You can't think "Game Show" without thinking about Bob Barker, who's final show airs this Friday. There's a tremendous send-up of him over at Canada.com.
Personally, I'm going to miss Bob. I never got a chance to be in the audience, to "come on down", but I loved sitting around on days off, indulging my game-show hunger for an hour as Barker hosted pricing challenges to adoring fans.
Make no mistake-- the audience has gone from a "materialistic" crowd to an audience filled with people to see Barker, the prizes, and celebrate something that's been a constant all of their lives.
Let's face it. The information age offers changes every five years. We've gone from rotary phones to cell phones. We've gone from typewriters to voice-activated word-processors. No longer do we have to dial a radio in our car-- the 'Seek' button does that for us.
But Bob Barker hasn't changed. Surely he's aged, but it's the same voice, the same warm enthusiasm for his job, the same kindly old soul who's been giving away cars back when they cost less than $10,000.
Perhaps it's our desire to to never age that makes us look on "The Price is Right" so fondly. Certainly the games haven't aged-- that little Cliffhanger guy is the same cardboard cutout they put together back in the 70's. Perhaps its the familiarity of a childhood memory, remembering Bob showing a contestant how easy the put is in 'Hole in One'. Or maybe it was just a good time. There's no worry about wars. The military men who show up are always in good health, and there's no awful pall that hangs in the air. There's no grim economic news. Global Warming? Not if they're giving away SUVs. The only activism has been Barker's devotion to animals, something most viewers can relate to.
It's not that he's a playboy icon with all the models. It's not that he's a "sugar daddy". Those are misrepresentations of Barker in the above article. He's the kindly old friend we see every time we turned on the television at 10:00 AM every weekday. And he's getting such a sendoff not because he's a television icon (which is is rightly so), but because he's a man who's been a part of so many lives-- a friend who's been there to make us smile regardless of age.
So I want to dedicate this column to Bob Barker, my friend, and wish him a happy (and well-deserved) retirement. Thank you, Bob, for all the warm memories!