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Retrogaming Revisited, Part 2
Gordon Pepper

A few weeks ago, I ran a column on bringing back games and asked people to submit suggestions. Thanks to you guys, I received a bunch of them. Lets look at some of the more intriguing ones and look at their viability.

This first one comes from James Dinan -

College Bowl -- Ken Jennings' success on Jeopardy, along with the gameplay of such former quizbowlers as Dr. Kevin Olmstead, David Goodman, Brian Weikle and Mark Dawson, shows that a revival of this Allen  Ludden/Robert Earle-hosted game is a possibility. Especially if Richard Reid (who currently runs CB) can get Jennings involved as a host, producer and/or head writer and promote him.

However, the College Bowl format has soured in the hearts and minds of many current and former quiz players, who dismiss the CBI style of play as anachronistic. And Mr. Reid (along with his late father) has tried to get the format back on the air for years without any luck.

Perhaps National Academic Quiz Tournaments (whose "board members" include the likes of Jennings and Olmstead) can use that to its advantage and launch a game of their own on the air. Many members of the NAQT "board" fit the demographic that networks and advertisers love, and most current quizzers seem to prefer NAQT style over CBI style.

Where will it air? I could see ABC, CBS or NBC putting the show on Saturday nights at 8pm. Not a great time slot given current network philosophies, but given proper promotion, such a show could do surprisingly well.

Who would host? How about Ben Stein or Todd Newton (who I think could pull it off)?

Thanks for the suggestion, James. I actually think that the show would work, as there are many statitch it to any of the 'Big Six'. Where do I think it should go? The new ESPN college station would be a nice first, or FOX College Sports. Both groups have already started to look into airing debate competitions, and this would be a perfect companion piece for it.

Staying in sports, James and a number of other people have suggested that due to the new ESPN game show schedule appearing, a revival of one of their favorites should be in order - 2 Minute Drill. I am not necessarily sure that it would do very well. The format, rapid fire questions in 2 minutes, is good, but the target demographic area is clearly smaller than what ESPN wants to go after. With the exception of Stump the Schwab, all of ESPN's entertainment ideas is targeted towards non hard-core sports fans. I'd Do Anything = Sports + Fear Factor. Teammates = Sports + Newlywed Game. Battle of the Grid Iron Stars = Sports a la Olympics/Battle of the Network Stars/Superstars. Bowling Night = Bowling + Celebrities (Though their ability is right on par to most of the celebrities on Celebrity Pool, sans Joe Rogan). If 2 Minute Drill does come back, the format is going to have to be changed so that it addresses that concern of not attracting enough people.

Here are some of the other shows suggested, in no particular order:

Strike it Rich - I admittedly wasn't too thrilled with this show to begin with, as it was a trivia show with a twist of trying to get across 2 rows of video screens. It was a cute show, but I don't know how much mileage it would get now, when everyone is looking for a more modern angle.

Catch Phrase - This show, which I thought was a little ahead of it's time, could be successfully revived. Contestants tried to guess a phrase that was pictured on a video wall and then got a piece of a puzzle for another phrase, a la Classic Concentration. If you put a crack team of people behind the video wall, then this show has a chance of doing well as a revival for GSN.

Classic Concentration - Here's another revival that has GSN written all over it. Imagine how many fans you can bring back to the network if you revive this one. Place up eight $5,000+ prizes up there instead of cars, and you have a nice show. As for regular prizes - you got a boat-load for FremantleMedia's Whammy run without breaking the bank. I'm sure you can do the same here.

Joker's Wild - We're talking the old Jack Barry version and let's forget about the pitiful TTD 90. The 1 thing that TTD 90 did have right, though - the pace of play has to be sped up. If you can tweak the speed of the game play and maybe add a viable working twist or 2, then you could have a winner.

Tic Tac Dough - I could take the Joker's Wild comments and use them here. Format - good, but slow. If you sped up the game play (maybe giving either player a chance to answer every question, except in a situation when they have to block), then this show could also work, somewhere. One more caveat here: Whammies can rap.

Thanks for all of the suggestions. If you guys send in more, then we'll revisit this column again sometime in the future.

When I do the Chaos Theory columns for Friday, they are always set up to predict who would be in trouble. The columns have done spectacularly well for isolating the people that would be at the bottom, but it seems like every week that one singer would go out of their way to give such a last place effort that they would put themselves past the people predicted (who indeed find themselves in the bottom 2) and get eliminated.

Let's look at the past 3 weeks. It should not have been Nikko's turn to go, but he was so lackluster that he dropped under the person that everyone thought would be leaving - Scott. Two weeks ago, Scott could have gone again, but Nadia sang a song so out of left field, she 'outperformed' him, if you will, and got the gate. This past week, everyone thought that Scott and Anthony would be in the bottom two - and they were - but Anwar's song selection was so hideous that he left well before he should have.

By the way, a note on that -

1. Don't pick a song if it has a memorable selection of notes that you aren't
going to sing, and ...

2. Definitely don't pick the song if the back-up singer has the potential
(and in this case did) to do a better job on the song than you do.

So every week, the Chaos Theory is right, BUT someone always sings badly enough to not make it a complete cycle. What is going to happen this week? Let's first look at the genres left...

Rock/Country - 2 (Bo, Carrie)
Pop - 2 (Constantine, Anthony)
R&B - 2 (Scott, Vonzell)

Hmmm. Not much there to go by this week, so lets analyze the performers past, present and future.

Anwar - As always, we start with the person eliminated first, to see what their effect on the competition is. I think he is one of the best singers to come in 7th, but you may have been done in by 2 things: 1. You didn't fix the 'do bad on the low notes and then save yourself with a high note' effort, and 2. Even more damning, a number of people have thought that you could have been dogging it and thinking that you can skate into the Final 4. You probably could in past AI's, but not in this one, as you are shown the door. Once again, the 'Favorite' will not win the competition, which adds another reason to why people love this show - you never know who is going to win.

Now let's see who is in trouble and who isn't, though at this stage of the  competition, everyone could be in trouble, so we'll do it this way...

Constantine Maroulis -

Why you are safe - So Bo Bice, your dichotomy opponent, outsang you to the point that he could beat you all the way from here to Singapore and back, and not only were you not out, you didn't even fall in the bottom three. You showed me that you are the person to beat in this competition and you have successfully migrated your fan base in both Pop and Rock. If you can eliminate Bo, then you can move straight to the finals.

Why you are in trouble - As long as Bo is around, and as long as he outperforms you, you are vulnerable to falling into the bottom three. You need to go back to rock, get more fans there, and eliminate him once and for all.

Why you are out - If there's a Madonna week, you select Edgar's version of  'Like a Virgin.' Well, you're probably safe, even if you do that.

Vonzell Solomon -

Why you are safe - There's only 1 female left besides you, and the only other R&B singer (Scott) has been struggling to stay in the competition. Go directly to the Final Four. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200...

Why you are in trouble - ...unless you and Carrie play role-reversal. I'm sure that you must be grumbling that Carrie can mangle the words and get away with it. She has a huge fan base. Based on you being in the bottom three previously, you don't have that luxury to put up a horrific performance.

Why you are out - You put up such a horrific performance that the R&B voters all swarm to Scott, but based on the departure of Anwar this past week, it will be VERY hard to not collect at least enough votes from Anwar to not protect you.

Carrie Underwood -

Why you are safe - Your fan base is huge. You have now mangled three straight songs and have gotten away with it unscathed. You have done the right thing and moved into pop to get more of a fan base. If you can do a pop song CORRECTLY, then you could move into the finals with Constantine.

Why you are in trouble - The audience is tired of you mangling up the words and Bo and Constantine knock you out of the park.

Why you are out - You either sing so horrifically that your fans desert you,  or you do something REALLY dumb, like shave your head, rip up pictures of the new pope on the air and call yourself Carrie O' Connor.

Bo Bice -

Why you are safe - You sang the snot out of the "Vehicle". You're a great rock singer, but you still haven't found that song that you can cross-over genres with.

Why you are in trouble - With the competition dwindling down to 6, you need to find that song - soon. You are better than most of the people left, but your trip to the bottom three last week shows us that your fan base isn't as strong as Carrie or Constantine - and they are the threats that can eliminate you.

Why you are out - You either fail badly on a non-rock song, you sing uninspired, or people get tired of your "I am just doing this for kicks and I don't want this as badly as other people do" attitude.

Scott Savol -

Why you are safe - Though you probably don't read this column, you did  yourself a huge favor by changing your attitude and had a funny story about your mom. It didn't rescue you from the bottom 3, but it probably did save you from being eliminated. You need to continue that, because I am sure that you are going to get votes from Anwar's dismissal.

Why you are in trouble - With Anthony improving his game, you have no margin for error. You've been very spotty, and one more spotty song probably eliminates you. You also have to keep up the happy persona, because it takes time for you to change that image.

Why you are out - Anthony outsings you, no one else sucks, or the "I am an angry big man" persona resurfaces.

Anthony Fedorov -

Why you are safe - You have been improving steadily from week to week, and the new look has certainly helped. Your fan base is very loyal, as without them, you would have been gone by now.

Why you are in trouble - That fan base still only got you as far as the bottom three last week. What also doesn't help you - the only people left are the hard-hitters with the big core voters, Bo sang lights out and Scott is more likely to get a boost from the departing Anwar's votes than you are.

Why you are out - Scott out sings you and no one else falls on their face to let you escape elimination again.

So my thoughts are that BARRING A SINGING DISASTER, Bo, Scott and Anthony all return to the bottom three, and the loser of Scott Vs. Anthony (probably Anthony) goes home. That being said, there has always been someone else that has been the singing disaster, and next week, we'll see who henceforth leaves.

Gordon Pepper can be reached at


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