The Million Second Quiz and Double Standards

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Well, it is finally over.  After nearly a week and half, the show that started out interesting crashed and burned on its big finale.  I am talking about the Ryan Seacrest hosted and produced show “The Million Second Quiz”.


If you missed this 24/7 train wreck, congratulations you survived the mess that could have been interesting.  Unfortunately, given that only one hour of 24 aired on television and most of that was filled endless commercials, only about 20 minutes was actual gameplay.


Add to this that I watched the show in standard definition to zoom in closer to the questions at the bottom of the screen which was still too small even in this format.  Given that the television I used also has closed-captioning enabled and that the writing appeared right across the question area at the bottom of the screen, this show was impossible to read the questions or enjoy whatsoever.


Given that Ryan Seacrest wants to become the next Dick Clark, this certainly wasn’t the way to start even though Mr. Clark had many show failures over the years.  To make matters worse was that the big finale episode was such a lopsided game; it was not even fun to watch.  Hopefully this hourglass and chair get retired for an eternity.


My Score:  2


However, things were not much better for long-running shows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” during their premiere week.


On “Wheel”, a contestant misspoke the word “curio” in the phrase “Corner Curio Cabinet”.  Unfortunately, because of the error, he lost the round and his eventual chance at winning a million dollars.  On “Jeopardy”, a player mispronounced the word “Equus” in his response; however Alex Trebek corrected him and gave him credit for the answer.


Ironically, the “Wheel” video went viral and hit all the major talk shows, whereas the “Jeopardy” flub was never mentioned.  So it’s ok to screw up on “Jeopardy”, but not ok on “Wheel” unless you write the wrong spelling which should not matter (so they say) in Final Jeopardy as one kid did last year by miswriting “Emancipation Proclamation”.


I guess these shows pick and choose who they want to win or lose just by what they write or mispronounce.  At this rate, this double standard will cause both of these shows to join “Million Second Quiz” on the cancellation list.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen in the near future and these shows should standardize how they handle what people say and write.






Disney Failures — One Ending and One Beginning

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Usually Disney doesn’t have program failures, but it now has 2 of them.


The first of them airs on their sister station ABCFamily.  The show is “The Vineyard”.  This show is sort of in the same spirit of shows like “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” that lived on MTV years ago.  This time instead of sunny California, we are transported to the should-be fictionalized town of Martha’s Vineyard.


Over the last 7 episodes (the 8th and final one airs next Tuesday), we have followed a group of pretty privileged people as they spend a summer together in the tourist area.  Unfortunately, there is nothing likable about these people as the only thing we know about them is their first name and what little of the characters are presented.  Ironically, there is no swearing, not even a bleep.  This makes me wonder if this show was real or just a scripted show that was made to look like a real life drams.


The only good thing about this show is the scenery as this would make a great travelogue of the area, but beyond that forget it as this show offers nothing but a lot of crying, drinking and yelling.


I don’t know why I have continued to watch this show except that the scenery is pretty and the people are pretty, but the story is very, very ugly.


My score:  2


Summary:  Stay for the scenery, watch the pretty people, just mute the volume on the lousy storylines.



The second failure comes in what seems to be the 40th season of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”.  This syndicated show which started out as a few times a week show with Regis Philbin as host has become a now daily show that previously was hosted by Meredith Vieira.


Now the show has a new host of Cedric the Entertainer.  Quite honestly, this guy is the wrong person for this show.  As of the first three episodes aired, only 1 white person was a contestant on the show.  There seems to be a bias against white people on this show now that never existed before.


Beyond that, I know it is customary for Cedric to where his hat indoors, but didn’t anyone ever teach him any manners about that.  Add to this, his constant use of the word “man” with every male contestant and you get the feeling that you are watching a show that should be on BET instead.


Back in the 1970’s, we had just one colored game show host. It was television poet Nipsey Russell.  Today, the airwaves are filled with African-American hosts in the game show world.  It is no longer a white boy’s club.


Sadly, this show fails to keep my interest anymore as Cedric is NO ENTERTAINER.  Given that the show hasn’t awarded the top prize in years, this show has slipped to dismal at best.


It’s time for our final answer of goodbye once and for all.


My score:  5


Summary:  This show would play great on BET, but now this show has shifted away from being a show for the white folk.



Game Shows – Part 2

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Last week, I started discussing the TV Guide top 60 game shows.  This week I delve deeper into their list.  The listing can be viewed here.


While I have no problems with the top 10, I find it interesting that “The Newlywed Game” actually made it that high.  Personally it would have gone down much further on my list.


As far as the remaining 50 are concerned, most I agree with except “Studs” and “Masquerade Party” as these were just bad shows.  However, a few shows were missing that I would have put on the list:


  • “Face the Music” – This show hosted by former Tarzan Ron Ely was fun and yes a rip-off of “Name that Tune”.  The difference was that the endgame was guessing the mystery celebrity shown in pictures through the years.
  • Magnificent Marble Machine” – Somewhere in the basement of NBC studios there still lives a giant pinball machine which I thought was a great short-lived show in the mid-1970s.
  • Money Maze”   — This show hosted by Nick Clooney (George’s dad), like the previously mentioned show had a giant maze that covered pretty much the entire studio floor.  Another fun show to watch.
  • Celebrity Sweepstakes” – Played in a format that resembled a horse race track, it pitted 6 celebrities against each other to answer trivia.  Sadly, this show died at the expense of “The Price is Right” hour expansion.


Now my choices for the worst shows even though TV Guide hasn’t mentioned the worst:


  • “Deal or No Deal” (syndicated version) – Gone were the girls for the most part and replaced by real people opening the cases.  This show had all the fun knocked out of it.
  • The Better Sex” — This show tried to pit the men against the women in a trivia game show hosted by country singer Bill Anderson and Sarah Purcell formerly from “Real People”.  All this show concluded were that the sexes were equal and nothing more.
  • “Rhyme and Reason” – This dog was a “Match Game” rip-off.  It’s most notorious claim to fame was that the celebrities on the final show were so mad of the cancellation of the show the show, they wrecked the show’s set, which simply put was vandalism.  Many of these celebrities would never be able to return back to the ABC studios lot ever again.
  • “You Deserve It” — Hosted by “The Bachelor’s” Chris Harrison, this show was almost preachy in this weekly show that seemed to change formats on every show.  Sadly, each incorrect answer cost the player money until they went to 0.  We deserved better than this.


Certainly there are more that could go into both categories and maybe in the future I will discuss more of them.  But for now, it is a beginning of my best and worst game shows.



Special Notice:  In celebration of July 4th next week, there will be no blog post.  I hopefully will return the following week with a brand new and exciting post at that time.  As always, thanks for your continued support.


“Wheel” and “Deal” and TV Guide too – 3 Anniversaries

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In celebration of TV Guide’s 60 best game shows of all time, I decided that this would be the perfect time to throw in my 2 cents or more into the fray.  In this week’s post, I look at 3 anniversaries and my connection to 2 of them.


First off, let’s say happy 50th anniversary to “Let’s Make a Deal”.  It turned 50 on March 1, 2013 and the series had the original host Monty Hall guest on the show along with model Carol Merrill.  The bad news is that the show has never been on consistently during all 50 years, therefore 50 years isn’t a true anniversary, just an anniversary of when the show began.


Way back in 1984, I was in Florida when this show was just beginning to start its tapings at the then Disney-MGM Studios.  A visit to the set from above was part of the studio tour at the time.  Honestly, I was surprised by how small the set actually was when compared to the many other game show sets that I have visited over the years.


My thought is that the current set must be fairly small as well since the show is filmed in standard version and not high definition.  If it was in high definition, the set probably would look extremely small.  Let me say that I loved the original show, but have never really watched the current version to any extent.


Next up is “Wheel of Fortune”.  They claim an anniversary of 30 years this season.  Again, this is a bit of stretch in the opposite direction.  The show actually has been around since 1975; however the night syndicated version has been around for 30 years.  So they are half correct or just don’t want to admit their real age.


My connection with this show was that back in the summer of 1983, I was in Burbank, California when the show was taping the first episodes of the nighttime version of the show.  I was there for episodes 3, 4 and 5 of this new version of the show.  At that time, it was taped at NBC studios and since the show was fairly new in this edition the tapings went a little longer than normal.


Here are a few tidbits about the show at the time:

  • Host Pat Sajak sometimes had to stop taping and have a redo when he forgot that he was doing the nighttime version of the show and not its daytime edition.
  • The puzzle board at the time required that each letter be put on the board individually which meant that it took about 5 minutes between puzzles for a new puzzle to be loaded.  To be fair, all the contestants had to turn their backs from the puzzle board during commercials and until each round began.  When the board became a bunch of monitors this was no longer necessary.
  • It took about 3 minutes to push the puzzle board from out behind the curtain where the letters were loaded onto it.  It also took that long to get it behind the curtain as well.
  • The conversations between Pat and Vanna White were ad-lib at the end of the show.  Nothing was scripted about what was said to each other during the end just told how long they had before they would be off the air.
  • The final spin of the wheel that Pat did sometimes landed on bankrupt.  In the last few years, the final spin has been edited only to show a perfectly landing dollar amount spin.


What bothered me most about this season is that the opening of every show had some little clip from the past.  Some were funny, some were just stomach churning and some were best left forgotten.  I guess you have to take the good with the bad.


Finally, we have the 60th anniversary of TV Guide.  This is the only true birthday so to speak despite the fact that the magazine went from a digest edition to a tabloid edition a few years ago.  Not only did it lose its size, but it also lost its thickness and many of the more enjoyable features such as alphabetical listing of movies, local channel listings and other desirable features.  Otherwise, the TV Guide is still a must-have even though the internet provides much more information.  Just having the listings on paper is the most important thing.


Next week (possibly) I will put in my 2 cents on that list of 60 top game shows and talk about a few that I liked that are missing from that list.