“The Price Is Right Live” in Syracuse: Coming On Down, Moving On Up

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
I'd like to imagine he's sitting over three feet of shark-infested waters. Makes him seem more heroic in my eyes.

The set looked pretty much like this, only in full color, without Bill Cullen, and with slightly less wood trim. Oh yeah, and we wore the price tags on our chests, too.

“Here it comes!  From the Landmark Theater in Syracuse, New York, television’s most exciting hour of fantastic cash and prizes, it’s ‘The Price Is Right Live!”  When that opening line reverberated throughout the spacious theater on Sunday, June 9, 2013, the whole place erupted into cheers and wild shouts of joy.  I was one of those screamers, thrilled to be part of the viewing audience for the first performance in my area of the touring version of one of my favorite game shows.  True, I didn’t get to be a contestant on this night, but at least I had a chance to potentially be one, along with about three thousand other people, all adorned with yellow price tags proudly announcing their first name to the world.  The stage was set up to look like a close approximation of the original Price set with huge double doors and swinging ’70s color schemes; it looked very impressive for such a small stage.  In addition, all of the sounds and music I heard during the show were exactly the same sounds the viewer would hear on the TV show.  It was the closest most of us might ever get to actually attending a taping of the Price TV show at CBS Television City in California, so being able to get even a taste of that experience was rewarding in itself.  It also helped that it was an inexpensive endeavor that gave a lot for my money.

The live show was set up in the same way that a typical episode of the TV show would play out, with a few small differences, mostly in terms of how many people were selected to participate.  Four people at a time were called out from the audience to “come on down” to a small “Contestants’ Row” where they would place bids for a prize.  The contestant closest to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price without overbidding won the prize and got to come up on stage to play one of the world-famous pricing games.  (Incidentally, one of the winning bidders managed to bid the exact correct price.  She won a gift card for her perfect bid, a pretty rare feat, so way to go, kiddo!)  Four new contestants were called down for each new game (twenty-four people in all), four more were selected for two spins of the big “Showcase Showdown” wheel, and at the end, one more contestant was picked to take on the Showcase, in this case a normal pricing game, “10 Chances,” but with more exotic prizes including a new car.  In all, whereas a typical TV episode would see only nine contestants play out the whole show, our live show saw closer to forty people able to play along on stage, not to mention the people who won Subway and Home Depot gift cards.  I was surprised to see just how many people were picked, but I think it’s cool that this show opens up so many more opportunities for the audience to play along.

The game’s host was just as impressive to me, and, I hope, to everyone else in the theater by the time the show was over.  Todd Newton has had years of experience hosting numerous game shows including Hollywood ShowdownWhammy! The All New Press Your Luck, and Family Game Night, and it certainly showed during his time in Syracuse as our master of ceremonies (apparently, he’s been hosting the touring live show for most of its existence, so I am sure he has this gig down to a science by now).  He was warm, genial, and always worked to keep the mood light and breezy.  The games may have been the star attraction, but in my view, Todd did an excellent job of making them larger than life for everyone watching; he even led everyone in chants of the show’s signature catchphrases, “Come on down!”  and “Spayed or neutered!” (Todd joked afterward that that was probably the only time those words would ever be chanted anywhere; we did it a total of three times throughout the show).  In fact, I’d be interested in him hosting the show on TV if he ever gets the chance to do so; he showed a lot of respect for the show and its history, and he seemed able to handle the show’s signature brand of organized chaos very well.

The selection of pricing games for Price‘s first night in Syracuse included some of its most famous ones.  Right off the bat, the first game played was Cliff Hangers; Todd led everyone in a rhythmic clapping along to the game’s iconic yodeling theme which kept the energy up in the room (the mountain climber fell off the mountain, in case you were wondering).  We also had a relatively low-stakes version of Plinko where the top amount on the board was $2500 (the contestant walked away with a only a small amount but it wasn’t too shabby).  The other games included Any Number, Punch a Bunch, and Hole in One (or Two), in which I thought the contestant’s first putt would be a sinker, but it just missed the hole.  Overall, there weren’t any huge money winners on this night, but having so many well-known games as part of our show felt really special to me.

This first Price is Right Live show in Syracuse was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  It almost perfectly captured the feel of the TV show and enthralled all who attended.  It was good-old-fashioned entertainment that delivered a lot of bang for the buck.  I hope it can make it around to Central New York again because I would definitely consider “coming on down” again!

My Hopes for “The Price is Right Bingo”

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
Yes, I know I8 doesn't really exist, but you know, for the sake of the joke, people...

Haven’t I seen this game somewhere B4? Must’ve been something I8.

The other day as I was looking over messages on my Facebook page, I noticed that there was an ad for a new bingo game on the site based on The Price Is Right.  It felt to me like the world stopped turning for a few seconds while I tried to take this in.  There are times when I like to pass the time with a quick game of online bingo and watch The Price is Right.  Put the two together?  Well, I don’t plan on being in front of my computer all day, but I do want to give the game a shot.  Bingo with Bob Barker might be one of the best combinations I’ve ever seen since that Reese’s guy put peanut butter and chocolate together.

From what I have seen from previews and screenshots of the game so far, the game makers seem to have the basics of bingo well in hand and matched up with a few show features already.  Getting a bingo will allow the player to participate in a minigame based on the familiar toss-up game where contestants bid on prizes.  Players can also somehow earn “Master Keys” which can unlock bonus prizes such as decorations, wallpaper, and other cosmetic features; I wonder if the “Master Key” pricing game is in there as well.  You can also spin the big wheel from the Showcase Showdown to get a multiplier which can increase your winnings, a feature I naturally assumed would be implemented in just that way.  I think all of these make for nice bookends for each game you play and they are a pretty big part of the show so I’m glad they made it in there.

The different bingo rooms in the game seem to have themes based on different pricing games from the show.  However, from what I have seen so far, I do not think any elements from the games themselves play a role in the actual bingo gameplay.  I’m surprised at that because when I first heard about the game, I kept picturing images of Plinko chips being placed on random numbers on a bingo card.  Thinking a little further, I started imagining gimmicks that the game makers could take from different pricing games and match up with an aspect of bingo.  For example, if the room theme was “Secret X,” one column on your bingo card could be hidden from view.  At the end of the game, the column would flip over and reveal a hidden marked number, just like the hidden X in the namesake pricing game.  If that number fell into a line of other numbers you had marked, you would have an instant bingo.  Also, I think it would be interesting to have players write out their own row of numbers at the beginning of a bingo round, in a manner similar to writing out your amount in “Check Game.”  Small additions like these could bring out the personality of the show a bit more while staying true to the traditional gameplay of bingo.

If ever there was a true application of the phrase, “two great tastes that taste great together,” then that might be The Price is Right Bingo.  It is a combination I never expected to see, but which I now can’t wait to check out.  After I “Come on down,” I hope to have a review of it for all of you shortly. 

What do you think of this new game, and would you want to play it?  If you’ve played it already, is there anything you like or dislike about it?  What would you add or take from it?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Pop Culture Questions (And My Answers!) 2: Walking the Plink

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A new batch of pop culture questions have popped into my head since the last time we met.  These are becoming very fun for me to think about and come up with answers to, and I hope you are enjoying them.  This time, let’s start off in that magical realm sandwiched between the talk shows and the soaps, the home of spinning wheels, big bucks, and the proverbial “No Whammies,” daytime game shows.

How come Plinko is called Plinko? 

I’m a big fan of the game of Plinko from The Price is Right (the one where contestants drop a bunch of oversized poker chips down a peg-filled vertical board to win up to fifty thousand dollars), but I think it could have easily been called something else.  From what I have read, the name of the game comes from the distinct “plink” sound the chips make as they hit the pegs on the board.  Depending on how one thinks of the sound, I can imagine that the game could have had a different name.  Who wouldn’t want to play “Plonk-o,” “Plunk-o,” “Plank-O,” “Bump-o,” or even “Metallic-impact-off-of-a-peg-on-a-vertical-board-o?”  I’ve also heard “plink” being used to describe the sound made when you pluck guitar strings with a pick.  Maybe it’s time for a version of Plinko where you toss acoustic guitars down the board instead of chips.  I would really like to hear the sounds that game might make!     

How come Charlie Bucket is the successor to Willy Wonka, but the other kids don’t get jack squat?

At the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen either of its movie adaptations), Charlie Bucket, the last boy remaining from one of the world’s strangest tour groups, is selected by eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka to be his successor, promising to put him in charge of the factory and the Oompa-Loompas when he comes of age.  There’s a part of me that feels the other kids got the short end of the stick, though.  After all, Charlie may have come from nothingness to achieve great things, but as far as I’m concerned, beyond a good heart and what seems to be a good head on his shoulders, I don’t know if he’s got what it takes to keep a chocolate factory up and running. 

If he really wants to be a success, I think Charlie should bring the other kids into the fold and put them in charge of certain factory departments that could use some new life.  Augustus Gloop could lead personal tours of the chocolate room and lead swimming classes in the chocolate river on alternate Thursdays (Of course, they’d need to seal up the pipes whenever he was around, but what’s a few lost hours of business when the whole community can get some exercise?).  Veruca Salt could head up the new roast goose (or roast squirrel if you read the book or saw the second movie) division which could diversify the factory’s food offerings.  Violet Beaureguarde might have some good ideas for new types of gum or ways to work blueberries into existing candy recipes, and if we’re going with the first movie’s Violet, then I think her dad, the used car salesman, could put together an aggressive advertising campaign.  Mike Teavee, having experienced the wonders of television chocolate firsthand, could work with the Oompa-Loompas to send small samples of candy products over the airwaves and thus creating the phrase “must-eat TV”; at least you could put him to work with a focus group watching the commercials Violet’s dad makes and testing the general public to see if is ready for distribution.  If Charlie puts the kids to work in the right ways, at least the little brats won’t be terrorizing the rest of the world!        

How come “I am the Eggman, they are the Eggmen, I am the Walrus (goo goo gachoo)?”

To be quite honest, I always thought this lyric from the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” was a little weird, although it is very catchy.  The whole song itself is a bit out to lunch, but for me, this part really takes the first prize in terms of absolute lunacy.  If I were to take this lyric literally (and why wouldn’t I?), I would be both the Eggman and the Walrus, but there would still be two or more Eggmen off in a corner somewhere, “sitting on a pillow, waiting for the van to come” (and take them away from this crazy song?).  Who are these other Eggmen, and what are they doing elbowing in on my Eggman-based territory?  How can I be both an Eggman and a Walrus?  Am I an Eggman dressed as a walrus or at least wearing a walrus pelt?  Am I a walrus wearing the husk of an Eggman (and would I be arrested if I did that in real life)?  What’s the “goo goo gachoo” part for; is it the cry of a baby confused by why Uncle Paul McCartney and his three weird friends are singing a weird lullaby?  I think there’s a lot more questions this song raises than it actually answers!

I hope you all enjoyed this question-and-answer session as much I enjoyed writing it.  If you have any other questions you’d like to see answered, let me know in the comments.  Thanks for reading, and be careful about what cornflakes you sit on!