Friday, October 19, 2007

So, How's Drew Doing?

As I type this, it is Friday morning. I have been able to watch all four of Drew Carey's episodes of The Price is Right aired so far, either by videotape or through the online episodes available at the CBS web site. It's probably safe to say that the replacement of Bob Barker has been one of the most talked-about issues in the game show world since the scandals of the 1950s. So, how's Drew doing?

It should probably be noted that CBS appears to be airing these episodes out-of-order, compared to when Carey taped them. There are three reasons for this assumption:
  1. Out of four episodes aired, two of them have been what are commonly called "perfect" shows. That is to say, every one of the six pricing games played that day was won. One of the "perfect" shows was aired as Carey's premiere on Monday. Perfect games are quite rare. Carey himself noted on Monday that there had been only 76 previous perfect games in the previous 35 years on the show.
  2. On Monday's show, during the Showcase, one the prizes was a television set. As is common when such prizes are given away, a clip of the show was displayed on the screen. This clip did not appear to be from the same episode, and thus must have been from an earlier taping. It is possible that this clip was from a rehearsal, but this seems unlikely.
  3. If you go to watch the episodes on the CBS web site, you'll notice that each episode (other than Monday's, anyway) has been assigned an episode number. I'm not sure what to make of these. They're all in the 4000's, and supposedly the 5000th show was aired almost 10 years ago! Anyway, the three numbers shown are not only not consecutive, but out of order. It's possible that they're using an oddball episode numbering scheme, and episode numbers are not assigned in numerical order. This would certainly explain the low numbers. But it's still pretty odd.
I mention the possibility of out-of-order tapings, because this fact (if true) means that we cannot determine the degree to which Carey gets more comfortable in his role as he gains more experience. I personally thought that Carey seemed more comfortable on the Thursday episode than he had on the previous three, but if he in fact taped that one before all or most of the previously aired shows, this means little.

Anyway, enough with the disclaimers. Here's what I think:
  • At the beginning of the show, Carey not only asks the first four contestants for their bid, but he also asks a quick "how're you doing?" While I appreciate Carey's friendliness, it seems to confuse the contestants, who were all prepared to give a bid, but (in some cases) are caught off guard as they feel the need to change gears and answer the personal question first. I'm sure Carey will find a way to ease such personal touches in more organically as he gains more experience.
  • Carey seems to have less control over the contestants on the stage. This is a very important thing for a game show host to be on top of. Contestants, naturally, are excited and enthusiastic about being on television and possibly winning huge prizes. The host has to find a balance between allowing the contestants to express this (after all, seeing such excitement is part of what keeps the show interesting!) and moving the game along so that everything fits into the alloted time. However, as has been noted elsewhere, the contestants seem a bit more... crazy... than they have in the past, and may therefore be harder to control than even Bob Barker could have handled (and there have indeed been a number of cases in which he had trouble). This may be a chicken-and-egg problem, though.
  • Carey talks rather too fast for my tastes. Perhaps this is just early nervousness, and he'll slow down as he gets more comfortable. Or maybe he's been instructed to do this to get more into less time (hour-long shows have to give more time to commercials now than they did just a few years ago).
  • Carey seems to know the games pretty well. He comes off as a bit stiff, but I don't see where he's made any major mistakes yet. Of course, they could have edited such out (I've actually seen where they've had to make small edits, reshooting a portion of the show for production reasons, when I've attended tapings in the past), but in his later years, Bob had trouble with certain bits all the time, and was corrected on-screen, so I'm guessing we're seeing the "real Carey" here.
  • Carey seems genuinely interested in contestants winning. This should not be underestimated.
  • Carey has kept the Barker-instituted tradition of reminding viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered at the end of each show. (Similarly, the producers have opted to retain Barker's name on the pricing games that have it. Carey's joke regarding "Barkers Bargain Bar" that it was named after the founder of The Price is Right, "Ezekiel Barker," was quite clever; homaging Bob in the obvious way, but failing to fall into the trap of coming right out and saying that Bob was the original host, which isn't true. Bill Cullen was.)
All told, Carey has the potential to do well. He's not Bob Barker, and could never hope to be, but neither does he need to be. Carey is already demonstrating an effort to make the show his own, and elements of his own personality are already beginning to shine through. He just needs to get a little more comfortable in the role, and that can only happen over time. Whether or not he will rise to the challenge remains to be seen.

1 comment:

  1. IIRC, it took Jay Leno a while to seem comfortable, too.

    Oh, the context of animals its 'spayed'. ;)


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