Come On Down: An Ode to Bob Barker

Ah, Bob Barker.

White-maned keeper of the Showcase Showdown. Unparalleled wielder of the singular and iconic car-antenna microphone. Unflappable guide to all contestants -- stupid, excitable, or otherwise. Meat-averse Superfriend to all beasts of land, air, and sea (except, of course, those that aren't so keen on having their genitals swiftly and efficiently neutralized for the good of their species). Defendant against the occasional p.o.'d prize model. And, above all, purveyor of Plinko.

Oh, man. Plinko.

Whew.

Man, Plinko will straight-up own you. You don't even know.

I'm serious. Plinko will own you, then wait for nightfall, crawl up inside your brain while you slumber, and lay little imperceptible Plinko-eggs that will, upon hatching, instantly commence owning you all over again. Because that's just how it works. Even in the very best and rarest of cases -- those in which you manage, somehow, to come out a hair ahead -- you don't beat Plinko; Plinko has mercy on you.

(Shudder.)

Ahem.

News: After an astounding half-century on the air -- 35 of which have come as the so-recognizable-your-mom-and-Nana-and-18-year-old-baby-sister-all-wanna-hit-it host of The Price is Right -- Barker will officially step down from daytime television early next month.

Now, be honest: There're a few of you out there in readerdom who, until digesting that sentence, believed in all earnestness that Price had lapsed into reruns long ago and/or that Bob, indeed, had passed on. Rest assured: Ye shall face the Plinko for this heresy. Afterward, though, CBS has got your Barker-centric salve. Bob Barker: A Celebration of 50 Years on Television (Thursday, 8 ET/PT), follows Wednesday's The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular, which marked The Man's final prime-time turn as host. Thursday's special, according to CBS.com, "will include Barker's reminiscences about his 50 year career on television and his 35 years on [The Price Is Right], in addition to highlighting some classic games from the long-running show." Sounds good to me. Feel like you haven't watched in ages? Can't remember if you ever really liked it that much in the first place? (One word. Rhymes with "Blinko." Watch it.) Trust me: Youtube "the price is right" and let it all come flooding gloriously back. Prepare yourself for the late, great Rod ("A NEW CAR!") Roddy; six-foot, statuesque women caressing mini-campers; and a multitude of grinning, self-satisfied punks being all, "One dollar, Bob."

And, of course, Bob himself.

All controversy aside, dude's an institution. Part Dick Clark, part Hefner, Barker has long shown remarkable patience, wit, and grace in a position that very often acquaints him, on-air, with money-rabid, irretrievable nutbags. There's a reason he's lasted three-and-a-half decades and won 17 Emmys, and whoever replaces him (it's reportedly still undecided), will have quite a shadow to escape.

Meantime, we can watch Thursday night, hoping fervidly that Barker seizes the opportunity to close things out with the perfect farewell -- a line from his legendary 1996 film cameo, spoken to a bested Adam Sandler, but just as appropriate here:

"Now you've had enough. Bitch."

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Brian Villalobos lives in Austin, Texas (practically), writes on film and TV, and totally cried at Stuart Little.

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