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Friday, August 17, 2012

TPiRetro: 3 January 1983 (The Birth of a Legend)

Because I'm in an exceptionally good mood today, enjoy this little bonus trip down memory lane, all the way back to that red-letter day in TV game show history – January 3rd, 1983. On this date, as I'm sure many game show fans are already aware, NBC decided to re-enter the game show sweepstakes in a big way; after a series of cancellations brought them down to just Wheel of Fortune, the Peacock added three new series all at once to join it. One, $ale of the Century, would go on to become an iconic fixture of the genre during the '80s. Another, Hit Man, introduced the world to the hosting charms of one Peter Tomarken, who would become iconic himself. And the third, Just Men!, netted an Emmy for its host, the one and only Betty White.

Meanwhile, over on the hallowed grounds of 7800 Beverly Boulevard, The Price is Right was busy introducing a brand new Pricing Game to the masses. A legendary game, to say the least. One that has transcended Price and entered the rarified air of mainstream pop culture, in ways that other games on the show have not.

No, not Double Prices. That one debuted on the first episode anyway.

Of course I'm talking about Plinko. Duh.

As I said... a red-letter day in TV game show history. And while many of you have probably seen the clips of Plinko's first-ever playing, I'll wager not everyone has seen the full episode in its entirety... so that's what we're going to go take a look at now.

(I confess to having an ulterior motive for choosing this particular episode to do a retro recap of at this time... but you'll just have to wait and see what that is. I'll just say for now that it ties into a change I'm making for Season 41.)

So with all the preliminaries out of the way, let's hop in the ol' DeLorean and set our time circuits for the first Monday morning of 1983...

Episode #: 4741D
Airdate: 3 January 1983
VTR date: November 1982 – NEED EXACT DATE
Caption: “Hour Power”
First Four: Judy, Susan, Barbara, Loretta (L-R)
Today's Models: Holly Hallstrom, Dian Parkinson, Janice Pennington
Bob's Entrance: Door #2

Right out of the chute, Bob starts building up the big premiere that's set to take place today. You knew this was going to be something special, because Bob actually told us what the game's top prize was, something he never did before. At a time when giving away cash in a Pricing Game was still very much a novelty – only two others in the lineup, Punch-a-Bunch and Grand Game, did it – the new arrival offered a potential top value of $25,000.

...In pesos!”, quips our host.

Oh, that Bob.

1. America the Elegant New Yorker waterbed (DP)
Judy
Susan
Barbara
Loretta
900
450
975
625


$532





We don't start with the new game... instead, we start with the oldest game of all, Any Number:
  1. Aaron Brothers art furniture (HH)
  2. 1983 Ford Escort L hatchback (FWD, 4MT, steel-belted radials, maintenance-free battery, cigarette lighter, CA emission, AM/FM stereo, elec windows, defroster, digital clock; DP)

Original rules here – four-digit car, no free numbers. Also, yay for the old-school board!

7: Piggy Bank
Car
$
0
0
0
0
Furniture
$
0
0
0
Piggy Bank
$
0.
0
7

6: Car
Car
$
6
0
0
0
Furniture
$
0
0
0
Piggy Bank
$
0.
0
7

9: Piggy Bank
Car
$
6
0
0
0
Furniture
$
0
0
0
Piggy Bank
$
0.
9
7

Uh-oh...

8: Piggy Bank
Car
$
6
0
0
0
Furniture
$
0
0
0
Piggy Bank
$
8.
9
7
Win” $8.97
(Car: $6,152; Furniture: $403)

An auspicious episode is not off to an auspicious start. Still, you gotta love that old Eggcrate board...

A little bit of fun with our next Rowbird... his name's “James Barber” but of course, the surname sounded like something else when Johnny called him down. “I thought you were my old Uncle James there, for a minute,” Bob laughs.

2. Pinseeker golf clubs w/bag (HH)
Judy
James
Barbara
Loretta
651
500
650
245
$1021







And now, for the portion of our show you've probably already seen in some form... it's the World Premiere of what would eventually become the most popular Pricing Game of all time, Plinko!

The reveal for this inaugural playing was quite a bit different than what you're used to. Instead of the famous Venetian-blind sign, we instead get a somewhat chintzy little disco-ball globe with a Saturn-esque ring around it, on which “$25,000” is printed in gold lettering, all delivered to the stage via the Jewelry Elevator. The music cue, instead of the usual harps, is the same sting still used today for Grand Game (the closing bar of the Family Feud theme), and when the scrim lifts up to reveal the board, the last six notes of Starcrossed are heard.

Bob's explanation of the game, especially how it got its name, is classic and bears quoting verbatim.

You put this disc flat against the surface – don't put it this way [holds it sideways] and roll it out into the audience, that's not gonna do any good. Put it flat against the surface, and let it come down between those pegs. I don't know whether you can see those pegs on camera or not – but there are pegs all through here that'll cause it to bounce around. As a matter of fact, I asked 'em, 'Why did you name it Plinko?' They named it Plinko because that goes 'plink-plink-plink-plink,' see? [Beat] Some of our people drink, and, uh, that's how they come up with these names!”

Of course, one disc can be worth up to $5,000... but wouldn't it be nice to have more than that? Here come the first four SPs Plinko ever offered...

(JP on SPs)
BedSack Q mattress cover
Mary Kay cosmetics set
Regina Electricbroom vaccuum cleaner
Vollrath stainless steel kitchenware
1
2
4
1
7
9
6
2
WIN!
$
7
1
$
WIN!
WIN!
$
3
2
NO
7
5
3
2

(For this initial playing at least, the ARP reveals were slightly more complicated. Instead of having the correct price printed on one card, the winning side simply said “WIN!”; the model actually had to flip the panels in the other direction, the one the player would have picked if s/he had gotten it wrong, to reveal the ARP. This was a little too complicated, plus as you can see (my colors are show-accurate) it doesn't always make it easy to see at a glance which prices are correct and which aren't. The way the show does it today is much nicer.)

And now, my ulterior motive reveals itself... a new and improved Plinko chip layout, being test-driven here for the very first time – and what better game to use than the first-ever playing?

...Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But anyway, here's what I came up with. A bit more visually interesting than just a table of results, no?

One final note: Although the top dollar value on the board is only $5,000, the Fudge Rule remains intact for these older shows as well – the game counts as a win if at least one chip falls into the top slot.

(HH with the handoff)
Chip #1:







$

1
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
0
|
0
|
5
0
0
0
|
0
|
1
0
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
TOTAL
500

Bob takes time out here to explain what happens if a chip gets stuck – “It probably will not happen,” he says, before demonstrating what he'll do with the Plinko Stick in that case.

Pardon me while I chuckle into my fist...

Chip #2:







$
$

1
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
0
|
0
|
5
0
0
0
|
0
|
1
0
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
TOTAL
1000

Bob was so worried about showing off his Plinko Stick that he didn't remove the first chip from the $500 slot before the second one went into the same spot! He gets it right now, though.

(I also want to point out that something that also isn't working right for this inaugural playing is the scoreboard – it stays dark throughout. It is working, however, in my format, to show you what it should have looked like.)


Chip #3:

$







1
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
0
|
0
|
5
0
0
0
|
0
|
1
0
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
TOTAL
1500


Chip #4:




$




1
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
0
|
0
|
5
0
0
0
|
0
|
1
0
0
0
5
0
0
1
0
0
TOTAL
6500
WIN!

A $6,500 Plinko haul translates to $11,500 on today's board – hardly anything to sneeze at, especially in 1983 dollars!

And what is Judy's review of Plinko, being the first player ever to give it a whirl? One that would be echoed many times through the years... “Oh, it's terriffic!

Thus are legends born!

Coming back from break, Bob confirms that the consensus within the Peanut Gallery is that Plinko's a hit. Indeed it was, but even Bob surely had no idea what his little show was unleashing upon the world on this day.

But let's get back to the matter at hand... we still have four more games, two Showdowns, and a couple of Showcases to go before we can call this day “complete” by any stretch of the imagination!

On our bikes, now...
3. Panasonic microwave oven
(Train spotted! Engineer HH, Conducter JP)
Konnie
James
Barbara
Loretta
550
400
525
575


$520





Most Expensive:
  1. Chromcraft 3pc bar set (JP)
  2. Tappan gas range (DP)
  3. Brass bookcase unit (HH)

1
2
3
Bar set
Range
Bookcase
$1095
$990
$2420
LOSS

That wouldn't fly even by today's appliance standards, I'm afraid. (Maybe if it was an Elmira Stove Works model...)

Some” Peanut Gallery members receive Hamilton Beach food processors.

Showcase Showdown #1:

James
85
.85
WIN

Susan
70
55
1.25

$541
Judy
40
80
1.20

$7,660


4. Homestead Worcester ceiling fan (JP)
Konnie
Shirley
Barbara
Loretta
451
500
450
400






$428

Retired Game Theater presents Poker Game:
  1. Avanti refrigerated bar cart (DP)
  2. Bernhardt sofa (DP)
  3. Kelvinator washer & dryer (HH)
  4. Goldstar 19” color TV w/remote (HH)

(Yes, kids, there was once a time when remote controls for TVs were a novelty – and it wasn't all that long ago, either, relatively speaking!)

Since I featured this game in a TPiRetro I did back in June, I'm going to assume you know how this game was played and just go right into it...

Bar cart
Sofa
Wash/Dry
Color TV


$880
$595

Not the world's best hand.

Two pair
(8s high)
8
8
5
5
9
PLAYER
HOUSE







Loretta passes her hand, which is probably a smart move...

Bar cart
Sofa
Wash/Dry
Color TV
$299
$515
$880
$595

Two pair
(9s high)
9
9
5
5
2
<PLAYER
HOUSE>
8
8
5
5
9
Two pair
(8s high)
WIN!

Not really conducive to building a dominating hand, these prizes; best you could do would be four 5s (sofa and TV).

Apropos of nothing, I've come up with a way they could bring this game back, if they wanted to. Make it a game played for a standard stage prize, but use SPs to build the hands; six SPs in total, each with two-digit prices. The player picks from three pairs of two to build his/her hand, then has the option to keep that hand or build it from the other three SPs after all three pairs have been played.

Maybe that could work, if you wanted to resurrect this game. Personally I'm fine without it, but I also know a lot of people were upset when Poker Game was axed. But what do you think of my attempt at rehabilitation?

5. In-Sink-Erator dishwasher (HH)
(Bonus: $40 of Electrasol dishwasher detergent)
Konnie
Shirley
Barbara
Roscoe
450
620
425
600
$575







3 Strikesbefore it became one of the Big Ticket games:
1983 Mazda GLC sedan (FWD, folding rear seat, AT, CA emission; JP)

Yep. You think this game's hard now, try playing it under the original rules... four digits and three strikes in the bag, with no freebies. Even Bob comments that it's been “a spell” since we've had our last 3 Strikes winner... which in hindsight may have been one of the first inklings that this should be a game played for luxury cars instead of standard-issue beaters like this Mazda.

6
5
0
7

Well, let's see how we fare...

Draw #1
X
STRIKE 1
X



Draw #2
5
2nd

5


Draw #3
X
STRIKE 2
X
X


Draw #4
6
1st
NO
5


Draw #5
6
3rd

5
6

Draw #6
7
1st
7
5
6

Draw #7
0
WIN!
7
5
6
0

Well, okay, maybe it was winnable at that... ;^)


I know I said earlier that the F4 Vultures were retired after today.

Guess what. It's still “today.”

“They're coming to get you, Barbara...”

6. Berkline Wall-a-way recliner (DP)
Theresa
Shirley
Barbara
Roscoe
295
450
500
400




$631



Oh, my. Even in reruns, the outgoing buzzards aren't getting a free meal. I'm heartbroken. ;^D

Pick-a-Pair in its original Ferris-wheel livery:
Caribbean cruise (6d, Windjammer Barefoot Cruisers; JP) & Skyway 4pc luggage set (HH; $2,588)

  • Sue Bee clover honey creme
  • Hefty microwave food container
  • Sayman vegetable soap
  • Knott's Berry Farm preserves
  • Bar Tender's punch mix
  • 20 Mule Team Borax detergent

Try #1:
1.29
Preserves
1.79
Honey
NO MATCH

During this part of the gameplay, Bob kills some time by defending his (correct) usage of the term “Let us see” when revealing prices on the show; apparently, a viewer wrote in complaining he instead said “Let's us see,” which is grammatical nonsense. Could this have been the same person who wrote in and forced the show to change Now...and Then into Now....or Then? The world may never know...

Try #2:
1.99
Cleaner
1.79
Honey
LOSS
(Drink mix: $1.79)

Yes, folks, at one time this game was actually challenging – without having to resort to downright evil product setups.

Theresa, Shirley, and Roscoe receive Wehsco roll-away beds, Washington Forge kitchen knives, and Baskin-Robbins gift certificates.

Showcase Showdown #2:

Barbara
45
35
.80

TIE
Loretta
45
15
.60

$2,717
Konnie
55
25
.80

TIE

Spin-Off:

Barbara
100

$1,000 Bonus
Konnie
90

$8,135
Bonus Spin
60



Showcases: Barbara top winner, James runner-up.

1. Party at Jan's Place!
  • Paul Nelson Industries candy machine telephone (JP)
  • Kestell poker table w/chairs (Everyone)
  • Amana refrigerator (JP)
  • West Wight Potter 15' sailboat w/trailer (JP)
Barbara passes; James bids $3,085.


2. Dian Attempts to Save Gas by Ridesharing
  • First, our intrepid heroine calls on Holly... but that would be a difficult sort of carpool, considering Holly already bikes to work:
    • Ross mens' 10-speed bicycle
  • Next, Dian goes to Janice, but Janice only has one more wheel than Holly had to offer:
    • Honda ATC-110 offroad trike
  • Well, that just leaves Johnny... and his motor home!
    • Ranger 17' multipurpose RV
  • Success at last – but only if Dian does the driving!
Barbara bids $9,000.


Moment
of Truth
James
Sailboat
Barbara
Motorhome
Bid
3085
9000
ARP
$6316
$14,159
Result
3231
5159

James wins!
$6,836

$1,631


LEADER BOARD: 3 January 1983
Konnie

$8,135
Judy

$7,660

James
$6,836
Loretta

$2,717

Barbara
$1,631

Susan

$541
TOTAL WINNINGS
$27,520
(36.59% of $72,486 + $1,000 bonus)

And that's how it went, on this episode that went down in Price is Right history. Not an overly fantastic show, but with a 3 Strikes win and the debut of one of the most famous games of all, its place in the pantheon is assured.

And with that, we'll see you in about 2½ weeks for another memorable moment... we hope for all the right reasons. ;^)

5 comments:

  1. This was Episode #4741D in Season 11.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate it, thanks.

      Unfortunately, when I go into the post to edit it, for some reason all the table data gets stripped away and the entire thing becomes a mess. I don't get it either.

      Delete
    2. This is somewhat similar to when I have accidents with my tables. Sometimes, not all of it is shown when I post it. When I try to highlight the whole cell to a different color on Blogger, it either highlights only the text, or does nothing.

      I also saw this episode on Youtube, to be honest. I saw both the game's debut clip, & the whole thing.

      I got the Episode# from tpirsummaries.8m.com, which I can always make sure I get it.

      Delete
    3. Fortunately, whatever was plaguing Blogger about screwing up table formatting seems to have corrected itself today. 'Tis all working again as it should be, so I went back and added the info.

      Insert huge sigh of relief from these quarters. 8^)

      Delete
  2. Hi. Just to let you know, the Mazda car is a GLC, not a DLC.

    ReplyDelete