December 16, 2008, Terry Kniess was presented a showcase of a trailer,
karaoke system and billiard table on The Price is Right. He bid $23,743,
and was exactly right. It was a feat that had happened only once before,
and back then on a showcase that was worth only $2,200. A historic
moment, to be sure, but the event is tempered by a couple of issues.
First is the fact that one audience member called out the exact total
while Terry looked into the crowd for help. I don't know if Terry had
previously met with the audience member, but it seems hard to believe
that a bid as specific as $23,743 could happen by chance. Most bids end
in -00, -000, or something "even". It is rare that a bid would be as
precise would be likely to come about randomly.
I'll point out at this point that the audience member in question has
attempted to memorize all of the prizes that are offered on the program.
He also posted about his "assistance" on a TPIR specific message board.
If our anonymous tipster had just kept quiet, it's possible that no one
would be the wiser. But he didn't.
So let's deal with this question: was there any cheating or
rule-breaking? No. The on-stage contestants are allowed to solicit help
from the crowd in any way they choose. I'm sure that the production team
hadn't figured that someone would go to the trouble to memorize the
answer book, but here we are. It's happened. We've crossed the Rubicon,
and given the speed with which a person can research things online,
we're not likely to go back.
I do think that the rules need to be looked at. And here's where things
get dicey. When you've built up your show on 35 years of a carnival
atmosphere where everyone gets to have their say at the top of their
lungs, you can't really tell them to keep quiet. You couldn't do that
any more than saying that the Big Wheel or Plinko were going out to the
wood chipper. You could dim the lights, making it less likely to
pinpoint who said what. You still have all the shouting, but you lose
that effect of one person ruining the game. A more expensive and quieter
solution would be to allow everyone to enter their guess on a keypad and
display the results on a screen for the showcase players. I know, it's a
pipe dream, but a guy can dream.
So now we move to host Drew Carey. Those in-the-know realize that there
was a 45-minute pause between the bids and the reveal as seen on
television. We also know that the pause was due to the producers
figuring out what to do. But after that, what should have been presented
as an awesome feat was presented by Drew as nothing special. I wasn't a
fan of Bob Barker for roughly the last five years of his career, but the
excitement in Bob's voice when a Double Showcase Win happened was
incredible. It is inexcusable to have Drew reveal the price as if he's
reciting a grocery list, even if he's tired, cranky or irritable. As
much as "game show host" isn't a character, he still puts on a show, and
cannot let anything get in the way of his performance.
All in all, it's sorta too bad that the "big event" is clouded by
questions of collusion, whether they're justified or not. If nothing
else, this will give the show impetus to address the questions about how
to deal with this sort of issue in the future.
Come on down and send your replies, questions or comments to Travis
Eberle at firstname.lastname@example.org.