Saturday, June 03, 2006

My favourite moments on The Price Is Right

* Bob Barker's annoyed demeanor when someone is taking too long to bid. Every once in a while some clown in Contestant's Row or on stage is continually looking to his friends in the audience to get advice on what to do, and Bob has to gently remind them to make a move. He waits a few seconds, naturally, since Bob is a gentleman and he doesn't want to rush someone into making a move that could cost them a car/dinette set/trip to Tokyo, etc. After about 10 seconds, however, Bob's next reminder is slightly more pointed. "Jim, what is your bid?" he'll ask, with just a twinge more of a schoolteacher-esque authoritative tone to his voice. If it takes any longer, Bob removes all pretense and flat-out asks "Jim, what is your bid?" I've never seen anyone take any longer than this, since no person -- no matter how clueless -- really wants to push Bob Barker beyond the breaking point.

* When an elderly or feeble contestant can't spin the wheel during the Showcase Showdown and Bob has to help them. This gets increasingly hilarious as the years go by, since Bob Barker is now 82 years old. How pathetic are you if you need help from an octagenarian to complete a physical activity? How heavy can that wheel possibly be?

* One or more of the four contestants who start the show are still there at the end. I have a very strong sense of fairness in me, but I can't help feel sorry for some poor schlub who just can't get out of Contestant's Row. Imagine getting the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually be called down on Price is Right, and then losing all six chances to get on stage and win the car/dinette set/trip to Barcelona, etc. When would panic set in? After two losses? Three? The end of the show always has that pan shot of the three remaining C's R players, and the ones who have been there the longest always have a strained smile on their face. It's awesome. I also feel bad for the last contestant whose name is called, since that's their one shot. If they didn't get up on stage, that's it for them -- what are the odds they'd ever get called again if they attended another taping? Talk about a pressure cooker of a situation.

* When you shake your head at the new announcer's inability to carry Rod Roddy's jockstrap. Seriously, the new announcer doesn't have an ounce of Rod's charisma. It's depressing. Rod is spinning in his sequined grave.

* When they play the crappy "Double Prices" game. This is the one where Bob shows the contestant the prize and two possible prices, and then the player has to guess what the price actually is. That's the whole goddamn game. I once saw a show where this game preceded by Lucky $even (the toughest TPiR game, in my opinion), and decided it must've been a case of the producers just being mean.

* Their little skits to introduce the Showcases. They're so awful. One recent skit had one of the models dressed as a bee, as the theme was "prizes that show what a bee's day is like." This young woman (who only wanted to get into show business as a way of escaping the claustrophobic small-town pressures of her family and the boy she left behind and, dammit, doesn't everyone deserve a shot at that brass ring we call fame?) gamely 'buzzed' around the stage, though such prizes as a year's supply of flowers from FTD and a new car -- since bees ostensibly fly in your open windows. The skit ended with her acting as if she was scared by a giant cardboard cutout of bug spray that looked as if it cost all of $3 to make. Don't worry, a giant can of bug spray wasn't one of the prizes, it was just the end of the skit. Hey wait a second, that would be awesome; totally random prizes. If you saw a 7 foot-by-4 foot can of bug spray, would you know how much it would cost? Hell no. That would really throw me off.

* When Bob Barker is introduced and the audience goes batshit crazy. Whenever you're feeling down, watch the first minute of The Price Is Right. You can't help but smile at the studio audience's pure joy when Bob Barker steps out from behind that sliding door with his little stutter step. Bob owns us all.

* When one contestant bids $1, and the next contestant bids $2. The $1 bidder usually shoots the $2 bidder a big "fuck you" face after this occurs. I once saw a legendary streak of bidding when the first contestant of the four bid $1, and the next person bid $2. The third person (a pretty out-of-it old woman) bid something like $400, and contestant #4 bid $401. The prize was something like an electric guitar, so contestant #4 won easily. Bob had a good chuckle about it on stage, saying something like "The #1 bid is a good strategy, but you have to know when to use it!" Pwned.

* When the audience's energy noticably dies down after the last contestant is called from the audience. This is TPiR's episodic shark-jumping moment. After that sixth game is played, frankly, I have a hard time watching the rest of the program since I don't overly care who makes it to the Showcase Showdown, and neither does the audience. In any other game show, the audience is hooked on the climax, but TPiR is designed so that the real voyeuristic pleasure for the audience is in the one-in-300 chance they'll actually be to be a part of the action. It's like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book where you get the final secton and they suddenly don't give you any choices for a few pages. You're like "WTF? Now I'm just reading a book."

* When both people overbid on the final Showcase. Speaking of anti-climax, the double overbid on the Showcases is basically the worst way a show could possibly end, and yet it's never all that bad. If the two people have already won (for example) a car, a dinette set and a trip to Busch Gardens between them, should I really be all that sad if either of them fail to add to their haul? Nope.

* When one of the Showcase contestants is clearly not impressed by their Showcase. The top winner going into the final gets first pick, so it's funny enough when the first Showcase is awesome and the top winner bids, thus leaving the second contestant with what can clearly be called the dregs. It's even funnier when the top winner passes, and then has to sit and watch as the second Showcase proceeds to suck the bag. I can never understand their depression, frankly. If you don't like the prizes, just sell them later.

* The close-ups of the models. When the announcer (the anti-Rod) is describing some tiny product like a box of antacid tablets or something, the model holds it right up to her face and gives a big grin. However, there's only so excited one person can be about a box of antacids, and the smile becomes more strained as the product description goes on and on. I'm a fan of the "smile-take a look back at the box-look back up and smile knowingly" strategy. Despite being outnumbered by roughly a three-to-one margin, I have every confidence that the Barker's Beauties would decimate the Deal/No Deal models in a street fight. I just feel they're more competant.

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