As I mentioned a few days ago, I took my Mathematics of Games and Gambling class to see a showing of The Price is Right LIVE at our local community arts center. The show was last night and while I haven't seen my class yet to get their impressions of the show, here is my personal review of the Price is Right traveling show.
In a word: Semi-lame.
Ok, that's not even a real word, but it's how I feel.
Many of people's favorite games are present. Punch-a-Bunch, Plinko, Cliffhangers, Any Number, and Hole in One were all played. The had one group of three people spin the big wheel. Two people got the chance to play for the Showcase (only one showcase - both players bid at the same time).
The show started late and ended early (or so it seemed). Extremely short amount of time spent actually playing any games. They showed a bunch of video clips from old shows - but nothing that you can't find on YouTube (for free). The prizes were borderline good for most of the show...certainly not great (even with lowered expectations). There was a refrigerator as a prize and a billiard table used as big prizes (neither were actually given away). The small (initial bid) prizes included a 4 handheld phone system for a house (seriously, who uses those any more?), a pair of diamond earrings, a popcorn machine, and a vacuum.
The final showcase consisted of:
A new car (Nissan Versa I believe?)
A 3-day cruise to the Bahamas
An iPod touch
A 50 inch flat screen tv
The first contestant bid $19,000 and change. The second contestant bid $20,000 and change.
For the traveling show, the person who is closest to the actual price (without going over) wins ONE of the items in the showcase - in this case, the 3-day cruise. In order to win ALL of the items, you had to be within $100 of the actual price (i.e. not going to happen)!
Actual retail price (according to the show)? $14,000 and change.
The show ended on that note. A seemingly bogus final showcase, a pair of losing contestants, and a bunch of audience members feeling like the contestants were cheating. The best line I overheard while leaving the theater: "If a new car really cost $14,000, then everyone would have a new car."
Never mind all the other stuff in the showcase...
Since I was curious, here's a few numbers that I found via internet research*:
*note, all prices are guesses, I have no idea what the brands/companies were for some of the prizes
Price of 2012 Nissan Versa starting at: $10,999 (from Nissan's website)
3-day Cruise: $299
50 inch TV: LG ($699.00) one of the cheapest options
iPod touch: $179.00
So is the game rigged? Well, I say yes but only because they make you think the showcase prizes are great when in reality they aren't nearly so good. I also found it weird that in Punch-a-Bunch, the host knew exactly where the one $2500 prize was hiding...and it appeared to be printed on a larger card. Makes me wonder if that particular hole had two cards residing in it, a $50 or similar prize if the contestant happened to select it and the big prize otherwise (the host showed the big prize to "prove" the fairness of the game). I say when you have to "prove" that you are on the up-and-up, you probably aren't really on the up-and-up.
My suggestion to anyone who might see one of the live shows in their area - bid $1 and nothing more on the final showcase. Chances are, your opponent will over bid and you then you win the cruise. Don't bother trying to get too close, it won't work!
What I don't understand is why the producers of the show don't want to have one person win the cruise. If the price is really only $300, that's paid for in a matter of 10 balcony tickets...a mere drop in the bucket. Why have people leave angry (even if the pricing seems fair now that I looked up all the costs)? If one of the two people had won the cruise, I think the entire audience mood at the end of the show would have been much better.
I also question the length of the show. In a typical TV episode (granted, I'm sure footage is cut in order to fit it in 60 minutes - with commercials), there are six games played, the big wheel is spun by two groups of three people, and there are two final showcases.
In the travel show, there were only five games played, the big wheel was spun by ONE trio of contestants, and there was only one final showcase. The entire show lasted just over an hour - and much of that time was "wasted" by showing the aforementioned video footage of old shows and for people making their way to the stage.
In the end, I'm interested to hear my students' take on the show, but for me, I can't in good conscience recommend anyone go to the show. You'll have more fun watching old clips on your computer - save the price of the ticket.
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