The Hub's Game Show Offerings
Originally posted: November 5, 2010

This is something that could have passed me by and I wouldn't have noticed. It's also pretty much buried in my DirecTV package with other networks I don't really watch like Disney XD, MSNBC & G4 (well, aside from Ninja Warrior, but that channel got yanked from my package because they are in yet another battle over clearance fees, so I can't watch it, even if I wanted too.) But then, I got an e-mail from a fan of the site named Oliver L. He sent me this message.

"First off, I'm a huge fan of the site, so keep up the good work! I was wondering where your commentaries were for Pictureka and Family Game Night. Thanks very much!"

Well, Oliver. Thank you for reminding me. So now, here are my views on both of the Hub's new game shows.

Firstly, some back story. The Hub was the phoenix that rose from the ashes of the old Discovery Kids network. Mainly funded by Hasbro, it's mainly a revival of the old Family Channel from back in the early-mid 90s. They do have some original programming in the form of new cartoons, including a new Transformers cartoon called Transformers: Prime. What might also make the old-school TV watchers happy is that it's home to the 80s GI Joe & Transformers cartoons, classic Sitcoms like Happy Days & Family Ties & most importantly, the 1960s Batman TV show. I think it's the first time it's been reran since FX stopped rerunning good shows in the late 1990s. But, I'm getting off topic. They have pretty much a good core for developing new programming, led by former VP of GSN, Bob Boden. With Bob Boden and a host of others, they have developed two new game shows for the new network in Pictureka & Family Game Night, both based off of Hasbro properties or trademarks. Let's start with Pictureka.

Pictureka: Pictureka is a show that features two teams of three, led by a pair of brothers or sisters. The first round involves going out to the audience and grabbing your color fish. Each fish nabbed of your color is worth 10 fish points. The show uses Fish Points instead of regular points. It's in the same vein as Temptation Dollars instead of regular dollars, but it's a kids game show, so whimsy is always a good thing. Afterwards, we get to meet the teams & their parent partner & they play the part of a character from the Pictureka home game. Then they play round 2, a simple Find it game where the parents must find one of the many Pictureka characters out there and put it in their team colored bin. Each one is worth 20 fish points. I dig this because it reminds me of when on Finders Keepers, they went into the house and had to find the object.

The second half of the game rotates from show to show, so I'm just going to delve on the games that I saw. The third round has the teams finding an object, then having to go through a ball pit of sorts and depositing the object in their end of the ball pit for 40 Fish Points. They tag their partner and they repeat the same thing with a new object that host Cory Almeida would tell them to get. They would repeat that until they get all 3, then they have to find the Final Fish Ball in the ball pit, which is about the size of a small beach ball, while the rest are basic ball pit balls. The team that get this ball wins a bonus of 25 Fish Points. It's a good idea to have the mix of games for this round, as it will not cause stagnation of the show.

The final round I saw in this episode was called 3 for 1. The team that's behind starts first and is harnessed together. Cory will ask for an object that distinguishes it from the others. The first kid has to grab it and put it in the bin for 50 fish points. Then another item will be asked for, and the other kid will grab that item and place it in the bin for 60 Fish Points, the third one will be grabbed by the adult for 70 Fish Points and so on and so forth for 60 seconds. After the 60 seconds, the other team comes out to try to win the game. One thing of note. You must grab the item and get it in the bin. It can't be handed to you by your partner, otherwise it doesn't count and you don't get the points. The team with the most points after this round wins and plays the end game, called The Penguin Prize Hunt.

I'll state that I love the name of that bonus game alone. The team gets shown a grid of 9 Penguins for 10 seconds. They have to memorize what the penguins looked like. Then, one at a time, they have to grab a penguin that they saw in the grid and place it in the right position. They tag their partner and do it again, then tag the parent partner and do it all over again until the 90 seconds is up. During the bonus game, they are allowed one Time Out, which would stop the clock & show the grid again for 10 more seconds. After the 90 seconds are up, the penguins that are placed correctly are given the check mark while the others are discarded. One of the squares in the grid has the grand prize trip behind it. If they had correctly placed a penguin in that square, they win the trip. If not, then they get a cool consolation prize, which was some sort of Game Table.

Firstly, for a kids show, this is right up there. I'm not saying it's the next Double Dare or Legends of the Hidden Temple, but it's a very enjoyable show. The set, albeit sometimes monochromatic, is very nicely put together and I like the Live Theme song done there. Cory Almeida is alright, he's not the next Summers or Roth or Lee, but at least he's not as grating as most kids game show hosts are. & it combines Finders Keepers & Get the Picture, two good shows. It's not going to be appointment viewing, but it's definitely worth a look.

Grade: B

Now, while Pictureka is a good show, the networks Flagship show, Family Game Night, is just as good as Pictureka, if not better.

Family Game Night: Hosted by the always energetic & effective Todd Newton, 2 teams of 4 compete in larger than life versions of Hasbro's most well known properties such as Boggle, Guesstures, Operation, Bop It, among others. The teams compete for Monopoly Crazy Cash Cards, so we kinda get something akin to Break The Bank 85's bonus round, which wasn't that bad when you look back at it. The game starts off with a round of Guess Who? where Todd reads off some facts about a famous person. The first team to correctly guess the famous person gets first dibs at the cash cards. Both teams get one and then 5 more can be won throughout the night playing various games. There are tons of games that get rotated throughout the show, and with the amount of games in their catalog to choose from, the show won't seem stale, although a couple games are permanent fixtures of the show.

One game that most people seem to enjoy is Guesstures Freefall. One member of the team is the guesser, while the other three members are suspended in mid-air and have to act out the words. It's kind of a hassle sometimes when some words are better acted out when you use your feet. The guesser has 2 minutes to guess as many words or actions as they can. They can pass if they want to, which results in a very humorous drop, the likes not seen on a game show since Russian Roulette. Each correct guess is worth 10 points, and the winner gets a Monopoly Crazy Cash Card of their choosing and a prize for the family.

Another one of my favorites is probably the most simple game in Connect 4 Basketball. The teams call out a column and try to shoot it in the column. Normally, this is just a calling their shot moment because more often than not, it goes into another column, which is fine. First team to get Connect 4 wins the game and the Crazy Cash Card of their choosing and a prize for the family.

After 5 games, the Crazy Cash Machine comes out and the teams claim their monetary winnings. The team with the least amount of cards goes first, which is normally 3. All the Cash Cards are worth money, but one is the Super Cash Card which is worth somewhere in the range of $10,000-$20,000. Now for a start-up cable channel, that's some pretty big money. Whoever winds up with the most cash wins the grand prize, which is a good size family trip to Jamaica or Hawaii or some other exotic locale, which is perfectly fine with me.

What I really enjoy about this show is the set. It's absolutely humongous, and for good reason to be able to fit a majority of the games, especially the Bop It Boptagon & the Operation Obstacle Course, both really good games in their own right. Not to mention, everything just seems to run smoothly and it all works. The music, while isn't as awesome as the Pictureka theme, is ok. Both Todd Newton and announcer Burton Richardson do great jobs in their roles & it just goes to show that when you have the right people in the right positions, you make magic.

Grade: B+