Somehow I just knew it in my bones that they were going to play Pay The Rent on today's The Price Is Right. It just felt like time. Sure enough, some kid on her eighteenth birthday, the first day she could legally be a contestant, got the call. They seem to have tried some variations in the music and light cues, and gave the model a cloth bag to carry the small items around, but these don't seem likely to be major changes in the game.
The game has by the way turned absolutely savage this round. The small prizes were: cottage cheese ($1.09), popcorn ($1.99), a microwave burrito ($0.45), barbeque sauce ($2.29), a 1.5 ounce pack of almonds ($1.19), and a box of Band-Aids ($2.99). The contestant, showing obvious signs of confusion about game strategy, put the burrito on the bottom level (level value $0.45), then the popcorn and cottage cheese on the next (level value $3.08), then the Band-Aids and barbeque sauce ($5.28 for the level) and then wisely bailed out with the $10,000 for that, rather than lose everything on the almonds which would be a level of $1.19. Later Drew Carey mentioned that everyone was winning today --- by the first Showcase Showdown they all had won --- so I suppose that suggests the threshold of winning Pay The Rent, as with Plinko, is $10,000, since the grand prize ($100,000 here, $50,000 on Plinko) might as well be unattainable.
As best I can find, and I really ought to automate this, there's one valid solution: popcorn on the lowest level ($1.99), then cottage cheese and almonds ($2.28), then the burrito and barbeque sauce ($2.74), and finally the Band-Aids ($2.99).
I note the difference in price ranges is the tightest it's been this season, a mere $2.54 separating the priciest from the cheapest. The season ranges have been $10.00, $3.70, $3.90, $3.90, $6.14, $4.30, $4.30, and now $2.54.
The range in level prices has actually been tighter, but only by a penny. So far this season have been $4.00, $1.50, $1.30, $0.99, $2.00, $1.70, $1.70 (sic), and now $1.00. If it weren't for one contestant placing the items perfectly (but bailing out at the $10,000 win) I'd almost be ready to proclaim it unwinnable, but it's not that bad just yet.
Trivia: By 1814 Paris's street lighting had nine thousand gas burners, serviced by 142 lamplighters. Source: Brilliant: The Evolution Of Artificial Light, Jane Brox.
Currently Reading: Fred Meijer: Stories of his Life, Bill Smith, Larry ten Harmsel.
I Know The Square Root Of Five, Too ... just some talk about how square roots work.