Jeopardy Guest Hosts Reviewed

My Continuing Criticism of The Stand-Ins For Alex Trebek

Yes, I know she has a day job. Still…tvinsider.com

Buzzy Cohen: Wow!

In just a short time, Buzzy Cohen has demonstrated what exactly has been missing from so many of the guest hosts. Fun. I know he may be a polarizing figure among fans of the show (I’ve never understood why, but I tend to value performance more than attitude) but with his enthusiasm, humor, and most importantly his knowledge of the game, he has demonstrated what a Jeopardy host should be doing.

It probably helps a lot that this is the generally the high point of any Jeopardy campaign: the Tournament of Champions, a particular world that Buzzy is more than intimately familiar with. Now, maybe he seems to be getting help for writers, but I believe having been on the other side of the lectern for just this occasion, he knows exactly what these contestants are feelings and exactly the right questions to ask. He does this all with a certain amount of grace and a genuine passion for this that so many other guest hosts have sacrificed in the name of professionalism. Some might argue he doesn’t have the right amount of decorum, but he has the perfect amount of familiarity which Alex in particular would demonstrate when former champions were invited back for these Tournaments. And maybe he’s been too loud, but its just as likely so many of the guest hosts have been so subdued over the last few months. (Also, that is Buzzy being Buzzy.)

I will go into greater detail about the Tournament of Champions later this week. (Considering this is the first one in a post-Alex world, I think it deserves some independent analysis.) But for now I’ll just say that Buzzy Cohen has more than demonstrated why he would be the perfect successor for Alex. Unlike the others, I think he might refuse to protect his eligibility for future tournaments, but maybe this would be a more lucrative career.

My score: 5 stars.

Mayim Bialik: I didn’t think it was possible to love her more than I already did. But holy crap.

In just three episodes, Bialik has raised the bar from where Buzzy put it just last week. If anything could demonstrate that we need a performer more than a journalist, here’s exhibit A. If Cohen made us feel welcome based on being a Jeopardy champion, Bialik makes us feel at home by having just as much fun as the contestants can. She’s doing everything right: she has a bubbly laugh in her voice when she interviews the contestants, she has a sense of humor when she realize the themes that are going on, and she’s actually doing something that not even the great Alex dared do: offering commentary when she is disappointed that a certain contestant didn’t know an answer. And the contestants are just as amused. She’s also willing to give explanations in Final Jeoaprdy that might well escape the average viewer — witness her commentary on Madagascar and lemurs and explaining the importance of a Tribune when it came to newspapers. Of course, a Jeopardy viewer would probably know that already, but it would definitely welcome in the new viewers.

I know that Call Me Kat was renewed for a second season, so Bialik will definitely be busy. But in all of the past few months, I have seen any celebrity do such a perfect job when it comes to guest hosting. I really hope there is some way she’d consider the job because she’s the tonic Jeopardy needs.

My score: 5 stars.