Text by: Robert Seidelman
GSN in 2013 shattered expectations for the little network that could. With success stories in the Steve Harvey Family Feud reruns, new episodes of Minute To Win It, the debut of the Chase and the still mega-success of The American Bible Challenge, along with daytime gets in new episodes of Press Your Luck, the return of Blockbusters to the schedule and the debuts of both Sale of the Century and Shop Til You Drop were met with much adjulation to the point where both shows have extended runs on the network with Sale moving from a batch of 65 episodes from the end of the NBC run to the beginning of the Syndicated run and Shop Til You Drop just recently went from just the 2000 episodes to what is appearing to be all 180 episodes from 2000-2002. So, what does the crystal ball have in store for 2014?
Well, if the ratings are any indicator, expect Mind of a Man to be a 1 season wonder. With an average of 300k viewers from it's debut and the overflow of repeats making the bottom 10, it's looking to be a missed step for GSN. Like I said in the review, it was a good concept, just that it was executed horribly. DeRay Davis should get another show, but more attune to his style. This is my problem with the block scheduling in prime-time for half-hour shows. You make your viewer sit through blocks of new shows, and that hardly works. I remember ESPN doing it with Stump The Schwab in Season 3, and that led to a cancellation and subsequent cheap revival on ESPN Classic where it died after just one season. It looked like it also took down Sherriwed, since it's been around a year and no word if that is getting Season 7. The show looked like it was meant to be a 5 a week strip, but the last time they did that, it was with Pyramid and that turned out to be a 1-season wonder as well, even if current ratings are dictating that it shouldn't be.
I also expect two revivals of past shows to be either announced or debuting. After the rousing success of Chain Reaction, getting above 500k viewers regularly these past couple of months, it has since disappeared from the schedule. My instincts tell me that talks are proceeding with another run of either 40 or 65 shows. The problem is that it would require a redone set and host, since Dylan Lane has basically disappeared from the face of the earth after the original got cancelled. I would also put some stock in them thinking about reviving The Pyramid. Recent examples of ratings have it getting post 400k in viewership after cancellation in a 2:30 timeslot along with Catch 21. I'm certain Mike Richards and JD Roberto would welcome the extra work and it shouldn't be hard to come up with 16 celebs better than the Turturros to play the game. Heck, Jamie Farr and Betty White could make for a fun week.
Then we get to the three other shows that they are hoping to be hits in 2014. American Bible Challenge Season 3 drops in the Summer, if the ads are anything to go by. This is more of a sure thing than anything else they have on the network since it's completely original and has a devout fanbase that will watch it, especially since it's huge with the evangelical crowd, which helped it average 800k last season and gave GSN The biggest single rating it pulled in its history in 1.7 million. I would think that this will be back for Season 4, I just wonder what is taking them so long to air it. I don't know if it's scheduling issues or something else, but I will be shocked if it doesn't get at least 600k in viewership.
On the inverse side you have two reality based shows in It Takes A Church and Skin Wars. It Takes A Church has been garnering a lot of mixed press lately from the evangelical crowd. Some are saying it's going to be ok, while others are not too thrilled that a church is being used to further a relationship that should come naturally. I'm going to side with the negative press. It looks really half-hearted and reminds me of the days of Meet My Folks and For Love Or Money, which were really terrible programs and didn't catch on with the GSN crowd. Baggage seemed to be the only one worth watching. This looks like to be a one and done and sadly will be paired up with Bible Challenge.
Then you got Skin Wars, which is poised to be this years Family Trade of GSN. Running for 8 hour long episodes in the summer of 2014, the show is basically Ink Master with body paints. Here's my biggest problem with this. Anytime GSN tries a reality show, it falls hard. GSN failed with The American Dream Derby, failed with Carnie Wilson: Unforgivable, failed with Family Trade and this will be a gigantic failure as well. I did a Google Search for the Skin Wars press release and found a sizzle reel for Skin Wars...for sponsorships. Yes, I understand that this wasn't meant for public release, since it's on Vimeo and nobody uses it. But it's kinda disheartening that you don't tell the sponsors about any part of the show and try to sell them on it. It comes off as cheap. This may be the biggest bomb that GSN lays this year. It won't be Family Trade bomb-worthy, but still down there.
One last thing...If the Chase doesn't get a Season 3 based on what it's
doing, then GSN has lost the plot. It's a great show, Brooke and
the Beast are doing well and nothing should stop them from Season 3.