I was in third grade when Bob Barker left “The Price Is Right” after 35 years. I remember coming home from school on that Friday, June 15th, 2007, and catching the very end of the show. It was a half-day at school, which meant I got to leave the building at 11:35am. I arrived home just in time to watch Barker say goodbye.
I had only been alive for about a quarter of Barker’s run, but I knew what kind of impact he had – on the game show community, on CBS and on the millions of viewers who watched him every day. My Grandma was one of them.
A big question on everyone’s minds was: “Will people still watch “The Price Is Right” without Bob Barker?” And with Drew Carey as the new emcee, the answer was “Yes.” “Price” still does very well for CBS, and plenty of people in that 65+ demo still make it a morning ritual. But Carey has also skewed the audience of the show a little younger in his dozen years as maestro. Twentysomething contestants ride the wave of the legacy and nostalgia of the program, along with Carey’s popularity, when they’re up on stage.
So now, we come to another game show farewell… under very different circumstances. Alex Trebek’s final “Jeopardy!” episode after an incredible, Guinness World Record achieving career in game shows marks the end of an era.
“Jeopardy!” is considered even more “Appointment TV” than “Price”, especially for the senior citizen crowds. “I gotta watch my show!” “My program’s on!” You may think those are stereotypes, but older people wouldn’t be ashamed to admit that’s what they say when they talk about “Jeopardy!”
They loved the show. They loved rooting for (and against) contestants. They loved yelling at the TV. They loved playing along with their kids and grandkids. But most of all: they loved Alex Trebek.
Much like the attraction of Barker on “Price”, Pat Sajak on “Wheel of Fortune” and Regis Philbin on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”, Trebek was a contemporary. “Not one of them young, smart-aleck, hot shot wannabes!” Trebek was an ace in conducting gameplay and had just the right amount of edge to occasionally say to contestants just what you might be thinking at home.
His loss is an enormous one.
“Millionaire” has had several hosts over the years. So has “Family Feud”. And countless daytime, primetime and cable game shows have come and gone since “Jeopardy!”’s Trebek revival began in 1984. But whenever the new “Jeopardy!” host is unveiled, the news will send shockwaves around the world.
For now, let’s continue to remember this man who defined the daily game show. Who Is: Alex Trebek?