Two random facts to kick things off:
• Tom Green is an ugly son of a bitch who has no business being a celebrity.
• “Paradise City” by Guns ‘n’ Roses is my second favorite song of all time. The opening 19 seconds is probably my favorite 19 seconds of music.
The wait is over, the Drew Carey era of “The Price is Right” is here, and it’s a work in progress.
Game show geeks across the country have probably been debating the new era of TPIR on message boards for 13, 14 hours now. I’m not interested in that, but how can I resist blogging about day 1? I can’t.
Previews of the new season showed that the set was redesigned slightly. It’s the same basic set, but the colors and graphics are different. (Word is that the set is now mobile, or more so than it was, meaning they could potentially take the show on the road for a week or two to cities around the country.) I wouldn’t call the new look updated, as the set still has a retro feel to it, but it’s different. The new look still pays homage to the most recent edition of the show, but the look of the show evolved under Bob Barker’s reign, so it’s not illogical to tweak the design with a change in host. Hell, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” have undergone changes over the years, it’d be foolish to expect TPIR to look exactly the same when a new host takes over.
Besides the cosmetic changes it sounds like they made minor updates to much of the music during the show. It’s all recognizable, but it seems to be updated slightly, which is fine. (Although for my money they’ve never improved on the theme music for Wheel of Fortune, although 99.9 percent of Americans wouldn’t have a clue what the original theme music was if Chuck Woolery started dancing nakedly to it in the confines of their bedroom, but I digress.)
Here’s a brief list of my complaints about Drew Carey after day 1:
• He’s not a natural at hosting a game show. When Barker started, he already had experience as an emcee. Carey had recently hosted a few episodes of “Power of 10,” but that’s it. I don’t consider his stint reigning over “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” to be a traditional emcee gig.
• He seems too amused by the contestants. He doesn’t have to come across as better than them, but he doesn’t have that professional, detached air about him.
• He references the announcer multiple times, and refers to that announcer, Rich Fields, by his first and last name. That makes him seem like a guest host rather than the “star” of the show, and he is introduced as the star at the opening of the show.
• He likes to address the models by their first name, as if they’re regular members of the show. Maybe they are, but when Barker stopped banging the models, suddenly there was a revolving door of models. (That’s been the case for about the past eight years.) Some of them hung around for a few years, but you never knew which models you would get from day to day. For some reason Carey’s referencing models by name seems out of place.
• His transitions in and out of segments are weak. They’ll get better with time, but right now they suck.
• It will take a while to learn how to talk about every one of the 70-plus games authoritatively, but his inexperience providing commentary during game play is painful. TPIR rubes can tell you all sorts of trivia about the first game ever played under Barker’s reign. Carey’s first game was “Money Game,” where you have to pick the first pair and last pair of numbers in the price of a vehicle from a board of nine sets of numbers. Carey never referenced the game by name, which looked rather amateur to me.
While Carey’s first day as host fell short of a train wreck, it wasn’t good. It’s not as if the guy walked onto the set cold and had to nail it without rehearsal, so he should have been slightly more polished than he was.
I give him props for not trying to be a comedian. The show’s format doesn’t emphasize that skill. He can interject a little comedy now and then, as Barker did, but he’s not hosting a late night talk show.
I also appreciate the fact that the show doesn’t ignore Barker’s legacy. The studio in which the show is taped was renamed the Bob Barker Studio several years ago. They refer to it by name in the opening of the show.
The final game of day 1 was “Barker’s Bargain Bar.” They didn’t rename the game, or eliminate it, which I appreciate. Carey made a joke about the game’s namesake, but the fact that they didn’t detach the show completely from Barker, at least initially, is a classy touch.
Overall the show needs a lot of work to achieve the polish and shine it richly deserves, but for now I can live with it. I realize it’s a work in progress, and I’d rather have the show on the daytime schedule than see it go away, no matter how long it takes to get it right with a new host.
Heck, I’m wondering if it’s time to make a seventh appearance in the studio audience. Eventually they have to call my name, don’t they?