October 8th, 2009

krazy koati

Angry people building a legend that does them no good

The Price Is Right started its new season two weeks back, with a neat set of new variable-lighting walls that would have absolutely ruled in the golden age of daytime game shows and are still pretty impressive. Unfortunately they seem to have dropped the opening blurbs of things like ``BIG PRIZES'' or ``AMERICA'S #1 GAME SHOW'' or so. I disapprove of that, of course. As it happens I've already got three weeks' worth of Showcase and Showdown data, because of the odd little two-week gap between the final episode of Guiding Light and the debut (this week) of the new Let's Make A Deal that you won't watch. The first week they just showed reruns from last season; the second week they actually aired two new episodes per day, helpfully labelled ``A'' and ``B'' so as to confuse the unfortunate people who I think are trying, ineptly, to troll CBS's streaming video web site.

Anyway, and so that I have the off-site backup for my data, for this first three airing weeks of the Showcase Showdown, the first spinner won 7 times out of thirty possible; the second spinner won 12 times; and the third won 11 times. Obviously it's premature to suppose this says anything about the apparent equal chances the first two spinners and the advantage the third has. The lowest winning spin so far has been 70 cents (both an individual win and a spin-off win).

Meanwhile in the Showcase, the first-revealed contestant has won twelve times, and the second-revealed three times. There've been no double overbids yet. Excluding the cases where the order of the reveals is determined, such as by one of the contestants overbidding or bidding a dollar, the edge is nine-to-three for the first revealed. That ``unforced'' tally includes one case where a contestant bid $10,000, which might as well be bidding a dollar, but I thought if I started to keep track of bids that were obviously way underbidding I'd be left with hopelessly complicated data-keeping problems.

Meantime I thought of a way to test whether contestants actually could build up any skill at spinning the wheel, despite the problems in building skill on something done, typically, at most three times in one's life. But bonus spins always start from the same point, and feature a contestant aiming for one of three spots out of twenty on the wheel. If contestants as a group consistently do better than three-out-of-twenty in getting the 5, 15, or 1.00 bonus spins that would argue that some skill (remarkably) is built up. Certainly some contestants know how to finesse the wheel, with spins that go just over one complete spin; maybe it isn't impossible after all. I'm interested anyway.

Trivia: Fashion dolls, used to show model new clothing, in the early 1700s which were articulated mannequins were sometimes described as ``jointed babies''. Source: The Essence Of Style: How The French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour, Joan DeJean.

Currently Reading: Embracing Defeat: Japan In The Wake Of World War II, John W Dower.