Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Halftime Highlights: Top Game Show Moments From January-June 2014

As we enter into the early beginnings of the third quarter of the year 2014, The Blog Is Right is going to take a look back at some of the key moments that occurred during each month of the first half of the year. Think of this as somewhat of a halftime show without the cheerleaders, mascot races, monkeys riding dogs or Chris Berman voicing over the highlight reel. Keep these number one monthly moments in mind as they will more than likely reappear in this year’s end-of-the-year Top 10 Countdown list.

JANUARY: GSN’s Highest Rated Month In Network History
GSN has had an incredible few years with the debut of successful original series including Daytime Emmy-nominated game shows The American Bible Challenge, which currently holds the record as being the highest-rated show to ever air on the network (1.73 million viewers on August 26, 2012) and The Chase, a show that had already proven to be a hit teatime game show on ITV in the U.K

Thanks to The Chase, as well as the acquisition of reruns for the Steve Harvey version of Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud and the premiere of Mind Of A Man, GSN announced that January 2014 ended as the network’s highest-rated month ever. After ending the year 2013 as being the network’s most successful year in its history, GSN kicked off the new year with a bang by delivering its largest total day-to-day audience in key demos including Households (HH), Persons aged 2 or older (P2+), Women aged 2 or older (W2+) and Women 25-54 (W25-54). 

Double-digit growth in the key demos helped to land GSN among the list of the top 10 fastest-growing ad supported cable networks in January among women and persons 25-54. The network’s year-to-year delivery also grew in double digits in total day (+34% in P25-54 and +36% in W25-54) and in primetime (+46% in P25-54 and +47% W25-54). As I have previously stated, GSN’s stellar January ratings were mainly fueled by the second season of The Chase and the first season of Mind Of A Man

Since The Chase premiered on GSN, the series has quickly established itself as one of the most popular primetime original shows to ever air on the network. Besides from GSN renewing the show for a second season weeks before the first aired, The Chase has attracted more than 15 million total viewers, including 3 million women aged 25-54. The quadruple-header series premiere of Mind Of A Man, the network’s newest celebrity panel game show hosted by DeRay Davis, was watched by over 6.5 million total viewers on January 8 and increased the time period in key demos including women 18-49 (+24%) and women 25-54 (+48%).

Although I personally believe the U.K. version is better, GSN did a fantastic job with their version of The Chase. Check out the show’s first episode of the second season in the video below.

FEBRUARY: Chris Tarrant's Final Episode of Millionaire
Even though another quarter-million pound winner was crowned during this month on Channel 4’s Deal or No Deal, the bigger headline for the month is Chris Tarrant’s leaving ITV’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and, subsequently, Millionaire ending its run. After a 15-year stint on ITV, the iconic game show that ignited a worldwide television phenomenon officially aired its final broadcast on February 11, 2014.

The final episode, a clip show entitled “Chris’ Final Answer”, was a retrospect of some of Tarrant’s most memorable moments that had occurred during the show’s run including Judith Keppel becoming the show’s first million-pound winner and Charles Ingram’s **cough, cough** “million-pound run”. 

The final celebrity game aired a week earlier on February 4. On the penultimate episode, Alexandra Burke and David Emanuel won £5,000; Sir Chris Hoy and Kevin Bridges won £20,000; James Nesbitt and Dom Joly won £1,000 and Rachel Riley and Dave Myers won £1,000 to split between their chosen charities and the night’s viewer prize pot for the show’s home viewer contest. Relive all of the excitement that was Who Wants To Be A Millionaire by viewing the final episode below. 

MARCH: Arthur Chu’s Jeopardy! Winning Streak
At the beginning of March, compliance analyst and voiceover artist, Arthur Chu, continued his impressive run on Jeopardy! before losing his final game March 12, 2014. Prior to that, Chu’s incorporation of game theory into his   playing style quickly became the talk of the town, even with the Battle of The Decades Tournament in progress. To some, Chu’s sporadic and winning strategy had made him the villainous face of Jeopardy!, with accusations of Chu taking the fun out of the game and not playing it fairly. Chu ended his run with 11 games to his credit along with a grand total of $298,200. 

As I had essentially stated in my brief commentary on viewers reaction on Arthur Chu, this “controversy” was a non-story and there was nothing wrong with it. It was no different than Chuck Forrest’s “Forrest Bounce” stratagem when he first employed it during the show’s second and third seasons in 1985 and 1986. The bigger story was that, based on his exemplary performance, Chu could have become the next Ken Jennings and go on to win over a million dollars on the show, at the very least. Check out Chu’s final game in the clip below. Keep in mind: this will not be that last you will hear of him — he will more than likely return to compete in next season’s Tournament of Champions.

APRIL: The April Fool’s Switcheroo on The Price Is Right
The first week of April was a busy one for The Price Is Right as the long-running CBS game show aired its 8,000th episode in daytime. But, that wasn’t the highlight of the month since the producers had not really done anything special for the milestone show. The most memorable moment from April was Drew Carey and Craig Ferguson switching shows on April 1 for April Fool’s Day. Carey hosted The Late, Late Show with George Gray announcing and Ferguson hosted The Price Is Right with Shadoe Stevens announcing. Both hosts did a fantastic job of emceeing each other’s shows. Check out the 2014 April Fool’s episode of The Price Is Right below.

MAY: Jeopardy! (Julia Collins and Battle of The Decades Finals)
Choosing the top game show highlight for May was a bit of a daunting task, especially with the exciting, big money moments that happened on Jeopardy! and Australia’s Million Dollar Minute including Pierre Sucliffe’s $503,000 win and Lisa Paton's amazing 12-game winning streak ending with her walking away with only $77,000. After much deliberation, I had decided to make Jeopardy!, in general, the highlight of the month. Taking into consideration Julia Collins’ record-breaking appearance and the intense final games of the show’s million-dollar Battle of The Decade Tournament, I couldn’t give the honor to one without unfairly leaving the other one out. 

Shortly after Arthur Chu stepped down as Jeopardy! champion, Julia Collins, a supply chain professional from Kenilworth, IL, stepped into the spotlight to grab her 15 minutes of fame. During her winning streak, Collins amassed $429,100, became the show’s biggest-winning woman champion and placed second among the list of longest winning streaks in the show’s history (20), with Ken Jennings placing first with 74. I am very much looking forward to her competing in the Tournament of Champions next season. With her skill set and wide range of knowledge, Collins has a very good chance of becoming the fourth woman contestant to win the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions in the syndicated era.

Julia Collins was not the only big winner of the month. Brad Rutter also struck it rich (again) by winning the Battle of The Decades Tournament. The tournament kicked off in February with 45 of the best champions to ever grace the Jeopardy! stage competing against each other in the five non-consecutive-week event with the winner receiving $1 million. The final two-game match saw superchamps Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and Roger Craig fight for the million bucks. When it was all said and done, Rutter solidified his top spot as the biggest money winner in Jeopardy! history and won his fourth Jeopardy! tournament title. Check out the final game in the clip below. 

JUNE: Steve Harvey & Let’s Make A Deal Win First Daytime Emmy
On any other day before the Daytime Emmys, I would have bestowed the "moment of the month" to the team of Derrick and Debbie for defeating Shaun Wallace and winning £80,000 on the U.K. version of The Chase. With this being said, the number one game show moment in the month of June is Steve Harvey and Let’s Make A Deal winning their first Daytime Emmy. After four seasons of hosting Family Feud, the same show that was averaging a 1.5 rating at the end of John O’ Hurley’s final season, Steve Harvey has finally won an Emmy for “Outstanding Game Show Host”. Unfortunately, Harvey was not present  to accept his award because he did not think he would win any. 

Let’s Make A Deal also captured its first Emmy win in the tens of years its aired on television. Deal was also the first game show in history to win a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy for “Outstanding Original Song” for “30,000 Reasons To Love Me” with Wayne Brady as the singer and Cat Gray as the composer. For your viewing pleasure, here are two clips of one of Harvey’s funniest Feud moments and the Emmy-Award winning single, “30,000 Reasons To Love Me”.

And this is only the beginning, folks! Trust me; there is much more cash and prizes to be won and more historic and unforgettable game show moments to made before the year closes out. 

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