Thursday, December 10, 2009


All right. I suppose I owe you an explanation. It's been more than two months since I posted on here, and the reason is simple - I burned myself out. I'm simply not capable of blogging every day, and I should have realized that before I started.

So here's what I'm going to do: I will relaunch my web ramblings at a new address. On that address, I will post once a week only. That may not be easy: there will undoubtedly be some weeks where I can't think of anything to write about, and an equal number where something happens that I simply can't wait to examine. Still I am going to try to stick to Thursdays.

The new blog will be at (and yes, I am going to try to keep the focus on game shows only).

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brain Drain?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I would not be a game show fan today if it weren't for the various kids game shows I used to watch. If you say the words "kids game show" to just about anybody, they'll inevitably get a mental image of ten-year-olds falling into gloop, while a host who's not much older than them tries way too hard to seem hip.

These people are wrong. That's not to say there aren't any shows that fit this stereotype - I can think of a few - but most kids game shows are actually quite engaging. Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? is the one game show I want revived more than any other; Legends Of The Hidden Temple featured possibly the coolest bonus round of any game show ever. Even the hated Nick Arcade probably would have been fun with a few tweaks and a different host. Besides, I liked them all when I was eight, and isn't that the true test of any kids show?

So we finally get to Brain Surge, which premiered on Nickelodeon yesterday with host Jeff Sutphen. The show begins with six contestants, who are in the first round shown a series's call them animated memory tests. Most of them involve picking a certain number out of the cartoon that's shown on the video wall (actually more fun than it sounds). All six contestants type in an answer; the first puzzle is worth ten points, the second twenty points, and so on for five puzzles, after which the sixth puzzle is worth 100 points. The two contestants with the lowest scores are then eliminated, and must leave via a slime slide dubbed "The Brain Drain." Whenever Jeff says that phrase, everyone in the studio, from the audience to the contestants, shouts it along with him.

Round two begins with Jeff reading a "funny" story to the four remaining contestants, after which he asks them each, in turn, a question about some detail of what he just read. If you get it wrong, you are sent to the Brain Drain, and when two contestants are left, they move on to round three. Round three is plain old Concentration with sixteen cards; the first contestant to miss a match goes to the Brain Drain, and the winner plays the (actually really cool) bonus round, in which he\she faces a 4x4 grid spread out across the floor. A sequence of squares on the grid lights up, and the contestant must follow this path across the floor; if successful, the grid expands to 5x5, and if the contestant succeeds again, the grid expands one more time to 6x6. If the contestant completes three grids in one minute and thirty seconds, he\she wins the grand prize. it any good? Well, I didn't hate it. Yes, there's nothing here we haven't seen before, but the
various games are put together in a feasible way, and I actually wish I had thought of that bonus round. The set is cool (although I've already forgotten what the music sounds like, which is never
a good sign) and Jeff, while far from Greg Lee or Marc Summers, is also far from Kirk Fogg or Phil Moore. So no, I didn't hate it, and going back to the true test of any kids show, if I didn't hate it, an eight-year-old would probably like it a lot. I can't say I'll be a regular viewer of Brain Surge, but it gets safe passage.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Here

There is quite a bit going on right now, and unfortunately I've been way behind. I'm going to at least try to get back into the routine of blogging, starting with the news that I have found a publication date for Daniel Pinkwater's upcoming novel Adventures Of A Cat Whiskered Girl: June 7, 2010 (which is summer, not spring, but there you go).

I'll be back tomorrow with a review of the new Nickelodeon game show Brain Surge.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eight Days...I Know, I Know

Yes, I am still here. Yesterday marked the season premiere of The Price Is Right and the daytime premiere of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

The Price Is Right, when you actually break it down, hasn't changed that much. The set has been redone a bit, and while parts of it admittedly look flat out stupid, that doesn't change my opinion of the show - it needs a rest. I flat out adore The Price Is Right, but I can't be the only one who thinks it's just past its prime, and has been since long before Bob Barker retired.

Then comes Fifth Grader. Obviously they aren't going to offer a $1,000,000 jackpot in daytime, but not only has the jackpot gone down, the game structure has changed. There still two questions from each grade from first to fifth, but rather than a money ladder, each correct answer adds to your bank. First grade questions are worth $500, second grade $1,000, third grade $2,500, fourth grade $3,500, and fifth grade $5,000. If you get a question wrong, you lose everything, but you have to play all ten questions no matter what. The cheats remain the same, but the number of fifth graders has gone down - only three (beats me how they divide up the questions). If, after ten questions, you have any money left, you can risk it all on the final question, which, if correct, multiplies your bank by ten.

Good changes? Well...I feel pretty much the same way I did about daytime Deal Or No Deal when I first saw it - everything has changed, and nothing has. As with daytime Deal Or No Deal, the pace feels a lot faster, and the budget feels a lot smaller, even if the set and music are almost identical. All in all, though, I liked primetime Fifth Grader, and I like daytime Fifth Grader. It's certainly the only show to make really good use of the "Do you remember what you learned in school?" motif. Will it last? I've said it before and I'll say it again: I seriously doubt it has a chance. Ah well.

Sorry about the long wait,


Monday, September 14, 2009

Et Tu Alex?

Yes, I'm back - sorry I missed a few days - and yes, Millionaire introduced a new money ladder today...but that's not the big news.

The big news is, an awful gimmick is being introduced on a show I thought was flat out immune to gimmicks. If this has to happen, it means the game show is dying. It's a show I think is overrated, but still...why mess with Jeopardy?

Apparently, the show will be holding a Celebrity Jeopardy $1,000,000 Invitational. Twenty-seven celebrities will be competing for their charities, and the whole thing will be broadcast at the rate of one episode per month. Really.

This is a really, really bad idea. Jeopardy has already had several $1,000,000 tournaments, but come on, a celebrity $1,000,000 tournament? No. Quite a few game shows have tried adding celebrities to save themselves, and it never works. If Jeopardy has to do this, it means they're as desperate Millionaire.

I sincerely hope that in September 2010, we have more than just Wheel Of Fortune, The Price Is Right, and Family Feud.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Not Yet...

We've reached the ninth contestant in the current season on Millionaire (the last one leftover from primetime), meaning that if there is a new money ladder, it will be revealed with the next contestant.

I guess I'll have to watch Monday.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Let The Battle Begin...

Well, I now know the time Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? will be airing in my area - it will be competing against The Price Is Right. Considering that it's on the station that had aired Trivial Pursuit, you'd think they'd just give it that slot, but no.

My money's on Drew Carey beating out Jeff Foxworthy.