Review: “Rising Star”

Hello. Last night, ABC debuted a new, live singing competition titled Rising Star. I saw it last night, and overall, I’m not that impressed.

For those who didn’t watch it last night, the simple premise is this. Contestants stand in front of a 70-foot wall and sing for 90 seconds. As the contestant performs, the audience watching at home and in the studio can vote with their smartphones using the free app ABC has so generously provided. In order to raise the wall and advance to the next round, contestants must earn the yes votes of 70% of the voters who had checked in for that performance. Sounds difficult? Here’s the kicker. The three judges (Ludacris, Brad Paisley, and Kesha) can vote as well. Yes, they vote, and their votes count for 7% each. That’s 10% of the goal. Here are some performances to show you what I mean.

 

 

First, the good: This is innovative technology, which delivers instant results. No more waiting another night for the results. Viewers decide instantaneously. And if you don’t make it over the 70% mark on the East Coast, don’t worry! You’ve got the West Coast!

 

Josh Groban

Second, there’s Josh Groban, the host. Just look at him. Smart polka-dot handkerchief in his lapel, blue on black….. he looks dressed for the part. And I was surprised to find he’s actually a modest guy. He had to wait for Ludacris to mention his 25 million copies in sales. His hosting style reminds me of Bob Saget, from America’s Funniest Home Videos.  If you had never recognized him before, you’d swear he was some other guy hosting a reality show.

 

The bad: The judges vote. And they carry a heavy weight with them as well. Each yes from a judge adds 7% to a hopeful’s score. They need at least 70% to advance, so if you don’t get at least one of the judge’s yes votes, your chances are not very good. In fact, I’ll show you the results from last night (courtesy of Wikipedia).

 

Order Artist Song Percentage Experts’ choices
East Coast West Coast Brad
Paisley
Kesha Ludacris
1 Josh Peavey (Everything I Do) I Do It for You 87% 83%
2 Lisa Punch How Will I Know 80% 78%
3 Maneepat Molloy Con te partirò 73% 75%
4 Daniel & Olivia Counting Stars 6% 17%
5 Jesse Kinch I Put a Spell on You 92% 92%
6 Beyond 5 Wake Me Up 46% 44%
7 Sarah Darling Merry Go ‘Round 89% 86%
8 Colin Huntley Sing 38% 37%
9 Summer Collins Classic 40% 37%
10 Macy Kate Me and My Broken Heart 93% 91%

 

 

Six out of the ten songs performed that night had yes votes from at least two judges. When we adjust the percentages without the judges’ input…..

 

Order Artist Song Percentage (raw)
East Coast West Coast
1 Josh Peavey (Everything I Do) I Do It for You 66% 62%
2 Lisa Punch How Will I Know 59% 57%
3 Maneepat Molloy Con te partirò 59% 61%
4 Daniel & Olivia Counting Stars 6% 17%
5 Jesse Kinch I Put a Spell on You 71% 71%
6 Beyond 5 Wake Me Up 32% 30%
7 Sarah Darling Merry Go ‘Round 68% 65%
8 Colin Huntley Sing 38% 37%
9 Summer Collins Classic 33% 30%
10 Macy Kate Me and My Broken Heart 72% 70%

 

Only two songs would have made the 70% requirement, and that’s just barely. Now, I understand that 70% is a large number of people, and if I were a contestant, it would be nice to have a little insurance from the judges. Of course, if I were a contestant, I would tell Josh that my mom owns nearly all his CDs and that personally, I can’t stand the constant playing of his “You Raise Me  Up” for every little inspirational story that shows up on TV.

 

The biggest issue with me is the timing. There was a commercial break after every single performance, and even one after Josh “picked” a contestant out of the audience. Josh spent a ridiculous amount of time at the beginning explaining the rules and conversing with the judges (ABC wants you to call them “experts”, but with their votes counting 7% each, they are judges! Let’s call a spade a spade, people!) A lot of this commercial time was used to promote ABC’s summer lineup, including The Quest, a show I am very interested in.

 

And while viewers were checking in, they were “treated” to a 90-second backstory. One contestant lost her mother to leukemia and used music as her “medicine”, another is a youth leader in a town high with substance abuse, and two are immigrants. That may have influenced votes.

 

And finally, viewers can only vote using a smartphone or tablet. I wish there was some way to vote over the computer as well. I’d have voted, but noooooo.  Let the old and the middle class  people vote, ABC! Not everyone’s got a smartphone, but everyone likes music.

 

Would I watch it again? Yeah, if I had my computer in front of me. I was working on Marvel Avengers Alliance all through the show, and I hit “mute” during the breaks. Overall, Rising Star does speed up the process of music competition. It’s just too bad we need all those commercial breaks to make up for it.

 

Rising Star is on Sunday nights at 9/8c and 7m on ABC. Check your local listings.

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Response: 6/22/14

Hello, everyone. It’s been nearly a month, but I haven’t completely deserted this blog. A number of things have come up since then, and I’d like to address those.

* Around the time of my last post, another game show blogger published a profanity-laden post in his blog about someone that disturbed him. That someone was me. I was grossly inaccurate and I apologize. This other person and I hadn’t gotten along very well, and I dished it out. He dished it right back out to me, and I was upset about it. I deserved what I got, and I apologize.

It leads me to think about why I write this blog. Originally, it was an assignment for a college course, and I just expanded it and kept it going because it was free and I enjoyed what I did. I am fully aware my blog gets “literally gets 0.0001% the traffic of” his. I regularly read this other man’s blog, although that may change in the near future. I thought I really would have to measure up to him. But it turns out I don’t.

You readers out there, you know why you want to read this. You know why you come here. I’ll just come out and say that my blog is still up because it’s a hobby and it adds something to my resume/CV. And I enjoy writing. It’s something I’m good at. Cory Anotado has his reasons for why he continues operating his blog, and I have mine. We both love game shows, and that’s probably all that really matters in the end.

Now, on with the game shows.

* Recently, I had the opportunity to watch Sing Your Face Off, a program I had mentioned in an earlier post. ABC rolled with it and made it camp all the way.  The regular judges included Darrell Hammond (from Saturday Night Live) and 80s singer Debbie Gibson. The third spot was filled by, in episodic order:  David Alan Grier,  RuPaul, Carnie Wilson, Richard Simmons, Tom Arnold, and Carmen Electra.

The five contestants were actress Lisa Rinna, Toronto Raptors small forward Landry Fields, comedian Jon Lovitz, former hard rocker Sebastian Bach, and 14-year-old Disney Channel star China Anne McClain. Yes, you read that correctly. A Disney Channel star. Yes, ABC, we get it. You’re owned by Disney.

Now, the premise of the competition is that these celebrities are assigned music icons. They then spend a week learning a song and choreography. The catch is, they have to pass themselves off as that artist.  They also spend that week getting any necessary make up, outfits, accessories, etc. needed for them to look like the artist they are performing as. They then perform the song and are given an individual score by each of the judges ranging on a scale from 1 to 10, for a maximum possible total of 30; except in episode 4, when scores were doubled. (The lowest individual score I ever saw any of the judges give a contestant was a 7, and that was only given three times in the entire first episode, and twice by the guest judge. David Alan Grier was the only honest judge in the series.)

To see who “sung their face off” as whom, let’s take a look at the chart, shall we? (courtesy of Wikipedia)

 

Celebrity Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
China Anne McClain Rihanna Tina Turner Michael Jackson Alicia Keys James Brown Whitney Houston
Lisa Rinna Dolly Parton Britney Spears Katy Perry Justin Bieber Cyndi Lauper Madonna
Landry Fields Lionel Richie Pitbull Enrique Iglesias Nicki Minaj MC Hammer Little Richard
Jon Lovitz Elton John Luciano Pavarotti Billy Idol Meat Loaf Roy Orbison Redfoo (Special Performance)
Sebastian Bach Adam Levine Lady Gaga Willie Nelson Freddie Mercury Sky Blu (Special Performance)

 

And that’s not all. After all five (or four) had performed that week, the celebrities gave each other three bonus points (obviously not themselves). Let’s see the scores (again from Wikipedia).

Singer Place 1 2 3 4 Overall Score Weeks 1-4 5 6
China Anne McClain 1 34 28 35 71 168 36 2
Lisa Rinna 2 24 32 28 70 154 31 0
Landry Fields 2 28 28 31 58 145 31 0
Jon Lovitz 4 24 38 31 47 140 30
Sebastian Bach 5 30 26 28 56 140

 

Yes, China Anne won the whole thing. Carmen Electra just showed up for a paycheck when it came to the final tie-breaking vote. China got a trophy for her six-week ordeal.  ABC, we get that you’re owned by Disney, but really?

Now what makes this series notable is that ABC ran two “weeks” each Saturday night for three weeks, paired up with Bet on Your Baby at 8. This was recorded in 2013, it even says it in the copyright. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

What made me wonder for a long time was the fact that John Barrowman never revealed what was being played for until the last episode. I surely thought they would be playing for cash for their charities. That disturbed me that they weren’t. But instead, it’s just like Dancing with the Stars. I made that realization during the night of the last two episodes.

As for the performances themselves, personally, I thought none of them were very convincing. I mean, it’s fun and all, but Sebastian Bach as Lady Gaga? Really? I wasn’t convinced. I’ll let some of the performances speak for themselves. For the sake of time, I’ll post four of what I thought best illustrate my point.

 

 

Now, for all the faults I’ve pointed out, I must admit it was quite entertaining. It was a very guilty pleasure. The theme is quite catchy, and some of it was just plain fun. Great Performances at the Met it clearly isn’t, but it’s a fun little timewaster for Saturday night.

40 years ago, ABC’s promotional campaign was “What you see on ABC this fall, you’ll be talking about tomorrow.” And that’s the case this time. People are likely to be discussing this. I was just discussing this today.

* Speaking of ABC, tonight is the premiere of Rising Star, based on an Israeli format HaKokhav HaBa  (“The Next Star”).  It’s your average run-of-the-mill singing competition, but instead of celebrities (in this case Brad Paisley, Kesha, and Ludacris) judging, the audience at home judges.

Here’s what ABC says about it:

“Rising Star completely reinvents the traditional singing competition as—for the first time ever—the audience has the final say in real time. During the performances, viewers vote via an App to determine if the singer will advance in the competition. If the voting reaches a certain threshold, the performer moves on.”

Bad news for people like me: You can only vote using the Rising Star mobile app (which is available for free from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or from the Windows Store.) No laptop or desktop voting. Well, that’s disappointing, to say the least.

The only thing that rubs the salt in the wound a little is the fact that Josh Groban is hosting. Yes, that Josh Groban. The “You Raise Me Up” Josh Groban. If he breaks out into “You Raise Me Up” just to get a rise out of the audience, so help me I’ll change the channel. But when I think about it, who is more qualified to host a singing competition than a singer? And what qualifies Ludacris (a rapper) to be a celebrity expert in a singing competition? Doesn’t he just rap? (Yes, I am white, and I’m not ashamed of it.)

Anyway, here’s how to operate the app.

 

Have fun, y’all. I’ll be watching.

 

* And finally, speaking of music, we must take note of a recent loss in both the music and entertainment industry.  Casey Kasem, better known as the voice of “Shaggy” and the host of American Top 40, passed away on Father’s Day at the age of 82 after a long struggle with his health and family. He was struggling with his health, his wife was struggling to keep the kids away. I grew up watching Scooby-Doo, and Shaggy was one of my favorites. However, it wasn’t until later that I started listening to his classic AT40s. The man, much like Dick Clark before him, was a legend in the music industry. Aside from that one incident in 1985 regarding a dedication for a dead dog and some unsightly promo bloopers, Casey was a very professional man. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. I have two things to honor him. First, his run as a bachelor on the original Dating Game:

 

 

And finally, some classic 80s music from American Top 40. Rest in peace, Mr. Kasem. Say hi to Dick for us.

 

 

 

Until next we meet, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

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Response: 5/27/14

Hello again. Yes, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these. I’m aware of that. I just hadn’t had anything important to say, until now.

Now, where should I begin?

* BuzzerBlog has just opened up under new management, that of Cory “Pacdude” Anotado. Normally, this would not be a bad thing, except for one article. He has compiled a list of the “Top 5 Game Shows To Watch While Stoned”. I quote the disclaimer:

Note: Hey, if it’s not legal where you live, don’t smoke weed. Also, if you’re a kid under 21, don’t smoke weed. Your brain’s still soft and malleable. Wait until you’re older and your best years are behind you. You’ll need the weed to cope.”

While this may be considered quite topical considering what is happening in Colorado and in many other places in the country, I think it’s quite inappropriate, and I’m not alone.

 

Personally, I have had plenty of experience with amphetamines, but only the ones prescribed to me. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I vote Republican. I believe in the right to life (except when the mother is in medical danger) and the sanctity of marriage. It maybe all right for Cory to support the legalization and use of weed, that’s his business. But there may be kids who are reading this, like I once was at an early age.

*Speaking of topical and social media, Pat Sajak’s been doing quite a bit of tweeting lately. Among other things, he says this (in chronological order):

 

Now, what you have to remember is that this man once hosted a late-night talk show on CBS when he left Daytime Wheel in 1989. In March 1990, two weeks before his show was cancelled, he asked Rush Limbaugh to guest host.  Rush used the hour to get a response about the veto of a bill in Idaho which would have restricted abortion. According to Limbaugh himself, dissident audience members were planted by producers as a publicity stunt. The you-know-what hit the you-know-where. 

Pat has also hosted a weekend talk show on Fox News that lasted a few months in 2003.  I think it’s pretty clear that Mr. Sajak is a conservative. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I say that because I too, am a conservative.

Is Pat entitled to his opinions? Absolutely. Is he entitled to share them? Under the Constitution, he is. Should he “poke a stick in a hornets’ nest just to hear the buzzing”? Perhaps not. Some people, like me, can get away with it at times. Most of the time, though, this gets me a verbal thrashing from one of my parents. Now, I could probably spout my political opinions and use the word “racist” freely in a tweet and nobody would notice it. The worst that could possibly happen is that I lose followers, or I tell my parents about it and they force me to pull the tweet down. (My parents don’t follow me on Twitter.) The thing is, I’m not getting paid to ask people for three (sometimes four) consonants  and a vowel every night. 

Some may be saying, “But Greg, he’s not using Wheel as an outlet for his beliefs like Barker did on Price.” They would have a point. Of course he wouldn’t be using the puzzleboard to spout conservative propaganda. Harry Friedman (who OKs all the puzzles) would never let him get away with it. That’s why Pat uses his private Twitter account.

I believe all celebrities are in a delicate position when using social media. They may be just like you and me, but they’re different. They’re well known. They have to deal with the backlash. And this could cost him if he’s not too careful. Perhaps hosting the #1 game show in syndication for over 30 years has made him cocky. Perhaps he should step down gracefully and devote himself more fully to conservative causes, like Bob Barker has done with his animal rights causes. Maybe host another talk show, I don’t know.

As for a hosting replacement, here’s a suggestion:

 

 

* Speaking of hosts, Cedric The Entertainer has decided to step down as host of Millionaire. His replacement is Terry Crews, better known for his Old Spice commercials. Here’s what I mean:

 

My question is: why? This man has no hosting experience. Unlike Drew Carey, who actually hosted Whose Line and Pepsi’s Play for a Billion (if you can call those game shows), Terry’s only “game show” exposure was a 1999-2000 American Gladiators clone named Battle Dome. (This was all I could find of the show, I’m sorry to say.)

 

 

I don’t know what all went into the auditioning and selection process for Cedric’s replacement, but I just hope Terry doesn’t become the next Rolf Benirschke. 

 

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Tribute to Geoff Edwards and Jim Lange

Greetings, game show fans and passengers. This is your captain speaking. I’ve been in recluse, but I felt the need to come here today to honor two very important men in the game show industry. I am, of course, referring to Geoff Edwards (February 15, 1931 – March 5, 2014) and Jim Lange (August 15, 1932 – February 25, 2014).

I had a chance to “friend” Geoff on Facebook, but he didn’t want any friend suggestions. His exact words were, “Hi Greg, I appreciate the effort, but please don’t suggest any more friends to me, or I’ll take away your BRAND NEW CAR!!”

That was Geoff. He always knew how to turn up the drama and throw in the twists, just like on the show he’s best known for, [The New] Treasure Hunt. I would post an episode of that, but you’ve already seen every one on YouTube. So, I will post one that he’s not well known for…. The Big Spin.

 

 

There is someone who is far more qualified to tell you about his career, and that is Adam Nedeff. You may check his page here. His son Chess offers this eulogy on Geoff’s FB page.

“Dear friends, fans and supporters of my dear Dad,

Thank you for all your loving support and beautiful remembrances of Geoff. He lived a blessed life and those of you who knew and loved him were a big part of that blessing.

Many have asked about a memorial service for Geoff. The family has decided to honor Geoff with a small family gathering and to not hold a public service. We believe that Geoff would have wanted it this way.

For as public a figure as my father was, he was never one for such public rituals. He even stopped celebrating birthdays some 30 years ago because for him everyday was special. Even during the holidays, Dad was perturbed by the idea that we should all feel so obligated to gather on one particular day to celebrate our love for each other. His idea was that we should just have a big long season called “The Holidays” and each family would choose their own time and place to gather in celebration. It would alleviate so much heartache and hassle and for my Dad, the particular day was superfluous.

He wasn’t a fan of preschool graduations, commercialized holidays or even his own birthday. He never wanted others to feel obligated to show up and show respect or have to say the right thing when, to his mind, those things should be happening in our hearts all the time.

So, we will be holding sacred and honoring space for Geoff in our own hearts together as a family with a small and precious gathering. We ask that you do the same, as you have been doing; celebrate Geoff Edwards in your own hearts in your own way and in your own time. That’s what my Dad would want.

Toast him with a margarita, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and be thankful, extend a kindness to a stranger, do the right thing even when it is hard, laugh, travel, explore and have the courage to do whatever that thing is that you’re afraid to do. That is how you can perhaps best honor Geoff, for those are some of the things that always brought him most alive.

Thank you again from our entire family for all your love and care and beautiful honoring. Geoff was a tremendously blessed man for having known you all in his way and for being able to play a part in your life’s joy.

Blessings Be, Chess

 

Now, as for Jim Lange…. I personally have not spoken to him either.

Jim was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and started in radio after a stint in the Marines. His first national TV exposure was The Dating Game. His other game shows included $100,000 Name That TuneThe $1,000,000 Chance of a LifetimeHollywood ConnectionBullseye and the ABC version of The New Newlywed Game, as well as short-lived shows including, Spin-OffTriple Threat and Give-n-Take. To show or mention all of his work here would take a lifetime. However, since GSN already aired a Dating Game marathon, here is something from one of his other well-known shows.

 

What surprises me is that GSN has made effort with Mr. Lange, but not with Mr. Edwards. And even then, the tribute for Mr. Lange only consisted of Dating Game episodes with celebrities in them. Are they that concerned with ratings?

Both of these hosts will be missed deeply, not just for their warmth and character, but also because of their professionalism. Rest in peace, gentlemen.

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Endemol

Hello, all you voyagers out there. This is your captain speaking. No, I’m not publishing every week, but I do have something I’d like to discuss with you. It’s about my complicated relationship with Endemol.

*ABC is planning on working with Endemol for a new talent competition, Sing Your Face Off. It’s based on the hit format Your Face Sounds Familiar, already seen in 26 countries including most of Europe and a good part of South America. Here’s the trailer.

This adds to the glut of music-based reality programs already out there. If there’s one thing the world likes, it’s music. It will be hosted by John Barrowman (Lead tenor stormtrooper from The Producers)  and will air sometime next year. Heaven help us.

Here’s some behind-the-scenes footage from the UK version:

* Speaking of reality shows, The Taste returns this coming Thursday at 8 for a two-hour premiere. That’s the show where chefs create mini-versions of their dishes served on spoons. Or, as ABC themselves put it (courtesy of The Futon Critic): “In this exhilarating cooking competition series, “The Taste” puts 16 culinary competitors, who range from home cooks and professional chefs to everything in between, in the kitchen where four of the world’s most notable masters of the food world judge their creations based on a blind taste. In this pressure-packed contest, a single spoonful can catapult a contender to the top or send them packing. […] four culinary superstars and “Taste” mentors will coach a team of four competing pro and amateur cooks chosen from a nationwide casting call, as they vie to create the best tasting dish in a state of the art kitchen. Each week the groups will face team and individual challenges with a variety of culinary themes through several elimination rounds. At the end of each episode, the mentors will have to judge the competitors’ dishes blind, with no knowledge of whose creation they’re sampling, what they’re eating, how it was prepared or whom they could be sending home.” Dumb dumb dumb. All that work for one taste. And this is on ABC, not Food Network! Why can’t we get something like Endemol’s Next One!known in Italy as Avanti Un AltroHere’s what the bonus round looks like from a British perspective.

* You may wonder why I’m on such an Endemol kick lately. Well, it may have something to do with the fact that I’ve got a petition. I have discovered that Big Brother Australia is pretty cool. In fact, it’s even cooler than ours. While ours (and Canada’s) is mostly a Survivor clone in a house, the rest of the world has a much different format. Everyone votes to nominate in a solemn assembly, and then the public votes to evict via Facebook, text messaging, or calling in. You’re not allowed to discuss nominations at all. That means no alliances, no plotting, no collusion. If you’d like to see the 2013 Aussie launch show and read the petition (and hopefully sign it), here it is. 

 

Anyway, happy new year, and I’ll talk to you later. Thanks for reading.

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Long Overdue Update

Hi, there. This is a long overdue update, and I’m sorry I’ve kept you waiting. I’ve been keeping busy working at a local public television station on the production crew of North Carolina Now. I did that from late May to mid October, and then I was put with someone else packing boxes for a project for The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. All of this was volunteer work and unpaid. But now, I’m back on the job path.

But enough about me. I know this page hasn’t been updated in forever, so let’s review what’s happened since last I updated:

* The biggest thing to happen was The Million Second Quiz, supposedly “the Olympics of quiz”. (Um, no, that would more accurately describe a Jeopardy! International Tournament.) It was promoted everywhere and anywhere by NBC Universal (now owned by Comcast). I qualified to be a line jumper, but little did I know that I was supposed to continue playing after I signed up to qualify. Here is how the ratings stood over the 10-night event (courtesy of Wikipedia).

No. Title Original air date Rating/Share
(18–49)
U.S. viewers
(millions)[a]
1 “Day 1” September 9, 2013 1.7/5[11] 6.52[11]
2 “Day 2” September 10, 2013 1.5/5[12] 5.83[12]
3 “Day 3” September 11, 2013 1.3/4[13] 5.17[13]
4 “Day 4” September 12, 2013 1.1/3[14] 4.16[14]
5 “Day 5” September 13, 2013 0.8/3[15] 3.97[15]
6 “Day 6” September 14, 2013 0.7/3[16] 3.03[16]
7 “Day 7” September 16, 2013 1.0/3[17] 3.59[17]
8 “Day 8” September 17, 2013 1.1/4[18] 5.22[18]
9 “Day 9” September 18, 2013 1.1/4[19] 4.87[19]
10 “Finale” September 19, 2013 1.3/4[20] 4.95[20]

So, the ratings never rose above a 2, the share never went above 5, and aside from a momentary spike on Day 8,  the number of viewers stayed below 7 million.

Here’s what I think of it. NBC promoted the living daylights out of this thing, claiming it was non-stop trivia. Well, it wasn’t. Ryan kept pausing between bouts to talk about the format, the rules, who was sitting in Winner’s Row, what Subway product they were consuming, etc. etc. So, we got three bouts in all each night. One contestant brought in from the audience in New York, a Line Jumper from somewhere in the country, and the “Winner’s Defense”, where one contestant from Winner’s Row risks everything in a winner-take-all bout.

The format’s OK. Ryan asks a question and the two contestants secretly lock in their answers on a touchscreen before revealing them at Ryan’s request. If a player doesn’t know it, or thinks the other player doesn’t have a clue, (s)he can pass it to his/her opponent for double the points. But be careful, that question can be doubled back for four times the points. At which point, the contestant….. has five seconds to answer the question, because there are no physical challenges.

When the million seconds run out, the top 4 players at that point keep what they’ve won and go on to the final three bouts. The winner of that third bout wins $2,000,000. In this case, the winner Andrew Kravis got his winnings amped up to a total of $2.6 million, officially knocking out Ken Jennings as  the all-time biggest regular-season winner on a single American game show. Boo! (Interestingly enough, Ken was offered a spot on the show, but was told an hour later he’d have to fly himself to New York [but could jump the line].)

So, in an essence, we have a supposedly fast-paced quiz with the doubling mechanics of Double Dare (the Nickelodeon version, not that other one). Apparently, we were sold something that was not necessarily so. I recorded the series but later lost interest after noting how slow everything went in order to get more commercials in (with the Money Clock still running, no less!).

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you cannot trust NBC with a primetime game show. They spoil it, they pad it, and they run it every night. It’s the same with Minute to Win It, Take it All, and Who’s Still Standing? 

* On September 27th, a full episode of The Price is Right was dedicated to Plinko. Yes, all six pricing games were the exact same, with center spots and $1,000 spots being replaced by prizes. Take a look (courtesy of WhammyRules).

I thought this would be cool, but it wasn’t.

* One of the biggest things to happen on GSN is The Chase. It’s hosted by Brooke Burns of Dog Eat Dog fame (which coincidentally is also rerunning Saturday nights at 8 PM on the network) and is actually pretty good. There’s only one Chaser, Mark “The Beast” Labbett, who actually keeps the winnings very low. The banks hit at least $40,000; with two entering the six-digit figure. However, there have only been two wins in the seven episodes that have run. One of those, being episode two, is rather notable as it features fellow game show blogger Cory Anotado leading his team to a $180K victory. 

That win tops probably every GSN game show’s budget ever (including Russian Roulette).

* On October 26th, we lost Marcia Wallace of The Bob Newhart Show and The Simpsons. GSN ran a marathon of her highlights on Match Game, Password Plus, and The $100,000 Pyramid. We will miss you, Carol Kester. 

* Speaking of GSN, there’s some good news coming this Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a Family Feud marathon, featuring an hour of each of the pre-Harvey hosts (including Louie Anderson and Al Roker), followed by 6 hours of the oft-run Steve Harvey version. I’m particularly excited about Black Friday, though, because starting at 8 AM, they’ll be running the first 8 episodes of the 1985 syndicated version of $ale of the Century. After that, 12 whole hours of Steve Harvey’s Feud. While I could obviously care less about Harvey, I am excited about $ale. These episodes have not been seen in over 20 years. This is a dream come true for a number of classic game show fans, myself included.

Overall, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. Bob Barker will be returning to Price for his 90th birthday. That’s something I’m looking forward to. I’m fully expecting Bob to pawn Drew, even at 90 years old. I’m sure Roger would agree.

They’ll be more to come eventually. I’ll try to keep you posted as the time comes.

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Review: “Hollywood Game Night”

Hello, and happy belated 237th birthday to America.  This time, I’m going to be reviewing a game show that premiered last night on NBC. It’s entitled Hollywood Game Night and is based on the actual game nights thrown by Executive Producer and Creator Sean Hayes.

The series follows two civilian contestants who take part in a casual game night with six celebrities (three on each team). The games are simple and range from placing pictures of celebrities in chronological order to charades to identifying portraits painted by gifted elementary school students from Culver City. At the end of five games, the team with the highest score gets a chance at cash for both the contestant and the charity of a celebrity’s choosing.

It’s hosted by Jane Lynch, who certainly doesn’t look out of place. She’s largely a character actor who is best known as Coach Sue Sylvester, frenemy to New Directions on Glee. Me thinks this is stunt casting, but she holds it together. I mean, she’s no Ellen DeGeneres, and she’s definitely no Betty White. I’d put her on the same level as that football player who replaced Pat Sajak on the daytime Wheel, Rolf. Here she is, explaining the background behind the series.

And somewhat of the same thing, with more people:

The games themselves are….. OK. The first one in the premiere consisted of identifying crunchy snacks in a bowl. Oddly enough, all of them are owned by Frito-Lay. Can anyone say “covert product placement”? The second can be best described as three-person Password. The bonus round? Well, that largely consists of celebrities describing other celebrities a la The $25,000 Pyramid’s main game while the civilian guesses them. Each one is worth $1,000 each to the contestant and the charity of the celebrity partner’s choice. Ten in 90 seconds or less is worth $25,000 to the civilian and $10,000 to the charity. Yes, it is rather low budget for an hour in prime time, but how are you going to afford these many B-list TV celebrities otherwise? I mean, in the first episode alone, you have Daniel Dae Kim, Alyson Hannigan, Martin Short, Kristin Bell, Matthew Perry, and Lisa Kudrow. Most of them are off work for the summer.

Speaking of the celebrities, one of the main selling points of the show is hanging out at this “fantastic party in the Hollywood Hills”, supposedly in Jane Lynch’s living room,  with ” some of today’s biggest names in entertainment” . Well, it’s a party for the celebs all right. It’s just too bad that, in my opinion, they don’t interact that much with the contestants outside of the game. I mean, I don’t know what they do during commercial breaks, but in the game, the celebs are nothing but teammates. This party atmosphere seems a bit pretentious to me. Sure, you’ve got the band (which is OK), you’ve got Jane Lynch (who is OK), but this feels largely like Pantomime Quiz or Whose Line (where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter).  Of course, celebrity-civilian partnerships are nothing new in game shows, but they’re better executed elsewhere. I mean, take a look at the various Pyramids. 

And do you want to know the sad part about all this? This idea is nothing new. Burt Reynolds did something quite similar in 1987. He called it Win, Lose, or Draw. It proved to be so successful that it launched a syndicated version, a cable version for teens, and now a new cable version for teens coming out some time this year (to The Disney Channel, no less).

Overall, Hollywood Game Night is not bad, it’s just not good. I’d have just put it on NBC’s daytime lineup, because the budget fits. It’s not bad for a summer replacement, just don’t expect it to last very long. It’s on Thursday nights at 10/9c on NBC. Check your local listings.

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