I have always been a casual fan of the Price is Right, and one of my all-time favorite cameos in a film is of Bob Barker beating the crap out of Happy Gilmore. I knew very little about C.J. Wallis’s documentary Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much (2017), but the connection to the long-running game show drew me in. The potential of the drama implied in the title definitely added to my intrigue…plus, it didn’t hurt that it was included on Amazon Prime Instant.
Perfect Bid is a compelling documentary for fans of Price is Right.
Theodore “Ted” Slauson grew up loving the Price is Right so much that at some point his mathematical mind noticed a pattern; prizes were often reused. This prompted Ted to do what most kids would do – create a database of all the prizes and their values. He began training his brain to memorize all the prices through a computer game he programmed himself in preparation for the day he could become a potential contestant.
Ted is a generally likable central figure of this documentary. Everyone seems to have that one thing they nerd-out over, and his just happens to be one of the most iconic game shows in history. His skills with math only help him with his obsession with memorizing the numbers. The area that really makes the audience side with Ted is his willingness to help others who are playing the game. We see him at the first several attempts to be a contestant proudly shouting out answers and attempting to help whoever trusts him. He is passionate about the show, and wants everyone to go as far as they can – and he’s probably showing off a little bit, to boot.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Bob Barker doing interviews about the show. It made the documentary feel like a love letter to the legacy of the show, which only makes the big moment of controversy more impactful. The other key figure in the narrative structure of the film is Roger Dobkowitz, a long time producer of the show who had a lot of impact on it. His passion mirrors Ted’s in a way that makes you like him also.
The big drama of the film comes as a result of the first ever double showcase winner. This happened in 2008 right after Drew Carey takes over the show following Bob’s retirement. A fact I found odd was that How I Met Your Mother predicted the double showcase winner one year before it actually happened. While I won’t get into the details of the actual event, the Price is Right rules are that if a contestant guesses the exact value of a showcase they win both. It was something that has rarely happened…or never happened…I’m not 100% which is true, but either way, the interview with Carey and Kevin Pollak stresses how much trouble Carey thought he was in for it happening to him so quickly.
The documentary is an entertaining one, and anyone who has ever enjoyed an episode of the Price is Right will likely enjoy it as well. It is paced well with plenty of archival footage intercut with the talking head interviews. To be honest, it was hard not to be slightly impressed with Ted’s ability to memorize so many prices. Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much earns the Decent Watch rating.