Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reminiscing About Game Shows Past... Part 2

Some people call it a guilty pleasure. Others call it the best daytime game show of all time. I tend to fall into the second category. The Price is Right. Or at least it WAS right.

Who didn't watch The Price is Right on days you were home sick from school? Or during summer break? The chances are you did. You watched and you rooted for different contestants. You snickered when the women would attack Bob Barker and kiss him on stage. You drooled over Barker's Beauties. It was cheesy. It was campy. It was the 1970s in a big package wrapped up with a bow of awesome on it.

Other game shows you could watch and not be too interested. They would make good background noise. But The Price is Right was different. You cheered at the enthusiasm contestants had when they came on down! You yelled your bids at the screen right along with them. You would guess what the next pricing game would be, and you would have your favorite pricing games, sometimes even being sad if they didn't play that game that day. You would watch the big wheel spin during the Showcase Showdown and know immediately if it was spinning fast enough to get all the way around. And you especially liked it when there was a strong person spinning the wheel, as you wondered if it could break from its bearings and roll into the audience. You probably had a brother who was convinced there was someone behind the wheel stopping it at certain points for certain contestants. You always knew whether to pass on the first showcase or bid on it, depending on level of cool it had.

And you always waited and cheered when a contestant was playing for a BRAND NEW CAR!!!!

It was fun. It was fast. It had games of chance and games of skill. It made you pay attention more when you went grocery shopping with your parents. It rocked.

But it wasn't just the game show. It was the host. And it was the models.

Bob Barker was the epitome of cool and calm. He was the only host who could pull off that long, skinny microphone as long as he did. You cheered for him when he would try to get his golf on and sink a practice putt on Hole in One (or Two). Even when you saw Bob Barker in other media, you had to smile. Who didn't enjoy his knock-down, drag-out brawl with Happy Gilmore?

And then there were Barker's Beauties. Yea, they changed the models over the years, but the ones who were around the longest, the ones who were burned into many a young boy's puberty-driven mind, were Holly Hallstrom, Dian Parkinson (the short blonde), and Janice Pennington (the tall blonde), and Kathleen Bradley. You thought their outfits were interesting. You respected them a whole lot more than Vanna White as they didn't just turn letters that lit up.

Ok, so maybe the work environment was not the best (given all the accusations and lawsuits which came about between the Beauties and Barker), but that didn't effect the quality of the show. (And honestly, who didn't say "Way to go, Bob!" privately when finding out that he and Dian Parkinson were getting it on?) Even when the original Beauties left (or were fired), the show still maintained its same level of entertainment value.

You still watched. You watched for the rarities. You wanted to see if someone got the initial bid correct and had to fish in Bob Barker's pocket for a spare Benjamin he had there... until they stopped doing that (darn lawsuits again). You wanted to see how loud the audience would boo if a contestant couldn't get the Big Wheel all the way around. Then you wanted to see if someone would win $1000 and get a bonus spin (for an extra $5000 or $10000)! You especially wanted to see someone win the showcase and have their bid be wrong by less than $100 (without going over) and win BOTH showcases! You watched because you wanted to see it. Because you wanted to be able to tell someone that you saw it happen.

You even started thinking about the pet population and possibly spaying or neutering your pet.

And you thought about one day being on the show. You thought about being in the audience and getting the call from Johnny Olsen (RIP) or Rod Roddy (RIP) to COME ON DOWN! You wanted to bid $1 just for the hell of it, just to say that you did it. You wanted to play Plinko, because you were sure you knew exactly where to drop that Plinko chip. You even remember when they first introduced Plinko as a new game!

These thoughts stayed with you. You might have pretended to play at home with your family. You might have secretly watched it whenever you could. And when a friend of yours from college went to California for a vacation and went to a taping of The Price is Right (and was chosen as a contestant), you cheering for her was only surpassed by your envy of her (lucky Tanya!).

You had other favorites over the years, but they were mostly flings. You had a sizzling affair with Press Your Luck, but it didn't last. Other game shows even tried to be all fancy and bring the bling, but you always returned to your true love, The Price is Right.

Then Bob Barker retired.

And now the show is simply unwatchable.

Drew Carey is a geeky comic. We watched The Drew Carey Show for a couple seasons, but it jumped the shark quickly. We might have even watched you on your Americanized version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? But a game show host you are not. Not in the least bit. Stop pretending to be.

Mr. Carey, you're trying, and we know that. But it just doesn't work. First of all, why did you have them repaint the set and make it look all modern. Part of the fun was the old 70s feel of the set. It was a time warp type of thing. Secondly, you never saw Bob Barker laughing at his own jokes. Because he knew the show was not about him. He was simply the host of of something more incredible than one man. Third, while we appreciate you continuing to remind us about the pet population, it just reminds us that you aren't as cool as Bob Barker. Sorry.

I wish I could rant on and on about how Drew Carey has ruined The Price is Right. But as I said above, the show is simply unwatchable. And if you can't get through the show, you can't pick out all the bad things about it. At this point, everyone would be better off if the show was just removed from the air and left to die with whatever dignity it still retains.


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