The Search for Someone to Replace Alex Trebek
George Stephanopoulos: Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.
After so many weeks of decent hosts, it was perhaps inevitable that we’d get another soft-spoken, practically dull journalist as our guest host. George turned the volume down to pretty much half strength the entire time he was guest-hosting. It’s the first time since Steve Whitaker that I really didn’t think the host was going through the motions. I practically dosed off during some of them.
Which really is a shame because this week there were actually some very competitive, high caliber matches with some pretty big payouts and surprising finishes. Indeed, this week had some of the biggest payout we’ve had in quite some time. And the fact George honestly seemed to diminish all this by his mere presence really tells you just how subdued his manner was and his whole approach could be.
The best thing you can say about Stephanopoulos’ stint is that it was short. He was gone after a week. Maybe that’s only due to the fact the season is nearing its end that will be the approach going forward. Whatever the reason, he’s the first host I’m glad left since Aaron Rodgers’ stint ended in April.
My score: 2 stars.
Robin Roberts: And we’re back on track.
Now as we quickly approach this season’s end, the stints are getting shorter and shorter. While that was a blessing when it came to Stephanopoulos, I will be incredibly sad when it comes time for his colleague at ABC to leave the dais.
Because Robin Roberts has the kind of joie de vivre that Mayim Bialik and Savannah Guthrie more than demonstrated, and just like the former she’s clearly enjoying herself. Whether its opening with anecdotes about how she loved watching Jeopardy when she was at ESPN (and how one particularly colleague always cleaned her clock at Final Jeopardy) or the real spirit she seems to have with the contestants and some of the clues themselves. When the answer to one of the clues in tonight’s game was: “What is a robin?” her reaction was priceless: “Why are you looking at me?” She seems to actually be dismayed when contestants get clues wrong she clearly knows and overjoyed when they hit it big on a Daily Double. And just like last week there have been some thrilling matches and some great champions. Unlike last week, she seems more delighted when the contestants win than several previous winners — maybe more than even Bialik or Buzzy Cohen.
I’m well aware that Roberts is far too busy to consider making this a full time gig. But I really wish she’d at least think it over. She wouldn’t have to go that far from her day job, after all.
My score: 4.5 stars.
I’ll be back at the end of the season with reviews of the final three hosts, followed by some general commentary and of course, rankings.