‘Jeopardy!’ The wild year – and where is the game show now

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Mike Richards, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings all replaced the late Alex Trebek in “Jeopardy!” in 2021. (Photo: Getty Images/Jeopardy! via Instagram)

Early 2021, Peril! left his loyal viewers with big questions about who will definitely replace the late beloved Alex Trebek, who had hosted since 1984. And it’s the end of the year in much the same way.

Claire McNear, the author of Question Answers: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to Jeopardy!, tells Yahoo Entertainment that the fact that the long-running show is usually so regular made the events all the more unexpected.

“For so many years, Peril! was something that didn’t change: it had the same setup, the same host, the same announcer, the same set and the same executive producer, year after year. There were small changes, sure, but they were always on the fringe,” says McNear, who also covers Peril! for The ring. “Then we come to the last year and a half, when there have been so many changes, especially with the death of Alex Trebek, which implemented the rotation of guest hosts and the high-profile search for his successor. Going from a show that was essentially unchanged for nearly 40 years to one that has changed quite a bit and continues to change even now, as the search for hosts continues, was shocking to many fans.”

Going from a show that was essentially unchanged for almost 40 years to one that has changed a lot and is still changing today, as the search for hosts continues, was shocking for many fans.Claire McNear, author of “Answers in the Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to ‘Jeopardy!'”

Shocking is a good word for it. While the actual game continued as normal – in fact, the last episodes Trebek had recorded before his death aired in January – the show faced serious controversy as a parade of guest hosts high profile including champion Ken Jennings, actress Mayim Bialik, NFL star Aaron Rodgers, hello america anchor Robin Roberts, star trek alum LeVar Burton and many more were shown at Sony’s land in Culver City, California, where it is recorded. But the unexpected really happened once the show decided that one of the lesser-known guest hosts, Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer, would take on the role permanently. Then McNear herself reported offensive comments – she described them as “ugly insults and stereotypes— which Richards did on a podcast before joining Peril!, as well as the allegations made against him, including those that are the subject of legal proceedings, since he was an executive producer at The price is right. These questions were in addition to questions about the host selection process, of which there were many.

Mike Richards accepts the Outstanding Game Show Award for

Mike Richards accepts the Outstanding Game Show Award for Peril! during the 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards which aired on June 25. (Photo: 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards via Getty Images)

And then came the PR crisis, as Richards was fired first from the hosting gig, then from the executive producer job as well, leaving the series to end the year where it started: without that constant presence. . Jennings and Bialik, the latter of whom had previously been tapped to host the show’s prime-time specials, were named hosts through the end of the year and, this week alone, throughout the season, which runs until July 29, 2022.

“We are delighted to let you know that Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings will continue to share hosting duties until the end of Peril! Season 38, and Michael Davies will remain as executive producer,” the show announced on Dec. 9. “We are thrilled to have such an excellent and experienced team in front of and behind the camera as we head into 2022!”

For the past year or so, Andy Saunders, who records every clue and answer on The danger! Fan website, even found himself checking TMZ for reporting on the show. And it’s not something that happens very often.

“It seems to me that a lot of people are getting a little tired of the drama and just want the show…to move on. And I think that will eventually happen,” Saunders says, adding that nothing that happened has affected his enjoyment of the show. “I just think that, you know, because the position of the host of Peril! is pretty much one of the most prestigious in show business, at least in American show business, people… are going to want to follow that. And I think once all of this… settles down and a permanent host is appointed, I think the show will go back to what it was.”

If it were left to Saunders, he would choose former champion Buzzy Cohen, who won and hosted the famous Tournament of Champions, although he suspects that’s unlikely.

McNear agrees that the series still has a lot to do.

“This fundamental Peril! The DNA is still there,” she says. “They have the same writers and researchers, and it’s clear that the focus is still on the clever, punny anecdotes that have always defined the show. I don’t think it gets anywhere, regardless of who ends up as host or long-term executive producer.”

And, overall, the ratings remained pretty strong. The season has started slightly higher than last season, with 8.4 million viewers compared to 8.2 million, according to Nielson’s ratings. Although the numbers have occasionally dipped, such as when Burton hosted as the Olympics dominated television, drawing an estimated 4.4 million viewers per episode, they got up with the winning streaks of competitors such as Matt Amodio, who won 38 games in a row between July and October. He racked up over $1.5 million in winnings — the third highest amount in the history of the show. And his race interested viewers enough that, in mid-October, Peril! topped the list of most-watched syndicated shows for the first time since April, narrowly beating family quarrel.

As Saunders notes, a succession of outstanding contestants, including Amy Schneider, who made headlines as the first transgender contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, have helped keep fans interested in what’s happening on Peril! broadcasts, no matter what happens with the hosting situation.

“It’s very unusual for the series to have had so many strong players in a row,” he explained. “Matt Amodio, then Jonathan Fisher and Tyler Rhode, Andrew He and now Amy Schneider. All of these players have been so strong, and they’ve just come in the last six months, and it’s really rare that the show has so many great champions in such a short time.”

Cue it Peril! music to what’s going to happen next.

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