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Let's Make a Deal - December 22

Obviously the hot button topic this week is "Deal or No Deal". Three days in, it's become the latest in a string of games of chance such as "Press Your Luck" and "Let's Make a Deal" that you either love or hate. The critics, for the most part, didn't think too much of it. Majority of game show fans I talked to liked it (one said "It isn't that brilliant."). But what does the first three nights measure with the casual TV viewer?

I should probably preface this with this anecdote. As many of you know, I work in a hospital, and in said hospital, the waiting room at medical imaging has an X-ray. While walking down the hall past it, I saw two good friends Randy and Susana watching the show. They couldn't stop although they had no idea how the game itself worked. I had to explain the entire premise down to the link to game theory and the Monty Hall Postulate... Not an easy task. Try it sometime.

They liked watching it. I liked watching it (even though I couldn't afford to be out of the lab for any extended period of time). But what did you, the viewing public say?

The answer? "Hey critics... Screw you."

Starting with Monday, the show faced stiff competition from CBS's block of established vet "King of Queens" and new favorite "How I Met Your Mother." The result: an 8.1/12 in the overnights, 11.60 million viewers and a 3.9/11 among adults 18-49 from 8-9p. The hour on CBS averaged 7.0/11, 10.96 million, and 3.4/10 respectively, all good for second. Too bad that team couldn't carry over to perennially low-rated Radio Music Awards. Oh well. Can't win'em all. Last week, an Elton John special finished modestly in third in its timeslot with 6.0/9 in the overnights, 8.34 million viewers, and a 2.5/7 among adults 18-49.

Tuesday, not only did the viewers from night one stay around, they brought in another million. The Tuesday show, pitted against Tuesday powerhouses "NCIS" and "Bones" on CBS and Fox respectively, scored thusly: 8.2/13 in the overnights, 12.61 million viewers and a 4.6/14 among adults 18-49 from 8-9p. The CBS show slotted a still formidable 7.0/11 in the overnights, 10.65 million viewers and a 2.7/7 in the key demo. Over at Fox, "Bones" score 3.9/6, 5.17 million viewers, and 1.9/6 in the A18-49. Last week, "Fear Factor", the show that refuses to die lest its contestants eat its own carcass, scored 5.2/8 in the overnights, 8.42 million viewers and a 3.4/9 among adults 18-49. Pretty pathetic in retrospect.

Then comes Wednesday, a night where there's typically nothing good on outside of "Criminal Minds", "CSI: NY", and "Law & Order" (I still don't buy "Lost"). What do we see tonight? According to our good friends at a record high. First place across the board, with 9.0/15 in the overnights, 14.17 million viewers and a 4.9/15 among adults 18-49. Last week, 5.3/8 in the overnights, 7.33 million viewers and a 1.9/5 among adults 18-49 was the order of business in the "E-Ring".

The show has become a modest hit, joining the ranks of recent NBC games "The Weakest Link" and "The Biggest Loser". I'm not counting "The Apprentice" or "Fear Factor" because they went supernova out the gate. And it will stay this way if NBC realizes the mistakes made by its predecessors. Namely, the oversaturation of "Millionaire" and "Weakest Link" and the reliance of both on gimmicks.

Contrary to someone I read before, I do think that this show can work as a weekly. In fact, it works better if you have a weekly show AND a scaled-down daytime strip. Just ask the Aussies, the Dutch, and the Brits. They seem to have this down to a science now.

But for now, a prediction: you can expect to see at least one edition of the show, quite possibly the Friday edition, to break the top 20 this week.

While we're at NBC Wednesday...

There's always one show each year that starts out with such promise, only to become the subject of lampoon later. This year, it would be "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart". We saw the highest of highs in the first show, then saw, aside from no more than four smiles from ice queen Alexis Stewart, said potential wasted. Even in a sterile environment, this show had every chance it had to really come into its own...

It never did. The series finale only drew a 5.4/8 in the overnights, 7.47 million viewers and a 2.6/7 among adults 18-49 at 9p. Not really that awe-inspiring when you consider carryover was only 60 percent from "Deal or No Deal".

With that, and the hiring of the winner, we can finally close the book on this matter. Julie, you are excused from this crap with the thanks of the Newsnet.

Now over to syndication!

If you live in the United States, then you know how cold and wet it has been in the last few weeks. So what better way to settle your brains for a long winter's night than with an episode of "Jeopardy!" or "Wheel of Fortune" or "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Such was the case of last week, when the big three daily quizzers all posted season highs. "Jeopardy!" scored a 7.2 (down 11 percent from last year, but up almost half a point from last week). "Wheel of Fortune" tied its season best with 8.8 (down six percent from last year). "Millionaire" posted a new season best with 3.3, down slightly 3 percent. Some notes, again from Mediaweek:

- "Wheel of Fortune" hit a season high in women 25-54 (3.7), men 18-34 (1.5) and men 18-49 (2.2).
- "Jeopardy!" scored a season high in households, women 25-54 (2.8), men 18-49 (1.9) and men 25-54 (2.4).
- This is the fourth consecutive week that "Millionaire" met or beat its season high.

The weekly rant, or the war on Christmas is imagined... like the success of "The Apprentice 3."

If you have been paying attention, you know that I have a serious issue with "Family Feud" this season. We've been jumping about more than usual, games (usually those with losing fast money rounds) have been dropped, and champs haven't stayed on as long as they're supposed to. It's just one giant clusterschmazz (trademark Justin Lollie). This has been punctuated for the last three weeks by the AstraZeneca-sponsored Breast Cancer Awareness shows. Now as a person whose mother had a bout with breast cancer and whose friend was a close call, I can sympathize with this noble cause. But with a show with so many problems to begin with, you'd think that they'd get this one right. An appropriate time to air the shows would be one week in October (just like "Wheel of Fortune" did). That way, we see every game, every win, and everyone is happy.

But then again, "Family Feud" has NEVER been known for getting things right, even when they try their damnedest.

This edition of the Numbers Game is dedicated to all survivors. E-mail Chico Alexander at


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