Four weeks ago, Drew Carey walked through Big Door Number Two and began his tenure as the host of the American version of The Price is Right. Four weeks in, how is he doing?
We have evaluated Drew’s performances to date in the areas of personality, pricing game knowledge, and show management. We will compare him to Bob Barker in each area and discuss areas in which he can improve. On the whole, though, he is not in need of a great deal of improvement, as you will see.
Two pricing game errors have been made thus far, neither of which were Drew’s fault. In one playing of Ten Chances, a contestant was awarded a USD650 prize on a guess of 850, and in one playing of Race Game, a 2 was displayed when the contestant actually had one right.
TEN CHANCES: Drew has not yet acknowledged the Zero Rule. Bob would often feign disappointment when a contestant wrote down a price that did not end in a zero, an act that would have helped a couple of Drew’s players.
DICE GAME: On one occasion, Drew failed to mention the 1-6 Rule, which may have led to one player guessing higher than a five. As it turned out, though, that player won. It may just be us, but it seems that when he does mention the 1-6 Rule, he doesn’t place enough emphasis on it.
GROCERY GAME: A complicated game that Drew is handling well. It might help a little bit more if he emphasises the fact that players can try to hit USD20-21 by combining items.
HOLE IN OR TWO: Bob called his demos “inspiration putts”, but Drew’s are hardly inspirational: he has missed both so far. But his explanations have been perfectly clear.
½ OFF: A rule change this season gives players USD500 for each correct guess, which Drew explained adequately.
PLINKO: His explanation of the pricing portion of the game is actually superior to Bob’s. Where Bob would say, “Either the 4 is the first number, or the 8 is the last number,” Drew says, “The price either starts with a 4 or ends with an 8,” which is a bit easier for a nervous contestant to comprehend.
IT’S IN THE BAG: Drew tends to call it “In the Bag”, but he runs this game very well. He allows players to swap grocery items more than Bob did.
On the whole, Drew has a tendency to try to overexplain the pricing games, rather than simply describing each portion as it comes along. This came to a humourous head in a playing of the Shell Game: “...If it’s in one of the ones you put a chip next to – if you have a chip by the one with the ball, you win. You guys know how to play Shell Game. I’m going into this long explanation, and it’s been on the air for thirty years.”
Drew’s explanations often don’t build up excitement. For instance, on bonus spins in the Showcase Showdown, he mentions the USD10,000 for a dollar first, and then the USD5,000 for a green section. Reversing the order and adding a dramatic pause would help: “But if you hit the dollar again, we’ll give you... ten thousand dollars!”
Likewise, in the Showcase, unlike Bob’s showy “We will give you both showcases!”, Drew simply mentions the double showcase rule in passing: “If you’re within two hundred fifty dollars, you win both showcases.” Drew, it’s a double showcase win! The only more exciting occurrence would be a perfect USD50,000 in Plinko! Act like it!
Drew, though, is good at letting contestants think things through without rushing them. Bob would often say “Give me your bid!” to someone who was stalling in Contestant’s Row. Drew hasn’t done anything like that yet, but he does like to say “It’s a one-hour show” when someone is dallying. On the first programme’s playing of It’s In the Bag, Drew gave the player plenty of time and discussed her options carefully, before finally telling her that he needed a decision.
In general, Drew runs a freer ship than did Bob. Bob was more insistent on proper shouting of “That’s Too Much!” and had less patience with those who didn’t understand the pricing games. Drew is more lax in each of these areas and seems to permit winning players to run over to the car more often.
Drew seems excited to be there. As he enters, he often says something like “Welcome to The Price is Right, the happiest place in show business! Listen to this crowd!”. He jumps up and down with the players, he seems genuinely disappointed when players lose their pricing games, and he is more quick to notice when a player is acting against the wishes of the audience.
He seems to be making a bit more of an effort to get to know the contestants than did Bob. Bob would ask players about themselves, but it seemed he was usually just trying to make a buildup: “Well, maybe we can send you back to Rancho Cucamonga in this!” Conversely, Drew occasionally remarks about someone’s occupation or hometown that had previously not been mentioned on the air, suggesting that he’s chatting with the players during the breaks.
He is also adding some new lines, some of which are kind of getting old. For instance, he frequently says “Making friends!” when one player outbids another by one dollar. He has described a number of games as “the easiest game we have”, including Double Prices, Easy as 1-2-3, One Right Price, and Switch?. He also has tended to overuse the “it’s not that easy being a model” angle, particularly in Switch?: “Don’t run into each other! Careful, careful, careful, they made it!”
On the other hand, some of his lines have been great additions, such as the first episode to air, in which he introduced a pricing game by saying, “You’re going to play Barker’s Bargain Bar, named for the founder of The Price is Right, Ezekiel Barker.”
Drew has also performed an act that was previously thought to be impossible: making Double Prices interesting. He usually has the player say “Shazam!” when he hits the button, leading to a line like: “You won the sailboat! Just by saying ‘Shazam’!”
One Away, in particular, has benefited from his influence. You will recall that Bob had players ask: “Ladies, do I have at least one number right?”. Drew’s take on that question is: “Oh mighty sound effects lady, do I have at least one number right?”, which has already become a hit in the programme’s fandom.
By far, his best show to date has been the Halloween programme, in which he entered wearing a set of fangs [removing them promptly when he was saying things like “Affe acffual retail pwiffe iff...”]. He then quipped about Brandi’s acting performance as a zombie bride before a hilarious dialogue with Rich Fields:
“Rich, what’s that accent you’re doing? Is that a vampire, or an Italian accent?”
[laughing] “It’s an Italian vampire, Drew. You pegged it.”
Drew often thanks the models, and on the Halloween programme, he also made sure to credit the costuming department and the set designers. It’s a shame that the models don’t wear wireless microphones so that they can respond to him. [“Hi Brandi. Ready to add up some stuff?”]
He seems to have created a mini-game for himself: Guess What the Item Up for Bids and the Grocery Item That Comes With It Have in Common. This led to one of the most hilarious ad-libs the show has ever seen: “Because you don’t want to break into a coughing fit when you’re using power tools.”
Drew seems to have gotten quite a few characters, particularly in Plinko. Upon learning that she was to play Plinko, Marie’s announcement to the world was: “I have to go to the bathroom!”. There was also Karey, whose announcement to the world was: “I don’t know how to play this!”. Drew’s response: “People would kill to play this game!”
Probably the best contestant to date was Letia, who won the piggy bank in Any Number [“Three bucks! Yes!”]. She reached the Showcase and bid USD21,500 on hers; on an excellent, dramatic reveal from Drew, she won both Showcases with a difference of USD78.
In the end, we must conclude that Drew is well ahead of where we expected him to be at this point. He has done more than forty different pricing games to date and has not made a single error in the rules. He has kept the pace up, difficult especially in this show. He has, of course, been very good at picking up on funny statements or occurrences, as when he repeats something that Rich said in a product description: “Yes, discover the many ways of using chocolate sauce”.
Most importantly, though, he is making the programme his own. Other hosts might have tried to emulate Bob Barker. Instead, Drew uses a few things that have long been part of his own act [jokes about his weight] and puts them in the show’s setting, making something new but familiar at the same time.
Perhaps the most essential thing that Drew can do now is to lock himself in his dressing room and rehearse the following: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”
DREW’S SCORE AFTER FOUR WEEKS: Four Plinko chips, two of which hit the USD10,000 slot.
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