In the land of television game shows, the host is an important part of the equation. What would Jeopardy be without Alex Trebek’s trademark moustache…er, without his self-important readings of answers in fake accents? And seriously, would it be better if those letters just appeared themselves on Wheel of Fortune as opposed to Vanna White elegantly pressing that hidden button? And, while the models are certainly part of the appeal, hypochondriac Howie Mandel basically makes Deal or No Deal what it is. And yet, these hosts have proven themselves able to pick up on new game show trends and ride them for twenty years. Bob Barker took an aging pricing game format thirty five years ago and has kept it relevant, even while hipper game shows pop up every year. It is that accomplishment that makes Bob Barker the most impressive game show host of our time, and in the wake of his retirement today it is important that we remember what makes him so engaging.
The Price is Right: Bob Barker’s Final Episode
Syndication: Check Your Local Listings
Primetime: 8pm EST on CBS
The Price is Right hasn’t changed much over the years, at least since I started watching it at a young age. The pricing games still features old technology as opposed to flashy video screens, they never did update the bidding ones, and Bob Barker still holds his trademark wired microphone. And yet, somehow, that hasn’t mattered; while other game shows from this era are now long gone, The Price is Right remains.
I believe that to be entirely the job of Bob Barker. He has remained the focus of the series from day one, and has weathered many storms. I remember a point when Barker’s beauties were the talk of the series, but now they’ve turned into nameless models because that fad came to an end even as Barker persisted. There is something timeless about him, something that allows him to continue to affect generations in a way that attractive women could only dream of achieving.
The man became a pop cultural icon by being something that today seems so foreign: he’s relateable. Now as people are attracted to the rich, to the famous, Bob Barker comes across as someone you pretty well want to be your father or uncle. When people went on stage with him they felt like they could borderline molest him because he was so darn friendly, and I often wondered how he didn’t strangle some of them (Especially the slow ones. You don’t need the audience to help you).
I don’t know if the show will be able to survive without a relateable figure like Bob Barker, and I don’t think you can replace someone like him. I will leave you with proof of his legacy in the form of pop culture references and appearances. And with a reminder to help control the pet population. Seriously, if you don’t do it now, you should be smacked upside the head.
How I Met Your Mother – Showdown
It may be the most recent, but this episode in which Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) believes Bob Barker to be his father speaks to the above. Even though it is through a television, and is clearly naive, Barney completely and totally believes Barker is his father, and you can actually see how he connects with him through television. Plus it’s pretty well hilarious.
In perhaps the greatest signal of his legacy, Bob Barker plays against type by knocking out Happy Gilmore in what became yet another example of his impact on a pop cultural generation.