JEOPARDY HOSTING DEBACLE
After trying out a too-long list of “guest hosts,” Jeopardy executive Producer Mike Richards was announced as the show’s permanent host on August 11. Mr. X and I were good with that, because, as I stated in my original evaluations of the people they had used to that date, (which you can still read here: itsnotaboutme.tv/news/televisionkarens-rants-jeopardy-guest-hosts,) Richards was the second best choice, right behind Anderson Cooper, who is perfect for the job.
And then, just like that, a mere nine days later, Richards was out! That new circumstance was due to a backlash over comments he had made on some obscure podcast of his, several years ago. I don’t know if any of his seven-year-old contentions were worse than the ones I read on-line, but, even as someone who hates derogatory statements about anyone who doesn’t deserve them, I didn’t find what I read to be overly harsh. They don’t come even close to what Howard Stern has been saying on a daily basis on his radio show for decades now, yet he was allowed to be a judge on America’s Got Talent! That entire operation was even moved from Los Angeles to New York to accommodate his demands back then!
And what about prolific host Nick Cannon’s recent evil anti-semitic comments? Those were downright shameful, yet that very public situation didn’t nix him out of his many show biz gigs, most notably still hosting The Masked Singer.
So, why is everyone overreacting about Mike Richards? With everything going on in the world, why are so many people up in arms over this not-major situation? I have a feeling skeletons can be found in the closet of just about everyone on earth.
Anyway, Mr. X (who’s been on this Jeopardy journey with me since Day 1) and I were fine with Mike Richards quitting if that would mean they’d hire David Faber, the absolute perfect person for the job. (More on him in a minute.)
But, alas, they’re trying to go with the annoying-as-host Mayim Bialik instead. I loved her on The Big Bang Theory, but I absolutely will not be able to continue watching Jeopardy if she’s the permanent host. I can’t take her robotic cadence and crazy laughing! At absolutely everything! For no reason. None at all. It’s soooo off-putting. (More on her in a minute, as well.)
Between the NBA Play-offs, Wimbledon, and the Summer Olympics, Mr. X and I got seriously behind in our Jeopardy-watching, which caused us to miss the second batch of guest hosts. So now, on my scant my two-week break from sports, (before next week’s US Open tennis tournament,) we went back to watching, (and scrutinizing,) the rest of the bunch.
By the way, I’ve said all along that the permanent host should really be someone who is a professional host, (as Alex Trebek was,) and Tom Bergeron would be my choice. But they never even tried him out.
So getting back to the peeps who did vie for the gig, here’s my quick primer on all the guest hosts since my last run-down of the first crop. (My opinions here are shared by Mr. X, which is rare, so enjoy it now.) [Note: To make things easier for everyone to understand, I’m writing “answers” and “questions” the way that we would normally think of them, not the opposite way that they’re used on Jeopardy.]
These are in order of best to worst, of just this crop, not including the first seven peeps, unless noted otherwise:
The Absolute Best, including of the previous seven–David Faber: Mr. X and I are not in agreement very often, but after all these months of Jeopardy, we totally concur that David Faber is hands-down, the absolute best host for this show. By a million, zillion miles!
Shockingly, neither one of had heard of him before. Not even one peep! Which is weird because Mr. X is a major MSNBC-watcher, and the channel Faber is on, CNBC, is a sister station. David is a financial analyst on that channel’s show, Squawk on the Street. He’s even won awards for his work. (On the flip side, so have I, so there are awards and then there are awards. Am I right?) He’s also authored a trio of books and, perhaps more importantly, he’s won Celebrity Jeopardy.
If those were not credentials enough to host the show permanently, here are the better reasons: During his guest host gig, he never once got in the way of the contestants nor of the game itself. We kept forgetting he was even there, which is how a host is supposed to be.
And he’s basic-America attractive. (Not even close to my type, but perfect for the viewing audience.) However, at fifty-seven, they probably think he’s too old for the gig, which they hope will last at least another thirty or so years before they have to go through this again!
No one else comes close to Mr. Faber, but here are our thoughts on the rest:
Second Best–Savannah Guthrie: She was a shock to us. We always predict how these hosts will be before their first show, and we both thought she’d be awful. But she was excellent! She just got on with it and was very sweet. I’d be fine with her getting the gig, which will definitely not happen, from either of their sides.
Third Best—Robin Roberts: This long-time morning show host’s best asset for this job is that she was so appreciative the entire time–of the gig, the contestants, and, as always, life in general. So she was good here. But she let out a surprised, “You got it!,” for correct answers waaay too many times, which, of course, got on my nerves.
Fourth Best–Sanjay Gupta: I really don’t have much to say about this doctor, which is actually a good thing. He’s smart, he stayed out of the contestants’ way, didn’t add his own commentary on them, and was generally pleasant. So he’d be an okay host, as well.
Fifth Best–Joe Buck: This sportscaster’s good voice is what many of us know him by, so that’s a plus. And on this show he was a good blend of enthusiastic and intelligent, and he’s also a good interviewer. But he did annoy us a tad. I think part of that was his a bit too over-the-top fawning over the current champ.
Sixth Best–George Stephanopoulos: He’s intelligent enough, that’s for sure. And his reading of the clues was good. But his raspy voice is a negative. Even worse is that he didn’t stop taking his glasses on and off, like some vain actress. But the worst is that, in his interviews, he said to a lawyer, “…when you were in medical school!” And didn’t correct himself. That was actually the first time in the show’s history that I’ve heard a mistake like that.
Third From Last–Mayim Bialik: The negatives with her are just too many. First of all, her looks are distracting, in not a good way. Yes, her new hair-do and occasionally-hip glasses have helped her the most I could ever imagine, but all the dowdy outfits were hard to look at. Yes, of course I know that Mayim is far from a fashion-plate, but would it have killed them to find some jackets that fit her??? Even a little bit? Each one pulled way too tightly over her stomach, and she walked onto the stage in every episode tugging on the jacket button! It was crazy. Mr. X said that in the outfits she wore with flat orthopedic-looking shoes, she reminded him of Maureen Stapleton’s character in Bye, Bye, Birdie! (In case you’re not familiar, it’s not a good look.)
Worse than all that, the way she read the answers was just off. It was just too sing-song, sort-of like she was “reading with expression,” like in elementary school. It made us notice her speech and diction more than simply the questions. It was very forced and unnatural. (Hosting is hard, people!)
On top of that, she kept laughing at so many of the contestants answers, which was uber-annoying. A few times she even chuckled while she was calling on them to answer! I kept asking, “Why is she laughing?,” which made me miss the next question.
She’s like your mother’s schoolmarm friend, who’s helping you with your homework.
The only positive to Mayim hosting is that she does know most of the answers herself, which few others do. And her pronunciations are a thing of beauty!
One last thought on her–if they wanted to hire a smart Jewish woman, who has a big nose and a little too much weight, they could have just hired yours truly!!!
Next To Worst–Buzzy Cohen: This very bright former Champion hosted the two-week Tournament of Champions. I can only surmise that he must have been a popular champ because he sucked at hosting. He was so awful that after just a few days of him, Mr. X and I gave up and didn’t go back to watching the show for a couple of months! (We couldn’t even finish-out the rest of his gig.)
The Absolute Worst, of all fourteen of them!–LeVar Burton: He was downright dreadful!!! He was shocked by just about every single correct answer. And he read soooo many questions with the emphasis on the wrong words, making them confusing for the contestants. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but this is far from the right avenue for him. I know some viewers are touting him for the permanent gig, but that makes me seriously doubt if they even watched his episodes, and are, rather, just fans of his, in general.
Sadly, lost in all the recent Jeopardy news and craziness is that current champ, Matt Amodio, has amassed the third highest winnings in the show’s history!!! And he’s still going! And doing it despite having a new host to get used to week-after-week!!! That should be the headline. We fans have always loved watching the show during streaks like this, to see when and how it will end, if ever. Now, instead, viewers are tuning in to see how people who have no idea how to helm a game show will fare while trying. It’s not right. (Maybe Matt should be the new permanent host of the show!!! But I predict that he’ll be added to the cast of The Chase, alongside the previous Jeopardy mega-champions, as soon as his massive winning-streak is up here.)
But Matt might render the whole searching-for-a-host point moot, anyway. He may just win all the money the production has, and they’ll have to cancel the show!
Here’s one last important note that sums it all up: Mr. X pointed-out that Robin Roberts began her week saying the exact right thing, which the producers seem to be in need of reminding right now. She quoted the late Alex Trebek, who said that the show is about the contestants, not the host. (I’m paraphrasing.) And as we’ve all seen over the past few months, many of the guest helmers were trying to make the gig about themselves! Mayim Bialik wasn’t guilty of exactly that, but close enough. That’s just one of the many reasons we can’t watch anymore if she really does get the gig.
Sony Pictures Television has really shot themselves in the foot with this whole debacle. What they should do is just hire Ken Jennings and get on with it. I think that everyone in the world would be okay with the All-Time Champion taking the Jeopardy reins. Dot, dash, end of story.