We are nearing the end of the guest host era of Jeopardy. I am tired of adjusting to a new host over and over again, but I think this was a smart move. Whoever is hired to host the show will never measure up to Alex Trebek. The guest host period will allow the new person to not just be measured against Alex, but also the guest hosts who followed. That might help the transition. I will do a post after next week with my thoughts on each of the guest hosts. Today I will talk about game show hosts in general and how each show needs a different hosting style. Alex was a game show host and probably could have adapted to host most shows. The new trend of celebrity hosts means you need to choose carefully when hiring someone.
Jeopardy is all about the game. With the exception of the chat with the contestants between rounds, there is no time for the host to inject themselves into the game It’s all about keeping the game moving and allowing it and the contestants to take center stage. Alex was able to do that with a presence and a personality that made him the beloved host who will be hard to replace. There was no way to know who would be good at the job until they were behind the podium. Some were pleasant surprises. Who knew Aaron Rodgers would be near the top of many people’s list of best guests? Some were bland and forgettable. Some were not good at all. It is a hard game to host n nor everyone is suitable for the job. The host needs to take a back seat to the game. This is not the case with other shows.
I watch a lot of old Match Game episodes these days. It is a pleasant background noise for my day. Match Game is the exact opposite of Jeopardy. Match Game is all about the host and the celebrity panel. The contestants and how much they win is not that important. The game revolves around the interaction between the host and the stars. Gene Rayburn was perfect as the host of the old Match Game and Alec Baldwin was a good choice for the current version. Baldwin likely wouldn’t work as the host of games that center on the normal person contestants.
Steve Harvey is perfect as the host of Family Feud. He’s good with the families. He has the perfect personality to match with the type of questions they ask. I do think he should get a week on Jeopardy to make fun of the contestants when they miss an answer. That would be fun.
I would never have considered Jamie Foxx a good choice to host a game show, but he is very good on Beat Shazam. He lives music. He seems to genuinely enjoy interacting with the contestants. He’s funny. He is the perfect host for the show. I’m not sure he would work for other shows.
Pat Sajak is good for Wheel of Fortune and would probably work on similar low stakes games that don’t need him to do anything more than be a somewhat affable host who moves the game along.
We seem to be moving more toward an era of celebrity hosts instead of professional hosts like Alex. We need to remember that not everyone is right for every show. It doesn’t matter how much we love them or how famous they are, It matters how their personality and hosting style fits the specific show they are hosting. We won’t find another Alex, but we can find someone who can fit the traditional Jeopardy style.