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Author Topic: How to keep Wheel fresh? From Buzzerblog; by Benjamin Williams, pacdude, and me.  (Read 20601 times)

JayDLewis

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I get that the impetus for this conversation (here and w/ Buzzerblog) is Feud's climb in the ratings.

What about the other ratings? Is Feud making gains at the expense of W/J! Are W/J! staying pat?

If W/J! are holding (more or less) steady then perhaps nothing can be done to goose their numbers.
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BrandonFG

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From what I've noticed over the years, fairly steady, around a 6 rating.
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Joe Mello

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What about the other ratings? Is Feud making gains at the expense of W/J! Are W/J! staying pat?

If W/J! are holding (more or less) steady then perhaps nothing can be done to goose their numbers.
Didn't Nielsen changed its ratings criteria to include all runs of the same program?  If I am remembering properly, then Feud is succeeding partially due to Steve Harvey, but a lot of it is also due to brute force.  I can't think of very many outlets that air Wheel or J! more than once daily.
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BrandonFG

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I believe that's what's allowed "Judge Judy" to become the #1 show in syndication as well.
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irwinsjournal.com

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"Before and After" has always been the nails on the blackboard category for me.   For example: "The Wicked Witch of the West Coast."  Really.  Come on.

I've wondered how many puzzles are really left unwritten at this point.   On the other hand, Jeopardy hasn't run out of clues.
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Prizes

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"Before and After" has always been the nails on the blackboard category for me.   For example: "The Wicked Witch of the West Coast."  Really.  Come on.

I've wondered how many puzzles are really left unwritten at this point.

Before and After has grated on me for sometime now, not because it's not creative, because it can be, though usually isn't. Rather, it seems like whenever I flip Wheel, and Pat is segueing to Round 2, I'm hearing Pat say, "The category is, Before and After." It's not absolute, but it feels like 90% of the time. There's no reason it needs to be that high of a frequency.

As for puzzles unwritten? Check out this site: https://sites.google.com/site/wheeloffortunepuzzlecompendium/home/compendium
It's basically a huge list from one of the BAV staffers (if incomplete), of various puzzles used over the years, with various eras, such as daytime. Say what you will about it, but it's a good resource guide for future players, and answers your question in large part. For the most part, they've been very unoriginal, with many puzzles reused/slightly modified from roughly four seasons ago, consistently, with the exception of the awful Trip Puzzle writing.

I get that the impetus for this conversation (here and w/ Buzzerblog) is Feud's climb in the ratings.

What about the other ratings? Is Feud making gains at the expense of W/J! Are W/J! staying pat?

For however you view Abell's ratings, which seem one of the few things to trust him on: Wheel was flat last week, at 6.4, Jeopardy went down 0.1 to 6.2, and Feud went up 0.3, to 6.1. I think it's just perhaps notable, since Wheel has long been seated in the comfortable top spot. With Feud's emergence, even if through sum of scores, and its potential to possibly unseat Wheel there, is an outstanding remark, and more than just a blip on my radar.

It's impossible to know at present, but I do wonder about your other point; is there anything Wheel can do? That was in part my premise for contributing to this; I thought so, as did a few others.
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Dan88

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Changing the price of vowels [...] won't give you more moments that make people want to tune in.
Probably not, but put 'em at $1,000 and the players will have to actually work for them, as they had to to varying degrees until the minimum Wheel value became $250. The early (1973-75) layouts suggest that vowels were meant to be a sizable cost with a sizable penalty, as $250 was originally half the Round 1 top value and one-quarter of the highest value overall.

building a "new, more dynamic set" (what does that even mean?)
Perhaps the bright atmosphere the set had until the mid-2000s, when it got darker and more neon-reliant?

"Before and After" has always been the nails on the blackboard category for me. For example: "The Wicked Witch of the West Coast." Really. Come on.
Oh yeah, definitely. It used to be two names or objects connected by a common word (such as WHITNEY HOUSTON TEXAS, to use an example from Brad Francini's site), but nowadays it just seems to be a Phrase or Quotation with a word tacked onto the end like MY FATHER IS HALF-IRISH SETTER and OLD KING COLE WAS A MERRY OLD SOUL MATE. That's not creative; that's lazy.

Quote from: Harry Friedman
We try to make Wheel of Fortune reliableónot predictable.
I agree, Harry, it's reliable -- I can rely on the puzzles being predictably bad. :)

It's impossible to know at present, but I do wonder about your other point; is there anything Wheel can do? That was in part my premise for contributing to this; I thought so, as did a few others.
There's things they can (and should) do, but the thing is whether they actually want to do anything anybody's suggesting (and have been suggesting for at least a couple or so years).

That said...given the lackluster changes and terrible writing, I get the feeling Harry doesn't have his heart in Wheel as much as he did in the 1990s to mid-2000s.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2014, 12:00:57 AM by Dan88 »
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TLEberle

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Re: How to keep Wheel fresh?
« Reply #22 on: October 30, 2014, 11:53:46 PM »
There's things they can (and should) do, but the thing is whether they actually want to do anything anybody's suggesting (and have been suggesting for at least a couple or so years).
But why do it? Are you going to get more eyeballs with any of those ideas? If so, wouldn't he have done it? His job is basically keeping an airplane at cruising altitude, and as homogeneous and predictable as the individual episodes are, the show is still #1. Why put a $1,750 space on the wheel or give away Not Trips if you don't have to?

Quote
In the end, like I said before, the main problem with Wheel is Harry Friedman. Given the lackluster changes and terrible writing, I get the feeling he doesn't have his heart in it as much as he did in the 1990s to mid-2000s.
For comparison's sake, what's your gig and how long have you been at it?
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BrandonFG

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That said...given the lackluster changes and terrible writing, I get the feeling Harry doesn't have his heart in Wheel as much as he did in the 1990s to mid-2000s.
He's also behind Jeopardy!, and that show is still just as fresh as ever, with even fewer changes year-in, year-out. I'm not a "Wheel Watcher" nearly as much as I used to be, but I don't think Harry's producing is the problem, even if I do think the puzzles are pretty terrible.

/WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST COAST? Yuck
//Oddly enough, J!'s Before and After category always gives me a good laugh
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Kevin Prather

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The argument behind raising the vowel cost is to make it harder to buy vowels. What does discouraging vowel-buying do to help the show? The savvy player is in there buying vowels as soon as possible in order to figure out the puzzle nice and early so as to capitalize. By taking that away, you lessen the likelihood of big wins and increase the likelihood of long drawn-out puzzles. Neither of which would appeal much to the viewing audience.

PYLdude

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The argument behind raising the vowel cost is to make it harder to buy vowels. What does discouraging vowel-buying do to help the show? The savvy player is in there buying vowels as soon as possible in order to figure out the puzzle nice and early so as to capitalize. By taking that away, you lessen the likelihood of big wins and increase the likelihood of long drawn-out puzzles. Neither of which would appeal much to the viewing audience.

I totally agree.
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jjman920

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You can't force a 39-year-old five-days-a-week TV show to feel fresh and amazing on a day-to-day basis. Using the "Jeopardy!" examples in the article and my "Wheel of Fortune" examples, the one thing all of those publicity-making moments have in common (with the exception of the Battle of the Decades) is that they couldn't be planned ahead of time. The best moments happen spontaneously, which is a large appeal of watching game shows in the first place (the other large appeal is playing along at home, and "Wheel of Fortune" has no problems on that front). Changing the price of vowels or building a "new, more dynamic set" (what does that even mean?) won't give you more moments that make people want to tune in.
You may not be able to force the show to feel fresh, but you can certainly give people something to talk about. The Price is Right is older than Wheel and in addition to letting the moments happen naturally ($7,000 hammock guy, crashing into George, etc.), they've tried theme shows (though not at the same clip as Wheel), but they've also had celebrities on the show. Usually it's a modelling gig but, for at least two years, they actually had them playing the game. Snoop Dogg's episode was highly memorable and made the news at the time for the moments created. Wheel of Fortune has seemingly shied away from their celebrity and celeb/contestant games for some reason. Seeing celebrities play the game can certainly bring in a few more eyeballs. Jeopardy! has done their invitational tournament and a Power Players week in the last five years, while Wheel has done nothing. Hell, even Family Feud dipped their hand into the well since Harvey's been at the helm. While you can't manufacture moments, you can certainly augment the atmosphere and conditions to create the greater opportunity for one to happen.

The argument behind raising the vowel cost is to make it harder to buy vowels. What does discouraging vowel-buying do to help the show? The savvy player is in there buying vowels as soon as possible in order to figure out the puzzle nice and early so as to capitalize. By taking that away, you lessen the likelihood of big wins and increase the likelihood of long drawn-out puzzles. Neither of which would appeal much to the viewing audience.
But was this a problem 39 years ago? The price of vowels has been $250, and back then that was more than the minimum on the wheel. Depending on the spin and the puzzle, it might take more than a spin to be able to call only one vowel. People still fell in love with the show regardless of how long it took to solve the puzzle, which honestly wasn't long and wouldn't become longer if people the price were raised since the minimum values on the wheel have been raised. While raising the price of vowels might not help the show, it would hardly hurt it either.
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TLEberle

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Re: How to keep Wheel fresh?
« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2014, 12:47:34 PM »
While you can't manufacture moments, you can certainly augment the atmosphere and conditions to create the greater opportunity for one to happen.
On the contrary: Family Feud has shown that you can do exactly that. To your other point, you're right: just about every other game show out there provides a better conduit for those viral bits than does Wheel of Fortune, other than blooper solve attempts and the like. When Millionaire crowned their first few winners, it was big news and the winners became famous to varying degrees. Who among the viewing populace remembers Wheel's seven-figure winners anymore, or even the gal who solved with one letter?

To the original question: Wheel could be more fresh if they'd wander off the reservation every once in a bit.
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BrandonFG

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Much as I detest the manufactured moments or prepackaged contestants so many shows use, people with personalities wouldn't hurt. There was a very memorable (if not infamous) contestant from about 20 years ago named Raymond, who had become a bit of a celebrity on the show at that time*. I seem to remember the audience going nuts when Pat introduced him. Those two brothers whose appearances were posted on the AV forum also come to mind.

The contestants today are pretty faces with little personality...which probably explains why they're so calm about winning the bonus round. You can have fun loving contestants who aren't annoying. Even Jeopardy contestants seem less robotic.

*He apparently caused a stir by hanging out at the studio a few years later.
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aaron sica

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*He apparently caused a stir by hanging out at the studio a few years later.

Raymond was banned permanently from the set, no?