The Price Is Right (CBS, 1972-present)
This is the game show that is one of the longest-running and most popular in American TV history. The original version of The Price Is Right started as long ago as the 50s, but this piece will concentrate on the version that has been going just about non-stop since the early-70s, many years before the UK version launched in the mid-80s (although I am more familiar with the mid-90s version).
This was the chance to win some big prizes in the most exciting game show around. Four people in the studio audience are invited to “come on down!”, who probably not coincidentally also happened to be the most overexcited people that were there, and they were always very eager to have a go. The host at this point was Bob Barker.
Firstly, they have to guess the price of an item, Whoever is the closest to the actual price without going over would win that item, and get the chance to play a game. If they got the price exactly right they won a $100 bonus. There were lots of games that could be played, indeed there were dozens available, some of them became more popular than others, but they all had the same basic idea of being able to win some more prizes.
After this, another contestant is invited to play. Once there had been three games, there was the Showcase Showdown, which the contestants progressed to whether they won or lost. They have to spin the big wheel containing various numbers, and the closest to 100 without going over in one or two spins makes the final. Remember to give it a big tug. Again, there is a big bonus for scoring exactly 100. And then… the whole process is done all over again!
This means that two contestants got to play the Showcase final. They take a look at what’s on offer (which could be holidays, cars, and much more) and decide what Showcase on offer they want to play for. There is no rangefinder on offer in this version, whoever is closest to the value of the Showcase without going over wins, and if they are within $100 of the value, they win both.
When watching some editions online, it seemed to me the show started to get stuck in a timewarp, with the look and style of the show barely changing from the 70s, going into the 80s, 90s, and even beyond. When Barker finally retired from the show at the age of about 102, the new host was Drew Carey, who had previously starred in a sitcom that was often shown late at night on ITV. The basic idea of trying to win lots of prizes has always remained the same, and there have now been thousands of editions. People just love to win.