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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TPiRetro: 10 May 1989 (Debut of a Fan Favorite Game)


To help get myself back in recapping form, I'll be doing one or two TPiRetro articles just to work my way gradually back into shape for the big return in real-time on 6 February. For today's jaunt down memory lane, we turn the clock back to May 1989 and witness the debut of the Pricing Game that may have been the most unfairly-retired of them all.

More on this when we get to it. Until then, enjoy the nostalgia bombs, courtesy of GSN forum user TVLubber and his YouTube uploading skills. The complete episode is here, if you wish to see this for yourself.

Episode #: Unavailable at this time
Airdate: 10 May 1989
VTR date: Unavailable at this time
Captions: "#1 Game Show," "Lots of Laughs," "Join the Fun!"
First Four: Christine, Anita, Joan, Pierre (L-R)
Today's Models: Pennington, Parkinson, Hallstrom, & Bradley, Attorneys at Law

Bob leads off with the tease that on today's show we will witness the debut of a brand new Pricing Game, one that he claims is "pure Price is Right" in that it is "made for good shoppers." Well, he was right about that, as anyone who knows what game he's talking about can attest... but that's for later. Right now, let's get into the show with this...

1. Whirlpool microwave range
Christine
Anita
Joan
Pierre
1190
1100
1300
900




$1,360



Some humorous banter about Joan and her husband follows, about how he's the one who actually does all the cooking. This leads to some Barker Words of Dubious Wisdom: "Ladies, if you don't enjoy cooking, do it badly enough and your husband will take over!"

Lucky $even:
1989 Pontiac Sunbird LE coupe (std, features I can't make out thanks to bad A/V quality, CA emission, power locks)

By 1989, four-digit cars were on their way out, but they still popped up every now and again, such as the spot I'm covering right now. Thus, this is classic Lucky $even gameplay, with no free digit spotted to the player.

8
$
9
-$1
$6
5
$
9
5
EXACTA!
$6
5
$
9
5
7
-$2
$4
5
$
9
5
7
2
-$3
$1 WIN!

You shouldn't try Joan's strategy today, but back then it certainly worked!

After the next IUFB is brought out, Bob calls out a staff member (coincidentally also named "Bob") who's retiring after this taping.
2. ttessaB... er, Bassett Reminiscence vanity set
I
swear, Holly, you and props... ;^)
(w/bonus: $40 of Prince Machiavelli cologne)
Christine
Anita
Emma
Pierre
795
850
995
1100


$935





Squeeze Play:
Trip to Paris, France (6n modified American plan, Hotel Pullman Saint Jacques)

3
6
9
6
7
0

Remove the first 6...

3

9
6
7
0

...Oh dear, Squeezy's on the blink again. (This must have been just before they gave up and took the motor out of the prop; notice there's no hidden stagehand here..) Not to worry, though, Bob just does it by hand...


3
9
6
7
$
3
6
6
7
LOSS

Not an especially nice setup. (See, even back then there were some decidedly nasty layouts. It's not a recent phenomenon!) And once again, Squeeze Play is proof that games are not retired simply because they suffer from electromechanical problems (if they were, poor Squeezy would've been tossed in the trash baler at least a quarter-century ago!)... which ties in to what we're going to be talking about in just a little bit.

(And I have an !_! moment: Based on the quarter-hour ID, then mandatory for CBS stations during network programming, the recording of this episode came from my very own local affiliate, WBNS! Even in the past I can't escape from Columbus!)

3. Pfaff Hobby-matic sewing machine
Christine
Elaine
Emma
Pierre
750
725
650
700




$699

Ouch!

Emma goes down in Price is Right history as the first to play the debuting $uper $aver:
Keller Contemporary Classics dining room group (Rosenthall dinnerware; $2,590)

  • 20/20 eye drops
  • Creamettes macaroni
  • Niagara sizing spray
  • Pledge furniture polish
  • Shield deodorant soap
  • All liquid detergent

For the uninitiated: $uper $aver is, as you can tell, a GP (grocery product) game played for a stage prize. Each of the six products has a price displayed on it that is not the ARP for that product. Five of the six GPs display prices that are below the ARP; one and only one has a price that is worth more than retail. The player must pick four products, one at a time, and the difference between the posted price and the ARP is added to his/her Bank. If s/he picks the one GP that is overpriced, the difference is deducted from the Bank. If, after making four selections, the player has at least $1.00 in the Bank, s/he wins the prize. Sounds simple enough... but there's more to this story, as I'll tell you in a little bit.

Detergent
$1.29
Eye drops
$2.09
Macaroni
32¢
Soap
89¢
Polish
$1.27
Sizing
99¢
BANK
$1.00


1. Macaroni: 42¢
Detergent
$1.29
Eye drops
$2.09
Macaroni
+10¢
Soap
89¢
Polish
$1.27
Sizing
99¢
BANK
$1.10

2. Sizing: $1.29
Detergent
$1.29
Eye drops
$2.09
Macaroni
+10¢
Soap
89¢
Polish
$1.27
Sizing
+30¢
BANK
$1.40

3. Soap: 69¢
Detergent
$1.29
Eye drops
$2.09
Macaroni
+10¢
Soap
-20¢
Polish
$1.27
Sizing
+30¢
BANK
$1.20

Now, this doesn't mean Emma has lost; she gets to make her fourth pick regardless. Remember that; it'll become important momentarily.

4. Detergent: $1.49
Detergent
+20¢
Eye drops
$2.09
Macaroni
+10¢
Soap
-20¢
Polish
$1.27
Sizing
+30¢
LOSS
$1.40
(Eye drops: $2.59 - +50¢; Polish: $1.67 - +40¢)

So, alas, nothing would have saved her on that last pick, the way it shook out. Bummer of a debut for a game that would go on to become a bit of a fan favorite during its relatively short lifespan.

But it's as nothing compared to the way $uper $aver exited the rotation! On what proved to be its final playing, Bob either didn't properly explain the rules to the player, or the player didn't understand that she did not automatically lose the game just because she picked the one overpriced GP. Regardless, Bob declared a technical win on the air for that player, since it was obvious her confusion over the rules cost her the game. After the taping, the staff was essentially told that $uper $aver was off the show effective immediately, because Bob would have rather seen the game retired than run the risk of that situation ever happening again. It was an unfortunate end to an ingenious, well-crafted Pricing Game.

And to dispel a surprisingly persistent urban myth: No, $uper $aver was NOT retired for any mechanical problems the prop had. It did have some, to be sure; the rotating price trilons sometimes spun out of sequence, or the Eggcrate Bank display would frequently glitch out (just ask any LFaT about "LOSK" and watch a nostalgic grin spread over their face). But these were hardly enough by themselves to kill the game... once again, if that's all it took to put a Pricing Game out to pasture, Squeeze Play would've been the first to go, long before $uper $aver was even conceived let alone retired.

Showcase Showdown #1:

Emma
20
40
.60

TIE

Anita
60
.60

TIE
Joan
50
55
1.05

$10,932

Spin-Off:

Emma
85
WIN

Anita
20

$975


4. Pinseeker custom-made golf clubs
Christine
Elaine
Henry
Pierre
1000
1201
1200
1095
$100 Bonus







The perfect bid bonus was $100 back then, and you can tell this episode came before all the lawsuits and drama: Bob hadn't yet stopped the practice of having female contestants fish the C-note out of his "hundred-dollar pocket" themselves.

Most Expensive:
  1. Kitchen Aid side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  2. Monaco brass day bed (Loving Care)
  3. Ricardo of Beverly Hills 6pc luggage set


Refrigerator
Day bed
Luggage
$1679
$1279
$835
WIN!


Henry, it turns out, has made The Trip about sixty times before finally getting to hear his Come On Down. Bear in mind, this was before Price became the veritable institution it is today!

And on the subject of "Things that were acceptable in 1989 but not so much today," we see a pair of unidenified female hands (possibly attached to Janice, but I can't be sure) fondle Rod Roddy's face a bit while he's calling the next contestant down.

5. Olympus Infinity Twin 35mm camera w/accessories
Cindy
Elaine
Henry
Pierre
600
649
400
425




$406



Mr. Sixty-Time is going to hopefully validate his tenacious loyalty with a good showing in Punch-a-Bunch:
Hoover Brush-Vac
Slimatics workout video
Lady Remington shaver
Indy Knit boys' activewear
$49
$10
$38
$41
HIGHER
$65
HIGHER
$13
HIGHER
$50
LOWER
$26

A VHS workout video? Childrens' clothing as a SP? Can you tell this is the '80s, or what? Note that Rod does all four prize descriptions before the game starts, instead of today's one-at-a-time format.

Because this playing is under the "classic" $10K rules and slip distribution, there's no need for me to observe a fudge rule this time. Two $10K slips on the board means a 1:25 chance of winning, period, no controversy necessary.

$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
4
$
$
$
1
$
S
2
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
3
$
$
$
$
$
$

Punch #1
$100
Go on...
Punch #2
$100
SECOND CHANCE
$100 +
$1000
STOP
(Punch #3: $100; Punch #4: $250)

The rot hadn't yet begun to set in on Punchy like it would in later years and decades, but by 1989 the payouts were no longer quite as impressive as they had been just a few years before. However, for daytime TV in 1989, $1,100 was still a nice little sum of money, certainly compared to what else was available on the board (only five slips out of fifty offered more, not counting Second Chances).

"Lucky" Pierre has been anything but lucky today. The vultures are circling, and since this is the late '80s, the vultures are wearing Zubaz and pastel muscle shirts. Yikes! Nobody deserves that.

6. DIA Sleepster recliner
Cindy
Elaine
Amy
Pierre
750
876
825
875


$905





Yes, even that kind of gamesmanship went on back in '89. Mind the feathers and claws on your way up, Elaine...

One Away:
1989 Buick Skylark custom sedan (std, bucket seats, leather console, CA emission)

2
1
3
6
1



1
2
4
5
0

1 right? *HONK*
2 right? *HONK*
3 right? *HONK*
4 right? *HONK*
5 right? ...*HONK!*

1
2
4
5
0
1
2
4
5
0
ACED!

We don't see One Away setups like this anymore, that's for sure!

Cindy, Amy, and Pierre (F4) receive Artisan House wall sculptures, Spencer's baby clothes, and Caldecort anti-itching cream. Say what you will, but I think today's CNAoS fare much better...

It comes out that Henry has not only made the Studio 33 pilgrimage sixty times, but he also went to see Bob do Truth or Consequences as a child! Now that's what I call an LFaT!

Showcase Showdown #2:

Henry
35
70
1.05

$1,660
Christine
65
.65

$4,893
Elaine
40
30
.75
WIN



Showcases: Elaine (true) top winner, Emma runner-up.

1. EXTRA! EXTRA! Martians Invade Popular Game Show! Prizes Stolen From Under Contestants' Noses and Taken to Mars! Martian Customs Official Resembles "Johnny-Bot" From Early 1980s!
  • Martian cheer maker 3pc corner bar set
  • Martian party center Baldwin Explorer MIDI keyboard
  • Martian water pod Ski boat w/trailer
Elaine passes; Emma bids $16,500.


2. Splendido'd! Big Banana'd!
  • Pearl Grandfather Clock
  • 7pc living room group
    • Galaxy Highland carpeting (25 yd²)
  • Marantz audio/video cabinet, loaded with audio equipment & 27" television
Elaine bids $9,700.


Moment
of Truth
2. Emma
Ski boat
1. Elaine
Living room
Bid
16500
9700
ARP
$16,474
NOOOOOO!!!
$11,332
Result
26 WSD
1632

$699
Elaine wins!
$24,687

I just hate when that happens. Tough break.

LEADER BOARD: 10 May 1989
Elaine
$24,687
Joan

$10,932
Christine

$4,893

Henry

$1,660

Anita

$975

Emma
$699
TOTAL WINNINGS
$43,846
(58.07% of $75,337 + $140 bonus)

And that concludes our little trip back in time for today. There may be more before TPiRecap Towers gets back to full operational status... stay tuned!

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