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Television saw one of its biggest handoffs in history last week, and it had nothing to do with football. Bob Barker passed his microphone to Drew Carey, who became the new host of CBS’ timeless game show “The Price Is Right.”
Carey, 49, is actually starting a job that Barker took at the same age. Bob gave away cars and refrigerators for 35 years as his hair color went from dark brown to white. Carey would have to be on the job until 2042 to match his predecessor’s unrivaled longevity.
But how long will the show last with Carey at the helm?
His first show demonstrated that replacing a legend is anything but easy. The comedian and former host of ABC’s successful improvisational show “Whose Line Is it Anyway?” appeared uneasy at times, rushing at moments when a dramatic pause would have been more appropriate.
Carey also took away some of the show’s anticipation. When he asked a few contestants if they’d like to drive home from the show, announcer Rich Fields presented them with “a new car!” What else could it have possibly been?
To his credit, Carey was not all bad for his first day on the job. He carefully explained how to play each “pricing game.” He also greeted each contestant with a friendly, “How are you doing?” when they came on down. Coincidentally, all six contestants who bid closest to the “actual retail price” won something on stage. It marked the 77th time that this has occurred in “Price’s” nearly 7,000 shows.
First-show jitters also didn’t stop Carey from continuing a tradition that Barker started many years ago. He ended the show urging viewers to have their pets spayed and neutered.
If Carey hopes to spend the rest of his career as host, he will have to find his niche. It will take time for this to happen and for viewers to get used to him. But the building blocks for success are definitely there.
In addition to getting a new host, other changes to the show were made. The Bob Barker Studio now has a flashy set with a more modern look. The music has also been upgraded. Implementing the classic theme into a 21st-century beat, the theme now sounds like party music that you can dance along to in front of your TV.
The modern version of “The Price is Right” debuted on CBS in 1972 during the heyday of game shows. It was originally a half-hour show until ratings proved it was successful enough to be extended to a full hour.
Whether it’s spinning the big wheel, playing “Plinko” or listening to the mountain climber yodel his way up the mountain, the show is 60 minutes of fun and excitement. It has been a staple in American daytime television for decades. As Drew Carey continues to improve, “The Price Is Right” should remain a mainstay on TV for years to come.