As a kid, if you’re feeling sick and staying home from school, or even now, if you don’t feel like going to your classes or to work, or if you have any weekday morning free for just about any reason, there is one TV show that you have to watch, and everyone knows it: The Price Is Right.
This post is a tribute to the show that tells everyone to “come on down.” I’ll start by giving an overview of the history of The Price Is Right. Then, I’ll describe some of the most popular aspects of the show which have become part of American pop culture, and finally, I’ll talk about future plans for the show.
The Price Is Right identifies itself on its official website as “America’s Favorite Game Show.” Hosted by Bob Barker, the show has been airing every weekday morning on CBS since September of 1972, and is now in its 33rd season.
This makes it the longest-running game show in television history by far. “What’s My Line?”, a popular game show in the 1950s and ’60s, lasted for 17 years and is the second longest-running show. It is also the only game show to air consistently for the last decade.
To give you an idea of how long the show has been on the air — Amazon’s Movie and TV Database, imdb.com, describes that the first prize offered on the show was a brand new 1972 Chevrolet Vega, worth just $2,700.
Although it has been on the air for 33 years, little about the show has changed since then. Most of the set, games, and rules, are the same as they were three decades ago. Some changes have been made to reflect inflation in prices, but that’s about it.
The show is extremely popular among little kids, the elderly, and just about everyone in between. In the last 10 years, it has also been increasingly popular for college students and others in their teens and 20s to make watching The Price Is Right a regular habit.
A website devoted to the show called The Fabulous 60 Minute Price Is Right Site describes that there have been about 100 different pricing games in the history of the show, with around 75 of them still being played in regular rotation today.
The most popular recurring game on The Price Is Right is the Showcase Showdown, which most people know as the “big wheel.” In the showcase showdown, the last 3 contestants from the show spin the big wheel, which is marked in 20 sections from 5 cents to a dollar, with hopes of getting the highest among their opponents, which means they go to the showcase and have a chance to win the most expensive prizes offered on the show.
However, while each contestant spins the big wheel, we entire audience in the studio and at home is focused on one spot – the dollar. If the contestant spins the wheel in 1 or 2 spins and gets a dollar, they win $1,000 and get to spin again for a chance to win even more.
The big wheel is often the most exciting part of the show and why many viewers tune in. In a recent stand-up comedy special called Insomniac Tour, comedian Dane Cook joked that viewers can get so passionate about the wheel, the contestant’s decisions and even how hard or soft they spin the wheel can cause you to get so angry at the show that you forget about the illness that kept you at home to watch it in the first place. He calls this “The Price Is Right’s healing power.”
According to CBS’ official Price Is Right questions and answers, the next most popular game on the show is Plinko, where contestants drop “plinko chips” on a huge vertical pegged board, causing the chips to settle at the bottom in one of many slots with money values, the most being $10,000.
Other popular games include Cliffhangers, where contestants must guess the correct price of various prizes within about $25 or else a yodeling mountaineer goes hiking off a cliff, and Clock Game, where contestants have just 30 seconds to guess the exact price of a prize.
Many of The Price Is Right’s games and phrases have become permanent fixtures in American pop culture. The signature line at the beginning of the show that tells contestants to join the game, “Come on down,” is instantly recognizable whenever anyone says it.
The idea of contestants row, the big wheel, the showcase, and many of the individual pricing games are also easily memorable and never forgotten by most people even if you don’t watch the show that often anymore.
The Price Is Right has also been referenced many times in pop culture, including in the 1996 movie Happy Gilmore, where Bob Barker teams up with Adam Sandler in a golf tournament which leads to Sandler’s infamous line, “the price is wrong, bitch.” Also, in an episode of the popular cartoon Family Guy, the dog, Brian, replied to Bob Barker’s signature line at the end of the show, “Have your pet spayed or neutered,” with, “Oh, just die already.”
Against Brian’s wishes, Bob Barker is still alive, and according to CBS, he recently signed a contract to host the show for another season, its 34th. According to an article for CNN, while the show’s most popular announcer, Rod Roddy, passed away in 2003, Bob Barker and the rest of the cast have continued the show since then, and CBS plans to continue the show after Barker eventually retires.
Though this has been a very brief overview, hopefully you’ve learned something you didn’t already know about the history of The Price Is Right, its pricing games and most popular aspects which have become part of American pop culture, and future plans for the show. If you find yourself at home on a weekday with nothing to go, remember, there is never a wrong time for The Price Is Right.