Judge Christopher Kulik says if you can name the actual retail price of this DVD set, it's yours.
Come on down!
Cited as the longest-running game show in television history, The Price Is Right has developed quite the following over the past 50 years. From the joviality of Bob Barker (Happy Gilmore) as host, to the pricing games leading to the showcase showdown, it's a winner. There are many who hope to be called down one day to get their chance to "bid for some fabulous prizes." Mill Creek Entertainment once again dips into the game show vault to present us 26 episodes of The Price Is Right, most of them from the show's early years.
In 1956, producers Mark Goodson & Bill Todman (Family Feud) presented The Price Is Right on NBC. Unlike the show we know today, the original incarnation was a little different; as four contestants would bid, auctioneer-style, on prizes over the course of a half hour. The winner with the highest amount in terms of added retail prices would then become the champion and return to the next game. That's right, no Big Wheel or Showcase Showdown. However, there were a number of pretty ladies lightly stroking the prizes as they were being described. And the host was a hundred degrees different than his successor; while Barker always thrived on enthusiasm, Bill Cullen was more sly in tone and hip in delivery.
In 1972, seven years after the original was cancelled, Goodson & Todman completely revamped the show for CBS, calling it The New Price Is Right. This time, they hired Bob Barker of Truth or Consequences fame to replace Cullen and alternated the format to include pricing games for each of the contestants who won the initial bid. Among the usual prizes are cars, trips, and furniture. Some of the earliest games include "Hi-Low," where the contestants would choose the three highest items out of six; the $7-shopping spree would have them "buy" quantities of grocery items, the goal being to get within 25 cents of $7.00; and "7 Chances Challenge" had them attempt to guess the retail price within only seven guesses.
I must confess to tuning into The Price Is Right as a kid, but now I find it a nerve-testing exercise in obnoxiousness. Truthfully, I find many of the contestants grating in the extreme, as many act as if they were zapped by a cattle prod when their name is called out. I actually had a few roommates in college who were psyched about one of their brood being asked to "come on down" and bid on one of prizes.
I'm not trying to sound like a killjoy but, seriously, what is the big deal? If you were a champion on Jeopardy!, I'd understand, because it's something you actually fought for, using real brainpower. Most of the contestants on The Price Is Right win by luck, because it's really all guesswork when you think about it. Perhaps this is why so many people are attracted to it, as the games themselves aren't challenging in any way. Most feel the need to refer to the audience for suggestions, and the noise is simply headache-inducing.
As for Bob Barker, the guy can be ingratiating. However, it's also easy to be put off by his condescending approach at times. It's also disturbing to consider the series of sexual harassment lawsuits thrown in his face by various Price models throughout the years. This is why I prefer Cullen, who was cool without coming off as a jerk. He's only in four episodes in this DVD set, but he displays more wit than Barker does over his stint as host. Also, some of the original prizes, including swimming pools and film roles as extras, were much more varied and original.
Ultimately, I found The Best Of Price Of Right a real ordeal to sit through, as the contestants' antics and Barker's quips quickly got annoying and tiresome. Especially nauseating were the "bonus episodes" found on the final disc, all taken from Barker's last week as host in June 2007 before handing the baton over to Drew Carey. These episodes show conclusively what such an attention-getting circus show the program has become; in contrast, the contestants and audiences during the Cullen era show real restraint and maturity.
However, there's one girl I did fall in love with in one of the Barker episodes. Her name was Vicki, and she went on stage completely clueless as to the retail prices of the products in front of her, saying she'll never win. After she lost, she told Barker during the Showcase Showdown that her husband said her chances were slim to none. Miraculously, she ended up winning both Showcases, the first one ever to do so.
Mill Creek Entertainment presents all of the episodes in full frame with mono tracks. The black-and-white episodes with Cullen are quite grainy, full of scratches and other visual anomalies. The Barker episodes are cleaner, but still showcase their garish '70s colors to the max. On the up side, the 2007 episodes, all on the final disc, are as bright and glorious as any Price fan could ask for. Mill Creek considers these episodes "special features," along with a Photo Gallery which is nowhere to be found on Disc 1 where it's supposed to be. Oops!
The price is wrong!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
• Bonus Episodes
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