I am almost certainly the worst judge in the world of "The Price is Right." Don't watch. Never have. Never will.
High-fallutin TV critic much rather watch Shakespearean-like drama "Lost" or "Battlestar Gallactica" (maybe "D Housewives," too.) Mention "The Price is Right," and the nose goes up in the air ... "I wouldn't be caught dead!!"
To snobs like me, "Price" fairly screams "I'm outta work ... indigent ... or ... 92 years old!" This is the most peculiar form of television - kitsch married to insanely stoked acquisitiveness. "Price" is a pure distillate of TV commercialism: Where's room for humor in this formula?
And God forbid a host who is cynical, or snotty, or dismissive, or SARCASTIC. Bob Barker went down well for a million years (in TV terms) because he was the perfect automaton - a true believer in the cult that is "Price." Believe, or guess right, and you too shall win that all expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas!!!
And so here is Drew Carey, who started this morning: Solid, block-like, he fills the screen with good humor, a black suit, horn-rimmed glasses, and a certain angularity that brings to mind SpongeBob Squarepants. He's not a fluid mover, but a deliberative one. He's not Bob Barker either - but then that's not the idea.
He reminds me of those guys who come on stage to certify the results of the Oscars. He's like an accountant, or a car salesman, or a friendly stockbroker. COME ON DOWN!! "You could keep the four thousand!!! ... You gonna go!!! ... Eight Thousand dollars!!! ... Only two items left!!!"
Yes, he's big on exclamation points too. Drew doesn't like to leave things flat. He likes to pick up the most mundane "Price is Rightian" phrase, pump it up full of air, then send this balloon of hype and hooey floating over the studio audience, and out across the airwaves, to that invisible studio audience in the heartland.
He seems to talk a lot more than Bob did (not that I ever watched, mind you). He doesn't like open aural spaces - he likes to keep things moving along too. "There's a show to do," he might say to an indecisive contestant. He tells some guy to keep spinning the wheel ... "that's a do-over ... that's a do-over." He likes to repeat stuff.
You wonder as you watch Drew: Is this what a fairly successful TV career come to? It seems like a strange, almost bizarre endpoint. Fine for Barker, because that's all he ever seemed to do. But for Drew? One can't think of "Price" as a stepping stone, say, to a big screen career, or perhaps another sitcom. This is it. The end. The "All-you'll-ever-do-and-all-you'll-ever-want-to-do." The host that evinces just the slightest hint of careerism is the soon-to-be-dead host. This is it. There is no exit. Only Godot will come to visit.
How will Drew, a smart, creative guy, keep his sanity intact over the next four decades?
That's between him and his therapist. But after the first day of the beginning of the rest of his life, I'd say Drew will be a successful "Price is Right" host.
Not - mind you - that I'll ever watch again to prove that.