Come on down.
It’s been just more than one year since I heard those words in person, as Rich Fields spoke them just before introducing Bob Barker.
Neither I nor my friends were called down as a contestant on The Price is Right during the two shows we watched Barker tape last spring break, but the experience is absolutely irreplaceable.
As early as the plane ride home, we were already discussing the possibility of returning to Fairfax Avenue to see a taping with the new host, who, at that point, was far from chosen.
When watching The Late Show with David Letterman one somber night over the summer, the world learned what the future of the show would be.
I went into the announcement of Drew Carey as Barker’s successor with an open mind. I loved Whose Line is it Anyway?, and I think he does a nice job on CBS’ Power of 10. But could he really fit into TPIR?
There definitely could have been better choices (Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron) and there definitely could have been worse choices (Rosie O’Donnell).
But after the Oct. 16 premiere, we quickly learned that there could never be a successor to Barker. Some could come close, but Carey wasn’t within reach.
My spring break 2008 plans had been put on hold, as the show wasn’t the same without Barker. Granted, no one expected it to be, but it was inferred that after a few months, Carey was to make it his own.
He’s tried. He’s kept Barker’s sign out – although, he’s made it a little more awkward – and he calls the former Barker’s Beauties by their real names. But is that enough?
It may or may not be. Regardless, I’ve been slowly realizing that I was incorrect to assume that the ball lies in Carey’s figurative court. After all, though 95 percent of the show’s popularity was Barker, the rest was placed on the fans.
It’s the fans who sleep outside on Fairfax Avenue for 36 hours to see TPIR. It’s the fans who lose their voices by the end of the show. It’s the fans who keep the show going.
So I announce it now. Next spring break, I’m making the trek I should have made this year.
I will be one of those screaming fans cheering on Mr. Carey as he continues his quest to satisfy the longtime viewers of one of America’s classic television programs. I will live up to my title of “fan.” I will be told to “Come on down.”
I invite you to join me.
Chris Stover can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.