When Alex Trebek passed away, it got me back into watching Jeopardy. I had been an active watcher for years, and auditioned a few times, but then I just got busier and if you don’t watch Jeopardy when it airs you essentially miss it. It’s unfortunate that Trebek’s death is what got me back into watching the classic trivia game show, but that’s the way it went.
I watched Trebek’s final episodes, and I also have been watching through the guest hosts. Naturally, I was curious who would take over. Some hosts, like Anderson Cooper, were good. Others, like LeVar Burton, struggled a bit. Yes, for all the love Burton got from people who wanted him to become the host I felt like he was the worst of any of the guests at functionally hosting a game show. Great enthusiasm, bad logistics management.
Now, it seems like Jeopardy might have its new host, and it’s a surprising choice. Amid all the newscasters, actors, and former contestants, the person who is on the verge of getting the job is the show’s executive producer Mike Richards.
This has caused consternation online among Jeopardy fans both casual and diehard. I saw a lot of people complaining because they don’t know who he is, which is stupid. That’s a bad complaint in my opinion. It sucks that basically every game show is hosted by a pre-existing celebrity and not a host type. If “fame” is one of your primary concerns about a game show host that’s dumb.
Others are complaining because they don’t like him as a host. This makes more sense as a complaint. And yet, I can’t agree. Before I saw the Richards news I honestly already felt like he was the best of all the guest hosts. It seems like I am in the minority, but it’s how I’ve felt the entire time.
Richards knows how to host. He has stage presence. He’s worked on the game for a while so he didn’t have any of the issues that somebody like Burton had. Richards can keep the game going but also be a engaging emcee. Some people say that he’s not right for Jeopardy because he’s not some sort of “smart” guy and is too much of a TV personality. To which I say: Trebek was a career game show host who had multiple shows in his past by the time he got Jeopardy. He wasn’t any different from Richards in that sense.
Now, that is not to say there aren’t reasons for complaint here. Richards, as an executive producer, had a role in saying who would be the next host, so he kind of has chosen himself. He also said that the only reason he had a hosting stint was because another host had dropped out, but that is purportedly a lie. Richards also auditioned to host The Price is Right when Drew Carey got the job. Clearly, the man really wants to be a game show host. That makes this whole process feel a bit unctuous.
That being said, if Richards does indeed became the new host of Jeopardy, I am totally cool with that. I’ve seen basically every one of the guest hosts (I skipped Dr. Oz), and he was the best of the bunch.