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Being Thankful
Gordon Pepper

I have said on more than one occasion that the business of television is a cyclical one - meaning that every couple of years, a genre turns into the 'hot' genre, and then every network scurries left and right to try to capitalize it until they have milked all they can from that cycle and then wait for another couple of years until it becomes hot again. Of course, we can talk about how there would be no such thing as a milked-out genre if the networks learned a thing or two about moderation, but that is another topic for another time. It's also amazing how many 'experts' completely ignore the cyclical workings of the business and exclaim that the genre itself is dead, only to completely forget that he said it once the genre is returned to again, but that will also be another topic to be discussed at another time.

Sticking to what this topic IS about, we focus on the beginnings on what looks to be another dip into the classical gaming cycle, the one ironically that's starting on regular networks instead of where it should be starting - GSN (though that is ANOTHER topic for another time). NBC picks up Deal or No Deal, while CBS picks up Ant and Dec's Game Show Marathon and the Discovery Channel picks up Cash Cab. Should the ratings on these shows come anywhere near Lost or Desperate Housewives, then we'll start to once again see every network and their mom carry a traditional game show somewhere on it's lineup.

Even if the ratings don't warrant it, there will still be another surge of game shows. Why? Very simple - cable needs content. There are some networks that are screaming for content and will settle for any cheap programming instead of the 5,786th re-airing of Trading Spaces or I Dream of Genie. Ian Valentine, the person who is the new helm of the ship GSN, realizes that the ratings for GSN will continue to hover at 0.3 or worse unless they get some new games in there (I mean that is why we watch GSN, isn't it?) and hence I've Got A Secret, along with some other shows, will be heading our way.

GSN isn't the only one. Discovery picked up Cash Cab because they liked the idea that they transfer knowledge in a different way. AMC has picked up another run of Celebrity Charades. At least 5 other major cable networks are working on classic game shows of their own which we will be seeing in 2006.

So why the new renaissance? You guessed it - money. Comparatively speaking, game show creation is still one of the cheapest forms of getting entertainment on the air. They are also able to do something called 'stripping'. No, Meredith Vieira does not wind up naked on your screen (get your mind out of the gutter). Stripping is a process that enables you to tape a week's worth of shows in one day. Most shows can't let you do that, but a game show can, which is why tapings for shows like Millionaire and Wheel of Fortune end in March, at the very latest. Less days on a show - less production time - less amount of money you have to pay the crew, and you can have a 10 month season in the can and ready for airing in around 4 months. With that much of an advantage on other syndicated shows, game shows will always be a commodity.

So as Thanksgiving comes around, we all look to see what we are thankful for. For me, it is the new cycle of game shows coming our way - the ones that we know will be appearing on our television sets and the ones yet to come.

Being Thankless
Gordon Pepper

Two Sundays ago was to be the final episode of Poker Superstars 2. I eagerly gathered my popcorn, was on the cell phone ready with a friend and saw...a college football game instead. Wha?

Apparently, for whatever reason, they preempted the last episode of PSI2 - and they haven't aired it on Sundays since. Fortunately, I have gotten my hands on the last episode off of a weekday repeat (so it will be on the site this weekend), but it sure is frustrating that this occurred.

The question remains though as to why they did it. It's not because of ratings - heck, they already signed on for a third season of the show. It's not because of the game - they could have easily rearranged the show before or afterwards. They had a poker show right after football, so they could have moved PSI2 there instead.

So why the move? Beats me.

Obviously, I can't have a column without being a little bit of a Haterade. So as much as I am thankful for the new game shows, I am thankless for the network who decides to disconnect the slot machine before it comes up with the big payout.

Gordon Pepper had a happy Thanksgiving, as he made $30 playing sit-and-go. E-mail him at


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