First off, let me start by saying all the things I enjoyed about this morning's episode of "The Price is Right".
Now with that out of the way, let me get into the nuts and bolts of why this should never happen again. "Price is Right" Team? I hope you're paying attention.
There are several reasons why there is variety in this show. You have to play six different games a day, and thirty different games a week, because people get bored. With a game like Plinko, playing it six times over the course of an hour gets tedious. Also, the games are played to a specific time. Plinko is, by far, one of the longest games on the show. Playing it six times affects other parts of the show (more on that later).
Take the first two playings of this show as an example. It seems as if whoever is now setting up the games (because it is clearly no one who knows what they're doing) is forcing contestants into "losses".
NOTE: The term "Loss" for Plinko can get very muddy. Here is the actual definition as I learned it from working at the show. A loss in Plinko means the contestant does not get all five chips, then ends up winning less than the top amount for a single chip (in the current case of the game, $10,000).
While I do appreciate, to a certain degree, the "variety" put into today's playings by putting prizes on the board (and taking a part of a page from the UK's Plinko Playbook), if the contestants don't win the chips, it's not as exciting for the home viewer. The first two contestants earned a total of FOUR CHIPS (including the two free ones), and with them, ended up hitting THREE ZEROES! Finally, by the third game, the secret of having contestants win the chips hit the staff, and the contestant managed to get all five (only one of two who did). Her takeaway? $11,000 and an ATV.
Let's put it in a different perspective. Let's say, for shiggles, that Superball!! had survived until this day, and become as much as a fan favorite as Plinko (especially given that it premiered two years prior).
2011: 30th Anniversary of Superball!! We're going to play Superball!! six times over the course of the show.
Now, for a skee-ball and Superball!! fan like myself, I would have naturally been excited and curious...albeit cautiously optimistic. There can be too much of a good thing, you know.
The biggest difference between Plinko and Superball!! is that the contestant, should they get at least one of the four balls, is guaranteed to win SOMETHING...even as little as $50...unlike Plinko, where the contestant still runs the risk of banking bupkus should he or she hit all Zeroes.
Also, a single playing of Superball was slotted at 6.5 minutes. Play it six times, you're now looking at 39 minutes of showtime being eaten up by this behemoth, with only FOUR MINUTES being allotted for six One-Bids, two Showcase Showdowns, and the Showcases. How long is Plinko slotted for? 5 minutes. Doing the math: 30 minutes devoted to Plinko, with 13 minutes saved for everything else.
Which brings me to the other parts of the show that playing six of the same game can affect. As I said earlier, only 13 minutes of the show are allotted for six One-Bids, two Showcase Showdowns, and the Showcases. While the One-Bids don't normally take that long, and overbids can be edited out (but shouldn't), the Showdowns still take a good amount of time, especially if you get into a Spin-Off, Bonus Spin, or Heavy Spinner situation (or any combination of the above). This ends up squeezing the Showcases at the end of the show...as was proven by today's debacle.
Today's first Showcase started with a trip to Turks & Caicos, continued with a Jet Ski...then ended. Wait, what? Did we just get Punk'd? A Showcase is supposed to be a lavish display of prizes for the contestant to bid on...not a playing of 2 For The Price Of 1.
Well, let's see if our second Showcase is going to be any better. Oooh, an outdoor bed! And a truck! Wait...Any Number? No, that's the Showcase. When the show returns from break, even the untrained eye can tell that Drew is being pressed for time: no prize recap, hurried price reveals, and he barely has enough time to sign off (as does George Gray) before they squeeze the credits.
Now comes the time in the class where I tell you what I would have done to properly celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Plinko, with two different scenarios.
Scenario 1: Keep the All-Plinko format (if there's a gun to my head and it has to happen).
While in theory the idea isn't too bad, the execution was poor at best. Here are the steps to improve it:
1A) Give each contestant (3) free chips, and ask them to earn only two, or
1B) Change the way chips are awarded (Look at Punch-A-Bunch, Secret X, Half-Off, Five Price Tags and Rat Race for ideas)
2) Replace the value strip at the bottom of the board with the following:
500 - 1000 - 2500 - 5000 - 10000 - 5000 - 2500 - 1000 - 500
3) Continue to change up the game by adding prizes to the board during the other five playings, but more prizes in more places, always keeping "CAR" on the board:
Game 2: 500 - Elliptical - London - 5000 - CAR - 5000 - Paris - Computer - 500
Game 3: Groceries - 1000 - 2500 - Jet Ski - CAR - Catamaran - 2500 - 1000 - Maid Service
Game 4: 500 - 1000 - CAR - 5000 - 20000 - 5000 - CAR - 1000 - 500
Game 5: 500 - Seattle - 2500 - Tahiti - CAR - Australia - 2500 - Dallas - 500
Game 6: CAR - 1000 - 2500 - 5000 - CAR - 5000 - 2500 - 1000 - CAR
4) Theme the Showcases.
Showcase 1: Plinko theme (Year's supply of Pringles, $10,000 cash, Car)
Showcase 2: "30" (30 movie tickets, Trip to Wrestlemania 30, Chrysler 300)
Scenario 2: Regular show - Plinko feel.
1) Stage festooned with Plinko decor.
2) Standard 6-Game line-up, awarding an additional $10,000 for a win, with Plinko in Act VI.
3) Use the board setup as outlined above.
4) Theme the Showcases, as above.
5) Everyone in the audience receives a commemorative Plinko chip, with 10 to give away through PriceIsRight.com.
Now, as some of you may know, "Price is Right" and I had a bad break-up last year with the "Young and the Restless" special episode. The "All-Plinko" episode is just another gimmick episode for a show that lasted 35 years without any regular gimmick episodes (Prime-Time, Anniversary, X,000th Episode, and Christmas Episodes excused). "Price is Right", please stop trying. You're starting to look sad and needy.