Ah, The Price Is Right, growing up as a kid during the 90s, this was always my go to show whenever I was sick from school or I stayed home, it’s hard to not love such a classic series like The Price Is Right and like most game show franchises, they spawned off several spinoffs during its’ long run nearing 45 years at the time of this post.
One of those spinoffs came around in the mid 1990s, in 1994, Paramount Television teamed up with Mark Goodson Productions to produce a primetime syndicated version of The Price Is Right simply titled The New Price Is Right:
The New Price Is Right is a syndicated edition of the American game show The Price Is Right which aired from September 12, 1994 to January 27, 1995. Doug Davidson, who also appears on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, hosted with Burton Richardson as the announcer. The prize models were Julie Lynn Cialini, Ferrari Farris and Lisa Stahl. Kathy Greco, then associate producer of the CBS version of The Price Is Right, served as this edition’s producer while Jay Wolpert served as associate. The show was produced by Mark Goodson Productions and distributed by Paramount Domestic Television.
The New Price Is Right was the third attempt at a syndicated edition of the CBS daytime show, preceded by a weekly series that ran concurrently with the daytime series from 1972 until 1980 and a daily series that aired from 1985 until 1986. Like those two series, The New Price Is Right was thirty minutes in length as opposed to its parent series, which has been sixty minutes in length since 1975. Another similarity it shared with its predecessors in syndication was an increase in the prize budget as opposed to the daytime series. Despite the similarities, The New Price Is Right was designed to not be a strict copy of its parent series; to this effect, several changes were made to distinguish the series from the daytime Price Is Right.
After this version’s cancellation, many of its concepts were adopted by European versions of the show. Various prop changes and rule modifications from this version, as well as many of the music cues, also carried over to the CBS daytime and prime time versions of the show. Additionally, several production members continued their involvement with The Price Is Right after this version’s cancellation.
The New Price Is Right differed greatly from its parent show in several ways. The entire concept, which had not been radically modified since 1975, was given a significant update in an attempt to appeal to a younger generation. Davidson was at the time a popular actor on The Young and the Restless, and Burton Richardson had made his mark as the announcer for The Arsenio Hall Show. The show’s models were much younger than those appearing at the time on The Price Is Right in daytime. Of the three models, Lisa Stahl was the oldest at the age of 29. By comparison, all three regular daytime Price Is Right models at the time were at least forty years old; Kathleen Bradley was 43, Holly Hallstrom was 44, and longest-tenured model Janice Pennington was 52.
There was also a larger prize budget for The New Price Is Right as there had been in the previous syndicated series. This series took it a step further than its predecessors had and not only applied it to the prizes up for grabs but also to the pricing games themselves; in games like Hole in One, which featured the contestants trying to correctly price grocery items, the show replaced the grocery items with merchandise prizes that were worth significantly more. Furthermore, The New Price Is Right did not limit itself to American-made cars in games that offered them like the daytime series was at the time.
One of the most significant changes involved the selection of contestants. Previous syndicated series began similarly to the daytime version, with four contestants being called to Contestants’ Row to compete in a One Bid game, with the winner playing a pricing game on stage. The New Price Is Right conducted the proceedings differently. Each contestant called from the audience immediately came onstage to play a pricing game. Three pricing games were played per episode along with a Showcase Showdown.
For the time period this was airing in, the show was a serviceable counterpart to the daytime TV show, I used to watch this show a lot when it was airing in 1994, I remember when I used to watch Rugrats on Nickelodeon at 7 and then switching over to The New Price Is Right on KDKA, the local CBS affiliate, at 7:30.
So, how come this only lasted 4 months on the air? The show did not last very long in its’ timeslot and for a number of reasons.
For one reason, host Doug Davidson, who had never hosted a game show prior to this being most known for The Young & The Restless at the time, really did not have the right motivation to host this show. It really felt like he was trying way too hard to keep the jokey humor of the original series in the newer show but he could never find the right charisma or edge to make him stand out on his own. It’s like when they got San Diego Chargers placekicker Rolf Benirschke to host the daytime version of Wheel Of Fortune in the late 80s, it just didn’t come together at all:
Another reason was that the show tried to distance itself from The Price Is Right to the point where they just started changing pricing games and other elements of the show for no real reason at all. They didn’t even have Contestants’ Row in the beginning, most of the people were picked straight from the audience to do a pricing game. I mean, come on, Contestants’ Row and the One Bid game is the most important element of the show, how could you not have that in there. Oh, wait, they did bring in Contestants’ Row in later on…but not as you’d think:
The most frequently featured Showcase Showdown game was called “The Price Was Right”, a modification of the One Bid featured on the daytime show.
The three contestants stood behind three lecterns at the foot of the stage (a modified Contestants’ Row). Davidson introduced a vintage television commercial and provided the year the commercial aired. The three contestants then bid on what they thought the product advertised would have cost in the given year. After all three contestants made their bids, the price of the product was revealed and the closest to the actual price won the game and advanced to the Showcase.
Although it rarely happened, if all the contestants overbid, the same One Bid overbid rules applied. The bids would be erased and the contestants would be instructed to bid less than the lowest overbid amount. There was no bonus paid for an exact bid.
It makes no sense, you bring back one of the signature elements of the series and you change it up in the most insane way possible. It also doesn’t help that half the contestants they got on here were pretty dumb to say the least.
It got so bad that even Bob Barker talked about the differences between the daytime Price Is Right and the nighttime Price Is Right on the daytime show:
Lastly, the biggest reasoning why the series got the ax wasn’t really with the show itself but what was happening around the show. Anybody who was watching television in 1994 was more than likely watching this…
No matter how old you were back in 1994, you watched at least some of the OJ Simpson trial. It was a gamechanger for how the networks covered the big news stories and because of this, a lot of television shows debuting in the syndication packages of 1994 – 95 were not only losing ratings but were gone within a season. And The New Price Is Right was one of those casualties.
The New Price Is Right struggled to find an audience. The series was never able to find any sort of ratings footing and by midseason, its biggest affiliate lost as Chris-Craft pulled The New Price Is Right from all of its stations just before the New Year. With the show disappearing from New York completely, as no station picked it up after WWOR dropped it, the ratings bottomed out and the show was cancelled approximately a month later. Only sixteen weeks of episodes aired, making The New Price Is Right the shortest-lived of all of the Price Is Right syndicated productions.
Other casualties of the OJ Simpson trial included the new Family Feud with the return of host Richard Dawson and a number of daytime talk shows debuting that year including The Gordon Elliott Show.
The New Price Is Right is an example of one of those shows that I think worked much better in its’ original daytime format and should’ve stayed that way. The show tried to distance itself but in the long run, that’s what ended up killing it in the end. They tried to be way too different to the original CBS series that it ended up losing in a period where it couldn’t really win considering the stuff airing around it. The show for the timeperiod was fine for anybody who was not much into what was going on with the OJ Simpson trial, like I was…I mean, I was only 5 at the time, but today, it’s nothing special or triumphant. A forgotten piece of history that might as well stay forgotten. Unless you’re really curious about what other versions of The Price Is Right are out there, there’s no real need to seek this one out, stick with the original Price Is Right and you’ll be good to go.
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