Jeopardy! has been generating an uncharacteristic amount of drama in recent months, and former champion Arthur Chu believes he knows why. Chu was one of the show’s most controversial winners in 2014 with an 11-game win streak using a “frenetic” clue selection style that some viewers disliked. He wrote a column for The Washington Post saying that Jeopardy! has forsaken Alex Trebek’s advice.
“At my tapings, Trebek told us that if he were ever to retire, his one piece of advice to his successor would be, ‘Stay out of the way, and let the contestants be the stars,'” Chu wrote. He feels that the hunt for a new host has distracted from what fans really like about the show – the game itself and the rotating cast of competitors. He said: “When Trebek died of pancreatic cancer in November of last year, most fans expected for a replacement already to have been named and, after a bit of welcoming fanfare, for the show to return to normal as soon as possible.”
Chu feels that the season of interim hosts and the prolonged hunt for a replacement was itself damaging to the series. This is the complete opposite of many fans who have been saying that the show should go on with no permanent host, rotating different celebrities in for the job. Chu thinks that this would only exacerbate the problem.
“The hunt for the new host became a public circus of ‘on-the-job tryouts’ featuring a glamorous roster of A-listers, and the star of the show became the week’s celebrity guest host,” he reasoned. “Each episode, their followers tuned in to root for them, not the actual contestants.”
Chu took a moment to shout out current Jeopardy! champion Matt Amodio, and all the other winners he feels were pushed to the sideline during this season of host selection. He wrote: “Anyone who’s good enough at trivia, even a schlubby nerd from Ohio, could get their turn to write the story of the show. During my streak, there was no question I was the main character, even if it was as the ‘villain.’ Today, Matt Amodio is an 18-day champion and the third-winningest regular-season contestant in Jeopardy! history, but his story has taken a backseat to the drama on the host’s side of the stage.”
For those that don’t recall, Chu became a breakout star on Jeopardy! in 2014 by making big bets and choosing clues almost at random – not in order of either category nor price. At the time, Jeopardy! fans resented him for putting a new spin on the game, though since then similar strategies have helped others win big as well.
Right now, Jeopardy! has no permanent host in place, since Mike Richards resigned from the job amid multiple scandals and was then fired from executive producing the show as well. When the show returns in the fall, Mayim Bialik will host the regular series for now.