Trying to return to work amidst an ongoing pandemic has forced businesses to be creative, from restaurants establishing outdoor dining to soap operas filming love scenes with air dolls. Many talk shows and even SNL have come back with limited or no audiences. Still, it’s hard to imagine one program, the longtime game show The Price is Right, without its hooting and hollering audience, any of who could wind up the episode’s winner. But they’re going to try doing that exact thing all the same.
As per Deadline, the team behind the show, which has been on hiatus since March, has struggled find a way to bring it back while ensuring that everyone, including host Drew Carey, obeying all COVID-era laws. One of the first things to go was most of the people.
“We quickly realized we were not going to be able to have 300 people on the show sitting close together,” showrunner Evelyn Warfel. “We decided that we were going to come back without an audience to maintain the safety as best we could for our talent, for the contestants, for our staff and crew.”
But that part was tricky, she 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 and 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. If we want to come back, we have to do it safely.”
They did briefly consider having virtual participants, but then they realized they could Google the prices of certain items — a fixture of many of the show’s 77 games. Instead they’ll have a much smaller audience, as well as a new set, which is much smaller and eliminates the iconic staircase, as, Warfel said, “it felt weird to me for him to be talking down to four people and then having it empty behind them.”
At least all the games will be back. And honestly, once you pair the participants with their individual games, it’s always been a mostly socially distancing show anyway. Of course, there was one matter not addressed: Surely those end game prizes will no longer feature lavish trips to countries that currently won’t allow entrance to potentially infected Americans.