Ken Jennings dominating on Jeopardy!

The last Jeopardy episode featuring legendary host Alex Trebek aired on Friday. It was mostly all the beats you expect from an ordinary match; however, it featured a really touching tribute at the end that featured clips from Trebek’s 37 seasons on the job. It was a fitting reminder of how perfect for the job the legendary host was. No one will ever be able to replace him, but given the show’s popularity and his desire for it to continue after his death, it’ll carry forward with a series of guest hosts. The first is popular former contestant Ken Jennings, and he recently spoke about the gig and how long he’d be willing to stay on.

The short answer is he’s serving at the pleasure of Jeopardy and will host for as long as the show wants him or needs him to. The need was a point he focused on during his interview with Entertainment Tonight. Here’s what the always humble Jennings said during an interview hyping his new show The Chase when asked about losing Alex Trebek and how long he would be hosting for…

I don't think there has been any decision because it is just such a rapidly developing situation, nobody expected to lose Alex this soon and we are still grieving about it, honestly, and basically, they just needed someone who could sit in the chair. Alex did not want Jeopardy! to end, the show's got tens of millions of fans, Jeopardy! needed to call somebody up and I got the letter in the mail and I serve the privilege of Jeopardy! for as long as they need me.

Exactly what Jeopardy is going to do long-term is still very much unclear. Right now the plan is to continue with a series of guest hosts and then assumedly, eventually circle back to someone for the long haul. Jennings will be the first up, and despite some minor controversies over some tweets, he really is the perfect man to start. There were rumors about him taking over prior to the announced plan. He already was involved in reading some clues, and his history as a well-liked contestant adds some continuity.

That being said, there are also scores of traditional media personalities that could bring a different and perhaps worthwhile vibe to the show. Popular TV personality Katie Couric will reportedly slide behind the host’s podium following Jennings, and after that, the future is pretty unclear. There have been lots of calls to give LeVar Burton a chance, and there is certainly no shortage of other former contestants who have the needed personality and are certainly smart enough.

Alex Trebek was a fixture on television for almost forty years. He was, in many ways, the perfect host. He was great with the fans. He always had a good sense for when to interject or offer clarity and when to simply move on. He never made the show about himself and always prioritized the clues themselves over some extra camera time. No one, not Ken Jennings, not Katie Couric, not whoever else might be able to come after him, will be able to replace what he brought. But Jeopardy is also an all-time wonderful game show. It deserve to continue, and I can’t wait to watch.

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