Just Like Us - September 7
All-stars that reenter the house that made them famous. Hopefuls for a rock
band that may or may not exist. Actors who want to be superheroes. Singing
celebrities. Dancing celebrities. Lingo-ing celebrities. Celebrity game show
contestants. Hell, even late-night interactive game hosts. They all have one
thing in common: this summer, they all wanted you to believe that they were just
like us regular people.
And to some extent, they were dead on right. I mean, if you were to tell me
that Shandi Finnessey was a geek in high school, I'd look at you as if you had
decided to play another spin in round 1 with two Whammies showing.
I could easily call this the summer of the anti-hero, except that we're
approaching fall with the same aspect.
Not to say that anti-heroes aren't good in their own right. In fact, I
consider myself as one. After all, I'm not an expert. I'm not a producer. I'm
just a big honking fan who does this on the side while working in a hospital
lab. But I digress.
Back to the story at hand. If we were to look at the previous round of The
Numbers Game, you could say that as much as we were repulsed by formats that
just didn't work, we were attracted to formats that did. And instead of saying
"Gosh, not another Idol retread" in your best Napoleon Dynamite voice, you just
ignored it, hoping that it'll go away. And damned be, it did.
And it wasn't just Idol either. It seemed that shows that had some modicum of
hero worship were all in a decline for some reason. And from that we had the
rise of the anti-hero. Fat Momma from "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?"...
Anti-hero. Kathy Najimy on "Game Show Marathon"... big fan turned anti-hero.
Benji Schwimmer of "So You Think You Can Dance"... big anti-hero. Any one of the
final acts panned inexplicably by Piers Morgan on "America's Got Talent"...
bigger anti-heroes. Danny Bonaduce on "Starface"... split. To TV critics, he's
the anti-host America was waiting for since George Gray did his best Anne
Robinson four years ago. To game show fans, it's between that and JD
Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Okay, moving on.
Seems like rather than stowing away these nobodies for another summer,
America has come to embrace them en masse, more so than those we've seen and
heard from in the past.
And to think. It all started when Michael Falk played upset in the Jeopardy!
How Does It All Translate Into Numbers?
Good question, Mr. Header.
Well, let's look at the three shows that are
still on the air right now. "Big Brother"'s latest eviction notice was served to
an audience of 9 million, a growth over the 7.4 million that started the season.
Turns out that a lot of people were ready to see Dr. Will out the door. Myself
included. But I couldn't, as I was watching "House" that time (the show placed
first in relation to Big Brother's second). This is actually a buildup from the
almost 8 million we saw last year this time.
We'll see if Mike, Erika, and Janey can hold on
as each one tries to make their first half-mill on CBS' dime.
Meanwhile, this time last year saw 5.62 million
people watch "Rock Star". This year... 7.63 million. Part of it can be credited
to its compatibility to Big Brother, but on the other hand, seeing Tommy Lee
completely joke around his position as judge as compared to the tame panel of
INXS may have been the shot that this show needed.
Will CBS see this as a justification for a third
season? Time can only tell, but already signs are pointing to yes.
And then there's Fear Factor, the show that has
been taken off life support, yet refuses to die. Last night's numbers were 4.64
million... as the downward slide continues... Joe Rogan, we hardly knew ye, but
alas, it's time for another hero to come along.
That hero... Wayne Brady?
Last week's debut of Celebrity Duets started with
a 6.1/10 with 7.42 million viewers. It ended with a 6.7/10 with 8.62 million.
Decent enough sampling for a fall show starting on the tail end of summer, but
can it last? We'll find out tomorrow when the numbers for tonight's show come
In syndication land.
We're a matter of days away from the new season
in syndication. And what do we have to show for it in the tail-end of the
summer? Numbers up across the board with Jeopardy! up to a 5.4 (up 2 percent
from last year), Family Feud up 5 percent to a 2.2, Millionaire steady at 2.9,
and the industry leader Wheel of Fortune with a more-or-less steady 6.9.
As for the new season... bring it.
The Weekly Rant, or MyNetworkTV. Let the experiment in mediocrity begin!
Mark Burnett ought to be commended for wresting
the title of "the greatest hype man in game shows" today away from our own
As you are no doubt aware, Mark Burnett's main
cash cow "Survivor" will push the boundaries of competitive television by having
each of the four tribes separated along racial lines. Perhaps as a result, we
may be looking at the least product-placed edition since season 1, because so
many sponsors are pulling out.
Say what you will about it. Call it ingenious.
Call it a publicity stunt. Call it tasteless. But Mark Burnett, in generating
buzz around his hit, has succeeded in what he set out to do, and that is to get
everyone talking shop about a dressed-up game show in a way we haven't seen
since America was asking about some dude from Salt Lake City, and figuring out
when he would eventually lose.
This may just be the most watched, most
hotly-contested "Survivor" season yet. Or it may come back to bite Mark Burnett
in the butt. No one knows for sure, but remember, no degree of success in this
medium has come without its share of controversy.
After all, the two have always made for strange
Chico Alexander is still the baldest hype man
in game shows today. E-mail him with
your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.