So they basically make documentaries about anyone nowadays.
Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much (2017): 5 out of 10: Man, this is a weird one. From the name, one would suspect that this documentary is about Terry Kniess, who bid the exact amount for a showcase and made Price is Right history. Outside of the last five minutes or so, it isn’t. Perhaps it is an examination of Drew Carey’s famously poor performance as the host during that moment (and bluntly, many other moments)? No, not really. Oh, I see it is a framing device about the history of the Price is Right? Close, there is some of that to be sure, but if you expect any mention of the various sexual harassment and other lawsuits that plagued the show towards the end of the Barker years, you will be disappointed and somewhat flabbergasted.
Nope, this is the story of one Theodore Slauson. Don’t know who that is? Well, you will after this documentary. Boy, you will. Ted Slauson is a super fan of the Price is Right. He found a way to beat the show. No, nothing earth shattering, diabolical or exciting. He just memorized all the prices for the prizes they used. Did he use that knowledge to conquer the show? No, not exactly. I will let the documentary describe the details of his 37 times attending a Price is Right showing (Which they do as if we were watching the Zapruder film). What he did was yell out the correct prices to other contestants. Which if you have viewed the Price is Right, you would know is perfectly normal. This isn’t a golf match.
So was there an actual scandal about the guy who made the exact bid? No. He did not acknowledge that Ted helped him, but in all honesty, that is understandable. There is a little something off about Ted, well besides, the fact he was obsessed with the Price is Right to what one could charitably call an alarming degree. He is like those guys that hang out in a video game or electronics store telling you, with great passion, which tv or console to buy and then you realize they don’t actually work there.
Part of the awkwardness is, of course, the subject matter being a game show. Sports Radio is full of lunatics like this. But if one were doing a documentary about the Giants 1991 Super Bowl win, would one really spend seventy-five percent of said documentary with someone who had season tickets and yelled plays at Bill Parcells.
Okay, so is there anything to recommend in the documentary? Well, Bob Barker is in it. I mean current Bob Barker. You know, 95-year-old Bob Barker. And bless his heart, he brings a smile to one’s face. Okay, I know about the lawsuits and he does look like The Crypt-Keeper now, but that positive attitude and joy is downright infectious.
Longtime executive producer Roger Dobkowitz is also on hand. There is talk that he was dismissed when Drew Carey took over on Drew’s orders. (Boo Hiss) and the documentary flirts with the idea that there was a secret underground army of Bob Barker/Roger Dobkowitz fans that were sabotaging Drew on the show. (They posted stuff online that was discussed in private meetings one producer states.) Our subject, Theodore Slauson, was suspected of being a member of the Rebel Alliance when he shouted out the right showcase price to cause Drew that horrible embarrassment. He denies any involvement in the resistance.
Is the movie secretly part of the resistance? I think so. It does border on hagiography the way it demonizes Drew Carey (Who comes across as awful) and treats the old cast and crew with kid gloves.
Strangely, for all the time the movie spends with Ted Slauson, we never really get a read on him. He has a wife in one story but a “partner” in a later tale. His jobs change over the years and he mentions kids once or twice, but there are only glimpses into the madness.
We do see the Snoopy room, however. Ted has a bedroom filled hoarder style with hundreds of Snoopy stuffed animals. It is introduced, shown once completely out of context, and is never mentioned again. To a person that watches way too many horror movies and thrillers, this seemed like a thread was certainly going to pay off later. Like Norman Bates discussing his taxidermy.
The best example of the film’s myopic view is Ted’s obsession with longtime Price is Right model Holly Hallstrom, whom he gets autographs and kisses from. The film paints it as a sweet celebrity crush. Well, I don’t know about that. I do know that Holly’s famous 1995 lawsuit against Bob Barker doesn’t even get a side glance let alone her contemporaneous quotes “miserable tyranny at the hands of a mad dictator” and “I refused to give up and let that evil old bastard win.”. Kind of puts a different spin on wearing an “I am here for a kiss from Holly” homemade shirt, as our protagonist does on multiple occasions.
Am I secretly creeped out by Ted Slauson? I could see nightmares where I am stuck on an airline flight next to him. After all, I have already spent ninety minutes with him and I am good, thank you.