There’s only one TV show I know in and out, forwards and backwards. That show is The Price Is Right. It’s the only show to really be an institution for me; I’ve been watching it for well over a decade now. I’m far from the only person who can make this claim, but it doesn’t diminish the amount of entertainment this show has consistently provided.

Of course, when one thinks of The Price is Right, they think of the show’s longtime host, Bob Barker. They should; he has done the job for 35 years and done it as well as it can be done. Unfortunately for fans like myself, last Friday’s show was his final one as host, and it is hard to argue against the point that the show will never be the same.

Barker is the best game show host there has ever been. On a typical show, it is not unusual for him to deal with both college kids and senior citizens his age. He has to make them all feel as comfortable as possible, and that is a daunting task. Fortunately, it is one he has perfected; he has expertly dealt with a phenomenally wide variety of personality types over the years, and if he hadn’t, the show simply would not have achieved the popularity it has.

Straight-man expertise aside, the show has got to be fun to watch. Granted, a big part of the fun is seeing whether these people (some of whom display hilariously off-the-wall reactions) are going to win expensive items. However, the host has to hold it all together, keep everyone engaged, and generally project a “good times” image. Again, Barker did it. He always seemed completely in his element on stage, and more important, like he was having a good time being there. As the viewer got the impression that the show had a fun atmosphere, it was inevitable they would enjoy the show more. People watch The Price is Right to unwind and have a good time; neither Barker nor anyone else involved appeared to treat the show like more than it was/is.

A prime example of this attitude could be found in Barker’s last show. Not once was it explicitly mentioned that it was his last show. True, there were generally more expensive prizes than usual, giving it more of a big-time atmosphere, but the game went on exactly as it always does. The only hint besides the better prizes that anything was different occurred after the concluding showcase round, when Barker expressed his gratitude to viewers for having let him into their homes the last 50 years (still, no explicit mention that it was his last show). He followed that up by concluding with the line with which he concludes every show, in which he urges viewers to help control the pet population by having their pet(s) spayed or neutered. Business as usual, no frills. Bob Barker is an institution, and if he had wanted a huge farewell bash of a last show, he most likely could have had it. However, he just did what he had done for a half century (on The Price is Right as well as Truth or Consequences) and hosted the show. The man truly appears to have no pretensions about who he is, with his absurd-yet-funny role in Happy Gilmore being more evidence of that.

Before our blog switched to a more summery look, the picture at the top was of me: somehow, we managed to get hits anyway. More specifically, it was a picture of me writing (get it? because it’s a blog, where we write things?!)…and even more specifically, it was a picture of me writing about – guess who – Bob Barker. Point being, this is not the first time I’ve written about the guy. I have certainly never met him and have no direct knowledge of him, but it definitely feels that way after watching him for this many years. I’ll watch the new host, whoever it may be, out of curiosity, and hopefully their version of the show will prove entertaining as well. However, they have got one tough act to follow, and although I wish Bob a relaxing retirement, i certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him pop up here and there in cameo appearances on…just about anything. Because let’s face it…as low-key as he played it, as little as he fought the image of his show being essentially a mindless diversion, Bob Barker is a legend, and weekdays at 11:00 a.m. can’t help but take a turn for the worse without him.

Advertisements