As a child of the 80s, I grew up loving game shows. I always had a blast watching those enduring classics like The Price is Right and Family Feud. I even loved the more obscure shows like Press Your Luck and Scrabble.
That’s right, there was a game show based on Scrabble. It was a Chuck Woolery joint. Yeah, Love Connection Chuck Woolery.
And, of course, every evening meant Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! during dinner. Well, at least it did when we weren’t subjected to mom’s recorded soaps from earlier in the day.
I didn’t always love Jeopardy! I remember being forced to watch as a kid and thinking it was boring. Thankfully, my dad was patient with me, knowing that his chip-off-the-old-block cesspool-of-useless-information kid would grow to love the game of answers and questions. And boy, did I.
I’ve watched through big moments with big players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer. I’ve enjoyed all of the Kids’, Teen, College, and Teachers’ Tournaments, not to mention the Tournaments of Champions. And who doesn’t love a Celebrity Jeopardy! And I’m referring to either the real version or the SNL sketches.
Few things boost my ego in life like correctly responding to the Final Jeopardy! clue when all three contestants have gotten it wrong.
Back in March, when legendary show host Alex Trebek announced that he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the world seemed to have been rocked. But he was optimistic. He was resilient. And so, his fans rallied behind him with prayers and support as best we could.
Things seemed to be looking good. Alex was on his way to remission. But then, just after the start of the show’s current season, he once again announced that he would be undergoing another round of chemotherapy. Back in October, in an Oprah Magazine article, Alex talked about accepting that the end is near, but that he would continue his hosting duties for as long as he is able.
It’s difficult to accept the fact that, soon enough, Alex Trebek will no longer stand behind that podium, providing clues for contestants every evening. Beyond that thought, it’s difficult to think that anyone could ever fill his shoes, allowing for Jeopardy! to continue.
Of course Jeopardy! will continue. For 35 years, did anyone ever think that we would see another host of The Price Is Right? But Bob retired and Drew Carey has been the host for 12 years now.
I don’t like to think about Jeopardy! without Alex Trebek. But it’s a dark cloud that’s just hanging there. And my mind can’t help but entertain the thought of what options the producers may look at when the time comes.
Lately, it seems like a great deal of game shows have found new life being hosted by actors and/or comedians. The ABC network brings back a number of classic shows each summer. We recently got a new version of Press Your Luck hosted by Elizabeth Banks. For several years, Alec Baldwin has hosted Match Game. Steve Harvey has enjoyed a nice long run as host of Family Feud, worth it for his uncontrollable facial expressions alone.
And that’s an interesting one to look at… Family Feud, throughout the 2000s, seemed to have a revolving door of hosts.
But none of these new game show hosts really strike me as the classic style of game show host. It’s a fraternity that Alex belongs to, along with Wheel of Fortune‘s Pat Sajak and Vanna White. I’m racking my brain, but I’m pretty sure this trio are the last hold outs of a bygone era of game show greatness.
Back in the day, you had guys like Wink Martindale, Gene Rayburn, and the above mentioned Chuck Woolery, among others, who all hosted multiple shows, some airing at the same time. Alex Trebek himself hosted Classic Concentration in the late 80s, on top of his Jeopardy! hosting duties.
Like I said, there just aren’t hosts like that anymore. We’re coming up on a reality where Alex, and even Pat and Vanna will face retirement at some point. That’s life. But who could possibly take over either of those game shows after we’ve enjoyed seeing those faces night after night for nearly four decades?
I can only tell you what I don’t want to see. I don’t want another comedian taking over either of these games. But… I can’t imagine who would make a good Jeopardy! host besides Alex Trebek.
Personally, I hope they go with someone who isn’t already a recognized name. An unknown, if you will. And I’m not saying I’d make the best game show host in the world, but I do have this to offer: I could do this thing with or without a mustache. Just sayin’…
The producers will eventually come to that decision and I’m sure they’ll go with someone they believe will draw viewers. I have no doubt that, whoever eventually takes the reins, it will be someone that I won’t be happy with. Because it won’t be Alex Trebek.