The Best Of The Price Is Right – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

The Price Is Right has been a beloved game show for many, many years. It’s current incarnation, which the iconic Bob Barker hosted for 35 years until his retirement last year, is a testament to the popularity of the show. Not many other games shows can claim to even coming close to numbers like that. But what most people don’t know is that The Price Is Right actually got its start in the 50’s and was hosted by a man named Bill Cullen.

That’s right, The Price Is Right premiered in 1956 and ran well into the 60’s before going off the air. The show was similar in many respects to how people know it today, but also very different. Four contestants would bid on household items and, yes, even new cars, but it would be a bidding war and the contestants would go back and forth like in a poker game raising their bid until they stopped and would see who was closest to the actual retail price without going over. Sometimes there would be a nice surprise and there would be a bonus prize and this would often be a vacation or something else really nice. But there were no catchy pricing games like in the one we know and no one was told to “come on down.” That wasn’t until 1972 when the show was revived and Bob Barker was given the job that would last him the rest of his career.

For the most part I don’t understand why a game show would find itself on DVD. It’s not like a regular TV show where there are beloved characters whose stories we follow (although many would argue that Bob Barker is, in fact, a beloved character). But after watching the 26 episodes included in this collection I understand why this one exists.

Even if you’re not a game show fan per se this is still a very interesting set of DVDs to watch. You get one episode from the 50’s, three from the 60’s and 17 from ’72 to ’75. As well as being an enjoyable game show to watch (which I’ll get to in a second) these episodes serve as a fascinating time capsule for a bygone era. Not only do you get to see the hairstyles and fashions of regular every day people from these years, but you also get a glimpse of the types of items these people purchased and how much they cost.

The episodes really get interesting as Bob Barker takes over and you slowly get see the evolution of the show over the first four years, from the first half hour episode to the first one hour episode. You get to see the introduction of many of the pricing games that went on to become fan favorites and you get see the zeal of the crowd grow from a cheer to a roar.

What made this show so great was that all the contestants were pulled right out of the audience. These people really were just like you or me. And when they won a washer and dryer or a car or a trip their excitement was contagious and you got excited for them, these people who were complete strangers. While Bob Barker was the star, it really was the contestants that made the show. If a contestant wasn’t interesting, the game became uninteresting. Luckily, the episodes presented here contain some rather fabulous contestants.

Sadly, this DVD set ends with Bob Barker’s last week hosting the show. It’s rather shocking to jump from 1975 to 2007 and see how much he and the show has changed. The 70’s episodes have a kind of innocent charm about them. Where as the ’07 episodes almost feel like freak show parodies of the others. The fans are insane at this point screaming and jumping about like lunatics while all sporting “I Love Bob” shirts or the like. You can also tell that Bob is ready to retire. He seems tired and almost bored with the whole process.

But the sadness of those last episodes do not take away from the over all enjoyment of this collection. Not only is The Price Is Right a classic game show, but the episodes presented here are wonderful look into our recent history.

Episodes:

Disc 1:

3/10/57
1/27/60
1/13/60
9/4/64
9/6/72 – The Third show aired with Bob Barker
9/8/72
9/5/72

Disc 2:

9/15/72
9/28/72
7/13/73
9/13/73
11/28/73
10/30/73
12/31/73

Disc 3:

4/22/74
7/9/74
8/15/74
9/9/75 – An experimental hour-long episode from the Third anniversary special week.
10/27/75
10/28/75
11/3/75 – The first official hour-long episode.

Disc 4:

6/11/07
6/12/07
6/13/07
6/14/07
6/15/07 – Bob’s last episode.

The film is presented in a fullscreen format 1.33:1. Sound is in Mono. The quality of the episodes varies from pretty good to occasionally bad. For the most part the quality has held up rather well.

The box lists the ’07 episodes as a special feature but really there is nothing. However, a little booklet with interesting liner notes is included with fun facts about each episode.

One might argue that The Price Is Right could be the greatest game show there ever was. But even if you don’t like game shows, the episodes presented here are a fascinating window into our past. I can’t really condone buying this set (unless maybe a relative of yours was in one of these episodes) but it is most certainly worth a rent.

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Fremantlemedia presents The Best Of The Price Is Right. Created by Bob Stewart. Starring Bob Barker and Bill Cullen. Running time: 930 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: March 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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