Ken Jennings: interim JEOPARDY! host

following Trebek

Ken JenningsIt’s time to start answering those Ask Roger Anything questions. You may still pose queries to me. My friend Mary asked:
How long will Ken Jennings last as the ‘interim’ host on Jeopardy?

You put “interim” in quotes, I see. I have no reason to disbelieve SONY regarding the announcement. “The show announced [November 23] that it will resume production on Monday, Nov. 30. Though a long-term replacement host will not be named at this time, Jeopardy! will return to the studio with a series of interim guest hosts from within the Jeopardy! family, starting with Ken Jennings.”

“Within the Jeopardy family?” That would suggest a former champion or a member of the Crew Clue, or maybe whoever the warm-up host is. Or perhaps someone from ABC? The Jennings episodes will start on January 11. The Trebek episodes were supposed to end on Christmas Day, but the show offered up a couple of weeks of reruns so that Alex episodes wouldn’t be preempted by Christmas Day basketball or New Years’ football.

You may have noticed that Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter will appear on a U.S. adaptation of The Chase. It has been “a British show where contestants face off against trivia masters.” It’s scheduled to air for nine weeks starting in early January.

Name of the game

The upcoming show is part of ABC’s efforts to move deeper into that genre. “Nearly 15 million viewers tuned in to the network for each episode of the ‘Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time” tournament, putting it on a level with the 2019 NBA finals and the 2019 World Series.”

ABC has gone to the game show format heavily for the past several summers, with shows such as To Tell the Truth, Celebrity Family Feud, Press Your Luck, and Match Game. Who Wants To Be a Millionaire is currently airing.

Game shows are cheap, compared with scripted shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, and it’s simpler to follow COVID social distancing protocols. Grey’s, BTW, showed only six episodes so far this season and won’t be back until March 4.

But to your question, I have to think they’d need to give Ken Jennings a minimum of four weeks. After all, the show tapes a whole week’s episodes in one day. Even Jennings, who’s been made a consulting producer, and has been at a player podium about 100 times, will be nervous. It’ll be difficult for anyone to be The One Who Follows Alex Trebek.

When Kathie Lee Gifford left Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, they had an extensive audition period. Ditto Kelly Ripa auditioning Regis’ replacement on the morning show. Still, I imagine the producers would want a permanent host by the time the new season begins.

Minced Oaths

Somewhat off-topic, I loved the category MINCED OATHS category on the JEOPARDY! episode of the show that aired on December 17.

$400: There were 6 British kings named this, but saying “By” him actually meant “By God”.

$800: This “sticky” oath, a variant of “damnation”, goes back to 1790 and may be derived from “eternal”.

$1200: This, also the surname of a prolific 19th c. British author, was sometimes substituted for “devil” in oaths.

$1600: Instead of referencing the almighty’s son, this rhyming phrase with the same initial letters was used.

$2000: On St. Patrick’s Day, you might hear someone exclaim “Faith and” this word meaning “by God”.

I think I enjoyed it because, while I knew all of the terms, I’d never thought about the derivations. Well, except for the $1600 clue. Some folks in my past thought even this substitution was inappropriate because it was still supposedly taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Of course, these were also people who thought saying, “Oh, sugar” was vulgar because it was presumably a substitute for defecation.

Anyway, the answers: George; tarnation; dickens; jeepers creepers; and Begorra, which no one got correct.