Bob Barker to ‘come on down’ to the unemployment office

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I have been watching “The Price Is Right” this week, because I wanted to see Bob Barker’s last few shows before he retires on Friday, and it is making me inexplicably wistful. I haven’t seen more than about 10 episodes in the last 20 years, but I watched it every day when I was kid. Bob has been hosting the show for literally my entire life. And now he’s going to stop. How can that be?! I’ve never known a world in which Bob Barker was not hosting “The Price Is Right.” I don’t even know what that world will look like!

So I’ve been TiVoing it this week, watching it while I eat lunch, and it’s easy to see why millions of people watch it all the time. You can complain if you want about how it promotes materialism, but I don’t care: Seeing people win money and prizes is exciting. I’d even say it’s uplifting. When someone is awarded a car or a bedroom set or whatever, they are genuinely happy about it, and it’s hard not to feel some of that joy yourself, too. It’s an hour of feel-good programming, five days a week.

Yesterday a father of four won a minivan, something he probably actually needs. He was ecstatic. What’s not to love about a show that brings people happiness?

In fact, I even enjoy it when people lose. I’m sad for them, but I’m happy because I get to hear this sound effect. I could listen to that all day and be happy.

What’s amazing is that after 35 years, Bob is still an effortlessly charming, funny, and entertaining host. The sensation when those doors slide open and he takes the stage at the top of the show is electric: That audience LOVES him. They are nearly delirious with joy at being in his presence. I can’t say I blame them, either. Whoever takes his place when the new season begins in September will have some mighty big shoes to fill.

Bob’s final episode airs Friday on CBS at whatever the usual time is for “The Price Is Right” to be on. What, 9, 10 in the morning, something like that? If you can’t watch it then, CBS is re-airing it Friday night in prime time. Don’t miss your last chance to see Bob in action before he retires and eventually goes to that great tanning bed in the sky!

Feel free to share your own Bob Barker/”The Price Is Right” memories below. Have any of our readers here ever been on the show? Do tell!

(P.S. I wrote this column about the show a couple years ago. It’s as true now as it was 21 months ago….)