My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show producer Steve Marshall – Part 3

Hello!

When we left off last week, we were talking about Steve’s position as Associate Producer on Sale Of The Century…

===========================

SH: And at that stage, were you responsible for choosing contestants?

SM: I was at the auditions and interviews quite often. There’d be a written test. And then the ones who’d passed the test had to get up and stand in front of everybody and have a chat about themselves. We used to go for people who we thought would probably be good on camera, as opposed to people who might freeze on camera. And because the questions in the audition test were generally harder than the questions on the show, we thought if anyone passed the audition test, they’d know the answers to most of the questions on the show.

But… I do remember one guy who stood up after passing the test. He was an English guy, and he had the gift of the gab and he was chatty and he was funny and I just thought he was sensational. I remember saying to the Executive Producer “This English guy will be fantastic!” And the EP said “Really? Doesn’t look like it on paper…” I said “Trust me, this bloke will be sensational.” We put him on, and he didn’t say ‘boo’ the entire show. I think he might’ve answered one question. I said “Oh god, that’s me. I’ll never recommend anyone ever again!”

SH: During those auditions, were there any big no-no’s? Any cautionary tales? What not to do?

SM: Most of the people wanting to get on Sale were generally pretty smart people. And they went on there and they wanted to win. And so they worked fairly seriously. There weren’t too many people who were time wasters, shall we say. And if they were… they either wouldn’t pass the test, or they’d be stamped ‘probably not really good to use’.

SH: Were there any perks associated with the insider information you had there?

SM: Well….. Grundy’s in those days was in North Richmond near a pub called ‘The Cherry Tree’ which was owned by Scotty Palmer, a well-known sports journo. We’d often see him there on a Friday night. What we didn’t realize at the time, was that one of his most well-known customers was a bloke by the name of Dennis Allen, who lived nearby and owned about 10 houses, all paid for by the drugs that he sold at his front door. He was known to the cops as ‘Dr Death’, which I think explains his M.O. as far as selling the drugs.

SH: Ah, a medical man! I see, yes…

SM: So Dr. Death would be sitting at one end of the bar, and you never messed with him. But I remember ordering a couple of beers there one night, and the TV was on behind the bar and Sale of the Century was on. And this fairly shifty-looking bloke standing next to me points up at the screen. It was about halfway through the show, and you could see the contestant’s scores. And I think they were 20, 50 and 15 (meaning that the carry-over champ was on 15). And this guy said to me, “Carry-over champ’s in trouble. I bet ya $50 the bloke in the middle wins”.

And I just looked at the screen I said, “I’ll take that bet. I reckon the carry-over champ might get up here…” (knowing full well that we’d recorded this episode two weeks earlier, and that the carry-over champ came back in the final 60 seconds to win by one question!)

SH: Oh.

SM: Shifty-looking bloke pulls out the $50 and goes to hand it to me and he says, “Well called, mate.” I said, “Sorry. I can’t take your money. I work on the show. I know this bloke got up and won by one question. I can’t take your money. That’s just that.” And I’m thinking ‘there’s Dr. Death over in the corner….’

SH: (GULP) Yes, we’re all friends here! Heh heh. Did he take that all right?

SM: He was fine. But then two weeks later, I’m back in there. And he sidles up to me again, looks at the screen and goes “So who wins this one?”

And I give him a theatrical sort of look and go “chick on the left…”

So, he turns to another guy and goes, “Hey! I’ll bet you $100 bucks that chick on the left wins!”

I said, “$100? Your price has gone up.”

He goes, “Yeah. $50 for me and 50 for you…”

I said, “Okay I’ve got to cut this right here. I work on the show. We cannot be doing this. It’s illegal. You could get into big trouble. I’ll lose my job. So just let’s just stop betting on the winners, okay? I’m not telling you another thing.”

SH: You stayed on the right side of things there…

SM: I remember my boss telling me, “The smartest thing to do, don’t tell people you work on the show.”

SH: Lesson learned.

SM: “Drink your beer and go home like the rest of us.”

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Yes, quite. I suspect that might be good advice for all of us, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

See you next week.

(and Cheers).

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show producer Steve Marshall – Part 2

Welcome back! When we left off last week, we were discussing the early days of Steve’s TV career, and the show he was working on, where he happened to meet the young woman who would later become his wife…

========================== SH: And was that your first game show-related job, Sale of the Century? You were an associate producer?

SM: Well, yeah, although I started off as a copywriter. I dropped out of university and I wanted to get into advertising somehow. And I got a job at Channel 10 in the publicity department, just before they were about to televise the Olympics. And the publicity department had four women and the boss said to me,

“None of us know anything about sport. Do you know about sport? Because we’ve got the Olympics…”

And I said “yeah.”

“You’re hired, young fella!”

And I was quickly found to be the worst publicist in the history of publicity. And after a couple of years there, I thought I cannot in good conscience ring the editor of TV Week once more, suggesting another Young Talent Time story, without bursting into laughter. But what I did see working in publicity at Channel 10 was all the shows being made; Prisoner, Carson’s Law, Young Talent Time… you saw the newsroom and all that stuff. And I thought making shows would be a lot more fun than trying to promote them through the newspapers, which I was no good at. I thought ‘maybe I’ll try and get into production’. And a bit later I saw an ad in The Age saying “Grundy Entertainment – copywriter”. I thought, ‘That’s it. That sounds like me’, but I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. But I got the job (as copywriter on Sale of the Century)! I thought I’d be writing all the questions and some quips for (host) Tony Barber. But it’s nothing to do with that, of course; it’s writing all the prize reads for the ‘Gift Shop’ prizes, and the big major prizes. And it was an absolutely perfect introduction to it all because, first week, you’re in the studio and you’re watching them do it. We all grew up watching Sale of the Century and Tony Barber… and suddenly there I am, in the thick of it! So, I stayed there for a couple years, moved up to Associate Producer, but decided to move on.

SH: How did you go from writing the prize reads to becoming an Associate Producer?

SM: They had a pretty open sort of ladder at (production company) Grundy’s. If you stayed there long enough, and they thought you were pretty good at the job, they’d give you that title with a bit more money and a few more responsibilities. And the Associate Producer on a show like that doesn’t make too many big decisions. But you’re dealing with the prize department and programming prizes and stuff like that. But I wanted to get into the question side, so I was going through all the questions with question writers. I asked my boss at the time “What makes a good producer?” And he said, “Common sense. We sometimes see people get a bit excited about it, and they get caught up in the title and think they’re the Big Decision Maker. But it’s mainly just steering the thing and putting a good solid hand on the wheel, and having good people underneath you”.

SH: And so how long were you in the role of Associate Producer?

SM: 18 months.

SH: Right.

SM: And then, as you know, I got bored and decided to fly to LA and indulge my youthful fantasy of driving an American car from LA to New York, which I did.

SH: By yourself?

SM: Yeah. Yeah, it was fun.

SH: That’s very cool. So, if you were over there doing that, what made you come back to Australia?

SM: Just ran out of money, basically! I think I went back to Grundy’s and then resumed as an Associate Producer.

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When I heard Steve say that, I found it heartening that the Grundy Organisation welcomed one of its former employees back with such open arms. The way he told it, it almost sounded to me like they were welcoming him back into the family. I’m not sure that the big TV production companies would be quite so accommodating with their people these days. At the risk of sounding like a sappy old geezer, it feels like it was a simpler, kinder, more decent time back then… 

And we’ll be exploring it further, right here next Tuesday! 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show producer Steve Marshall – Part 1

This is a picture of Steve. But when you meet him in real life, he’s in colour.

Hello and welcome to my first really big interview for 2022. I’m really excited about this one. Steve Marshall is a veteran game show producers who’s racked up thousands of hours of game show TV across some of the biggest and most recognizable shows in the industry. Steve’s a lovely bloke, and we first met way back in – But no, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll just leave you with the interview and all will be revealed. And now dear reader, read on…

================================SH: Steve Marshall, hello, thank you so much for speaking to me today.

SM: Stephen Hall it’s a pleasure, absolute pleasure. As always.

SH: I’m trying to think of the last time you and I actually spoke. I do remember that after my time on Temptation, in 2005, you had a radio show… And did you put me in touch with Nathan Foley?

SM: I’m grateful you brought that up. I was trying to remember who it was. Because I’d been speaking to Jon Olb, the TV director. And he told me you’d won Temptation. I said, “Did he win The Lot? That’s fantastic.” I said to our producer. “We’ve got to get him on the radio show soon,” because I think that episode had just gone to air. We watched it and found out you’d had a bit of luck in your final episode, in that you had a pick of the board and you picked Nathan Foley. He was one of the kids in Hi-5? Is that correct?

SH: That’s right.

SM: And he spun around and gave you the $25, which helped you get over the line. (You can see this moment here, around the 13:30 mark) So when we got you on the radio show, our producer cleverly got Nathan Foley on the line as well. So you got the opportunity to thank him… despite the fact that he had nothing whatsoever to do with it!

SH: That’s right.

SM: But you know, although I say you were lucky to pull that $25…. In all my years of experience, nobody ever won Sale of the Century / Temptation, ever, by being lucky. I mean, if you win seven nights in a row, there’s a lot more to it than luck. Hang on, let’s turn the interview around a bit; did it change your life?

SH: Yes, sir, absolutely! It massively changed my life! And to think, I frittered it all away on a house. (LAUGHS) But the ongoing effects of that event still keep echoing through, right up to this day. Absolutely. It changed everything. I was going out with my wife, but shortly after that, I proposed and she said yes. And then we had our daughter. And so, it was just a great – and very action-packed and joyous – year that year.

SM: I can imagine – what a start to everything!

SH: Yes, it was fantastic. But it was some six years before that – in 1999 – that you and I first met.

SM: That’s right.

SH: We were both working on a show for Fox8 (on cable TV here in Australia) called Sunday Roast, which has since disappeared without a trace.

SM: It’s funny you say that, because I’ve done the sad thing, I’ve tried to hunt it down. I thought for sure there’d be some snippets on YouTube or something, but I think they probably just now live on a digi betacam tape on somebody’s bookshelf somewhere. Just to explain, that was in the early days of Foxtel here in Australia and Jason Stephens – who was in the original D-Generation’s Late Show – started this little production company. And with another guy who was a very good lawyer and negotiator, not necessarily a great producer, he put together a comedy panel show which they sold to Foxtel called Sunday Roast… and you and I crossed paths on that. And it was a fun show to do. There were two teams competing, and we had Pete Rowsthorn as the host and Steve Bedwell and Shane Bourne were the team captains. So, as I always say (and people sometimes forget this) if you want to make a funny show, it helps to have funny people involved. And that was a real good show. I really enjoyed Sunday Roast.

SH: In some ways, it was ahead of its time. It’s a format that’s become so familiar to us now with Spicks and Specks, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks and all those sorts of shows. There are a million English ones and they’re doing really well. I think that was pretty early days for that type of comedy.

SM: Yeah. I remember at the time being a big fan of the English comedian Jeff Green. I’d seen him on a couple of those English panel shows; They Think It’s All Over, and so on. He was coming out for the Melbourne Comedy Festival and I thought, “Gee wouldn’t be great to get Jeff Green on the show?” We managed to track him down. And he did the show! He was – and he still is – one of the great comedians of the world, Jeff.

SH: For sure. Now, I remember that your wife Tania also worked on Sunday Roast, and am I right in thinking that you two originally met at work? Was it on Sale of the Century?

SM: Yep. Tania was the contestant coordinator. It was her job to find contestants, and run auditions all around the country and pick out the best ones, and throw suggestions of people to be contestants on the show each week. And our paths crossed and you know, we weren’t the first – and certainly won’t be the last – to have an office romance. And unsurprisingly…

SH: Eh, it’ll never last! (LAUGHS) 

SM: It lasted! (LAUGHS)

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And we’ll leave it there for this week, on that cheerful note (and hello Tania, if you’re reading this)! See you back here next week, when Steve discusses the world of commercial TV publicity in the mid-80s, and driving across America from L.A to New York…

Until then, then!

ICYMI on HTWGS in 2021

Hello, and again Happy 2022 to you!

Just a quick one today, before I launch into the year’s first official, exclusive new content next week. I thought I might take a look back at some highlights of last year here on the blog, to give you a second chance to catch up on them, in case there’s anything there that might take your fancy, but which you missed at the time.

First up, in February, I let you know about a very clever, very funny new podcast created by a couple of brilliant Melbourne-based comedy writers. It’s called The Pop Test, and each episode tackles a scientific subject in great detail with the help of a couple of celebrity contestants, and a whole lot of smart gags. Andy Matthews and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall are the brains behind this, and if you haven’t sampled it yet, you really should give it a go!  

In May, our good friend – and occasional guest blogger – Ryan Vickers drew our attention to the second season of The Search For Canada’s Game Shows, all episodes of which are available to watch online. They make fascinating viewing for any game show aficionado. (Hey, that’s you!) 

Then, in June, we discovered a brand new nightly online quiz, in the form of The TikTok10. Australian quiz show question writer Miles Glaspole creates a new 10-question episode every weeknight, in a fun, quick quiz that’s now racked up over 18 MILLION LIKES! Congratulations, Miles! You can see what all the fuss is about right here.  

The second half of 2021 was almost entirely occupied by my epic, 18-PART EXCLUSIVE episode with Australian quiz show legend David Poltorak. It was a wide-ranging and very candid conversation with a man who’s proven himself in front of the cameras, and in a variety of behind-the-scenes roles in the game show industry since he exploded onto the quiz show scene back in the 1980s. If you haven’t read the interview, I’d heartily recommend it. The whole thing kicks off here.

And finally, we rounded out the year with…

  • My latest HTWGS movie review. I took a look at Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much, which tells the incredible story of Theodore ‘Ted’ Slauson, who’s appeared on The Price Is Right a whopping 37 times! You can read my review right here, and the 72-minute movie’s actually available to view online here, here and here
  • And a two-part interview with game show winner Kristi Milley, who told her twisty, turny tale of appearing on the ill-fated 2006 Australian Quiz show the MASTER. There’s certainly a lesson to be learned with that one!

So there are a few highlights of The Year That Just Was, in case you missed them. I look forward to welcoming you back here next week, for my very first big, EXCLUSIVE interview for 2022. It’s with a man who’s worked behind the scenes on many of Australia’s biggest game shows across all the major networks, across four decades! He’s veteran Australian game show producer Steve Marshall, and it’s a far-ranging chat you won’t want to miss.

See you then, then! 

HAPPY NEW YEAR from HTWGS.com!

Thanks, Mr Gumby.

As 2021 draws to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your near ones and dear ones all the very, very best for a wonderful 2022. Whatever sort of 2021 you’ve had, I sincerely hope that 2022 is Bigger, Better and Brighter for you!

I’ve got loads of good stuff lined up for the blog in the year ahead, including: 

  • More of my patented HowToWinGameShows reminiscences,
  • More book reviews,
  • and more exclusive interviews with fascinating behind-the-scenes figures from the game show industry (the first one of which will start in just a couple of weeks).

If there’s anything other game show-related material YOU’d like to see me tackle in 2022, please do let me know, either in the comments below or via email: Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com. I’m always open to suggestions!

Thanks so much, as always, for your support… 

and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Cheers,

Stephen.

Merry Christmas from HTWGS.com!

Hello. As the year that was 2021 winds down, I’d just like to take this opportunity to heartily wish you and yours all the Compliments of the Season. I hope your Christmas is exactly what YOU want it to be. I hope it’s happy, I hope it’s safe, and I hope it contains liberal amounts of laughter and love.

And, of course, silliness.

Thank you so much for your support throughout this year…. and again,

Merry Christmas to you!

Cheers,

Stephen.

 

A game show winner’s cautionary tale – Part 2

Kristi, on ‘the MASTER’ in 2006.

Last week, game show winner Kristi Milley was telling us about her rollercoaster ride on 2006’s the MASTER. She’d won $41,100 on the show in August, only to see it get cancelled after its first episode! She wasn’t in the episode that did go to air, so she’d resigned herself to not receiving her winnings. BUT THEN the network played all the remaining, unaired episodes of the show in December 2006…

All the unaired episodes, that is, EXCEPT for Kristi’s one. Once again, any hopes she had of receiving her winnings were dashed.

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SH: And you thought that was that the end of your the MASTER story? Seeing the network broadcast every episode of the show except yours?

KM: That’s exactly it. Occasionally I would see the show repeated on TV, but I just filed it away as a fun experience.

Bye bye.

SH: But then….?

KM: But then by chance, in early 2020, my great aunt (who’s 88) just happened to be watching daytime TV… and there I was, answering questions! She called my nan who phoned me, the whole family chain, to ask why I didn’t let her know I was going to be on TV. I cried and phoned everyone I knew, to work out what my next steps were… to get the $$$.

SH: Back in 2006, did you sign a standard agreement before the show? And did you get a copy of the agreement? Was one offered to you at the time?

KM: I feel like I signed something, but if I ever had a copy of the agreement, it has long since been turfed. I remember clearly being told that if the show didn’t air, we would get the money. I tried very hard to contact Channel 7 myself but got fobbed off, so I had to get a lawyer to act on my behalf.

SH: Was the network reluctant to pay you? 

KM: The network ignored me. It took a bit of work for the lawyer to get Seven to even acknowledge that I needed to be paid. So, I lost a chunk of my winnings as legal fees, which would have been nice to avoid. I have a suspicion that all the episodes only ever aired on 7Two (in 2020, where Kristi’s great aunt saw it) for the first time, and they didn’t know that mine hadn’t aired before. In the end, they paid, but I don’t think they even checked the episode… as I only got paid $41,000 instead of (the amount I won) $41,100.

SH: So what did you do with your winnings, when you finally, FINALLY got your hands on them?

KM: In the end, waiting 15 years for my prize winnings was a blessing. If I’d been paid as a 21-year-old, it would’ve all gone on a holiday. Being paid in my mid-30s gave me the deposit for my first home. A decade as a student completing my PhD had not given me any savings! So, during Melbourne’s second lockdown in late 2020, I purchased my first home. It’s made an amazing difference to my life.

KM: That’s fantastic, Kristi – congratulations! Were there any lessons you learned from your experience you could pass on to any aspiring quiz show contestants?

KM: I think I’ve learnt more on reflection, watching my episode back, than on the day itself. I think I was lucky I had a background in theatre; it helped me feel more comfortable in a new, stressful environment. Watching myself, I just saw I was someone that gave every question a shot. A lot of the time, the answer is sitting somewhere in your brain; it’s just trusting enough to say it out loud. I also didn’t have a fast reaction time and I think that is something I could have worked on before the recording. Lastly, chance played a big part in my win. Understanding that and just going for it was important.

SH: Your appearance on the MASTER was 15 years ago now. Did you go on any other quiz shows or game shows after that? Do you still have the quizzing bug?

KM: I did also appear on Deal or No Deal. I haven’t really applied for any shows since. I’m just biding my time until they bring back Wheel of Fortune and Sale of the Century!

SH: Kristi, thanks so much again for talking to me today – I’ve really enjoyed hearing your story, and I know that a lot of our visitors will too!

KM: Thanks for the invite. It was nice to reflect on my experience.

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So there you have it – very much a case of “Good Things Come To Those Who Wait”.* I’d like to thank Kristi so much again for sharing her story, with all its ups and downs. And I’m so glad it had such a happy ending for her… even if it did take a decade and a half to arrive!

 

 

 

* … and also To Those Who Get A Good Lawyer And Don’t Take ‘No’ For An Answer.

A game show winner’s cautionary tale – Part 1

Hello! As I’ve frequently pointed out here, it’s a game show truism that “If your episode doesn’t air, you don’t get your winnings”. This is standard game show practice, and it’s usually written into contestant agreements, to officially remind people not to count their chickens before they’ve hatched.

Today’s interview really brings this home. I’m very pleased to be speaking today to Kristi Milley – a winning contestant on 2006’s the MASTER, who knows about this particular aspect of game shows only too well…

SH: Kristi! Thank you so much for talking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com. By way of background, what was your life like before going you appeared on the show? Had you been interested in quizzing and game shows for a long time? And what, in particular, inspired you to try out for the MASTER?

KM: I was in my second year of Uni and loved my weekly pub trivia with friends. I was the quintessential poor student and I think trying out for the MASTER was part of a get- rich-quick scheme! I also went on Deal or No Deal the same year. I got to hold a briefcase but didn’t win anything.

SH: Can you talk us through the audition / interview process for the show?

KM: It’s such a long time ago now, all the details are fuzzy. I remember having to fill out a long personal bio, maybe have my photo taken and complete a paper-based general knowledge questionnaire. Then a few weeks later, I was contacted to say I had made it to the next round.

SH: Your special subject was The Human Body (which makes sense, since you were a medical science student at the time); did you do any specific training for going on the show?

KM: I winged everything! I didn’t even think to prep for the show. How silly is that?

SH: Can you talk a bit about the studio experience itself? What did you notice about other contestants and the way they handled it?

KM: I had a really great experience on the day itself. I was only 21 at the time and remember feeling very young compared to the other contestants. I’d never had my make-up done professionally before, and I had to bring a couple of outfit options, which was all very exciting.

All the other contestants were very friendly, and I didn’t get the sense that any of them regularly tried out for game shows. We were all like deer in the headlights when we started to record. The host Mark Beretta really made us feel comfortable and kept up the small talk between takes to help relax the contestants. A few of the other contestants had a friend or family member in the audience, which made them feel more at ease. As it was a brand new format, we were all on a level playing field. My episode was also the very first to be recorded in the series. So, I don’t think contestants really had the opportunity to have a strategy. This had an impact in the Special Subject round, where you lost points for incorrect answers… but we didn’t really get a chance to think how big an impact that would have. I essentially won the show because one of the contestants performed very poorly with his Special Subject and lost all the points he’d built up before that.

SH: Were there any elements of the show itself – the studio audience, the MASTER himself (Martin Flood), the speed of proceedings, the physicality of the set, the brightness of the lights, or even the loudness of the music – that surprised you?

KM: The brightness of the lights was quite intense – I was sweating up a storm! Note to budding game show contestants: don’t wear a woollen cardigan! And having Martin watching the game and commenting added an extra layer of intensity to the experience.

SH: In the heat of battle, during the actual playing of your game, what moments – either good or bad – stick in your mind?

KM: 15 years later, I still remember the questions I answered incorrectly that I should have known. The other thing that’s never left me is my terrible banter with Martin between questions in the final segment.

SH: Oh, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself there. After all, you did win your episode, and a cool $41,100!

SH: … But then, in August 2006, a few weeks after your record, the MASTER premiered on the Seven Network, only to be axed after just one episode! (And unfortunately, that episode was not the one you were in). How did you feel when you heard the show had been cancelled?

KM: Gutted – what 21-year-old doesn’t have plans for their winnings? I was heading to the UK not long after filming, for a placement with my undergraduate studies, and the winnings were going to help pay for my flights and accommodation.

SH: BUT then four months later (during the non-ratings period), the network decided to air the six remaining episodes of the show…. or did they? I’m guessing you tuned in to watch the remaining episodes in December 2006?

KM: The way I remember it was they did air the one episode (in August) and then the rest all aired during the non-ratings period, yes. They had said they’d contact us to let us know when our episode would air, but I was never contacted. And (in December) they aired every episode… bar mine! So, I figured that was it – my pilot episode didn’t make the cut. 

SH: And you thought that was that the end of your the MASTER story? Seeing the network broadcast every episode except yours?

KM: That’s exactly it. Occasionally I would see the show repeated on TV, but I just filed it away as a fun experience.

SH: But then….?

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But then… Kristi’s story continues! It’s far from over, and there are more twists and turns ahead. So join us back here next Tuesday, when all will be revealed…..

HTWGS movie review – ‘Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much’.

So, first things first… did you watch it?

If you haven’t seen this documentary yet, you still have time! There WILL be spoilers in this review, so before you scroll down to read it, here’s your last chance to see what I’ll be talking about…

You can watch the full (72-minute) movie online, either HERE, 

HERE, 

HERE,

or HERE.Okay. So don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much tells the story of maths teacher Theodore “Ted” Slausen; a lifelong The Price Is Right fan, who has attended a whopping 37 recordings of the show! Ted’s not just a superfan, though; he’s also an incredibly keen analyst of the show, watching it religiously, and creating and maintaining vast databases of all the prizes and their respective dollar values. And he’s been doing this for decades. 

The idea first occurred to Ted when he watched 4 episodes from 1973 and noticed they contained four fridges which were all the same price. This planted a seed in his analytical mind: it told him there were patterns on the show that could be predicted…

So Ted started logging all the prizes on the show – and their values – building what would become an ENORMOUS database. He made his own rudimentary TPIR computer game, which included all the games – and prizes – from the show, and he spent a lot of time playing his own home version of the game with friends.

When he turned 18, he went to recordings of the show six times but never got picked to “Come on down”. Ted ended up going to 23 tapings of the show without ever being called down… but then, on his 24th visit, he made it onto the stage as a contestant, played the games, and won a few prizes. And, it would appear that was where Ted’s TPIR journey would end…

There are more twists and turns ahead, though. This film is a portrait of Ted’s lifelong obsession with the show, and he’s not done yet…

As you know, I’ve always advocated getting to know a show intimately, if you’re planning to go on it. David Poltorak holds the same view, as does Martin Flood. If you’re an aspiring contestant who’s taking the show seriously, you’ve got to know all its ins and outs. As Christopher Walken says in the movie Mousehunt, if you want to catch a mouse… “You have to think…”

“…. LIKE A MOUSE!”

But I digress. About two-thirds of the way through Perfect Bid, after Ted’s one and only appearance as a contestant on the show, his TPIR journey seems to have ended…

But, as we know, the show’s format encourages the audience to yell out what they think the prizes are worth…. an element that seems tailor-made for Ted. The rest of the film outlines his subsequent visits to recordings, and the numerous occasions when contestants took Ted’s (yelled) advice and won big prizes! There is scandal, there are conspiracy theories, and we hear from the show’s current host Drew Carey, who feared that all of this could spell the end of The Price Is Right altogether! That’s why, when he’s congratulating Terry Kniess (whose perfect showcase bid resulted from following Ted’s advice), Drew is so unenthusiastic.

This is a well-made documentary, with lots of archival TV footage, and they clearly did it all on a shoestring budget. But on a technical note… I don’t know if it was my headphones or the settings on my computer when I watched this, but the background musical score sounded very intrusive to me. The producers have used upbeat, 1920s-style big band music (often featuring vocals) throughout a lot of the film, and to my ear, it really got in the way. Again, I don’t know if it was the sound mix or a problem at my end, but I found it incredibly distracting every time the background music annoyingly became foreground music. And on the subject of music… There’s a section of the film where (the show’s host) Bob Barker retires, as does its producer Roger Dobkowitz, and it’s incredibly schmaltzy, with a syrupy, overblown, sentimental song (again with intrusive vocals) called Christmas Time is Here. Um, why? As far as I can tell, Bob didn’t leave at Christmas, and neither did Roger.

In the final analysis, I found it all a bit sad. Ted never benefitted from the wins of anyone he helped… so what does he have to show for his decades of The Price Is Right obsession? Well, from that one time he got on the show, he came away with $1100 prize money, a recliner chair (worth $599), a coffee maker ($160), a photo laminator ($50), a dumbbell set ($35), 2 sets of jogging clothes ($18), and a peck on the cheek from – and an autographed picture of – the spokesmodel named Holly.

Perfect Bid is an interesting – and pretty quick – watch for game show aficionados and fans (like us), but I can’t help feeling that Ted’s story is ultimately unsatisfying; his journey as a contestant ended a long time ago, his winnings were unremarkable, and none of the people he’s helped since then have shared any of their winnings with him.

The documentary is certainly a mighty testament to the power of doing your game show homework, but I can’t help asking… what did Ted do all that homework FOR? For the love of the game, I suppose. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a riveting tale.

As such, I’m giving Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much…

2 game show buzzers out of 4.

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Have YOU watched Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much? (You can do that HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE.) If you have, what did YOU think of it? Please let me know in the comments below!

What I’ve planned for next week, and how you can get involved.

Hello!

I hope you enjoyed my epic interview with David Poltorak. I know I did!

As promised, this week I’m doing Something Completely Different (and next week too). Recently, someone who follows me on Twitter made me aware of a 2017 documentary about Theodore “Ted” Slauson; a man who’s been in the audience at tapings of The Price Is Right a whopping 37 times, and who has a unique story to tell. As you know, I’ve spoken many times here on the blog about doing your homework; about diligently studying the show you’re about to appear on. Well, Ted took this idea to INCREDIBLE extremes, as you can see right HERE in the trailer for the film, which is called Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much….

I’ve just watched the film in its entirety, and next week I’ll be bringing you my exclusive HTWGS review of it.

In the meantime, if the trailer above has whet your appetite, you can watch the full (72-minute) movie online, either HERE, 

HERE,

HERE,

or HERE.

If you can find a spare hour and 12 minutes between now and next Tuesday, I’d strongly recommend watching Perfect Bid. And if you DO get a chance to watch it, you’ll be able to compare notes with my review when I post it here next Tuesday. I’ll be interested to see how your reaction compares to mine!

Until then, then!