- August 31
Though we have to say goodbye... for the summer..
Yeah, it was a summer that saw the rise of a
quiet favorite, and the fall of one of our favorites here at the 'net. And then
there was the show you either really liked or really hated, "Game Show
Marathon." But how did your favorite summer game shows really fare? Let's take a
look at the rankings.
The Best of the Best
So You Think You Can Dance:
Whoever decided that they should air the Idol-come-dancing contest series
directly after the "American Idol" finale was a genius. Driven by the most
watched contest since a guy from Alabama and a guy from North Carolina went at
it three years ago, "So You Think You Can Dance" started off respectably with a
7.8/13 in the overnights from 8-10p, building in each half-hour from a 6.6/11 to
an 8.7/14. The ending dropped off a
bit with a 6.8/11, however, it too built from the first half hour (5.5/10) to
the last (8.2/13). Also take into account that it won each slot it aired in when
it came to the young demographic that Fox was looking for. Also consider that
the finale was up against the final round of "America's Got Talent", the big new
hit of the summer. More on that later.
Fox renewed this show early, and for good reason.
Fox also renewed this show early, and also for good reason. We
started with a 3.2/9 in the demo from 8-10p, good for first, while the
second-placing for overall ratings and viewers were on par with season 1 numbers
(6.68 million viewers versus 6.80 million last year). The final episode
scored a 6.8/10 in the overnights, with 9.42
million viewers watching.
Through this show, we learned more about food,
more about running a restaurant, and more about how to act in a restaurant that
doesn't really exist.
America's Got Talent:
If there had to be one new show that broke out this year, this would be that
show. With a second cycle of shows on its way in midseason, NBC has its work cut
out for them to build a midseason success story out of a summer success, even
though "Millionaire", another show helmed by Regis Philbin, did the same thing
seven years ago. But so far as this summer is concerned, a start with a
first-place 8.8/14 in the overnights
with 12.14 million viewers and a finish with a first-place 7.8/12 in the
overnights with 11.75 million viewers (on a Thursday against Big Brother) is a
definite plus for a network that needs a plus right now.
Although thanks to the voting process and the
American public, you could really say that this contest ended almost as
anticlimactic as any contest could be.
What is quickly becoming Bravo's signature series is beginning to outshine even
itself. More than 3.4 million total viewers tuned-in to this season's highest
rated episode, the one where Mitch is blackballed for bringing in a pattern
book, a no-no according to the game's rules. It was the #1 show on cable that
day, even higher than its record-setting season 2 finale. The season 3 premiere
saw an audience of 2.4 million, by comparison.
The Best of the Worst
Episode one... bad, a 2.3/4. Episode two... worse, a 2.1/4. Episode three...
There was no episode three. That says it all. And the sad part is... That wasn't
ABC's only dark spot.
Master of Champions:
The show ended with little fanfare, and with one episode left to be shown. Sure,
we started modestly enough with a
4.6/8 in the overnights and 6.20 million viewers, but in the coveted
demographic, the show never scored above a 2.0. And that ABC had to spin out a
story as to why they not only held back an episode but as to why they decided
not to order up any more shows is also telling.
The summer swan song for NBC's once-top-rated stunt show ended this week with a
3.6/6 in the overnights, 5.12 million
viewers, both fourth-place. Even the third-place showing of a 1.8/5 among adults
18-49 wasn't enough to get NBC to change their minds about the show. And this is
a show that returned with a 4.3/7 for third, 7.01 million viewers for second,
and a 2.7/9 in the 18-49ers for first! Sorry, Joe. NBC's ready to see you off...
and so are we.
The Best of the Rest
Game Show Marathon:
I'm going to expect e-mails saying that this
should've been in the best of the best header. I'm going to expect e-mails
saying that this should've been in the best of the worst header. The fact
remains that this was neither a big hit nor a colossal bomb, and anyone who was
expecting it to be is either overtly pessimistic/optimistic to a fault. The fact
remains that it started modestly enough (6.1/10 in the overnights for second,
8.37 million viewers for first, and a 2.3/8 among adults 18-49 for second), had
a really modest high in the "Match Game" episode (5.5/10 in the overnights for
first, 7.47 million viewers for first, and a 2.1/7 in the demo for second), and
ended just as modestly (6.83 million viewers for first with a 1.7/6 in the demo
for second). And while the jury may be out for a second season, you can't argue
that this had a somewhat modest run at it.
Rock Star: Supernova:
I'm going to argue that this shouldn't have been renewed in the
first place, but what started off slowly, 3.6/6 in the overnights, 5.34 million
viewers, and a 2.2/7 among adults 18-49 for third has grown a bit into the
4.7/7 for third, 7.04 million for
third, and 3.2/9 in the demo for first (I credit Storm Large's rather large...
The start for the show that was building from a high of
pre-summer da Vinci Code hype got a modest start with a
4.2/7 in the overnights, 6.91 million for third. The
finale last week... 2.4/6 in the 18-49 and an audience of 6.0 million viewers
overall. Again, not much of a drop, but not much of a build-in either.
Big Brother: A
drop of a million (7.69 million in the premiere compared to 8.47 million last
year) from last summer proves that not everyone's keen on seeing the likes of
Mr. Will Kirby again. The latest Thursday eviction sees similar numbers with a
time-slot leading 5.2/9 in the overnights, 7.82 million viewers.
And to think, there's another two weeks before we
see a finale!
Who Wants to Be a Superhero?:
Every summer, there comes one show that just surprises. That
show this summer: "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?". The show started with a week's
delay. Usually a change in a lineup is not a good sign for a new show. But with
a 1.32 HH rating (10 percent higher from the previous week and 48 percent vs.
its July 27th series premiere) and 1.815 million total viewers, it's
understandable why SciFi would want to crow loudly about this new hit. I, for
one, will be watching tonight's finale with keen interest... Unfortunately, I'm
torn between the virtue of Fat Momma and the mad skills of Feedback.
Last Comic Standing:
We started with a 6.5/10 for Mr.
Anthony Clark's first venture into Jay Mohr's territory. We ended with a 5.3/9
in the overnights, 7.64 million viewers and a 2.8/9 in the demo. It's enough to
lead, but still, it's not exactly something to write home about. Hopefully NBC
will learn the mistakes of its first three go-rounds when the series returns
The Weekly Rant, or random musings as I use
all 10 of my PlayMania entries on the word scramble...
It seems that we've come full circle in the world
of game shows, with the key word this week being "interactive." We all remember
the old "Dialing for Dollars" back in TV's golden age. Then came Wink
Martindale's "Trivial Pursuit" play breaks some 30 years later. Fastforward to
2006, and we find ourselves a nation with an unresolved case of "Playmania"...
or "Midnight Money Madness."
The premise is simple. Sort of
radio-built-for-TV, a host (or two) will shoot off games ranging from the
insanely easy (which could take less than 30 seconds) to the intentionally
ambiguous (which have run well into half an hour). Repeat for two hours of late
night show. As of right now, two shows, GSN's "Playmania" and TBS's "Midnight
Money Madness", air, but both feature one British host who is incredibly versed
in the aspect of live quiz TV, albeit annoying almost to a fault, and one
American host sent in to even out her British-ness (not a dig on our British
friends, it's just that Mel Peachy, who actually once said "pounds" instead of
"dollars", and Jerilee Bonner suffer from the same
"okay-how-do-you-translate-British-into-American" bug that got Anne Robinson
back in the day when she was sent over the pond for "Weakest Link").
We're not saying that that's the mold just yet,
but should a third show debut nationally with said combination, we're going to
go with declaring "trend".
That's not a big problem, though. Although if you
want to make a name for yourself on these shores, you're going to have to go
deeper than simply replacing "telly" for "TV" and "pounds" for "dollars". We're
just that dumb when it comes to TV presentation. But I digress.
In all fairness, these shows, as respectable as
they are, suffer from the usual live-TV culprits, in that some things that are
easily edited out for broadcast come to light in the face of live television and
unless you are spot-on in the fields of hosting, improvisation, and the ad-lib,
you can't sufficiently negotiate your way out of them.
However, even the best of the best in the genre
all fail in the face of... technical difficulties. We all remember being scared
out of our wit's end when stations occasionally broke down in the broadcasting
department, causing the channel to air the familiar tone-and-bars (or maybe you
got the station logo with the familiar phrase "We are currently experiencing
technical difficulties; please stand by"). Sure, they occur with less frequency
in the face of improving technology, but these gremlins still pop up from time
to time. Live game shows are no different. One notorious example occurred on the
2000 premiere of then-Fox Family's contribution to the growing big money boon,
"Paranoia", when the show's host, the late great Peter Tomarken, thought he was
on a different network when he went to break with "Stay tuned to Paranoia here
on Game Show Net... err, stay tuned."
Of course, it should be noted that he was one of
the first live game hosts on GSN, which in its 12-year-history also had its
share of gremlins, from the occasional crash of the Macs that ran the games to
the blackout that put two episodes of "Millionaire" on instead of "Playmania".
But it stands to wit that with the advent of live
gaming, you have to be, no pun intended, on your game at all times. The tech has
to be ready to display the right games at the right times. The hosts (or should
we start calling them "play jockeys" or something) have to only reach for that
joke when it's absolutely necessary and let, as with all game show hosts, the
games and the players be the stars. You have to make sure everyone - be you
playing by phone, by SMS-enabled cell phones, or by online - is able to play
without so much of an obstruction. As GSNN brother Joe Mello brought up, web
traffic also drives up revenue. People tend to forget that when they forget to
mention the website.
These shows, produced on shoestring budgets and
solely dependent on viewer traffic as a source of revenue, are really starting
to grow in the game show world, with GSN alone making thousands by giving away
thousands. But if that cash flow is going to continue to flow in the positive
direction, producers are going to have to start coming with the quality seen on
their bigger game brothers.
Chico Alexander will freely admit that, of the
four interactive live hosts on TV, Danny Seckel is the best. E-mail him with
your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.