Sunday, January 23, 2011

Game Shows Worth Mentioning This Week

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of The Blog Is Right!  In this week’s article, I am going to briefly discuss four current game shows that caught my attention during the past two weeks. Because these show peaked my interest, I feel like these shows deserve a “mini-review”.

Winter Wipeout
24 contestants. Four elimination rounds. $50,000. And lots of big balls. That’s right! I’m talking about the fourth season of Wipeout (properly titled Winter Wipeout because of the show’s current “winteresque” theme). This season premiered as a winter “staple” on January 6, 2011 on ABC.  John Henson and ESPN analyst John Anderson serve as the show’s host and commentators and co-host Jill Wagner serving as the show’s on-field reporter.
Playing the game is simple. Twenty-four contestants competed in four rounds of obstacle courses.  In the first round, each of the contestants take a run on the qualifying round obstacle course, with the twelve contestants with fastest times advancing to the second round. In the second round, each of the twelve contestants stood on a platform of their own and tries to avoid getting knocked into the water by various obstacles. The six remaining contestants advanced to the third round; however the last contestant standing in this round won a $1,000 bonus. In the third round, the final six contestants now had to race through another obstacle course, with everybody racing at the same time this time around.  The first contestant to make it through the course advanced to the final round, while the other five contestants restarted the course. This process continued until three contestants qualified for the final round: the Winter Wipeout Zone. Things get little bit serious in fourth and final round as the remaining three (four in the regular Wipeout shows) contestants compete against each other in the Winter Wipeout Zone for $50,000 in cash. This is the point in the game where timing is everything and every second counts as there are more obstacles to overcome and big money at stake. Each contestant goes on the final course one at time, as in the first round. The contestant with the fastest time through the Winter Wipeout Zone wins the $50,000 grand prize and is crowned as Winter Wipeout champion.
The obstacles in Winter Wipeout are definitely more challenging, more grueling than ever before, especially with a majority of the courses being slick and slippery due to the “icy winter conditions” to better fit the show’s theme. The contestants slipping and “wiping out” on the various obstacles, especially on the “Big Balls”, is often painful to watch at times, but entertaining and amusing nonetheless. What makes this show even more fun and entertaining to watch are the humorous and always comical commentaries about each contestant and how they are progressing through the game by the Henson, Anderson, and Wagner.  On the week of January 9, Winter Wipeout  ranked 15th in the broadcast ratings for total viewers, with 11,827,000 total viewers.  This show also beat most of the CBS shows in total viewers for that week, including 60 Minutes and Paula Abdul’s Live To Dance (for more information, click here). With new episodes premiering every Thursday night, this show might have a tough time getting great ratings because of the new season premieres of the NBC comedy shows airing this past week and the weeks to come.

Minute It to Win It 
January 6, 2011 marked the return of the regular episodes of Minute It To Win It hosted by Food Network star Guy Fieri. Entering its second season, we have seen Minute To Win It go through multiple changes during the first season, including multiple changes to set, graphics, and the increase of contestants playing each game from one to two. The objective in both seasons was still the same, which is to complete ten 60-second challenges for a $1,000,000 grand prize without using up your three lives. 

In my opinion, the show allowing a team of two contestants (whether it is a husband/wife or a sister/sister combination) makes the show more interesting to watch. Because not only do we see more intriguing games played that involve teamwork, but we also have a chance to get to know each team of contestants on a little bit on a personal level with surprise appearances by various family members (which I think is staged half the time, but is still entertaining to watch). These were all great ideas to make the show more exciting, fun, and interesting to watch, and it shows in the ratings as well (click here for ratings concerning Minute To Win It). There was at one time while I was watching some of the earlier episodes of Minute To Win It during the spring of 2010, I thought the show was going to be cancelled. However, the moment the show made the necessary changes (as mentioned above), I knew that Minute It To Win It would not be going anywhere anytime soon, especially the outstanding way they kicked off the new season with their Christmas themed show and games, and the $3,000,000 temporary top prize to mark the occasion. The only problems I have with the show are the abrupt commercial breakaways, the upcoming game "spoiler" on-screen graphics in between the contestant deciding to take the cash or to stay and play, and Fieri's unnecessary commentary while a contestant's 60-second game is in progress. Other than the problems I have listed, this is still a good show to watch. 
Baggage is a GSN original game show which takes The Dating Game to the next level. Like The Dating Game, this show featured one bachelor choosing from three bachelorettes (or vice versa). Each of the three other contestants had a small, medium, and large piece of baggage, representing a secret of their own, such as “having a collection of 5,000 knives” or “being banned in three states”. The game was played in four rounds, with each round revealing a different piece of baggage for each contestant and the main contestant eliminating one the three other contestants in rounds two and three. In the fourth and final round the main contestant now reveals their secret to the chosen contestant by opening a piece of large of baggage which contains the main contestant’s secret. If the other contestant accepts the main contestant’s piece of baggage, then the two contestants will go on a date. All the expenses for the date are paid for by the show. However, if the other contestant rejects the main contestant’s “baggage”, then the date is off and the main contestant is sent off the stage.

Although I have not seen any new episodes of this show since last year, what really caught my eye about Baggage was reading about the show being syndicated.  January 10, 2011 marked the premiere of Baggage in syndication on certain stations, including WCIU-TV in Chicago. Because of the show’s popularity and good ratings from the first and second season, ten local television stations across the country picked up episodes of Baggage to test it in syndication for ten weeks. Nine of the ten stations running the show are owned by NBC Universal.  If this test run proves to be successful and pull decent ratings, NBC Universal will syndicate the show nationally at the top of the 2011 fall season. 
This is the best dating game show I have seen in the past two decades since Love Connection during the 90’s with host Chuck Woolery.  GSN definitely redeemed themselves with the production and overall success of this show, since they have aired shows that were doomed from the start as Instant Recall, Hidden Agenda, and Without Prejudice? were.   Also, I forgot how good of a host Jerry Springer was, considering he is still hosting The Jerry Springer Show. 

30 Seconds to Fame
Last weekend on January 15, 2011, FOX revived the short-lived talent contest game show 30 Seconds to Fame by airing rerun as part of their Saturday night midnight time slot. Craig Jackson was the host of this 2002 game show. Multiple people would appear on stage one at a time to perform an act that lasted for 30 seconds. The audience determined whether or not each act would last for the full 30 seconds by voting on their keypads. If enough people voted for the act to be eliminated before their contestant(s) survived the 30 seconds, then they were eliminated. After all the acts have been performed, the audience would then vote for the three acts they liked the most, and the three performers would do a second 30-second act. The one of the final three acts that received the most votes by the studio audience won the grand prize of $25,000 (not bad for a minute of work).
On two quick side notes, one of the writers of 30 Seconds To Fame was Phil Moore, the former host of Nick Arcade and You’re On, and this was first time I have ever seen a rerun of a cancelled FOX game show running on the same network, to my knowledge.  30 Seconds to Fame was another show that took a classic game show, like The Gong Show, and pushed it to its limits. The premiere of this show back in July 17, 2002 won its time slot (8:00pm) for most viewers with 8.07 million. With decent ratings like that for the show’s premiere, I think this show should have lasted longer than it should have.  My friend was flipping through channels to see what was on late at night, and he happened to stumble upon 30 Seconds to Fame at about 1:40 in the early morning. The first few seconds my friend watched the show, I watched his reaction as he was instantly impressed with the show and was entertained by most of the 30-second acts. This positive feedback was definitely a sign that the show should have lasted at least another season.  When I watched some of these past episodes, I noticed that most of the acts that received the most praise and applause were acts involving fire or a musical act.  These acts and the show itself were entertaining and fun to watch while the show was still running.

Here are my final ratings for each show for this week:

Winter Wipeout
Set Design- 10
Gameplay- 10
Show Flow- 10
Potential Viewer Ratings- 9
Play-Along Factor- 1
Overall Rating- 8.3

Minute It To Win It
Set Design- 10
Gameplay- 9
Show Flow- 6
Potential Viewer Ratings- 10
Play-Along Factor- 1
Host- 8
Overall Rating- 7.3

Set Design- 7
Gameplay- 10
Show Flow- 9
Potential Viewer Ratings- 7
Play-Along Factor- 9
Host- 9
Overall Rating- 8.5

30 Seconds To Fame 
Set Design- 9
Gameplay- 10
Show Flow- 9
Potential Viewer Ratings (Current)- 1
Play-Along Factor- 7
Host- 7
Overall Rating- 7.1

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