Saturday, June 01, 2019

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much (2017)

I’ve often thought about which game show I’d most like to be on.  It would probably be Jeopardy!, mostly because it pays cash and there’s no limit on how often you can come back.  Looking at shows like The Price Is Right, you can only win non-cash prizes and, if you do, you have to pay taxes out of your own pocket.  Personally, I’d rather have the money.

Theodore Slauson, on the other hand, really liked The Price Is Right.  He and his brother even noticed that the prices were fairly consistent.  In fact, if you account for varying features, they were always the same.  If a particular brand of a pack of gum was 69¢ one week, that same pack of gum would be 69¢ a few weeks later.  It makes sense.

Most people would have left it at that.  Not Ted.  It would be a while before he would turn 18 and be eligible to participate in the show.  That would give him plenty of time to memorize all of the prices.  There were some products which couldn‘t be memorized.  Vacations, for instance, had a lot of variables, such as where you flew from and which airline was used.  There were a lot of products, like cars, that had maybe three or four different models (read: three or four different prices) at most.  This gave Ted a leg up on the other contestants.

Ted made it to the show dozens of times as a member of the studio audience.  Over the years, he helped many people in Contestants’ Row get the right bid.  On his 24th visit, Ted had the opportunity to bid himself.  And yes, he managed to get an exact bid.  A few more correct bids let him go to the Big Wheel, where he actually lost to someone else.  (For those that don’t watch the show, contestants have to spin a big wheel with dollar values and get as close to $1 without going over.  Ted didn’t get the highest amount.)

You’d think that this would be the end of the story, but it’s not.  After all, this is called Perfect Bid.  It’s about someone that made a perfect bid in the actual showcase.  Again, for those not in the know, two contestants are each given a showcase consisting of several prizes.  It might include a car or an RV.  It might even be a vacation.  Whoever bids closer wins their showcase.  If they bid within a certain amount, they win both prizes.  The Price Is Right has debuted in 1972.  In all those years, there has been only one perfect bid on a showcase.  This documentary is about that bid.

Ted might have been content with his showing.  He would have had to have been, as at the time, there was a rule that you could only compete once.  Then, the changed the rule so that you could try again after ten years.  Ted made several more trips to the studio audience.  While he wasn’t selected, Terry Kniess was.  Terry made it to the Showcase.  While the details differ, the important fact is that he bid $23,743..  The value of his showcase?  $23,743.

In the 40+ years that the show has been on the air, this remains the only time that has ever happened.  People have come close.  A site I found even has someone being $2 off.  To put that in perspective, Bob Barker is credited on IMDb as having appeared on 6,719 episodes.  Drew Carey is credited at 1,768 as I’m writing this.  That’s almost 8,500 episodes between them.  Only once has there been an exact bid.

Now, you might wonder what the big deal is.  I wouldn’t blame you if you hadn’t heard about this.  This is something that you’d put in the trivia section on IMDb and forget about it.  There was some scandal, as Roger Dobkowitz, a producer with the show, had recently been fired.  Was this payback?  Those producing the episode weren’t really clear on what to do.  While it was possible for this to happen, I don’t think anyone expected it.  In retrospect, it was kind of the show’s fault, as they should have varied the prices more.

The runtime is a little long at 72 minutes.  A lot of it seemed like filler.  I think this could have been done in a much shorter time.  Maybe have it as a segment on a TV show about game-show history or something.  While it is an interesting footnote in the history of daytime television, that’s really all it’s going to be to a lot of people.  If you were to watch it, I’d save it for your next layover at an airport.

No comments :