It's time to play TV hide-and-seek. Next week, syndicated shows are starting their new seasons. It's the time of year when viewers hunt for the shows they love, mourn shows that are gone and keep scrolling up and down their TV channels to make certain they haven't missed them — sort of like staring into the refrigerator and thinking that if you check enough times, you'll find that slice of key lime pie. It's not happening, but perhaps the slice of cherry pie in the fridge will do.
Syndication is fairly simple. Networks like Fox and The CW have never had daytime programming. They have always filled those hours with syndicated offerings. Their local affiliates purchase and air syndicated fare. Ditto for 7-8 p.m. Local affiliates do syndicated shows from 3-5 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.
So the NBC affiliate in New York may air a certain syndicated show while the one in Los Angeles doesn't. Take a bite of other shows or new ones.
Syndicated judge shows rule, from "The People's Court" to "Judge Judy" to "Hot Bench."
"These are not actors" cases flood the airwaves. Next come talk shows like Dr. Oz and Kelly and whomever.
In the '40s and '50s, scripted shows like "Death Valley Days," hosted by one day-President Ronald Reagan, were in the pack. The same went for Abbott and Costello, Davey and Goliath and Heckle and Jeckle, America's favorite magpies.
Oprah was the queen of syndication. Ellen now has that title. She has been renewed until 2022.
Game shows are the behemoth. "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" are the big guns. Alex Trebek, who's battling stage IV pancreatic cancer, is back. Do not miss his first day back, Sept. 9. He looks and sounds great. He began taping in July. Those in the know say the sometimes-brusque game show host is funnier, kinder, gentler. But you still have to get the answer right to get his approval.
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" with Chris Harrison has been axed. Meredith Vieira, who hosted that show after Regis Philbin, has a new game show,
Judge Joe Brown, who exited his Judge show in 2013, is back with a talk show. Other yakkers include Kelly Clarkson, Tamron Hall and, of course, Dr. Phil. Some may quibble that Dr. Phil is not a talk show host but a problem-solver. Dr. Phil does spend lots of time offering advice. He also spend lots of time talking about his wonderfulness, his wife and his sons and promoting all the "this place is the finest for" whatever.
When NBC's channels said goodbye to Steve Harvey, they said hello to Kelly Clarkson. If you need more Steve, he still hosts the syndicated version of "Family Feud."
Megastars like Queen Latifah, Harry Connick Jr., Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric and Jane Pauley did not shine. None of them lasted more than two years. Couric barely made it for a season.
My favorite newcomer is almost an oldcomer. Jerry Springer saw his chat show canceled. Now you can call him Judge Jerry. He will hear those real cases and end with one of his heartwarming closings.
There are a couple of shows that trudge on, such as "Maury." I love Maury. I worked with him for years when he had a conventional talk show. Great guy. Although, he did parade around the studio sans shirt. Now he's all, "Who's the baby's daddy?" And his former bodyguard Steve Wilkos trudges on. How did he get a talk show in the first place?
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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