Vintage Television

Vintage TV: The New Price is Right

Astonishingly, the game show The Price is Right is in its 50th season on CBS. It’s a true survivor from the heyday of daytime television game shows — only it and a reboot of Let’s Make A Deal remain on daytime television today.

I remember watching Price as a kid when I was home sick from school. It debuted right as I started Kindergarten in 1972. It was called The New Price is Right then, because there had been a show called The Price is Right in the 1950s and 1960s, hosted by Bill Cullen. The New Price is Right was loosely based on the older show.

In its early days, Price was only 30 minutes long! Rather than having two Showcase Showdowns to determine who went on to the Showcase bonus game, the top two winners appeared in the Showcase. Also, the original set was very brown. And in the very first week of the show, they brought the first four contestants to Contestant’s Row a little differently.

Here, check it out — the first episode of The New Price is Right, from September 4, 1972.

Incredibly, Price stayed a 30-minute show until November of 1975. Other than expanding to an hour, little has changed on Price in its 50 years on the air. Four people from the studio audience have always been called down to Contestant’s Row to bid on prizes; the most accurate bidders have always been brought on stage to play games for even better prizes.

But all the elements of fun were there from the start, making Price a show that endured. I still laugh and enjoy it as much as I did when the show was brand new, and I was five years old.

I bought an exercise bike recently to help me stay in shape. It’s pretty boring sitting there pedaling, so I set up the bike in our bedroom in front of a TV. There’s a channel on my Roku that plays episodes of The Price is Right with Bob Barker back to back, 24x7x365. It’s what I usually watch. The show is just the right kind of dumb fun to make the time pass quickly.

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