Drew's First Year (or "New
Directions, Same Old Argument")
As of the day that this column is being released,
there is only a handful of shows
remaining until the end of Drew Carey's first season as host of "The Price Is
Right". What started as a frantic search for someone who could bear the weight
of succeeding the living legend Bob Barker metamorphosed into a new beginning
for the storied silent player of CBS's daytime schedule. Seems like yesterday
that the Drew-meister was tapped as Bob Barker's successor after doing a stellar
job as host of "Power of 10".
Even with the recent news that Roger Dobkowitz, the show's producer in some
capacity since the beginning, would no longer be with the show (according to the
post over at Golden-Road.net that broke the news, the show is heading another
way and he wasn't going to be a part of it), it's still a perfect time for an
assessment of the show, the host, and the direction both seem to be taking after
a year of missed inspiration putts, endless Cleveland Rocks t-shirts, a few
plugs for the Seattle Sounders FC, models with first names, the "greatest cookie
bag in the world", an appearances by Morris the Cat, the US Women's Soccer Team,
and some lunkhead who insisted on bidding $2 million on something. I made it a
point to forget his name.
One year before now, you could tell that Drew was nervous about stepping into
Bob's old shoes, somewhat worn for wear after endless walks down the Golden
Road. But he was at least adamant that his years of stand-up and improv acting
were training him for something bigger. Not only that, and this is something
that the whole of the fandom seemed to be in rare agreement on (after of course,
the standard song-and-dance of him not being Bob Barker and that the show would
never be the same)... He "got it." He wasn't Bob Barker. He wasn't even close.
He wasn't even trying to be.
Even so, Drew's not without his faults. One of
them being that he tends to forget that there's a flow to the show. Either that,
or the flow manages to outpace him. Often, you'll see him trip up on things that
are supposed to be made clear from the outset (one being that age old rule about
one-bid prizes going to the player who bids closest to the actual retail price
without going over). He does catch himself, but it seems like he's rushing a bit
into things when he doesn't need to.
Drew... it's an hour of light entertainment to
get you prepared for the long day ahead (to college students, anyway... hey...
it was MY "Today Show", alright?). The good news is that he recognizes it as
such. And he seems to be genuinely excited for the players when they win, and
equally despondent when they lose. And that's one of the benchmarks of a good
host. He's a conduit moving one point to another and at the same time, he's
there playing the game along with the rest of us.
And that brings us to the next point... He's one
of us. He recognizes the show and the history and legacy that comes with it.
Which makes him an all-too obvious choice for this gig. Sure they could've gone
with a seasoned professional, but do they really know the show, or are they just
going to wing it for the sake of another gig on down the line? Drew looks like
he wholeheartedly loves what he's doing, and that he'll give it whatever he has.
So where's the show going from here? It's obvious
that the powers that be want to center the show about its new host, but would
they really steer as far away from history as the die-hards have made it out to
The answer... hardly. After all, this is a
business, and like all businesses, the point of it all is to make a profit at
the end of the day. And you don't do that by killing the golden goose. It's an
unwritten rule that any changes should be to make the show better, more
entertaining, and more relevant to today's game show environment, to further the
evolution. For the last 36 years, it seems that Bob and company have been going
about the same rigmarole and, while we all enjoyed it, it was starting to get
stale. With Drew on board and a new production team headed by "Fingers" Greco
waiting in the wings, we can only wait... and hope...
Meanwhile, I offer this plea to TPIR fans
everywhere... I know that there's been some apprehension in the ranks to the
point where one of our friends went dark for a few days. The resulting furor I
commented as akin to "September 12", the day when everyone asked a collegective
"What the hell just happened?". Then came the speculation... and the familiar
catch phrase of premature disapproval, "I'll never watch again!"
To those that take their obsession THAT
seriously, I have two words... "Grow up."
Honestly, folks. Have you listened to yourself?
Do you realize how pathetic you sound? Do you get off on your self-imposed
culture of fear? I swear, if the President of the United States was going about
it, we would all have a fear of FremantleMedia's handling of the situation
before their press release due to (as the President) the history of
FremantleMedia and the capacity of their ability to terrorize us.
Granted FremantleMedia doesn't have the most glowing reputation, but still,
anyone ever heard of "benefit of the doubt"? Until we see for ourselves what the
premiere week of season 37 has in store, let's take everything we hear with a
grain of salt and not let us fall prey to the demons of our nature, hmmm? That
too much to ask? I didn't think so.
And if it is... well, you don't deserve to watch
the show you've claimed to idolize for the last 36 years.
There. I said it.
I leave my thoughts on this with a message of
thanks to Roger Dobkowitz for his multitude of years of service to the show he
loved, the genre he loved, and the network he loved. And, if they happen upon
this message, to the team of polished professionals he leaves behind, from
Fingers, Drew, Rich, Stan, Jeff, the Beauties, and everyone on down... A lot of
people are going to say that "The Price Is Right" is never going to be the same.
And it ISN'T going to be the same.
It'll be better... because of all of you. I trust
you to do the right thing, and I hope for the best. The show is good. It has
been good for the 36 years that has passed. And it'll continue to be good for
another 36 years when we're shaking our heads as to who could possibly replace
Drew Carey... God willing.
Game Show Alphabet Redux
"F". It has so many meanings. It could mean
"fail". It could mean... the opposite.
For our purposes, though... It means "Family". We
had Family Challenge... Family Feud, of course. The Family Game with Bob
Barker... Family Secrets with Bob Eubanks...
... but here's an underrated gem... "Family
Faceoff Hollywood", a short-lived series hosted by John Salley and Amy Davidson
on Nick at Nite. It combined physical challenges, and scavenger hunts until one
family remained standing out of the six that started the hunt. It only lasted
one season in 2004, although like many games from that age, it took orders for
players for season #2.
Shame we didn't get one, though.
25 Days That Rocked the Game Show World: Day
The first continuing game show series occurred on
radio a long time before you and I were born, but it wasn't until CBS ported its
operations toward commercial television when we saw...
July 2, 1941: The First Continuously Airing
Quiz Show on Television
NBC did air "Truth or Consequences" and "Uncle
Jim's Question Bee" on July 1, but it wasn't until the day after when CBS aired
the first television game show series since the FCC commissioned the beginning
of commercial television. "CBS Television Quiz" was one of the first series to
air on the network, which had been born on the small screen the day before.
So what did it entail? So far as television
quizzes were concerned, this was tabula rasa. A wide variety of games, quizzes,
and stunts aired in its one year run.
And the host, creator, producer AND developer of
the show? One Gil Fates, a man who would go on to produce many of the classics
we know and love. Chief among them, "What's My Line?"
So all you Johnny-come-lately game shows that
have come down the pipe in the last 67 years have THIS man to thank.
Chico Alexander was a bit miffed in the time
he wrote this, so you'll have to forgive him. E-mail him at