The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

June 15, 2007

Come on Down

Filed under: Culture — Brian Lutz @ 10:13 pm

As you might have heard Bob Barker’s final episode of The Price is Right was aired this morning, marking the end of a career of 50 years spent in television (and 35 years on TPIR.)  Since it’s kind of hard to not notice somone handing out cars and appliances on national TV for 35 years, I suspect there are very few people in this country who don’t know who Bob Barker is (although there might be a few who asked themselves “Wow, is he still around?” when they heard of his retirement.)  In my case, The Price is Right with Bob hosting the show has been around for as long as I have (and several years more.  By the time I managed to show up, Bob had already been dishing out fabulous prizes for nearly six years. )

 As I was growing up, I was a frequent viewer of the show.  Although part of this was due to the fact that there wasn’t much else on at that time of day besides soap operas, the show’s brightly colored set and seemingly endless variety of pricing games seemed to hold my notoroiusly short attention span quite well (although, to be honest, I think the big “CRASH” graphic that showed up when a contestant lost at Hurdles might have freaked me out a time or two.)  To be honest, I really don’t remember a whole lot of particulars about the show back then (thankfully, nowdays the Internet can fill in the gaps for you, and let you know exactly how faulty your recollection of things really is  I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, to be honest.)  Over the years, as I went through school and onward, I ended up having a lot less opportunity to watch the show (although I’d catch it occasionally when I had the chance) until I eventually I was just too busy to watch the show. 

 It wasn’t until early last year, when I got an opportunity to attend a taping down in Hollywood, that my interest in the show was renewed.  In the course of my web-surfing to try to figure out how to get on the show and win a new car , I came across, a Price is Right fansite with all sorts of fascinating backstage photos, an active community of TPIR fans, instant summaries of every episode (right down to the price of the antacid and how many cents Joe got on his second spin on the wheel) and even a number of fantasy games in the forum based on the show. I found myself sticking around (although the membership of the site was a little more involved with the show than I was) and recording episodes to watch when I got home from work.  In a way, it was nice to reacquaint myself with the show and catch up on it a bit, but I also found that the show wasn’t quite what I remembered.  Sure, Bob was still there, and most of what I remember of it was still around, but in a way it just didn’t quite have the same appeal to me as it used to back when I was home sick from school, bored on summer vacation or busy dodging one responsibility or another. 

Nonetheless, given the vast wasteland of network television, Bob Barker provided a nice little oasis of something you could actually stand to watch.  In a way, Price is something of a throwback to the days when you could make a decent game show without a slick, overproduced set, impossibly huge sums of money or excessive drama (although I will admit that Bob’s ability to string contestants along for that extra minute or so before finally revealing their fate is second-to-none, and has been one of the more entertaining parts of the show.)  When it first went on the air as The New Price is Right in 1972 (there was an earlier version of the show produced in the late Fifties and Sixties hosted by Bill Cullen, another master of game show hosting whose work I have only recently become acquainted with thanks to the Internet and GSN’s late-night offerings) the show was just one of several game shows running in the mornings on CBS.  It just happened that thanks to Bob’s hosting, it managed to outlast its contemporaries by more than three decades.  

 Although it will be somewhat weird to not see Bob Barker coming through the big doors at 10:02 every morning (and especially weird to see someone else doing the same,) in a way, The Price is Right is something that’s more of a childhood memory to me than something to keep watching every day 29 years down the line.  If you asked me what I remembered about the show 50 years from now, chances are that I’d be telling you about the garish green purple and orange turntable, the rainbow-outlined white doors, and Rod Roddy’s outlandish suits.   I am particualy glad that I had the opportunity to make it to the Bob Barker Studio at CBS Television City while its namesake was still on stage (even if I never did manage to win a car, or even get called down.)  I think I even have the “I need a new car, Bob” shirt buried somewhere in tbe backyard still. 

 They sure don’t make game show hosts like they used to, do they? 


1 Comment »

  1. […] In fact, for the most part, I pretty much ignore network television altogether.  As I stated in a previous post a few months ago, one of the very few exceptions I’ll make to this is The Price is Right.  […]

    Pingback by Who’s Price is it Anyway? « The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 — October 21, 2007 @ 12:14 am

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