for the evening,
ruling over all. It was also the first week when "Deal"
was the number one show on all of TV. Never mind that it
was arguably the most popular show from the regular
season still in new episodes at the time (and if memory
serves, there were only two: this and "The Apprentice").
The May 31 show,
scheduled at the 11th hour at the atypical 9p hour,
scored 7.1/11 for second in the overnights, and 10.21
million viewers for first. "Criminal Minds," which I
really started to get into, scored first in that slot.
Then comes the $5 million
season finale, which had one player on for the entire
duration of the 90 minutes... and the rest of the time
devoted to Celine Dion, current record holder Thorpe
Schoenle, and whatever stock footage of whatever NBC
could find. End result: the most-watched show with
11.7/19 and 18.03 million sets of eyes.
And for my tastes, the
easiest to fast-forward through on my DVR. But I
This is a bit frightening
here, because, knowing what we know about programming
heads, there is a likelihood that controllers will
connect the two and make the conclusion, however faulty
that it might be, that the general public wants more
of... this! And more of "this" means less of the game,
and less of what got the show to where it is in the
Scary thought, I know.
But NBC has a whole summer to think about where they
plan on taking the franchise. Let's just hope it's in
the right direction. We need not have a reprise of the
mistakes made by "Millionaire" and "Weakest Link."
Fox, meanwhile, has made
a surprisingly smart move in scheduling the season
premiere of "So You Think You Can Dance" while the
public was still processing the results of the previous
night's "American Idol" finale. Consider that the shows,
created by "Idol" creator Simon Fuller and "Idol" EP
Nigel Lythgoe, are sisters. And sisters look out for
each other, which explains the heavy pub in between Idol
End result: the
ninth-most-watched show on TV, with 7.8/13.
In the time slot premiere
the following Wednesday, 6.8/10, third ahead of
"Criminal Minds" and "Deal or No Deal".
And because Fox has the
sick habit of "too much of a good thing", we get another
Thursday show, and another equal result: 7.1/11, good
for second. Safe to say that this will only get bigger
as the show goes to its climax at the end of the summer.
Same can't be said for
"Game Show Marathon", which started with a strong
sampling for the Wednesday, May 31 Price is Right
installment, with 6.0/10 (second) and 8.37 million
viewers (first). Next up, its regular Thursday
time-slot-premiere with "Let's Make a Deal", which
posted similarly, 5.8/10 for second overall, and 8.44
million viewers. See, everyone loves LMaD when done
properly... Billy Bush.
Next week saw Beat the
Clock, which had to pad out a 20 minute round (I'm
guessing, two stunts with two players, then a super
bonus stunt) to fill an hour, saw its audience wane,
with a 4.7/8 for third, and 6.67 million viewers. Press
Your Luck, and I'll say this again... that was the best
episode of PYL in a long while... scored a 5.0/8 for
second, and 6.83 million viewers, making it good for
30th. Pretty good showing for something that has pretty
much polarized fans, but still, there's a phrase here...
"It's not that bad... It's just not that good either."
But look on the bright
side, here. The show does considerably better on
Thursday nights... and tonight's a Thursday night... And
Card Sharks is tonight. So there's really no reason to
not watch, is there?
Then there's NBC's "Last
Comic Standing", back from the dead in a big way. The
two-hour premiere scored a 6.5/10. Since then, it's
leveled off to a 6.0/9, third in the slot, but second
with viewers, nine million of them.
See "Deal or No Deal"
arguments made ad nauseum. Don't fall into the
too-much-of-a-good thing mentality. Nurture the hit and
follow it through to the end. Hard to do, I know, but
your patience will be well-rewarded.
And lest we forget Fox's
sojourn into Hell, which has gotten viewers hungry for
more. "Hell's Kitchen"'s season premiere scored a
respectable 5.4/9 with 6.68 million viewers, good for
second. Last year, an almost identical 3.0/8 and 6.80
million. And that show became one of the best of that
summer. Not too hard, because almost every other show
The less said about the
online-bound "Fire Me Please", the better.
Wheel of Fortune was off
5% on the week to a 7.1, while Jeopardy! fell 3% to a
5.8 according to B&C Magazine. Two points:
- This was the final week
of Wheel before reruns.
- Last year this time,
people were asking "David Madden... the next Ken
meanwhile scored a 3.2 with 3.47 million viewers, while
Feud held steady at 2.0.
The Weekly Rant, or I
imagined Paige Davis saying "Higher! Higher!" in an
excited stupor... and then I got excited.
I don't do this often,
but I'm going to turn this WR over to my good friend and
our resident expert on all things TPIR. Travis Schario (aka
Good Travis), it's all yours.
After watching the first
episode of the US "Game Show Marathon," I decided to
surf thru the message boards and blogs to see what other
people thought, and I couldn't have been more appalled.
So, I'm going to use this time and this column to allay
concerns about the show, one issue at a time.
Issue #1: Ricki Lake
Granted, Ricki is no Bob Barker. But, honestly, who
is? I was hearing complaints of her being "too
excited." That, sir, makes no sense. If you had grown
up watching these games all of your life, then you
finally get a shot to M.C. the show that is so near and
dear to your heart, you WOULDN'T be excited??
Personally, I would be giddy! Also, I heard mention of
Ricki mentioning Rich "too many times" during the course
of the show. Question: how many is too many? Bob
either mentions or talks directly to Rich at least 6
times during the course of the show. Ricki may have
gone 10 or 11 times. That's fine! There's nothing
wrong with that! It shows a personal connection between
host and announcer...much like Gene and Johnny or
Richard and Gene.
Issue #2: Rich Fields
OK, we all know (if our ears were trained properly) that
Rich did a lot of post-production announcing. With the
kind of noise level that 400 people give off, combined
with a bowl of a studio, it makes sense that some prize
plugs had to be redone. I don't fault Rich for that. I
believe he did a masterful job, just like every morning
Issue #3: The Celebrities
For a choice of celebrities, I'd say the producers made
a mostly good effort...4.5/6.
Issue #3A: Lance Bass
Lance wore a "COLLEGE" shirt on the show, as did several
people he was seated next to in studio. Ladies and
gentlemen, that was not "making fun" of "Price." That
was a TRIBUTE to how "Price" truly goes. What day have
you watched the show and NOT seen a group of college
students in the audience (mainly the UC-Santa Barbara
Issue #3B: Leslie Nielsen
Personally, I'm a huge Leslie Nielsen fan, and it was
good to see him doing this. I wasn't too thrilled about
seeing him called last, but I look forward to seeing him
in other episodes of the Marathon. On the boards, I
heard people say that he looked "out of it" when bidding
on the bubble chair. That was probably the 2nd or 3rd
hour of a 4-hour taping session. Wouldn't you be out of
Issue #3C: Tim Meadows
I love the Ladies' Man! Granted, he didn't get a lot of
"playing" time, being stuck in the Row, but he'll be
around for more games later. I predict big things for
Tim and the Chris Farley Foundation.
Issue #3D: Paige Davis
Ah, our Plinko player. I thought she played the game
well, and her antics at the top of the board were
funny...not guffaw-on-the-floor funny, but
funny. I thought it was awesome that they gave a Dell
DJ Diddy MP3 player to everyone in the audience when
Paige won her chip for that. Dude, I want a Dell (DJ
Diddy MP3 Player)! I was sorry to see her spin double
nickels (literally) and get knocked out of the Showdown.
Issue #3E: Kathy Najimy
Here's where my half-point comes in. Kathy played The
Row well, but when it came to Hole In One, I thought she
could have taken it a little more seriously. Also, her
slumping over the Showcase podium was a tad
dramatic...as was the $81,000 bid.
Issue #3F: Brande Roderick
Where do I start? First off, I feel she was the token
hottie of the sextet. I'm not saying that's a bad
thing, though. I think she could have been a little
smarter about game play, however. Saying that, I've
seen daytime contestants play Race Game worse than her,
so I can't fault her for that. Also, being "confused"
on whether she had to take the boat to Australia...that
showed her true self.
Issue #4: The Edits
Any first episode of a new show is going to have a lot
of edits. Just look at the first week of "Deal or No
Deal." Edit City, right? Right. That's to be
Issue #4A: The Hole In One Debacle
I know that it's supposed to be "...or Two." I know
Kathy got the second putt. I know they edited it out.
But, she MISSED the 2nd putt. Had she made the 2nd putt
and it had been edited out, I would have been livid.
However, if you "Price" students out there
remember...Hole in One used to be ONLY ONE PUTT! So,
editing out the 2nd putt, although a crass mistake in
editing and directing, is somewhat justified.
Issue #5: The Games
I fully expected Plinko to come out. However, for the
other two, I would have picked less-complex games. I'm
going to stop the fanboys now before you say, "Well,
those games are in the road show." I know that.
However, the road show doesn't take place on the same
lot as all the original game props! Had I been in
charge of the games, I would have picked Let 'Em Roll,
Plinko, and Danger Price. "But that's just my opinion,
I could be wrong."
Issue #5A: Race Game
"$6495? They'd never do that in an MDS." This isn't a
Million Dollar Spectacular. Stow it.
Issue #5B: Plinko
"$99? Not likely in daytime." This isn't daytime.
Issue #5C: Hole in One
(see Issue #4A for this one) Stow it.
Issue #6: The Showcase Showdown "Fiasco"
Unlike many of my constituents out there, I was not
confused by the outcome of the Showdown. If you consult
the rulebook of the Endless Games 2nd Edition Price is
Right home game, you'll notice that the rules for
3-player Showdown are almost IDENTICAL to those they
played last night! I saw that on the show and thought,
"That's how I wrote it in the home game!" Now, let me
elaborate a little further. Kathy had 55¢ and stayed.
Paige got a dime total, which couldn't beat Kathy and
knocked her out of contention. At that point, for
Brande, it was the "one-spin-to-try-to-get-a-dollar"
situation. The top two scorers advanced to the
Showcase, and with Brande tying 55¢, she didn't have to
Issue #7: The Showcases
A 1966 Mustang Convertible? Frickin' Random, but I
LOVED it!! Overall, the Showcases were good. The "Time
Machine" theme was fitting, seeing as how "Marathon" is
its own time machine.
Issue #8: The Post-Mortem
As I stated earlier, I was appalled at the reactions I
was seeing for this. People, you have to understand
that this *WAS NOT* "The Price is Right." This was an
HOMAGE to what Barker and his crew do on a daily basis
in Studio 33. Do not discredit the entire Marathon
because you didn't think that $6495 should have been
played in Race Game.
In conclusion, here are my personal thoughts. They're
doing Marathon for a reason...to get game shows back
into the mainstream. Also, we the fanboys are not the
target market for this. What we can do is help the
ratings by watching EVERY EPISODE and messaging
Fremantle, thanking them for putting the 5 shows in the
middle BACK ON THE AIR! If you like these shows,
contact Fremantle and let them know! Also, for those of
you that don't know, I have built my college major
around game shows. I have also founded and presided
over a student organization here on campus celebrating
game shows. If these shows get back on the air, that
would open up an entire career field for me, and others
Travis Schario is currently awaiting his internship
at "The Price is Right". He can be reached at
Chico Alexander is currently awaiting no such
internship. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.