“New” era of Game Shows mistakes silliness for skills, & Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek remains a blessing

  There’s an over abundance of game shows and silly competitions saturating the airwaves thanks to ABC leading the charge to revisit the Golden Age of Game Shows.

Celebrity Family Feud hosted by Steve Harvey (ABC)

  ABC has three nights devoted to its “Summer Fun & Games” primetime lineup on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. There are a few new programs, but most are revivals of old games with modern twists and sprinkled mostly with celebrities from ABC’s stable of shows.

Holey Moley hosted by Stephen Curry (ABC)

 There are reboots of Celebrity Family Feud hosted by Steve Harvey, The $100,000 Pyramid hosted by Michael Strahan, To Tell the Truth hosted by Anthony Anderson, Match Game hosted by Alec Baldwin, Press Your Luck hosted by Elizabeth Banks, and Card Sharks hosted by Joel McHale, in addition to the brand new Holey Moley mini-golf/obstacle course game hosted by NBA star Stephen Curry, and Family Food Fight, which features teams in a cooking competition, hosted by Stephen’s wife, culinary maven Ayesha Curry.

 Of course, they all want to offer vicarious excitement and the thrill of competitors matching wits, as viewers try to play along shouting answers or instructions at the television. But sadly they can’t all be the caliber of “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” Jeopardy! It is a true test of general knowledge and skill guided by the most respected and classiest game show host in the field, Alex Trebek.

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek (Photo courtesy of Jeopardy! Productions, Inc.)

 Created by Merv Griffin in 1964, Jeopardy! has proven it is still at the top of its game with recent record-ratings as viewers tuned in to watch the amazing long run of James Holzhauer, who won a whopping $2,464,216. Close to topping the game show’s darling Ken Jennings’ record of $2.5 million and change.

 Another long running ultra-popular syndicated game show is Wheel of Fortune, also created by Merv Griffin. It originally aired in 1975 as a daytime series on NBC, with Chuck Woolery as host. Pat Sajak has been its host for more than 30 years now, with sidekick Vanna White turning the letters with style and grace.

Let’s Make A Deal current host Wayne Brady and Monty Hall in 2010. (CBS)

 Admittedly the current crop of ABC’s hosts have more diversity than the shows of the past, but some new to the game often mistake crassness for comedy. And the silliness makes one long for the original Gong Show hosted by Gary Owens. None today can compare to the skill and personality of the pros, the best of the vintage hosts who helmed the classic game shows.

Tom Kennedy

Legends in their field—Bob Barker, Bob Eubanks, Tom Kennedy, Peter Marshall and Wink Martindale. The late, and truly great Monty Hall, of Let’s Make A Deal fame, and others who belong in that lofty league include a man called the “Dean of Game Show hosts” Bill Cullen, because he hosted 23 shows. Add to the list Password’s lovable Allen Ludden, Gene Rayburn, Bert Convy, etc., all who have gone on to that great bonus round in the sky.

Wink Martindale

Their skills at handling the contestants and creating memorable moments on the shows are sorely missed by the new kids on the block. Nowadays skill takes a back seat to pure luck, and smart gives way to silliness on the new games. There are outrageous antics by the hosts, celebrities, and contestants hoping to win cash and prizes.

Now let’s circle back to Alex Trebek who turns 79 on July 22, 2019. He had been handling his hosting duties for Jeopardy! while battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer this year. In a video message released to his fans in March, Trebek said, “I’m gonna fight this. I’m gonna keep working, and with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics of this disease. Truth told, I have to. Because under the terms of my contract I have to host Jeopardy! three more years. So help me keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done. Thank you.”

 Trebek’s contract has been extended through 2022 by Sony Pictures Television, and last November syndicator CBS Television Distribution renewed Jeopardy! (as well as Wheel of Fortune) through the 2022-23 season. Jeopardy! just wrapped its 35th season and remains one of the most popular shows in syndication, averaging more than 10 million daily viewers.

 Now on hiatus, at the end of May Trebek gave an update about what he called his “mind-boggling” progress responding well to treatment. And he’s looking forward to starting his 36th year hosting Jeopardy! Bless him and tune in.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.