The producers must have thought that the time wasn’t right (for massive, in-studio audiences, that is). The iconic, high-energy game show The Price Is Right is returning to television tonight, but there will be a few notable changes to make the set safer due to COVID-19. Without an audience (no, not even a virtual one, because they could easily Google Search the answers) CBS’ The Price Is Right will definitely feel different, hopefully, viewers will still be able to find some comfort in the return of the long-running show for its 49th season. Compared to other game shows, The Price Is Right is especially dependent on the energy and enthusiasm from its audience, but we’ll just have to see how this goes. Will it be weird? Maybe.
Getting rid of the 300-person live audience was the first step in resuming production. Showrunner and executive producer Evelyn Warfel said, “That was the hardest part of all of this; the audience is such a core part of that show, and so, for the first time in 48 years we’ve had to look at it and go okay, we’re bringing the show back and it’s going to be different… We have to hope and know that everyone understands what’s going on and how serious it is and that we want to bring back this show for everyone, but it has to look different,” per Deadline.
However, the game show has brought back host Drew Carey and all 77 games, including the quintessential “Come on Down” segment. Of course, the “Come on Down” segment will be very different without all of the live audiences cheers. I’ll miss seeing over-excited contestants scream as they run through the audience to take part in the game show. Decks have been installed where the audience used to sit, and all of the contestants will be on a single level (so that Carey doesn’t have to keep running up and down the stairs to talk the contestants, who will all be six feet away from one another). They’ve also, of course, kept the wheel. Warfel said that the contestants will be “able to all touch the wheel. They just have to sanitize their hands first, and then after that, the first wheel spin, the wheel will be sanitized for the next wheel spin.”
Reimagining and preparing a game show to return during the age of COVID-19 seems like a difficult task, but Warfel said, “I feel excited. I’m excited to be back. I love a good challenge. I think our set is beautiful. It’s different, but I really enjoyed the process of creating something new.” Maybe tune in tonight? If you scream loud enough, you might be able to replicate the feeling of the hundreds of audience members who usually fill your heart with delight. We think.