#136 - The Torturing of Rich Fields
When comedy trumps gameplay in the Showcases.

 

CBS (November and December of 2008)
Text by: Robert Seidelman

The Drewcases on the Price Is Right have always been a mixed bag, mostly those involving former announcer of the Price Is Right, Rich Fields.

During this time period, Rich would always play the straight man to Drew Carey's comedic talents.  That would always work out for the better, since it got Rich more involved with the show and had it be a lot less about the host.  Rich in the Drewcases were sometimes really funny....

especially when he was Fields....Rich Fields during the James Bond showcase,

Or during the soap opera Drewcase, he was wearing a dress and pregnant.  It was funny when we saw that.  Mainly because Rich was only used sparingly during the showcases at that time and was just starting to get camera time during the show.  On the flipside to that, there were drewcases that really didn't work out when he was up against a tough sell.

The Fried Chicken Drewcase springs to mind immediately.

So, with Rich being given more camera time, and Drew wanting him involved more in the showcases, what we have here is an example of hurting the contestant and impeding Rich Fields' job in the process.  Now, I know he was cool with all of this, seeing how he's good friends with Drew and he got to announce his short-lived GSN show, "Drew Carey's Improv-a-Ganza".  However, this particular batch of Drewcases really didn't help out Rich, the comedy or more importantly, the contestant who had to make a bid out of all of this.

We'll start with the actual Drewcase that was hyped on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  Drew came on a couple weeks before it aired and he even said in the interview that "We're torturing Rich Fields".  Anyways, the first one involves him having to read the prize description without taking a single breath.  So, he had to barnstorm through the prize copy just so he could take a breath.  This confused the bidder as well as the viewer in the vein of "It's comedy!"

Then it's Rich standing on his head, being propped up by the models and reading the copy.  It's hard enough to be on your head, especially with the strain on your neck, it's also is made hard when you have the pressure on the top of your head and you have to force your jaw to go upwards instead of downwards when you talk, making it an even more strainful experience.  At the very least, there was a pillow for him to put his head on so that he wouldn't be hurt that bad.  It just seems disjointed to me to make the job of your announcer that much harder just to entertain.

Finally in this Drewcase, he reads the prize copy after inhaling helium from a balloon.  Ok, this one gets a pass.  Sure it's a higher pitched voice, but at least he can read at his own pace without having to take a breath or have to discomfort himself by standing on his head and making the muscles in his jaw work harder.  This was lighthearted and fun.

If it was just that Drewcase, I wouldn't have minded, but then we fast-forward a couple more weeks and we get to the second showcase and we are treated to this intro by Drew Carey.

"For our second showcase, Rich Fields has 90 seconds to read all the copy, or he's going to go into the dunk tank" 

Uh oh.

Yeah, it's exactly what Drew said.  However they padded his copy so that he would survive with 2 or so seconds left or get dunked.  This kind of stunt was unneeded.  It's more of "Stunt for the sake of having a stunt" than anything else.  The actual prize copy was normal, but the explanation of getting to the actual prize copy was overly wordy, forcing Rich to read the entire thing as fast as he can.  It made Rich look very uncomfortable and let's be honest.  The Dunk Tank is only fun when you're knocking someone in, not when you're the one being the dunkee.

And after he got finished reading the car copy, the buzzer sounded and he got all wet.  What a shame. 

The Drewcases could be entertaining at times, but this batch was just painful to watch.  Not just because they were poorly conceived, but because of what they were doing to Rich.  Sure this wasn't the type of torture you'd see on shows like The Chamber or Kidnapped or worse yet, Trashed.  But, it's still not as enjoyable to watch.  They could be really good, if real effort had been put into them.  However, when they got lazy with the execution, it just becomes a bore.  In the end, for better or for worse, they helped evolve the show into more than what it was when Barker was still hosting after 2005.  It's not longer just a game show, it's an entire entertainment show.  The Drewcases that we knew them from 2008-2009 are no more, but some of the skits that the show does that stemmed from the Drewcases are around and are much better than what was going on in Drew's second season.  You can chalk up these Drewcases to growing pains from the new regime, but right now they are on the right track, despite the detractors out there, but I'll deal with them later this month.