Ask Matt: Hubbub Over ‘Jeopardy!’s Potential New Host
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)
One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.
Is Jeopardy! Making the Right Choice?
Question: Curious about your reaction to the latest reports that Jeopardy!’s executive producer Mike Richards is the presumed front-runner to take over full time as host. My personal picks out of the guest hosts would’ve been either Ken Jennings or LeVar Burton, but it’s interesting that after bringing in all the names, the person they ultimately went with is by far the least-known of them all.
I looked up some YouTube clips of Richards, because it had been a while since I’d seen him during his own guest-host period, and I had forgotten that he was introduced at the top of the show as “the executive producer of Jeopardy” rather than as “the guest host” as all of the others have been. Let’s assume for the moment that the deal gets done and it is Richards. Do you think they would switch to calling him “the host of Jeopardy?” Going with him and being able to continue to call him the producer would allow Alex to be the only person ever identified by Johnny Gilbert as “the host.” That would be kind of nice. Of course, technically Richards would be the host, but changing his title in the introduction would be a nice kind of deference to Alex. — Jake
Matt Roush: First off, whoever’s getting the job will almost certainly be announced as “host,” because anything else would muddy the waters. (Most viewers probably don’t care who the producer is.) Whether Mike Richards would maintain his executive titles if he goes behind the podium full time remains to be seen, and even though there will inevitably be disappointment and some predictable backlash no matter who is chosen, I’m not entirely surprised that Jeopardy! might keep things in-house. I’ve said all along that with very few exceptions (LeVar Burton most notably), I didn’t see these guest-hosting gigs as auditions. Most of the broadcasters who filled in already have jobs and were thrilled to step in to honor Alex Trebek and the show he guided for so long.
My initial reaction to the Mike Richards news wasn’t surprise as much as an acknowledgment that Jeopardy! had taken the least objectionable, and in some ways least interesting, path in filling this high-profile position. Which may be the point. Throughout the months when Jeopardy! was welcoming guest hosts to finish out the season after Alex’s untimely death, my mailbag has been full of knee-jerk feedback, some positive but much of it critical, and I held off posting most of these comments because I looked at this as less of a stunt and more as a good-faith effort to keep the beloved show on track until next season could represent a new start. (For the record, most of the feedback during Richards’ stint was positive.) It’s inevitable that many would look at this as a contest, but the bottom line in all of this is that if you’re watching Jeopardy! for the host, you’re watching it for the wrong reason. That was Alex Trebek’s philosophy all along, and Richards plays into that mindset better than most.
Grossed Out by Gossip Girl
Question: Has there been a more vulgar show than Gossip Girl? I know the original wasn’t the most enlightening show around, but for the most part it was fun. HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot is dreary, mean, and boring. I know some of the original GG characters were mean, but they were fun and campy, whereas everyone in this remake is vile. I know I am old (32), but teenagers are not this evil. I don’t get the producers’ point. Another HBO Max show, Genera+ion, isn’t anywhere near as bad, and Justice Smith is really likable. By comparison, Hulu’s Love, Victor was the show I WISH I had growing up as a teenager. This show is the opposite of GG — it’s happy, sweet, and positive. A show like this inspires you. I really hope to see GG gone very soon — it’s the cruelest show on TV. — Sean V
Matt Roush: In most regards, I couldn’t agree with you more, but I would add moronic and numbing to describe some of my own reactions. In reviewing the show last month, those were some of the longest hours I’ve spent watching anything on TV this year. The episodes seemed endless (a common streaming fault — longer is sometimes less), and in each episode it seemed that the main characters would wage war, make up, then start back-stabbing all over again, as if hypnotized by some social-media-influencing demon. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, but I could see why the core CW audience would dig its wish-fulfillment aspects. I would give the new Gossip Girl points for diversity, but beyond that, it’s too toxic for my tastes, and while I’m not remotely in their demographic, I have a pretty high threshold for tastelessness. And here’s the bad news: I see no signs that this is one-and-done. I fully expect HBO Max to renew the series, but at least Hulu is giving the much more agreeable Love, Victor a third go as well.
Shouldn’t Young Sheldon Be Bunking with His Brother by Now?
Comment: I love Young Sheldon but find it odd that a family with a three-bedroom home did not give the only girl her own bedroom. Even though it is way overdue for the two boys to share a room, it could be an interesting episode. Should have been part of the episode when Missy became a young lady. — Linda
Matt Roush: I guess we’ve moved on from the wardrobe debate. I’ve heard variations on this observation before, but have always looked at this as a situation where Sheldon and Missy grew up together as twins in the same bedroom, and because they’re such different species let alone genders they’ve never forced the issue. Plus I’m sure the producers enjoy those late-night scenes between Iain Armitage and Raegan Revord so much that they’re reluctant to fix what isn’t broken.
How Do the Rest of Us Get in on the Schmigadoon! Fun?
Question: For those of us who haven’t subscribed to streaming services because of the costs — once you start, it’s like those potato chips where you can’t eat just one — do we have any hope of seeing shows like Schmigadoon! eventually come to DVD or to a major network? — Paul
Matt Roush: To a “major network,” whatever that means anymore (I’m guessing you mean free), almost certainly not. These original productions are exclusive to their streaming platforms for a reason: to drive traffic and attract subscribers. (You could always sign up long enough to watch whatever intrigues you and then un-subscribe. I’d recommend it for Schmigadoon!) About DVD distribution, that’s way outside my area of expertise to know what kinds of deals are made between the production companies — in this case, Broadway Video and Universal TV — and the streamers in terms of when and whether these titles can be marketed in that format. DVDs aren’t exactly a growth industry these days, but Schimigadoon! would be a good bet because of the cult appeal to musical-comedy fans. Still, I’m thinking the possibility of downloading the video through Apple would be the most likely next step if there is one.
Is the Freedom of Streaming a Good Thing?
Comment: SEAL Team is one of the few recent dramas that I have continued to follow since its beginning. Clarice is another intelligent and thoughtful show for adults. The impending move to Paramount+ for SEAL Team, and hopefully Clarice, threatens to transform these shows into something other than what drew me to them in the first place.
Case in point: One of our local PBS affiliates recently broadcast Season 2 of the original Professor T. We enjoyed it so much we decided to stream Season 1, but some of its unedited TV-MA content was rather off-putting. We hope that PBS will broadcast the edited Season 3 of the original, but there has been no indication that any plans are in the works. Instead, we have the British remake of Professor T., which is just as uninspiring an adaptation of the original as was Call Me Kat, the American adaptation of the charming Miranda. To bring this all together, the trend toward original streaming content often means TV-MA ratings. Does entertainment require the same horrific elements that would be found in real life on the battlefield, or when investigating crimes? If SEAL Team and Clarice abandon broadcast standards, I won’t have any incentive to subscribe to Paramount+. — Tommy T
Matt Roush: This is such an interesting point of view, because from the creators’ perspective, moving from broadcast to streaming allows so much more freedom: from the five-act commercial-break structure for one, but also to be more honest in depicting these various worlds. This doesn’t necessarily mean an embrace of graphic violence, sex, and language, though moving off-network, TV invariably leads to pushing some content a bit further outside what seems to be your comfort zone. For some of these series, moving to streaming may be their only lifeline because the broadcast network marketplace has become so unforgiving. I wish I were more hopeful about Clarice making the move, but those negotiations appear to have stalled, and the longer we go without an update, the gloomier the outlook.
That’s all for now. We can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.)