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So You Think You've Got Talent - August 10

Wednesday night seems to be the harbinger of the summer season, with most of the good shows left for that night. It was true with "Beauty and the Geek" and "Dancing with the Stars" last year, "American Idol" four years ago, and "Survivor" two years before that.

This year, though, Hump Day seems to take on dual significance for fans of talent competitions, with the ongoing clash between NBC's new hit "America's Got Talent" and Fox's returning favorite "So You Think You Can Dance". Both share their fare share of similarities, being born out of the Idol machine ("Idol" judge Simon Cowell created the NBC show, while "Idol" EP Nigel Lythgoe bore the Fox baby), and both being competitions controlled by the American public.

And both, it seems, are attracting their fair share of the viewing public, enough to warrant dual renewals. Of course, in NBC's case, the vote of confidence was given early, as "Talent" will return in place of Sunday Night Football.

But are both renewals, as well as labeling the "battle for Wednesday", justified?

Last night, NBC took the hour-and-a-half in total viewers, with 9.71 million viewers. Meanwhile, Fox, which aired "Dance" in its usual slot, score 9.87 million, with 11 percent of all of them in the "coveted" demographic. Previously, the shows fared thusly...

  America's Got Talent So You Think You Can Dance
August 3 10.51 million 9.29 million
July 26 10.35 million 9.17 million
July 12 11.07 million 9.44 million
July 5 11.85 million 10.33 million

Next week, both shows end their seasons directly head to head. So who wins? If you were to look at just the Wednesday show, you would say that it was a dead heat, a photo finish, a tie ball game, or the 2000 Presidential Election all over again. But if you were to look at Thursday's results show, you would give the edge to Fox.

So why the heck aren't we looking at the Thursday results show? Let's break down a couple of facts.

- First of all, non-finale results shows usually score lower than the performance show that proceeded it. One need only look at the history of all publicly-voted series to figure that one out. We won't count "Last Comic Standing" from last night, because that was a finale.

- Second of all, the grand poobah of all results shows, UK's "Pop Idol", would count and verify the results of any given vote in the span of an hour after the show aired, and then deliver the results in just 15 minutes, enough time to go through what happened, who was in the bottom three for the week, and who gets the customary funeral dirge. As such a system is impossible in the six-time-zone half-hour-slot universe that is America, we had to adapt, implementing things such as the results show or the pre-performance elimination. Now I'm not a big fan of "Nashville Star" as anyone can tell you, but I will give you this: they have the most creative elimination process in place. Everyone votes, and results are made public as performances are being delivered.

It seems a vast majority of Americans in this age don't really care about a results show to sit through the entire 30 minutes to an hour of it. Hence, the age we live in is awash in information that allows us to skip the rigmarole and get down to the nitty-gritty.

So there's really no reason why we couldn't call this a tie round. In fact, if anyone loses, it continues to be CBS's "Rock Star: Supernova", who, with a 4.0/7 for this week's result to 4.1/6 for the actual performance, continues to pad its hourlong results fiesta into two minutes of result and 58 minutes of footage from the house that Mark Burnett manages to sneak in from time to time.

In other syndie numbers...

Jason and Jacky Hernandez came back from the Family Feud season 8 shootings recently, and if their raves are any indication, be prepared for a visual feast not seen since "Game Show Marathon"'s finale. I believe one of the critiques used was "1976 made for 2006". Being the one-foot-in-the-past-and-one-foot-in-the-present person I am, I personally can't wait to see how it makes out. In the meanwhile, the Feud can take solace in knowing that they are the only syndicated game show to make a year-to-year rise, up 5% to a 2.2 as we prepare to welcome J. Peterman back to the fold.

Yeah, he used to host "To Tell the Truth", remember?

Meanwhile, "Wheel" and "Jeopardy!" are still in their usual spots... one and two. "Wheel" scored a 7.0, steady week-after-week, while "Jeopardy!" is up 2% on the week with a 5.8. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is back to a 3.0 this week.

In other primetime numbers...

Again, proving that a Tournament of Champions only works if it has questions, answers, and a cast of characters that people actually want to pull for, "Big Brother All-Stars" continues its downward ho-hum season with 7.60 million viewers, again, one million shy of last year's show... which is just as predictable as this year's in retrospect.

Perhaps the $10,000 table and Beth, both alternates from season 1, are available. Otherwise, this is going to continue to be season six redux. Aww, who the hell am I kidding. This IS the same show I saw last year. And I'd prefer not to see it again, thanks much.

On the flipside, "Flavor of Love", the show whose "Starface"-caliber audience continues to befuddle me, managed to turn on 3.3 million viewers, making it VH1's most watched premiere ever. That's right, kiddies. Bigger than "Best Week Ever". Bigger than "The World Series of Pop Culture". Bigger than "I Love The...". Bigger than the show the world needs now more than ever, "Pop-Up Video". Bigger than any other "celebreality" show that they produce.

"Flavor" has already built up its season one average, but time can only tell whether or not it can live up to the six million the season 1 finale posted. Time can also only tell whether Flav can actually find someone to spend some quality time (and quality clocks) with.

I will say this, though. I almost wish that Nikki Alexander (aka Hoopz aka no relation... yet) hit it off with the self-proclaimed "best hype man of hip-hop." Maybe it would've saved us all another season of that.

But alas, it isn't the worst show you could possibly watch this week. This week, I introduce a new segment of "The Numbers Game" called...

The Worst Show You Are Possibly Watching...

Imagine for a second that you're in bed dreaming of a show where people who have no business being in front of a camera are behind a green screen flashing their favorite music video while they strip to their skivvies.

And the best one who does it wins $200.

And the whole affair is hosted by the sort-of-freakish-but-eventually-hot-in-a-statutory-way middle child from "Full House."

And it's on a channel that no one watches. No, not G4. Ever since they went all commercial on us, people seem to like it.

Now turn on Fuse. That's right, the channel Dylan Lane used to work for... Welcome to "Pants-Off Dance-Off", the show that TV Guide crowned "the dumbest show on television." You know, for a small little billfold that went all glossy on us last year with no remorse for it... they're onto something.

The premise: harmless enough if you're into that sort of thing. Ecdysiasts, that is people who enjoy strip teasing, compete in a week-long strip-off, with nightly winners winning $200 and a chance to be crowned "Pants-Off Dance-Off" winner.

Oh yeah, and starting its second season, the show is hosted by Jodie Sweetin.

Now I can go on and on about the reason why this show is just plain pointless, but since I also have a Weekly Rant to get out of me, I'll just go over three...

1) Jodie doesn't compete.

2) There's really no game to it.

3) Despite its 11:30p time slot, usually, it'll get a marathon treatment, meaning, uh oh, little kids can watch this and think that it's okay to go on TV and do that thing. That's what reality TV is for, friends!

So.. yeah.. Pants-off Dance-off... Keep the pants on and get back to showing actual videos. Thank you.

The Weekly Rant, or "Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me, Princess!"

Going global this week as I ask... Is Countdown really that much of a host-oriented show that producers will run around in circles to a) keep its new star host on the air, and b) stay afloat in the UK?

For those who don't know, "Countdown" is as much revered in the UK as "Wheel of Fortune" is over on THIS side of the Atlantic, and Carol Vorderman and Vanna White are very much comparable in their respective sidekick roles.

But this isn't about them.

This week, Des Lynam, who was handpicked to succeed the late great Richard Whiteley on the words-and-numbers game, made a very vocal threat to walk away from the show if it was not moved closer to his home of London from Leeds, where it was taped for the last two decades, citing concerns that the trip from London to Leeds to tape four shows a day is too much for him. Read more on that story on the front page and in the Daily Mail link we've provided.

And Channel 4 caved.

I'm not even going to speculate as to how the move went about or why it went about. I'll just say this... if it keeps a hit game show on the air, and it keeps a hit game show's host happy, then yes, the logical course would be to comply to the will of the star host.

Even though Des proved unwillingly that anyone can host this show, and that the position is indeed expendable.

Ah, the dynamic of the production of a revered institution. But nevertheless, it's nothing new in the world of game shows. Remember when Maury Povich wanted "Twenty-One" and wanted to move the second season closer to New York City?

Now Tom Bergeron doesn't have this problem. When he was taping Hollywood Squares, he'd fly out from New England, tape several weeks, go home, bask in family time, go back and do it again. It was wonderful, and Tom didn't have a problem that we could see.

So Des, congrats on single-handedly making it easier to get to work. Good to know that someone's saving gas.

Chico Alexander really has no problem with strip teases... it's just that Michelle L'amour soured him for life. Console him by e-mailing him at chico@gameshownewsnet.com.

 

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