Thursday, March 23, 2017

Come on Down! You're the Next Contestant on the Price is Right!

LBA and SoBA are off from school tomorrow.  It's a professional day for the faculty at the school.  I am taking the day off - maybe we'll do something fun - outside. Or maybe we'll just sit around and watch TV - including the "most fabulous hour on television - the PRICE IS RIGHT!"

List from BuzzFeed.  BuzzFeed comments in regular type, my comments in italics.

The Definitive Ranking Of “Price Is Right” Pricing Games

75. Double Prices: By far the worst game on The Price Is Right (henceforth referred to as TPIR). There are literally two prices given for a prize and the contestant just has to choose the correct one. There’s no cool props, generally no big prize on offer, and no need for the contestant to do much of anything besides stand and smile dumbly as they take their 50/50 shot at some mediocre winnings. NEVER AGAIN, TPIR. NEVER AGAIN. The Brave Astronaut agrees, though I haven't seen this game - but it sounds boring

74. Switch?: What a fun little question mark on the end of this one’s name. I like to imagine it being pronounced by a middle-aged gentleman who is utterly taken aback by the possibility of the two prices being incorrect. “Swiiiitch???” The game itself sucks, though. Sorry, generic middle-aged man who only exists in my head. Also not a lot to this game

73. One Right Price: Another game that basically boils down to, “Hey, there’s two prices, so…choose the right one.” That’s what the game is even called. One Right Price. Step up the creativity, guys.

72. One Wrong Price: The inverse of One Right Price, except now there are three prizes to choose from instead of two. The extra prize makes this game just slightly less blah. It’s still really damn blah, but…not quite as much.

71. Pick a Number: Literally what it says. The price is missing a number. You pick that number.

70. Most Expensive: There are three prizes. Shockingly, one costs more than the other two. Can you deduce which one it is?

69. Flip Flop: Flip Flop? More like THIS GAME IS A FLOP. Although I will say I've seen this game before and it least has some tension.

68. Side by Side: Very similar to Flip Flop, but it’s a little more fun to watch because the way the numbers move is kind of cool. But still, boring

67. Coming or Going: Another game from the “just give us these two sets of numbers in the correct fashion” playbook. It’s the best of the bunch because it’s actually really fun watching as the numbers cascade from side to side while the contestant is trying to make up his or her mind.

66. Squeeze Play: Similar-ish to Pick a Number, except now you need to pick a number to get rid of. Still boring and ridiculously simple to play, but the sound effects as the remaining numbers squeeze into place are kind of ~cool~.  I would agree with this - this game was and is one of my favorites

65. Bargain Game (formerly Barker’s Bargain Bar): The game itself probably deserves to be a tad bit lower on this list — it’s just a matter of choosing which given price is more below the actual retail price. But because this game originated as Barker’s Bargain Bar, the aura of Bob Barker has lifted it up a few spots higher in the rankings. Any game that originates with Grandpa Bob deserves better.

64. Do the Math: Math? LOL NO THANKS! The interactive chalkboard-y thing is real cool, though, so…props for that prop.  Math is Hard.

63. Freeze Frame: The design of the game’s name makes you think it’s going to be 10 times more interesting than it really is. Look at it — kind of reminds you of something out of a comic book. Like, “Freeze Frame, a battle between good and evil, as the villainous Dr. Ice attempts to freeze out the world. Only you can bring the heat back and save the universe!” And then you realize that no, you’re actually just choosing two sets of numbers that make up the price of the prize. Dr. Ice wins again.

62. Double Cross: Like Do the Math, this is another game made MUCH more interesting by the electronic screen on which it’s played. Look at those bright colors and the cool X shape and all that good stuff. That’s some good electronic screen action. This is a newish game, which I have never seen.

61. Balance Game: It’s like the scales of justice, except instead of human rights and freedom and all that, it’s about lackluster vacations to overpriced resort towns.

60. Hi Lo: Is this a good game? No. But at least the contestant has to try to figure out multiple prices rather than just choose between two options like some other games.  I think this is one of the original games - it deserves a better ranking.

59. Push Over: Push Over: a game on TPIR. Also, a person who gets this game and pretends to enjoy it so as not to anger Drew Carey.

58. Swap Meet: Swap Meet conjures up images of PTA parents getting together to trade in their old silverware in exchange for a cozy sweater or some shit like that. This Swap Meet is not that. It’s just attempting to swap one item out for another of the same price. Really the only reason it’s ranked this highly is because of the ~FuNkY~ color of the set.

57. Shopping Spree: Seems like a game that would be tons of fun, right? A shopping spree! Who doesn’t love those? Well, when the spree is limited to four so-so items, it’s not quite as exciting. The best part of this game is when the contestant somehow thinks that a couple of handbags is for sure more expensive than a gigantic plasma television and then gets SHUT DOWN by Drew.

56. Step Up: Would be better with a companion game called 2 Tha Streets but you work with what you’ve got.

55. Lucky Seven: Real talk: Lucky Seven is the worst game that offers up a car as the prize. Why? Because it’s fucking hard. These people are basically just guessing prices blind without any of the fun hints or mini prize opportunities that so many other games come with. There isn’t even a cool set to help spice things up — it’s just a big board that reveals numbers one by one. The only reason Lucky Seven is even ranked this high is that the excitement factor of having a car as the grand prize helps keep the tension high. I've always enjoyed this game - especially when Barker used to tell the winners if they had money left over, they could buy gas for their new car.  Back then, they could actually get somewhere with a couple of bucks.

54. Danger Price: This game would be SO much better if the contestant was forced to traverse a set of laser wires in pursuit of their goal, but I guess that’s not the kind of “danger” being referred to here. Still, for such a simple game, it’s weirdly addicting watching the pieces on the board rotate to reveal their prices.

53. Take Two: This game should be way more boring than it is. The contestant literally just has to choose two items, out of four, that add up to a given dollar amount. It’s wicked simple. But for some reason, those fun ’70s-style asterisks are enough to bring this game up a bit in the rankings.

52. Grand Game: As a kid, I always thought this game was way more exciting than I now do. $10,000 seemed like such a huge sum of money, and it was always portrayed as one of the higher-stakes games because of that. But then you realize that half the games out there are giving away cash and cars worth way more than $10,000, and Grand Game loses most of its luster. The residual nostalgia is what brings this game to number 52 on the list.

51. 2 For the Price of 1: Yet another relatively boring game saved by a set piece that is way more fun than it has any right to be.

50. Bonus Game: More asterisks = another solid game option. It’s not too complex, to be certain, but the addition of a bit of luck into this one ratchets up the excitement. Also, I think one of the older games and I like the suspense

49. Five Price Tags: Because this game is played for a car, it gets an automatic bump in the rankings. The game itself is pretty dull, though. Any game that mostly just involves choosing the correct price among many given options is never all that intriguing, no matter how many price tags they add to the equation.

48. Gas Money: There’s some interesting Americana at play here, with a set and name that does just enough to evoke the aura of Route 66 and the colorful Southwestern sky. But, when it comes down to it, this is just another “choose the price from among a group of prices” game. Sure, there’s a chance to win some cash thrown in, but…

47. Bullseye: A game that seems way more complicated than it actually is, and offers quite a few chances to win the grand prize. You don’t have to hit the bullseye to win, just get on the board and then hope that the grocery item that got you there offers up the victory. Sometimes these “multiple chances” games are great. But this one is almost like two games in one, except the second game is 100% luck. I have always been a fan of the grocery games

46. 1/2 Off: It’s just fun to watch a whole pile of money come cascading out of a small box, honestly.

45. Easy as 1 2 3: The game is very similar to a bunch that have been listed above, but this one comes with numbered blocks as props. And everyone knows that regressing back to childhood via the use of oversized blocks is SO in this season.

44. Line ‘Em Up: Another one of those “why do I enjoy this stupid game so much” kind of games. There’s literally no reason it should be as entertaining as it is. No reason. But here we are.

43. Magic Number: It’s all about dat sound effect.

42. Check Out: A solid game brought down by the fact that it reminds you of how you need to go shopping for dinner later even though you’ve only got $17 in your bank account right now.

41. More or Less: What a ~unique~ ’60s-inspired font!

40. Safe Crackers: Safe Crackers is one of those games that looks INFINITY TIMES better than it actually is. You except some kind of super-sleuthing, James Bond-style intrigue. Instead, you’ve just got people putting a couple numbers in order and then trying to open a comically oversize door. Why, Safe Crackers, must you make promises you can’t keep? This game would probably be in my Top 10 or 20

39. Pick a Pair: A strikingly simple game — choose two items that cost the same as each other! — paired with the fact that the contestant is given multiple choices to win makes this a game that is easy to watch, even if it never completely stirs the imagination.

38. Pay the Rent: A relatively new game, and one that offers one of the larger (if not largest) cash prizes among any of the TPIR games. The major con here is that the name of the game just reminds you how much damn money you throw away each month on rent.

37. Shell Game: A variation on one of the most classic games of chance of all time, TPIR’s version of this gambler’s temptation throws a couple pricing questions into the mix but otherwise remains pretty similar. When you stack it up against some of the other pricing games on the show, though, you realize that even the classics aren’t necessarily infallible. And Barker did it better

36. Triple Play: Lots of cars on offer, which is an automatic bonus. Otherwise, not all that great.

35. Bonkers: Because it’s always fun watching people run around, frantically mashing large tokens against a board.

34. Card Game: This game has a bit of everything — there’s a car to be won, a bit of strategy at play, and oversize props. But too often this game ends with the contestant getting the card that allows them to just name their final price right then and there, which negates everything else about the game. I always liked this game, too.  But if that "new" card is now part of the game, I agree, it takes the fun out of it.

33. Check Game: OVERSIZE NOVELTY CHECKS FTW. again, when Barker would give out the check and tall them they could only cash it backstage, classic.

32. It’s in the Bag: One of those games that really isn’t that great, but feels more enjoyable than it is because of its ubiquity. You become so used to watching as those faux-crinkled-bags descend to reveal the item within that the process becomes almost soothing.

31. Make Your Move: Whenever this game is played, I like to think about how much oil is used in between appearances to ensure that the track upon which the multicolored signs slide remains as slick as ever. Then I imagine just taking the signs and pushing them around wildly for no reason at all other than to experience the soothing glide of a well-oiled track.

30. Grocery Game: This game requires a surprising amount of skill — five grocery items are put in front of you, and you just have to come up with whatever combination of the five you think will put you within the (relatively small) price range required to win. The intrigue comes from the fact that there are so many different ways this game can be played; the contestant is give numerous paths to follow, and it’s always intriguing to see which one he or she follows. But then some idiot chooses like, 12 boxes of cookies and goes WAY overboard and you realize just how frustrating all that freedom can be. Again, the grocery games are definitely my favorites.

29. Temptation: There really isn’t much temptation here, despite the name. It’s not like the contestant is given a new offer to walk away each time, increasing as they get closer and closer to winning the car. Either way, it’s strangely enthralling watching Drew Carey hit the little buttons that reveal the actual numbers in the price of the car.

28. Golden Road: I used to think this game was THE BEST. I mean, there’s gold, and a road, which makes it seem like the game will be a long journey through a land of riches and mystery. But then the reality of the game appeared to me as I grew older. The golden road itself is all flash, no substance. The real game is just choosing one of the given numbers to complete the price of the prize at hand — not anything really different from many lesser pricing games. Still, the nostalgia I feel for the Golden Road keeps it ranked in the top 30.

27. Clock Game: Race-against-the-clock games are always enjoyable because they expose the true strength (or weakness) of the human spirit under pressure. This is a clock game distilled to its very essence — I mean, it’s literally called the Clock Game. And so while the contestant might simply be standing still the entire game, there’s a certain energy and pace to this one that infuses it will just enough je ne sais quoi. The quiet tones of Barker calling higher and lower were always soothing.

26. Cover Up: The real fun here comes from the fact that the contestant is given multiple chances to win the prize. Get just one number right, and you can continue. And since there are so many opportunities possible here, it’s one of the best games for playing along at home.

25. Money Game: Am I completely and utterly taken in by the little drawing of the car that the contestants must try to uncover? Yes. Why do I find it so great? Unclear. Just let it happen. And I remember watching when there wasn't a space in the middle, yep, I'm old.

24. Pass the Buck: The setup for the main part of the game is fine — choosing which of two items is priced a dollar too low. But once the contestant reaches the main board and must face the possibility of hitting a “lose everything,” the tension reaches a new level. This is a game with multiple ways to win, and even if the contestant doesn’t get the car, there is still just about as much money on offer as a “consolation prize” as there is total for some other pricing games.

23. Now…or Then: A history lesson and a pricing game all wrapped into one. What a fun look back into the past, when times were simpler and we weren’t paying absurd amounts of money for basic products.

22. Stack the Deck: Perhaps seems better than it actually is because it looks like one big card game. And unlike the Card Game, this one doesn’t have any crazy circumstances in which the point of the game is basically rendered null in one fell swoop.

21. Time Is Money: This one’s got a countdown clock, but instead of counting down time, it counts down money. And as each dollar ticks away, the excitement level starts ticking upward.

20. Any Number: When a game offers such a HUGE distance between its top prize and lowest prize, it feels like so much more is at stake. And perhaps no game represents this better than Any Number. You can either walk away with a car, or with barely enough to cover the cost of a cheap meal at the deli down the street. And with such a simple structure to follow, this game makes for incredibly good viewing. I always used to root for the piggy bank.

19. Pocket Change: I really like the games where they have to pick envelopes off a board at random

18. Race Game: A race against the clock, plus a person sprinting around and looking goofy, plus four different prizes up for grabs, makes for a successful game. One of my Top 10 - it goes up a notch when the contestant wipes out.

17. That’s Too Much: If only because it’s fun to watch as the host forces contestants to scream, “That’s too much!” with way more fervor than any person has the right to say those words.

16. Range Game: Who knows if the Range Game machine really takes as long to reset as they keep claiming. But there’s something about that fact — the idea that this is a special moment that comes around rarely, so it should be cherished — that is utterly endearing. I, too, love the explanation about they can't restart the game 

15. Dice Game: As Beyoncé says, “Man it feel like rollin’ dice, man this feel like rollin’ dice.” I always wanted them to give the dice to hang from the mirror of the new car.

14. One Away: In times past, Bob Barker requested that contestants kindly ask the “ladies” if they have at least X amount of numbers right. Now, with Drew Carey, it’s just “sound effects lady” who is in charge. Where have the other ladies gone? Do they no longer have the ability to crosscheck the price of the car against the contestant’s given price?

13. Let ‘em Roll: As with the Dice Game, watching people roll dice is strangely enthralling. And the model-cum-croupier watching with her oversize stick at the ready makes this feel like a true ~Vegas~ game.


11. Switcheroo: If only because saying “Switcheroo” is hilariously enjoyable.

10. Pathfinder: You know in the first Harry Potter when Harry, Ron, and Hermione have to play as pieces on a life-size chess board, and you’re like, “Wait, being a human game piece actually looks kind of cool,” until you realize they are going to be violently attacked by the non-human pieces and it all starts to seem way too dangerous for kids to be participating in? This is kind of like that, but safer and with a car at the end. This game is in the right slot.

9. Punch a Bunch: The vicarious power you feel as a contestant slams their first through those small money holes is INCREDIBLE. "And be sure not to pull the paper out that is inside."

8. Rat Race: No, not the seminal (read: not seminal) 2001 film, but a game played with actual (robotic) rats. And while the outcome is clearly predetermined by producers, it’s still fun to watch and pretend that the little rats are actually real and fiercely competing for glory.

7. Spelling Bee: Again, my predilection for games involving pulling random slips off of a large board helps raise this game in the rankings. Plus, spelling bees are fun.

6. Ten Chances: Alternately one of the most exhilarating and most frustrating games on offer, there’s just something special about Ten Chances. And it combines watching the host hit small buttons with the fun of sliding little signs along a well-oiled track, so obviously I can’t resist. And the game requires relatively good penmanship, which is a lost art.

5. Three Strikes: Is this game actually anything like baseball? No. But does it do its darndest to make the most out of the comparison with fun props and the like? Hell yeah.

4. Hole in One: An all-time classic. Combines the fun of a regular pricing game with the tension of watching a golf tournament. OK, maybe more like watching your relatives play mini-golf, but still. The combination of shopping savvy and golfing skills needed to succeed at this game means that it is never dull, and even a contestant who has studied all of the prices of items usually on offer by TPIR obsessively won’t be guaranteed a win. That kind of uncertainty adds just the right amount of tension. when Barker would always make that first putt (and make the contestant hold his mike - perfect

3. Master Key: What is it about watching people turning fake keys in comically large fake locks that makes for good television?

2. Cliff Hangers: Ugh, SO MANY TIMES have I wanted to be able to reach into the TV screen and just grab a hold of the little yodeling climber and shake him and say, “DO YOU NOT SEE YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO CERTAIN DEATH? TURN AROUND, ALL YE WHO CLIMB HERE.” And yet, watching that poor guy plummet over the edge is one of the most iconic moments you can have on TPIR. A simply glorious game. The yodeling song would push this down a few notches for me.

1. Plinko: Is there any universe in which Plinko would not be the number one game on TPIR? Plinko is THE ultimate symbol of TPIR, and even though the top prize isn’t as high as some of the other pricing games, Plinko remains the one game that EVERYBODY wants to play. I mean, they even did an entire Plinko-only episode, for crying out loud. Congratulations, Plinko, on your literal perfection. We are not worthy.

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