Thursday, August 23, 2007

A 'Price' worth playing

• The premiere date for season 36 is set.

With the eternal host search, The Price Is Right appeared to be in danger of careening off a cliff like Toonces the Driving Cat after the departure of Bob Barker, but things are looking up for the old reliable workhorse, which CBS today announced will make its season 36 premiere on Oct. 15, a few weeks later than normal.

From the beginning, I felt Barker's successor should be a known name, a Regis Philbin or a Rosie O'Donnell or a Chuck Woolery (he was the best Wheel host, and I'd love to see him get a crack at Price). It was looking grim when names like weatherman Dave Price and emcee Todd Newton (of the obscure game shows Whammy! and Hollywood Showdown) were bandied about as frontrunners. Combine the underwhelming newer pricing games introduced in the last couple years with a C-level personality, and my interest dries up completely. Although I couldn't sit through 30 seconds of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Carey's smooth handling of the rather mediocre and derivative Power of 10 is a reminder that he has the appropriate ease of delivery and wit to pull this off. Kudos to the producers on pulling that one out of left field.

I also feared the show would, at least to some degree, forsake its retro, frozen-in-time appearance in the inevitable set overhaul for this new era in the history of daytime's last network game show. I don't want my Plinko or Punch a Bunch taking place on another dark, Millionairesque stage — I want it to be a time capsule like it was when I came home from swimming lessons at the age of 10 and drowned my miseries in pricing games. Good news: Recent photos from the revamped set reveal a fabulously retro new design for the big doors.

It gives me hope that The Price can still be Right.

Pictured: Drew Carey at the Big Wheel (CBS)

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