It’s become something of a growing trend these days.
If you’re a big name and want a chance, you can host “Jeopardy!” for a week or two. Since the death of long-time host Alex Trebeck last November, the show has had a flock of guest hosts. Among those who came in to try their hand at hosting were Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, former “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings and Dr. Oz.
Among the guest hosts coming up are LeVar Burton – formerly of the “Starship Enterprise” (via “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) and “Reading Rainbow” – sportscaster Joe Buck and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Needless to say, none of them will be Alex Trebek. But perhaps they don’t have to be.
Growing up watching game shows, I realize now that I got used to watching certain shows – and certain hosts. For me, “Family Feud” was always Richard Dawson, the “$25,000 Pyramid” was Dick Clark and “Wheel of Fortune” has always been Pat Sajak and Vanna White.
Only ... neat little fact? It hasn’t always been Pat and Vanna. In a search of YouTube for the old-Wheel “shopping round,” I discovered Chuck Woolery hosting it. Indeed, he hosted the show from 1975-1981.
Few game shows have survived into the 2020s. While “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune” still enjoy early evening success, so many other shows have dropped off. “Family Feud” is now hosted by Steve Harvey – a trade-off you’ll either love or hate – while “Price is Right” is now hosted by Drew Carey (another love it or hate it move).
But sadly, game shows aren’t what they used to be. Growing up, my days off from school were spent parking in front of the TV and watching “Classic Concentration,” “Sale of the Century,” “The Joker’s Wild,” “Let’s Make a Deal” (which ... is it still on the air?), “Press Your Luck” and the afore-mentioned “Pyramid” ($25,000 and $100,000 versions).
To me, game shows were always about a chance to win, a chance to show off or a chance to have fun. The hosts were an integral part of all that, joking with contestants and keeping the show on track.
Now, it seems, we’re basically down to two. Sooner or later, Pat Sajak will retire and we’ll be searching for a new host for “Wheel.” I’ll also wager it’ll be sooner than later, given he’s been hosting for 40 years.
Game shows, though, have gone the way of the dodo, it seems. Now, America has talk shows, ranging from “The View” to “Dr. Phil” to “Ellen DeGeneres.” We’ve gone from watching people compete and answer trivia questions to people talking about their lives and issues.
Losing Alex Trebek was hard, but to me, losing game shows, period, will be just as bad. A piece of my childhood is slowly disappearing – and videos on YouTube just aren’t the same.