Jennifer Armstrong
October 19, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Bob Barker’s ”Price is Right” replacement

No one could hope to smooth-talk The Price Is Right‘s contestants as well as Bob Barker, the recently retired 35-year master of the come-on-down. That’s why we dig Drew Carey’s rough-around-the-edges start as host of the touchingly retro daytime hour. We can relate to his muted terror when faced with a fan wearing a ”Cleveland Rocks” T-shirt just for him, or another who performs a cartwheel of joy just for the chance to win cash: It’s nice to feel that he’s on our side of the sanity line. That’s likely why CBS chose the middle-of-the-road star to host our favorite sick-day treat — he lets the kooky contestants do their thing while seamlessly prodding them along through those comfortingly cheesy games. Carey will patiently explain, for instance, the function of laxatives to a flummoxed contestant or laugh hysterically (but without mockery) at a Plinko-crazed player. His big frame makes him a comfy hugging post for female players, and he cracks the right number of little jokes without imposing himself on the proceedings (something we’re pretty sure other contenders like, say, Rosie O’Donnell might not have pulled off). In fact, Carey may have found the closest match to his talents — without, of course, going over. B+

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