Making Plinko Sausage
June 6, 2014 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Ever wondered just how an episode of The Price is Right gets pulled off? How the right things are behind the right doors at the right time? How the contestants get picked? The show recently recorded a pretty awesome behind-the-scenes look at how it all comes together.
posted by rollbiz (32 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
This is fun, and I say this as someone who helps pull off shows that aren't the Price is Right. I've always said that the best part of the show is the crew. We have the most fun on headsets ripping apart every aspect of the show and/or guests...playing off the jokes, shredding stupid answers, mocking really is far more fun than anyone should ever be allowed to have while getting paid.
posted by nevercalm at 6:46 PM on June 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

Oh this is fantastic... thanks for posting
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:16 PM on June 6, 2014

(I meant to note that while the video is three hours long, the content is actually only an hour like the show. It's the show, an hour of blackscreen, and then the same show again)
posted by rollbiz at 7:18 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow I was about to say holy crap, three hours of The Price is Right. This is great though. Like a masterclass in multi-camera production.
posted by zachlipton at 7:24 PM on June 6, 2014

What have they done to Drew Carey!? It's like they threw him into a Bob Barker cloning machine.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:29 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

They put a camera inside the wheel! WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?
posted by zachlipton at 7:45 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Back when, as a teen, cable finally came to my street, A&E had a stand-up comedy show they played in the middle of the night. They played Drew Carey's episode over and over and over because he was weird and funny in ways we generally think are hallmarks of modern comedy - scathing self examination with the filters turned off. He was like something out of the '50s - thick black plastic framed glasses, blonde buzz-cut, cheap grey salari-man suit and tie and a roly-poly physique he's since managed to shed. It was really out of character for stand-up at the time, where it was all tall and handsome guys at the mic, in tight jeans and leather jackets, making sexist, salacious girlfriend jokes. Drew had jokes about being weird and fucking with people's heads and messing with cops. His bit about how to freak people out at the Denny's still makes me all but pee myself.

The dude was punk in the pure sense of the word. He existed to fight what you expected out of him... fuck, what you expected out of reality.

When he got his own show, he cast everyone from "Who's Line is it Anyway" and then went and just recreated "Who's Line Is It Anyway" because he could, and he knows what's funny. He made himself a straight-man for a character who was the female version of himself, and made a heavy, middle-aged woman the prime-time star of his own show.

He talked Bob Barker into casting him as the host of the iconic daytime gameshow, because he genuinely loves that the contestants are weird and unpredictable and funny. Of course he'd be behind something this. He's of a breed with Kaufman and Letterman and Seinfeld and Barr.

Pardon me while I watch a 3-hour episode of the Price Is Right.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:03 PM on June 6, 2014 [18 favorites]

Pardon me while I watch a 3-hour episode of the Price Is Right.

Aw, I'm not gonna be the one to tell him.....
posted by nevercalm at 8:06 PM on June 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Ah, well, the bits before and after were worth it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:13 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I once saw Carey do standup live. He wasn't billed, so it wasn't like I was planning to see him. The occasional surprise celebrity set is a perk of going to see standup in LA. Anyway, I wouldn't have gone out of my way to see Carey, because I only knew him from his show, which I didn't like. When he was announced, I pretty much just thought, "Oh, that guy."

Anyway, yeah, of course he was brilliant. Just absolutely hilarious and cutting. I really respect his talent now. It even made me go watch the show a couple more times. I still don't like it, but I can at least appreciate where it's coming from.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:17 PM on June 6, 2014

The whole Drew Carey, USMC thing continues to cause wonderment.
That, and I'd pay real money to watch the wheel either fly off the axle and go into the audience, or see a person get their arm jammed in it. OK, good for the former; not the latter.

The show has always been an inspiration; no matter the funk, PIR always makes a win for the day.
posted by buzzman at 8:44 PM on June 6, 2014

There are a few things that strike me about this:

One is how manual and cramped and not at all sophisticated and shiny the backstage stuff is. Pulling doors with ropes, guys hiding behind things pushing stuff manually.

Another is how much the staff genuinely seems to be into the whole thing, like they really care if people do or don't win. I mean, I guess it's not a terrible job to hang around with super excited people all the time, but it's nice that they don't seem jaded.

And finally, I guess I'm surprised that they film this basically like a live show, with the camera switches and whatnot. I imagined them capturing more things simultaneously and then editing it all together afterwards.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:03 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had to stop when Carey's camera glasses had a view of two other floor cameras and one of the product models showing off the bidding item, a camera.
posted by user92371 at 9:06 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Man do I love live — or live-to-tape in this case — television production. Thanks, rollbiz.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:22 PM on June 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Behind the scenes stuff is always great to see because we "little people" hardly ever get to see much of it, so I'm thankful for the glimpse this gave me into the backstage stuff.

Having said that, though, my "Old Man Shouts At Cloud" self still has an instinctual feeling that it's not the "real" Price Is Right if Bob Barker and Rod Roddy aren't participating. I freely admit, however, that that is my own personal hang up.

Still, nice post, thanks.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:12 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

From my one game show time (Jeopardy) - I can say that there all the people I interacted with seemed really genuine about the contestants and how we were doing.

Alex, on the other hand... oh that "Ohh... no..." sounds 20x more infuriating on stage than on TV. (surely a function of who it's directed at)
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:17 PM on June 6, 2014

InsertNiftyNameHere: “Having said that, though, my "Old Man Shouts At Cloud" self still has an instinctual feeling that it's not the "real" Price Is Right if Bob Barker and Rod Roddy aren't participating. ”
My "Apparently Older Man Shouts at 'Old Man Shouting at Cloud'" self is thinking, "Surely you meant Johnny Olson."
posted by ob1quixote at 10:35 PM on June 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

ob1quixote: "
InsertNiftyNameHere: “Having said that, though, my "Old Man Shouts At Cloud" self still has an instinctual feeling that it's not the "real" Price Is Right if Bob Barker and Rod Roddy aren't participating. ”
My "Apparently Older Man Shouts at 'Old Man Shouting at Cloud'" self is thinking, "Surely you meant Johnny Olson ."

OMG!!! You are correct, sir! My apologies to all and especially Johnny Olson and his family! I grew up watching the show with him as the announcer, and I still forgot about that era. Now I feel terrible. Johnny Olson was, indeed, the original Ed McMahon of TPIR, and I'm very pleased that you corrected me. Rod Roddy didn't take the role until I was in my college years, so, again, I feel severely shamed. Many, many thanks for the correction. *hangs head in shame*
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:46 PM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

That's okay, InsertNiftyNameHere. Just good-natured ribbing among fans here.

Besides, It's not like I have much room to talk. I mean I just spent twenty minutes looking for video of a story I remember Bob Barker telling not long after Mark Goodson passed away about how his daughter Marjorie thought her name was "Marjorie Goodson-Bill Todman" for years when she was a child.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:55 PM on June 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

The price is right must be putting something in the air for everyone to be so giddy. Right?
posted by dabitch at 2:37 AM on June 7, 2014

The price is right must be putting something in the air for everyone to be so giddy. Right?

By the time the cameras roll, you've spent hours waiting on line outside, then inside sitting on hallowed ground, all the while being told that the more energy you have, the more fun it will be! Even if you're not Really Into Being On TPIR, you are surrounded by people who are Really Into Being On TPIR, so the people who are only Slightly Into Being On TPIR get caught up in it, and the people who Got Dragged Into Being On TPIR even get into it...

It's not entirely unlike being introduced to a cult, honestly.
posted by Etrigan at 5:54 AM on June 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've always insisted that tv lighting has the ability to instantly lobotomize people. I've been asked the craziest questions by people who've just walked into a tv studio or even near a film set.
posted by nevercalm at 7:12 AM on June 7, 2014

I love that the assistant director (?) screamed "No!" when the contestant in the 2nd game was changing her correct answer. Just like watching at home.
posted by hwyengr at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fascinating that they cast the show the same day, using photos and notes that I guess they took in line. Also a bit sad for those people who are huge fans, finally get to go to a live taping, but then have zero chance of being called up because they aren't the right personality type. But their daughter is...
posted by smackfu at 8:25 AM on June 7, 2014

There's a set of videos floating around of an episode of Match Game with the director's calls on an audio track. It's amazing to watch pro directors, for whom live-to-tape is their bread and butter, do their job and do it well. When Gene Rayburn is speaking to the contestants, for example, the director is calling and setting up shots two conversational beats in advance while putting a camera on the stars for possible reactions, and it all seems so natural. This job isn't for the timid.

The TPIR footage shows off a well-oiled machine. The floor manager is awesome and the more I watched, the more I was reasonably sure his enthusiasm backstage wasn't just a show put on for the behind-the-scenes cameras. Watching the crew member sit behind a game board manually popping up the prices is great. Loved the producer marking the exact moment of a contestant's win or loss ("She's a winner...") and then everybody just facepalming backstage during the second game. This is their job, day in, day out. Put together forty-two minutes of entertaining television material and then get ready to do it again.

Honestly, the one who came off the weakest was Drew Carey and it's not cause the dude's incompetent or anything; Slap*Happy mentions above that Drew has basically harnessed his inherent magical power to Make TV Do What He Wants and that is completely awesome. I think maybe he had an off day; Drew got rattled after that bidding round when he mistakenly implied the wrong contestant had won and apologized a lot for it. It takes a real big goof to stop a taping like this and go back for pickups, and I guess they didn't go back and re-do the bidding round because it would have taken too much time and they would have had to bring out a new item and everything.

I also know that part of the problem is the automatic comparison to Bob Barker everybody of a certain age and under will now and forever make even when they don't want to admit it. We know full well Drew's not Bob Barker, who hosted TPIR for nearly forty years and hosted more game shows before then. Barker's inherent magical powers, which he keenly honed over that time, involved really getting contestants into the game (he was SO GLAD you made it on stage!) as well as milking as much tension of a price reveal as he could: "And the final number in price of the car is... now wait a second, folks, I don't know if we should go on. It might not be fair to poor Joshua here. Just look at him! Joshua, who was the first person called down to Contestant's Row today, Joshua, who waited and waited and waited until the very last chance to make it up on stage and play a pricing game, Joshua, who now has a chance to drive home in that Jeep Cherokee--and won't everybody back in Milwaukee be jealous of that--folks, if the final number in the price of the Jeep is a 6, I'm afraid that Joshua here is liable to explode! Actual retail price--"

Drew has more of an affable aw-shucks-hope-you-win-lady attitude towards the contestants, which isn't as engaging but at least is better than playing the role grumpy or indifferent. I can also understand his feeling like he shouldn't emulate Bob Barker and no he shouldn't, nobody really should, but I think it'd be okay for him to use a commanding "Actual retail price!" instead of a quieter, less committed "Aaaaand it's..."

What I liked the best out of all this footage was the little moment near the edge of the stage when George Gray, standing outside his announcer's booth, had a chat with the guy who just lost the first Showcase Showdown. George engages the guy, who's clearly still running high on I'M ON TV adrenalin, and lets him proudly tell about how he felt during the entire time, telling a story you know he's going to tell thousands of times later. And Gray just lets him talk. It's not meant for broadcast, it's two folks standing backstage at a taping talking about their day, and it's a wonderful human moment in the midst of the Show Biz, even if you consider that Gray probably does this a dozen times a week. The fact that he does, however, makes it special, and that's why people love this game show. Even though its core is a celebration of raw consumerism and conspicuous consumption, The Price is Right is a personable, relatable game made by people who are having fun at what they do.
posted by Spatch at 2:01 PM on June 7, 2014 [8 favorites]

This was fascinating. It's exhilarating to watch consummate professionals Get It Done.

Also, wow, Drew Carey has basically morphed into Greg Proops.
posted by a fair but frozen maid at 4:03 PM on June 7, 2014

The thing that surprised me the most is that they shoot it as though it were airing live - I know that helps them get through the full set of tapings in time, but I'm still surprised how tick tick tick everything goes to the beat of the broadcast hour, with 150-180 second breaks every now and then.
posted by Kyol at 6:27 PM on June 7, 2014

I really mourned when Bob was put out to pasture, and then, when they announced that Drew was taking over, I though, "Oh! That makes TOTAL sense." I have to say, I love the show now, it's a different take on the show we all watched with Nana when we were home sick. We all used to watch it ironically, but now we can just sit back and enjoy all the cheesy goodness.

I love how the models have been integrated, I like the dude model, I like it when Drew just looses his shit because he's clearly having the time of his life. I like it when his ex-girlfriend's son comes on looking like mini-me, because how freaking cute was that? I love seeing the models pregnant, and then being introduced to their kids.

I get the impression that the show is just a hoot, and that everyone really likes each other.

That may be TV magic, but I have a real affection for it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:31 AM on June 9, 2014

The video is private D:
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:47 AM on June 10, 2014

Yeah, after (belatedly) reading the thread, I was all excited to watch it, only… private. Foo.

Any other options to view it?
posted by Lexica at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2014

Spatch: "There's a set of videos floating around of an episode of Match Game with the director's calls on an audio track."

A) Having grown up a theatre director's kid and spent many hours backstage, it's fascinating to see this kind of thing for a different but related field. Thank you for linking to it!

B) I am cringing watching it. The pedo jokes, the sexual harassment jokes, the ha-ha-not-really-but-hey-no-ha-ha at the expense of the one black panelist… eesh.
posted by Lexica at 9:59 PM on June 12, 2014

I don't know if it's the same video as the one in the post, but here's another behind the scenes just posted on the show's yt channel.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:53 PM on July 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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