When Bob Barker announced his retirement from hosting The Price Is Right in late 2006, it came as something of a shock. There’s nothing unusual about a man in his 80s deciding to call it a career, but Barker’s Price had been a staple of the daytime lineup for 34 years. Some details had changed in that time: Barker let his hair go white in the mid-’80s; buxom models skilled in the art of gracefully sweeping their hands in the direction of prizes had come and gone; inflation had raised the prices of Quaker Oats and Whirlpool refrigerators. Otherwise, however, The Price Is Right experience had remained remarkably unchanged.
Can the show survive post-Barker? Daytime ratings have declined under new host Drew Carey, though a decline was expected. As Carey works to win over viewers, he might do well to study the new four-disc set The Best of The Price Is Right—both for the episodes it includes and for the ones it doesn’t. Spanning five decades, the episodes in the set suggest that guessing the price of things is an activity Americans will not soon tire of, whether it’s Barker or someone else holding the microphone. Other episodes, conspicuously absent from the set, suggest just how unlikely Price’s long run has been.
Click the launch module above for a video slide show on the 50-year evolution of The Price Is Right.