The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

October 21, 2007

Who’s Price is it Anyway?

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — Brian Lutz @ 12:14 am

As a general rule, I tend not to watch a whole lot of television, and what little television I do watch consists mainly of Discovery Channel and Food Network.  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.  When Bob Barker retired from his 35 years of hosting the show earlier this year, no successor had been  chosen at the time, which resulted in a fair bit of uncertanity about the future of the show, and just as much speculation over who would take over Bob’s skinny microphone.  Over on the Price is Right board that I read, the speculation seemed to lean toward Todd Newton, who had the most game show experience of the four leading candidates for the job, and also had been hosting the Price is Right live show in Las Vegas.  It was something of a surprise when Drew Carey’s name came up, since he hadn’t even been speculated on before he managed to impress the CBS executives with his hosting of Power of 10, which ultimately resulted in his getting the Price is Right gig without an audition. 

At the same time, the set for the show has received its first major overhaul in the history of the show, a move which sent a number of purists on the moderately obsessive TPIR board I read  into a rather predictable tizzy.  In spite of this, the set really has not changed all that much.  All three doors and the turntable are pretty much in the same places as before, but the doors are completely new, and the turntable has changed drastically (there are pictures at the CBS Price is Right site if you haven’t seen it yet.)  Another less drastic change for this season is the ability to watch a week’s worth of full episodes of the show online (with limited commercials, but it works for users in the USA only) through CBS’s website, which might help make the show more accessible to the highly sought after  “people with jobs” demographic, which doesn’t take enough sick days to be a big target market for daytime television.  Even for the diehard TPIR fans, this provides an opportunity to watch the show without needing to record it, and without having to wade through twenty minutes of commercials for diabetes testing supplies and powered wheelchairs every day.  After the jump, some of my impressions of the show after the first week of the new season.

Now the first week of TPIR in the post-Barker era has aired, and we’ve seen Drew Carey hosting the show for several episodes.  In spite of the change of host and scenery, surprisingly enough I’d have to say that not much has really changed here.  The pricing games and the audiences seem to be the same as they always were, and even with a completely overhauled set, the difference as seen on camera isn’t nearly as drastic as I had originally expected it to be.  Even with new doors with modernized lighting, the set is still immediately recognizeable to any experienced TPIR viewer.  Of course, if some of the purists among the show’s fanbase had their way, we’d still have the rainbow border doors from the Eighties and the padded green, purple and orange walls on the turntable, so not everyone is going to be happy with it.  I suspect that if it weren’t for Bob Barker wanting to keep being able to use his “35 years and nothing’s changed” line, they could have done this a number of years ago. 

 Although it is obvious from the first few episodes (the first few weeks of shows will be shown out of taping order) that Drew Carey is still trying to get used to the role, I suspect that with some practice, he should be able to handle the hosting job quite well.  I did have some concerns that he might have some trouble toning down his material to make it suitable for a family audience (anyone who has seen The Drew Carey Show or Who’s Line is it Anyway? will know what I mean here) but he does seem to be able to keep things in check (for the camera, at least) and aside for a few scattered wisecracks manages to play it reasonably straight.  There are a few signs that he is still trying to figure out how he will host the show in the long run (in particular, I find that his asking contestants at the big wheel if they’d like to say hi to anybody while it spins seems just a bit too forced) but for the most part he provides a genial, enthusiastic emcee to the show and keeps the focus on the contestants.  In some cases, I also think he might do a bit better job explaining the rules of some of the pricing games, but he’s still in the process of learning the 70+ pricing games currently in the rotation, so this can be forgiven for the time being.

If the batch of contestants that showed up on this first week of shows is any indication, he might also have his hands full with this one.  There must be something in the water over at Television City, but so far, the contestants this season seem a lot more hyperactive than the ones who made it up to the stage while Bob Barker was still there.  Part of this may just be cherry-picking by the producers to put together a good premiere week for the season, but I suspect that having a host more likely to survive whatever might happen when a Samoan wins a car contributes to this too.  Another factor here might be the fact that the first week also featured a fair bit of winning, with two perfect (6 for 6 on pricing games) shows, several $1,000 winners and a $10,000 winner on the wheel.  Either way, the contestants seem to be just a bit wilder than usual, and I’m not entirely sure why this is the case.

All in all, I think that Drew should be able to handle the show just fine once he gets used to it.  One of the things I saw on the TPIR board I noted above was that when they were in the process of looking for a new host, a lot of people on the TPIR board I mentioned above were hoping for another Bob Barker, and disliked the choice of Drew Carey for that reason.  It’s clear that Drew Carey is no Bob Barker, but it’s also clear from watching him in action that he doesn’t necessarily need to be Bob Barker to do a good job of hosting the show.  As long as he respects the history of the show, and keeps the focus more on the show itself and the contestants, he should be able to do a fine job with hosting once he gets the hang of it and gets all the pricing games down. 


1 Comment »

  1. Hello TPIR-lovers and friends! We just wanted to say hello and tell you about “Come On Down! The Road to ‘The Price Is Right'”- a documentary feature film about fans of TPIR. Please visit our new blog to watch a teaser of the film. Please pass the link along to all of your friends!

    Team “Come On Down!”

    Comment by Come On Down! — March 29, 2008 @ 10:32 am

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