Author Topic: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?  (Read 3910 times)

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Offline ThomHuge

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Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« on: June 23, 2019, 09:52:33 AM »
Now I know before I even start typing that this is going to be a divisive, controversial, difficult-to-answer question that's going to elicit strong feelings. I promise I'm not looking to stir controversy (but mods, please feel free to lock if you think this could go sideways)...but I'm rather curious to hear what everyone else thinks. (The short version of what I'm about to write is--I'm not saying the show is in decline or anything like that; I just think there's a case to be made either way.)

On the one hand...Price is holding its own in the ratings, and apparently doing well enough from a business standpoint to justify Drew's considerable salary. They've got enough money to spend on lavish set upgrades, and (far as I know) they don't have to resort to paid seat-fillers anymore. All of which I think we can agree are definite improvements from the dark days of Syd Vinnedge, the purple wheel, fried chicken and pies in the face.

On the other...sometimes it feels like I'm seeing some of the same ratings-grabbing moves that other shows have tried when they fell into decline. The best example I can think of is Family Feud during Richard Karn's last season; his hosting style had gotten stale, and the game itself had started to feel a bit threadbare, so their answer was to introduce a super-flashy set and start having celebrity shows and/or themed specials every other week. I'm sure I probably tuned in during rerun season more than once without realizing it, so that may well be mistaken perception on my part, but that's what I remember. The regular shows and regular contestants got lost in the noise (and it didn't help that all the celebs they featured were people I'd never heard of).

Drew's first few seasons did it right, by having people we'd know from his sitcom days on (Mimi's April Fool's Day appearance remains my all-time favorite gag). But then things got out of hand, and we started having live bands, and people like Ed Begley, Jr or that soap opera guy, gag Showcases, and all the things that we're grateful we don't have anymore. But along the way...we got a super-flashy set, loads of special/themed shows, and reels of prize music that sound like they were inexpensively bought from a library service (and not in that good Killer Tracks kind of way). At the same time, we got a season that was basically nothing but trips, and what seems like multiple seasons of obvious forced losses. And now we have Pay the Rent, which pops up to offer $100,000, daytime TV's answer to primetime's $1 million top prize.

Some things are justifiable as necessary moves to adapt to being on broadcast TV in 2019 and having to reach an online audience too, but some things like the music scream "cost cutting because we don't have the money to do this right," and things like PtR come across as stunts to draw in viewers (come for PtR, stay for the rest of the show).

What do you all think?
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 09:55:38 AM by ThomHuge »

Offline Alfonzo

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2019, 09:58:35 AM »
If it survived Bob leaving it can survive almost anything.

Be warned, you might be opening Pandora's Box with this thread.
"Audience, if you're scared buy a dog!"

Bryan, the Punchboard player who gave up $5,000 for a chance at $10,000 and won ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPQ_RRwCfhY )

Offline ThomHuge

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2019, 10:01:11 AM »
If it survived Bob leaving it can survive almost anything.

No question (and to be clear I'm not arguing that it's in decline at all), I just think at times they're trying too hard, or at least harder than they need to.

Be warned, you might be opening Pandora's Box with this thread.

Not my intention at all--maybe give it a shot to see what responses we get, and if it gets out of hand, consider locking?

Offline Alfonzo

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2019, 10:05:16 AM »
I understand your purpose. It's just that after being around here for almost 20 years I know what kind of posts (and people) these type of threads bring out.
"Audience, if you're scared buy a dog!"

Bryan, the Punchboard player who gave up $5,000 for a chance at $10,000 and won ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPQ_RRwCfhY )

Offline Hag

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2019, 10:43:17 AM »
As long as the core elements are still in place (Contestants' Row, six pricing games, the Showcase Showdowns and the Showcases) are still intact, I would say the show has not jumped the shark yet.

I don't think we need all the theme shows, but I do love the "weeks" we have such as Kids' Week. It shows you can do something fresh and innovative without overdoing it.
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Offline SamJ93

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2019, 10:57:33 AM »
Think of it this way: the phrase "jumping the shark" was inspired by an episode of Happy Days...a show that ran for seven more seasons afterward. So obviously enough viewers still enjoyed it in spite of what some snobby TV critics thought.

Many old-time viewers thought TPiR jumped the shark when Johnny Olson died...yet it continued on. Then they thought it jumped again when Dian left...and it stayed on the air. Then again when Holly left...and it stayed on. And then when Janice left...and then when Bob left...and then when Roger left...starting to see a pattern here?

Bottom line is, "jumping the shark" is an extremely subjective judgement. If TPiR (or any show) has truly "jumped the shark" for you, it's fine to simply not watch it anymore.

Offline blozier2006

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2019, 11:05:44 AM »
I don't know if I'd say the show has outright "jumped", but there was a period where, to me, it was near-unwatchable (and I've not watched on a regular basis since then, so I don't know if it's really improved). Season 37 I'd have to single out as absolute rock-bottom (the "Fried Chicken" showcase, grocery items getting smashed, the fugly purple wheel, That's Too Much temporarily becoming That's Two Ninth, 3 Strikes going through four rule sets in as many playings, the listless reaction to the perfect bid, etc.).

Offline LiteBulb88

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2019, 11:35:26 AM »
First off, ThomHuge, you didn't give your opinion as to whether Price has jumped the shark. So, yes or no, in your opinion, has Price jumped the shark?

My opinion is that it hasn't. Let's look at some the things you brought up:

The best example I can think of is Family Feud during Richard Karn's last season; his hosting style had gotten stale, and the game itself had started to feel a bit threadbare, so their answer was to introduce a super-flashy set and start having celebrity shows and/or themed specials every other week. I'm sure I probably tuned in during rerun season more than once without realizing it, so that may well be mistaken perception on my part, but that's what I remember. The regular shows and regular contestants got lost in the noise (and it didn't help that all the celebs they featured were people I'd never heard of).

Drew's first few seasons did it right, by having people we'd know from his sitcom days on (Mimi's April Fool's Day appearance remains my all-time favorite gag). But then things got out of hand, and we started having live bands, and people like Ed Begley, Jr or that soap opera guy, gag Showcases, and all the things that we're grateful we don't have anymore. But along the way...we got a super-flashy set, loads of special/themed shows, and reels of prize music that sound like they were inexpensively bought from a library service (and not in that good Killer Tracks kind of way).

Comparing The Price is Right to Richard Karn-hosted Family Feud isn't fair at all. Drew Carey as a host has gotten better over the years; Richard Karn never did (or at least not by much.) Family Feud used celebrities as contestants; not once that I know of has any TPiR episode ever used celebrities as contestants, except the one episode during Gameshow Marathon. The celebrities that are featured are there to help the contestants win, a pattern which has worked well on many shows like Pyramid, Password, and Match Game. That said, do I wish TPiR wouldn't use celebrities at all? Yes, I do, as I don't care about celebrities and they just take away time the show is already tight on. But this is not like late seasons of Karn Family Feud or the ABC run of Millionaire where celebrities were constantly playing instead of contestants.

I'm also not sure I'd call the current TPiR set super-flashy. Yes, the video wall behind the showcase podiums can be distracting. But otherwise, they have a turntable, 3 doors, 4 contestants row podiums, and a large display in the back of the studio. It still feels like a modern version of the classic Price is Right set, not something completely new. If they went to the Davidson-era set, that would be what I would consider super flashy. Thank goodness they haven't.

And finally with regards to what I quoted, TPiR does how many special weeks a year? There's Kids Week, Dream Car Week, one or two Big Money Weeks...and that's all I can think of the top of my head. Feel free to correct me if I missed any, but that's 3-4 special weeks a year out of about 30 weeks of first-run shows. That's still 26-27 weeks of standard shows.

At the same time, we got a season that was basically nothing but trips, and what seems like multiple seasons of obvious forced losses. And now we have Pay the Rent, which pops up to offer $100,000, daytime TV's answer to primetime's $1 million top prize.

Young people like to travel. No, actually, they love to travel. We are in an era where more people under the age of 40 or so travel as much as they can, eschewing standard "things" to do it. I bet if you were to run a poll of people under 40 what they'd like to win on the Price is Right, cars & trips would be close to tied and "everything else" (kitchen grills, new living rooms, etc.) would be *way* behind. And yes, it helps the show in that they can easily change the price of trips as needed by adding rental cars, excursions, extra meals, or whatever in order to make it harder to win them. But offering more trips will cause more young people to tune in and/or go to the show more than just about anything else besides straight cash and more cars.

(Note: nothing in the above paragraph is meant to imply that people over 40 don't like to travel. Of course they do! But it's become a special priority in the millenial age group.)

Regarding Pay the Rent, it's played about 8 times a year, again out of 160 or so first run shows. If the show needed that $100,000 top prize to draw in viewers, it'd be played more often.

Thus, to summarize: the changes they've made have made the show feel more modern, but not a different show and certainly not a show that looks desperate to get people to watch. If anything, it felt like they were falling behind the times toward the end of Bob's tenure, but of course there was a "as long as Bob is hosting, we don't want to change much of anything" thought at that time. So when Bob retired, the show had to hurry to catch up to 2007, and they tried anything they could to see what worked. Some things did, some things didn't, and some things really really didn't (*cough* fried chicken *cough*). But they've gotten to the point where they've seen what's worked and what hasn't. As you so eloquently said...

Price is holding its own in the ratings, and apparently doing well enough from a business standpoint to justify Drew's considerable salary. They've got enough money to spend on lavish set upgrades, and (far as I know) they don't have to resort to paid seat-fillers anymore. All of which I think we can agree are definite improvements from the dark days of Syd Vinnedge, the purple wheel, fried chicken and pies in the face.

I couldn't have said it better myself.  :-D

(P. S. regarding seat fillers, I asked about that when I was at the show in February. The page said that in his 5 years or so of working TPiR, they needed seat fillers 5 times or so.)
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 11:41:40 AM by LiteBulb88 »

Online Josh444

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2019, 12:17:29 PM »
The show has made the necessary updates to stay relevant in todayís digital age. Trust me, we would be in WAY worse shape if we were still offering grandfather clocks and area rugs as prizes.

Iím not all that bothered by the themed weeks. Some of the standalone episodes can be annoying (College Rivals comes to mind), but the themed episodes are not all that bad. I do enjoy the Veterans Day show, Motherís Day show (though, I gotta ask. Whatís the beef with Fatherís Day?), Best of the Year, etc.

The set is still the classic set, just modernized. We worried so much about a video wall replacing pricing games. That NEVER happened. In fact, I would argue the sets have gotten even more interactive (Bullseye, Card Game). The CR podiums are still there, but can now change colors/themes based on the episode. Having seen the set in person, itís really stunning.

The wheel is still there, the Showcases are still there (though, they could try a bit harder with the themes). Drew is now at the top of his game as host, the models are treated like people. George has settled in to become a good announcer.

Millionaire jumped the shark. Price has a LONG way to go to be even close to that.

Offline ThomHuge

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2019, 12:30:02 PM »
First off, ThomHuge, you didn't give your opinion as to whether Price has jumped the shark. So, yes or no, in your opinion, has Price jumped the shark?

I honestly don't think it has...but I also think they're showing some of the precursor symptoms to it. It feels like the show is more gimmicky than it needs to be, and they go for the artificial highs (like hypercaffeinated contestants) instead of letting their natural personalities and the show's own format carry the day. I should've been more clear, the reference to the celebrity shows and specials was more about the fact that they seemed to be trying to distract from the basic game with a lot of unnecessary fluff, than the fact that celebs were crowding out regular people.

Comparing The Price is Right to Richard Karn-hosted Family Feud isn't fair at all. Drew Carey as a host has gotten better over the years; Richard Karn never did (or at least not by much.) Family Feud used celebrities as contestants; not once that I know of has any TPiR episode ever used celebrities as contestants, except the one episode during Gameshow Marathon. The celebrities that are featured are there to help the contestants win, a pattern which has worked well on many shows like Pyramid, Password, and Match Game. That said, do I wish TPiR wouldn't use celebrities at all? Yes, I do, as I don't care about celebrities and they just take away time the show is already tight on. But this is not like late seasons of Karn Family Feud or the ABC run of Millionaire where celebrities were constantly playing instead of contestants.

You're absolutely right, Drew has improved significantly since season 36, which Karn didn't do in the three/four years he was on Feud...and for that matter, Drew's improved fairly consistently over the time he's hosted the show. Actually on second thought I don't think "improved" is quite the right word...I think it's fairer to say he's gotten more comfortable, both with the show's particulars and the format in general. He's a stand-up comedian so not hard to imagine Price's audience-participation format took some getting used to.

The formats of the other shows you mentioned seemed to lend themselves to celebrity partnerships better than Price does--you have contestants that can be tested and pre-vetted, and their gameplay structures seem to lend themselves well to including celebrities in the actual gameplay. Price's format doesn't, because you're picking people more or less at random after a 30-second interview. That's not exactly an airtight vetting process. And as you point out, they're more pressed for time now than ever, so any celebrity cameos or participation inevitably takes time away from the nine people we really tuned in to watch.

I agree with you--I wish they'd stop doing it altogether and refocus on the contestants.

I'm also not sure I'd call the current TPiR set super-flashy. Yes, the video wall behind the showcase podiums can be distracting. But otherwise, they have a turntable, 3 doors, 4 contestants row podiums, and a large display in the back of the studio. It still feels like a modern version of the classic Price is Right set, not something completely new. If they went to the Davidson-era set, that would be what I would consider super flashy. Thank goodness they haven't.

I actually loved the Davidson set...but that's another discussion. When I wrote that part, I was fresh from looking at a Barker episode from the late 1990s (cushioned turntable, full credit roll, balloons on the doors but no "26 years" in the balloon, so I'm guessing season 27). Looking back, I feel that the set in those days was simple, functional, and tasteful, but without being overstated or distracting...and yes, I love the season 25-29 door designs. You knew it was there but it didn't pull your attention away from Bob and the player.

On the current set, seemingly everything lights up, changes color, or animates in some way. The video wall in the back of the house actually isn't that bad--but when you add in the LED strip, the light-up curtains (or whatever they are?), the lit asterisks on the walls, the LED borders on the contestants row displays, the LED stairs on Door #5, the video wall, the colored panels between the wall screens, the LED strips on the door frames (and the second strips inside the Big Doors themselves, that Door #5 doesn't have), the light-up doors themselves, the illuminated walls behind the door frames (and for that matter, the shiny silver frames themselves), the light-up dollar sign next to Door #1...and all that's not to mention George's podium...it seems really flashy by comparison. Modern, yes; commensurate with Pyramid and Match Game and PYL and Wheel and Jeopardy, absolutely; but flashy nonetheless.

And finally with regards to what I quoted, TPiR does how many special weeks a year? There's Kids Week, Dream Car Week, one or two Big Money Weeks...and that's all I can think of the top of my head. Feel free to correct me if I missed any, but that's 3-4 special weeks a year out of about 30 weeks of first-run shows. That's still 26-27 weeks of standard shows.

Big Money Week and Dream Car Week sound like natural expansions of the show's format, so those I can live with--Kids Week is tolerable but I don't really like kids so it's not for me. Even the pet adoption shows make sense given Bob's animal-rights involvement. But it's the really weird ones that I'm thinking of--like the expectant mothers one, or the sports one, the baby shower one, or basically any gimmick that involves more than one person per spot in Contestants Row. (I know I'm unique but the sports one I didn't even tune in to see, and from the recap it doesn't sound like I missed much...I don't really do sports to begin with, but I consider Price as the thing I would rather tune into than sports games, and with that in mind it was a relief back in the day when a Price primetime show was on at the same time as a game.)

Young people like to travel. No, actually, they love to travel. We are in an era where more people under the age of 40 or so travel as much as they can, eschewing standard "things" to do it. I bet if you were to run a poll of people under 40 what they'd like to win on the Price is Right, cars & trips would be close to tied and "everything else" (kitchen grills, new living rooms, etc.) would be *way* behind. And yes, it helps the show in that they can easily change the price of trips as needed by adding rental cars, excursions, extra meals, or whatever in order to make it harder to win them. But offering more trips will cause more young people to tune in and/or go to the show more than just about anything else besides straight cash and more cars.

As correct as this entire paragraph is, I'd like to offer one small counterpoint--even growing up I never looked at what was offered during the pricing games as the "point" of being on the show...yes I'd have loved to play a game for a car or a load of cash, but the real point was the wheel, which was how you got to the showcase. That was where the real winning was; if playing for a stately grandfather clock or a popcorn cart was what it took to get to that point, I'd have been willing.

I'll also add...part of why I loved Price growing up was that there was, as Rod would've put it, "a wonderful array of prizes" on every show. It felt like you never knew what they were going to give away next. During season 37 I distinctly remember groaning when it felt like every other prize was a trip, and the other types of prizes were getting crowded out. It was especially bothersome to me when both showcases were nothing but trips, and even worse when it was just two trips; a good showcase is (in my book) at least three prizes, so two-prize/two-trip showcases always seemed like a terrible cop-out.

Regarding Pay the Rent, it's played about 8 times a year, again out of 160 or so first run shows. If the show needed that $100,000 top prize to draw in viewers, it'd be played more often.

This is true, but again, may I offer that growing up, I knew plenty of people who didn't really like TPiR but who would tune in if they saw Plinko, and might stick around for a few more acts. PtR isn't Plinko, but part of me still feels like PtR serves a similar purpose, if only because of YouTube--you don't have to play it as often for it to get exposure, and every YouTube hit equals another potential viewer who might say "maybe they'll play that game for $100k today."

Thus, to summarize: the changes they've made have made the show feel more modern, but not a different show and certainly not a show that looks desperate to get people to watch. If anything, it felt like they were falling behind the times toward the end of Bob's tenure, but of course there was a "as long as Bob is hosting, we don't want to change much of anything" thought at that time. So when Bob retired, the show had to hurry to catch up to 2007, and they tried anything they could to see what worked. Some things did, some things didn't, and some things really really didn't (*cough* fried chicken *cough*). But they've gotten to the point where they've seen what's worked and what hasn't. As you so eloquently said...

As I said; I think some of the things I mentioned are easily explainable as things the show had to do to modernize and survive in the world of broadcast TV that we have in 2019. I don't judge too harshly for that, and things like Dream Car Week or Big Money Week are examples of what doing that right looks like. Even the MDS from back in the day had the right idea, even if the Barker format missed the mark--I think they did a lot better with the season 36 ones. I just wish more of their ideas felt like organic expansions of the show's tried-and-true format, and less came across like the result of a Mad Libs game.

Offline blozier2006

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2019, 01:03:52 PM »
Big Money Week and Dream Car Week sound like natural expansions of the show's format, so those I can live with
Though if you consider that, after those weeks tape, we typically get weeks and weeks of 0/6 and 1/6 days on end (or at least that's how it feels) to offset it, it sort of takes the luster off them.

Offline ThomHuge

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2019, 01:14:59 PM »
Though if you consider that, after those weeks tape, we typically get weeks and weeks of 0/6 and 1/6 days on end (or at least that's how it feels) to offset it, it sort of takes the luster off them.

You'll get no argument from me that they need to do a lot better when it comes to budgeting for a season that includes those weeks, and for managing said budget when the time comes. That's one of the remaining pain points from losing Roger--the folks in charge now have never quite seemed to get a handle on how to even things out without resorting to a bunch of forced losses (and thus 0/6 or 1/6 shows).

Offline bobbingforapples

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2019, 01:24:46 PM »
For me, a game show jumps the shark when they update the rules so much the show becomes extremely gimmicky. I think the closest Price has come to becoming too gimmicky is the college rivals knockout episodes. Contestants shouldn't have the risk to lose their spot in Bidder's Row. Thankfully it seems to have been abandoned.

As long as the core format remains I think we'll be in good shape for a long time.

Offline imhomerjay

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2019, 03:08:40 PM »
Beyond believing that the expression is trite, overused drivel ( :D), I'd suggest the answer is no.

Comparisons to 15, 20, 30 or 40 years ago are honestly irrelevant. The question is does the show do what it needs to do today to being in the viewers that matter in the grand scheme of things? The evidence there points to a "yes." Certainly, there are CBS's own pronouncements, but even in the advertising there has been a noticeable (albeit not complete by any means) shift in the mix to include more non-direct-resoponse ads. Yes, there's still an unfortunate number of them, but they've also had more in the way of products or establishments targeting the under 50-ish set.

From a purely unscientific and anecdotal perspective, my "test audience" at home wouldn't give the time of day to something akin to the Barker era show. That's not a dis on Bob, Roger or whomever, but rather pointing out that audiences and expectations change. The show needs to be high energy and fast paced. If anything, the show is fortunate to have been able to survive until Bob chose to leave, and then reinvent itself before it was too late while keeping the ties to the heritage intact.

Props to them for making it work. Perhaps some fits and starts here and there early on as one might expect in any transition, but those are long since in the rear view mirror.

Offline name456

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Re: Question: Has Price Jumped the Shark?
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2019, 07:32:35 AM »
The show jumped the shark when Johnny died. It jumped again when Bon left.