The Price is Right 2020
When I was a younger man, I liked watching The Price is Right with Bob Barker. What I never did was care about The Price is Right or its history.
That is until I saw Drew Carey roll out looking like an anorexic Santa Claus this week.
The picture above is a young Bill Cullen. You know who he looks like? A young Drew Carey.
Bill Cullen was the first host of the Price is Right way back in 1956. He hosted the show until its termination in 1965. Why are we talking about the original Price is Right today? Because you can still watch it right now. I turned on BUZZR (Welcome to the time capsule. A blast from the past, bringing laugh out loud, vintage game shows to a multi-generational audience) and watched the original Price is Right, I believe it was the NBC version, on PLUTO TV for free. The skeleton of what you see on the Price is Right today was there. The producers had effectively invented the wheel.
(Or, in the Price is Right's case, a giant spinning wheel.)
The version of the Price is Right that you and I grew up with was rebooted and retooled with Bob Barker in 1972. That version ran, relatively unchanged, through the year 2007. For 35 years, it was a staple of weekday television for CBS. You want to watch that version, today? Hmmm, that's kind of tricky.
Now you can find a few specific episodes, like Bob Barker's final show, bootlegged on YouTube.
Between 500 and a 1,000 episodes from 1972-2007 are available today, but you'll have to pay....
Johnny Olsen, from the grave, tell 'em how much they'll have to pay.
"Well, Fred Hunt, viewers will have to plunk down $5.99 a month to get those episodes, on CBS All Access." That sounds like a full breadth of Price is Right episodes, until you realize that CBS churned out well over 5,000 episodes in that time frame.
Maybe Amazon has a better deal. Let's see, there's the Price is Right Box Set with the 26 "Best" Price is Right episodes for...
What would Bob Barker think of such Price gouging? Apparently he's still alive and we could ask him. Bob Barker turns 97 in 2 weeks and is a fan of Drew Carey's Price is Right.
Which brings us to the present day. You can watch the Price is Right on your local CBS affiliate for free. You can go to CBS.com and watch any episode over the past few months for free. Or, again, you can watch "classic" Drew Carey Price is Right episodes for $5.99 a month on CBS All Access. Why is the word classic in air quotes? Because Drew Carey has now been on the Price is Right for 13 years, 4 years longer than the Drew Carey Show ran.
My kids don't know even who Bob Barker is. As of February of this year, (before the pandemic broke in America), the Price is Right was network television's #1 rated daytime series. The affable Drew Carey has continued the game show excellence set by his predecessor. It is feasible that teens stuck at home this year with remote learning have no concept of Bob Barker, just like I had no exposure to Bill Cullen.
My kids also don't realize the other extensions of the Price is Right.
The (7 versions) of the Price is Right board game.
The Price is Right slot machines.
The Price is Right scratch off tickets.
The Price is Right computer games.
And I didn't even mention the multiple syndicated Price is Right attempts with different hosts in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. The Price is Right reality shows.....
I would be remiss to add, at the end of every Price is Right episode when I was a kid, the announcer would remind the viewer that "this has been a Mark Goodson Production." When Mark Goodson died in 1992, his estate was worth a half a billion dollars.