The Good, Bad and the Ugly: "The Price Is
Right" Australia Revival
Originally posted: May 12, 2012
(Text by: Jim Williams)"The
Price Is Right" is back down under...and to put things mildly, people
aren't exactly thrilled about it. The following commentary will serve
more or less as my review of the new version of the venerable game show
It was a no brainer for 7 to bring
Larry Emdur back to the gig he became most famous for. Emdur already
serves as one of the co-anchors for the network's morning news and
entertainment program "The Morning Show". And, as you may remember, last
year Emdur flew to Los Angeles to do a report on "The Price is Right"
which led to cameos on the actual program which led to rumors of a
revived version of "Price" down under which led to the new Australian
"Price" on the air today. Emdur is, in the truest sense, an absolute
professional. He knows when to play things up for levity and when to
build the drama. And he seemed genuinely touched by the reaction he
received on his first show back in the saddle. He may well be the best
active emcee for "Price" on the planet.
I also have to say that I do like the set
down under. Based off the look of the highly successful French version
of "Price", "Le Juste Prix", the new set is eye catching, albeit small.
Lots of flashing lights and a great use of video wall technology on the
set's big doors.
When "Price" was on 9 Network in the 1990s
and 2000s, the show's announcer was Shawn "Cossie" Cosgrove. His easy
going and effortless style along with his rapport with Emdur made him a
great announcer and second banana. Since the show moved to 7, a new
announcer was called upon.
His name is Brodie Young and from his entrance on the first episode
(saying that he wanted to shorten the show's signature phrase to "COD",
I almost immediately wanted him off my screen. I know television
executives (a.k.a. know-it-alls, nitwits, or morons) are always wanting
to cater to a younger audience. And apparently catering to a younger
audience means hiring an announcer who could pass for the Australian
version of Vince Offer. He's actually not too horrible when it comes to
reading copy for prizes, but when it comes time for a new contestant to
come on down, "Cossie" he ain't. Young is borderline carnival barker-esque
when it comes to calling people to the floor as he has a tendency to
stretch out the call downs as if he's the center of attention. For the
sake of comparison to an American "Price" announcer, think of Brodie
Young as fill in "Price" announcer Paul Boland with an extra side of
***THE UGLY (& THE REST)***
Oh, this is where it gets lengthy. As a matter of fact, this section
will double also as an explanation on what exactly happens after a
contestant gets to come on down since most of the nuts and bolts of the
show are indeed "UGLY".
No longer do you have to win your way on stage to play a pricing game.
Contestant's row is a thing of the past. Hmmm, where have I seen this
Ah yes, "The New Price is Right" with Doug
Davidson. And we all know how well THAT clicked with loyal friends and
Well, Australia pretty much went that route with the front half of the
So, you get called to play a pricing game immediately. And more often
than not what do you get a chance to win?
What the? Big W?
Big W is essentially the Australian equivalent of Wal-Mart. The
overwhelming majority of the pricing games are played for either a Big W
shopping spree or prizes available from Big W. Big W sponsors the show
and the show logo shows up eleventy billion times a show between props,
prize reads, and commercial breaks. This sort of practice is not unheard
of, of course. "Atinale Al Precio", the Mexican version of "Price"
hosted by the great Marco Antonio Regil did this sort of sponsorship
with retailers frequently. But, on the show down under it reeks of
cheapness. Which reminds me...
THIS SHOW IS DIRT (BLEEP)IN' CHEAP! The prizes for winning pricing games
are in the $1,500-$2,000 range. To put things in perspective, when Emdur
first hosted "Price" in 1993, they were giving away more than that in
prizes per pricing game on a regular basis...AND THAT WAS ALMOST 20
Also, you can actually purchase some of the items featured on the show
on a special website mentioned sporadically during the program. Hmmm,
where have I seen this before?
And no, I'm not talking about Ed and
Livinia's "Temptation". I'm talking about the bastardized American
version where announcer Rolonda Watts "knows you want" their merchandise
and Rossi Morreale has one thing to offer: lots of love.
I should correct my earlier statement on just how cheap the new "Price"
is. There is a pricing game where someone can win a $3,000 Big W
Yes, Australian Plinko is now played for
Tiddly Winks. Take a look at the board layout below.
This has to be some cruel joke, right? The
maximum number of chips a contestant can win is only 3 (1 given at the
start, 2 the contestant can earn additionally), so with all the luck of
the Outback, a contestant can possibly win $3,000 at Big (BLEEP)in' W.
Give me a break.
At the end of 3 pricing games, the 2 contestants who have won the most
in Big W prizes advance to the showcase playoff...
...unless we have multiple losers as we had
in the premiere episode. Look familiar? Look a little like contestant's
row? Well, that's because it pretty much is. The contestants in question
will bid on an item described by Emdur. The closest to its actual retail
price without going over makes it into the showcase playoff.
The Australian "Price" showcase playoff is essentially the same as it
ever was. They show the showcase (which now has fewer prizes and a
low-mid end automobile) and then the two contestants bid back and forth
from the base range given (i.e. between $27,000 and $28,000) until one
contestant nails the actual value of the showcase.
Then as on other versions of the show down under, the aim is to rank the
prizes in the showcase from lowest to highest.
Unlike other versions of the show down under,
the rankings must be made and locked in within a 40 second time limit.
This, to me, reeks of change for the sake of change. And what would
happen if they didn't get the prizes ranked in the allotted 40 seconds?
It hasn't happened yet, but inevitably it will.
And that's what 7 Network would like to pass off to the Australian
public as "The Price is Right". But, is the Australian public that
Save for the era when they gave away "mega showcases" in primetime,
Aussie "Price" wasn't really a big budget show. But, they used to offer
a variety of prizes (and decent cars) at a variety of prices. Now, it's
become a glorified infomercial for Big W with low end prize packages and
shopping sprees for "lucky" winners.
The miniscule budget of "Price" is made even more laughable when one
notes that it's the lead-in to "Deal or No Deal", a show that offers a
top prize of $250,000 and, with some regularity, gives contestants a
solid shot at walking home with a 5 figure payday.
The response to the new "Price" is shown in the ratings. The premiere
episode Monday was watched by 536,000 viewers. The second episode was
watched by just 402,000 viewers. That's a 25% drop from episode 1 to
I share their thoughts. The fans of "Price" in Australia deserve better
and so does emcee Larry Emdur.
If I could sum up the show in two words, I must quote the words Larry
Emdur often ended his last run of "Price" episodes with, "Game over."