Ask Matt: Taking the Long View on ‘Jeopardy!’ Guest Hosts

Jeopardy Katie Couric
Jeopardy!, Inc.

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.

Cut the Jeopardy! Guest Hosts Some Slack

Comment: All the negative comments on Katie Couric, Dr. Oz and all the other guest hosts on Jeopardy! forget one basic fact. They are being compared to an Alex Trebek who had 34 years to learn and grow on the job. When Alex took on the job in 1984, he was nothing more than the host of a handful of relatively unsuccessful game shows. To the press and public at the time, the consensus was that “HE WASN’T ART FLEMING!” So let’s lighten up on the guest hosts — one of them very well may be the next Alex Trebek — but we won’t know until they’ve been on the job for several years. — Rick

Matt Roush: Score one for institutional memory (and for ignoring knee-jerk comments). This reminds me how much I admired Alex Trebek for how respectful he always was when someone brought up his predecessor—often because a contestant’s parents or grandparents had appeared on Jeopardy! during Art Fleming’s tenure. The guest hosts feel that same respect for Alex, and because most of them aren’t looking at this stint as a job audition, I couldn’t agree more that we should just let them enjoy their time at the podium — although I understand the pushback against casting a polarizing public figure like Dr. Oz. When the time comes to name someone full-time to the role of host, it will be a period of adjustment for everyone.

At Home with Kenan, but No Fan of Mr. Mayor

Question: I think the season’s best new comedy is Kenan starring SNL‘s Kenan Thompson. The scenes with his family are terrific: funny and sometimes poignant. However, with the exception of Kimrie Lewis as the producer of Kenan’s morning show, the workplace comedy aspects are pretty weak. Now on the same network, we have the disappointing Mr. Mayor. I love Ted Danson, but this show does not work. The only reason I will tune into Season 2 is Jayden Kwapis as played to trippy perfection by SNL veteran Bobby Moynihan. What I would love to see is Mr. Mayor close up shop, allowing Jayden Kwapis to fly from Sacramento to Atlanta to take a job at the TV studio that airs Wake Up with Kenan! What do you think? — Mike

Matt Roush: What your pipe dream says to me is that Bobby Moynihan makes everything better and funnier, and I wouldn’t argue with that. He stole every one of his scenes in Mr. Mayor, which some might see as petty larceny, and it’s true that the show isn’t quite there yet. Neither, for that matter, is Kenan, which I agree works better on the home front than in the workplace. The real surprise to me is how endearing Don Johnson is as Kenan’s offbeat father-in-law, whose love for his granddaughters is so palpable and sweet.

How It All Began on 9-1-1

Comment: Cheers to the 9-1-1 origin stories. They are great to watch and to see more of the people’s backgrounds from when they joined the crew. It is nice to see this. – Adam D

Matt Roush: Curiously, all of these episodes that have been airing during 9-1-1’s current hiatus are repeats from past years. While no one much likes reruns during the regular season, I thought it was a great idea to highlight these origin episodes during the break, and I wish more shows would use their down time (whether midseason or off-season during summer and the holidays) to showcase special episodes in a creative way. (Like how Jeopardy! aired significant vintage episodes from years past during its production shutdown last year.)

More NCIS: New Orleans Cancellation Fallout

Comment: I agree with the writer who was bummed over CBS dropping NCIS: New Orleans. It’s the only feel-good show (something we need now) in the trilogy. Seniority doesn’t equal quality. The mothership at 18 is just old and Los Angeles at 12 has been a downer in the last 2-3 years. Your noting CBS’s habit of dropping procedural crime dramas (Cold Case, Elementary, Without a Trace) only serves to point out a bad habit. Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is that it’s unwise to invest in watching their shows. — Kate

Matt Roush: Is seven years really such a bad investment? Obviously no one likes to see a favorite show canceled, and this one continues to create a surge in my mailbag, which isn’t surprising since this is the first NCIS show since the franchise ballooned to be terminated. Given the failure rate on network TV, many shows never make it to seven years and 150-plus episodes, which traditionally is more than enough to ensure a healthy afterlife. With few exceptions, TV shows aren’t intended to run indefinitely, but knowing when and how to leave remains a very risky business.

Question: With the cancellation of NCIS: New Orleans, is there a place for Scott Bakula in any of the NCIS programs? — Kay

Matt Roush: It seems unlikely that they’d move a lead actor from one show to another, but Pride is and always will be part of NCIS history, so it’s always possible he’d show up in a Very Special Episode of one of the other series, especially if a case brings them near the Big Easy.

Question: Since I read this season will be the final one for NCIS: New Orleans, will any of the female cast members join the casts of The Equalizer and MacGyver? ‑ Elizabeth

Matt Roush: Even more unlikely. I get that these CBS procedurals can seem interchangeable, but they’re not that interchangeable. That said, these actors are all bankable after their NCIS exposure, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them cast in other series (though as new characters) now that they’re available.

About That Other CBS Franchise …

Question: With the announcement of the CSI: Vegas revival, I’m curious: How come only the original and Miami spin-off are available for streaming (on Hulu and Paramount+)? CSI: NY was probably my favorite and I would’ve loved to have watched it over the past year during lockdown. But save for buying the seasons individually on Amazon Prime, it doesn’t seem to be available on any streaming service. Same with Cyber. Why is that? — Sarah

Matt Roush: The very short run of CSI: Cyber (31 episodes over two seasons) may explain why there’s little demand for licensing that series, but it’s harder to fathom why CSI: NY (197 episodes over nine seasons) is currently missing. Licensing deals for series like these can be complicated and costly, even when it’s in-house for a corporation like ViacomCBS. It wouldn’t surprise me that as Paramount+ ramps up its library of TV and movies after the recent relaunch that we’d see one if not both of these series emerge again.

And Finally …

Question: Will Law & Order: Organized Crime be a separate show from SVU? Or like Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19, will I have to watch the two shows? — Unsigned

Matt Roush: While it was understandable for Organized Crime to launch out of SVU, given the history of the characters as well as the tradition of using an existing show to introduce the new one, these two series are meant to stand on their own. That doesn’t mean there won’t be crossovers from time to time, which the network loves for promotional purposes, but they’re telling very different stories. So you shouldn’t be looking at this as a two-hour investment each Thursday, unless you’re an insatiable Law & Order fan.

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.)

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