This evening, CBS paid tribute to Bob Barker, who is hanging up his long, skinny mic after nearly 35 years of hosting The Price is Right.
And while watching last night's TPIR "Million Dollar Spectacular", I was again reminded of what reality might well face us in the near future: that the new host for Price will be rejected by the viewing public as if it were the wrong kind of transplanted kidney. I hope there is life after Bob on the show, that CBS and Freemantle will make a good decision on Barker's successor (Todd Newton, I feel, could pull it off), and the program remains a fixture of the 11:00 (EST) timeslot. Because if it doesn't work, TPIR will be toast. And that would mean, for the first time in television history, we'll have a daytime schedule without a single game show on it.
I had one of those 'wistful nostalgic' attacks while watching one of the "showcase showdown" segments. The wheel has seen only minor, cosmetic changes in more than 30 years (mainly adding the green color to "5" and "15" bookending the coveted "$1.00" space, when the 'bonus spin' was added. That would've been some time in the '80s, I think). That same wheel I watched being spun in March 1976 when I was laid up for a week with chicken pox and scarlet fever.
You think that's something? Ponder this: That theme you hear day after day at 11:00 in the morning is the same, identical recording produced by Score Productions for the show when it premiered on Labor Day, September 4, 1972. No changes in tempo, no rewrites, no rearrangements. The same recording, played for nearly 35 years.
Here's the opening sequence from Day One:
That voice you heard, of course, was legendary announcer Johnny Olsen. The audience is very sedate. Johnny says "Stand up!", not "COME ON DOWN!!"
Personally I think Bob Barker is an arrogant, egotistical radical ogre who wielded a little too much control over the show. The program -- the SACRED TABLET -- is bigger than who stands on the stage with that '70s style CBS mic. Most of us know the shady circumstances under which some of the so-called "Barker's Beauties" left. Vanna White and her multiple botox'ed face will never hold a candle to Janice, Diane and ..... (sigh) .... Holly.
TPIR is not a show I go out of my way to watch, but I do enjoy it from time to time. More than anything else, I take great comfort in that theme. In that wheel. In some of the basic formatics which have been little-changed since 1972.
I'm more than a little uneasy about what's going to happen after Barker's last show. A part of me fears the great unknown. I don't want to ponder an 11:00 timeslot without The Price is Right.
Most of all, I don't want to ponder a daytime without a single network game show on it.
Ciao for niao.
--Talmadge "Dammit! Why didn't I keep the first showcase? This one's full of FURNITURE!" Gleck
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