Monday, March 29, 2021

The Lounge Lizard of Oz

Dr. Oz is just terrible guest-hosting JEOPARDY.  The smarm factor is off the charts.  He's like a high energy Top 40 1960’s disc jockey shouting at you between records.  Except there are no records.  He reads each clue like he’s doing a live spot for a drag strip.  “FUNNY CARS!!!”  

On the one hand you have to give these guest hosts a few days to settle into the job.  On the other hand, if you get a bad one (like Oz) you’re stuck with him for two weeks.   And you figure with so many guest hosts you’re going to get a few duds (although in the case of Dr. Oz, how could you not see it coming?).  

But it brings back memories of writing on shows where an actor is not up to the material (isn’t that a nice way of saying he/she sucked?).   You spend an inordinate amount of time trying to hide him, trying to give him lines he won’t kill or scenes he won’t ruin.  It’s such a dance.  And exhausting. 

More times than not these are actors the network forced upon you.  Forget that he’s an enemy of comedy, he “has a good look.”   And if the show is ultimately on the bubble, do you think you’ll get picked up because you have this network darling?  No. Never.  The bad actor drags down the show, it gets canceled, and who gets blamed?  

You got it on the first guess.  

Casting is the most important decision a producer or show runner will ever have to make.  Everything else can be fixed.  So getting the right people is crucial.  

I look forward to a new JEOPARDY guest-host, whoever it is. 

37 comments :

Moot said...

I watched one of the Oz episodes, it was painful. What really stuck out was how foreign the material seemed to him. If he offered a comment after a question was wrong or not responded to, it was like he was hearing the information he was reciting for the first time. And some of this stammering was on medical information! He has absolutely no polish or flow, very abrupt and like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Brian said...

Well, he's no Aaron Rodgers, I'll say that much. Truth be told, I've not seen Rodgers host anything, so he may do well. He's no slouch as a contestant. He won playing Celebrity Jeopardy! in 2015.

Phil said...

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers starts next Monday. As a Packers fan, I'll be looking forward to his run, but I admit that he may not end up a good host. He has charisma and a love of the game, but who knows if that will translate as a host.

Troy McClure said...

Not a TV show but Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane was one of the worst miscastings of the last 20 years. Casting Macauley Culkin as James Bond wouldn't be as bad. It was like watching an abrasive stick of ice in every scene the character appeared. She would have been better off playing the Fortress of Solitude.

Michael said...

You have done so many podcasts that I don't recall - have you done any in which you interview a casting agent about their process and experiences?

Curt Alliaume said...

My friends in and around the game show business have been discussing the hosts. As I've said before, the general take is it's probably Ken Jennings' to lose unless someone really blows everyone away.

Mike Richards is also the executive producer of the show, so it might be awkward if he picks himself. Katie Couric said she's not interested in doing the job full time (although she might have chosen not to be fully forthcoming in the interview I read). No one wants Dr. Oz; if his program wasn't also being distributed by Sony we wouldn't be talking about him at all.

Upcoming hosts include Aaron Rodgers, Anderson Cooper, Savannah Guthrie, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes, and Mayim Bialik.

One point I read is neither Jennings nor Richards has tons of on-camera experience as a host; it takes a while to settle into a style. Alex wasn't the host we've known for years and years when he first started either (too boisterous); aside from High Rollers, most of the American game shows he'd hosted before that were pretty lousy.

This is his first Jeopardy! episode in 1984 (the video's not great) for reference.

https://youtu.be/1wmLjpduJFo

Elf said...

I'm disappointed that Andy Richter didn't get a chance to guest host. He set the all-time celebrity Jeopardy winnings record, and he's far more than just a doughy sidekick.

VincentS said...

Case in point about actors no up to the material: Ever watch the SOPRANOS episodes with Frankie Valle? Also, when George ("Guber Pyle") Lindsay appeared on MASH, whereas he had no difficulty playing a hillbilly lout, I noticed he wasn't given any complicated medical dialogue to say, even though his character was and MD - "University of Arkansas. SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUWEEEEE!!!!"

Ere I Saw Elba said...

I haven't watch JEOPARDY in a long time, so I don't really have any dog in this fight, but maybe the show is just...done? I mean, at least it could be on hiatus for awhile.

Some talk show/game show hosts can be replaced, but maybe some can't. No one can ever be Alex Trebek. I grew up with THE PRICE IS RIGHT--who the hell wants to watch that stupid show without Bob Barker? Johnny Carson defined the TONIGHT SHOW, but it had its run. We have our new late night icons like Colbert and Kimmel, and they have made their own mark in entertainment.

Ok, I'll say that Ken Jennings makes the most sense for the new JEOPARDY host. If he even wants the job.

Vrej said...

You can see the guest host schedule here: https://www.jeopardy.com/jbuzz/news-events/jeopardy-guest-host-schedule?j=514826&sfmc_sub=22862881&l=29_HTML&u=18224938&mid=6403989&jb=22038

Lemuel said...

Dr. Phil?

Brandon in Virginia said...

@Ere I Saw Elba I hear you, but "Jeopardy", like "The Price is Right" and "The Tonight Show", still pull solid ratings and gained a new generation of fans*. Or at least the two games still do well; I think Fallon now comes in 3rd at 11:35. My point: as long as the ratings don't fall too far off, there will be a show. Drew Carey took some getting used to, but he's made the show his own, and Mr. Trebek's replacement will do the same.

As for the hosts, understanding most of them are only in it for the two-week gig, I try to be fair, but no one's really knocked my socks off. I did like Ken's delivery...I thought Katie sounded too much like a newsreader, while Mike Richards was even smarmier than Oz. I also think both Mike and Dr. Oz are too excited for a low-key show like Jeopardy.

*Just think...there are high school and college students who never saw Bob Barker host "The Price is Right". You're welcome. :-)

blinky said...

If you think Dr Oz was bad then just wait for Dr Phil to host Jeopardy.
Quack, quack, quack...

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

In 1977, Trebek did a short-lived daytime Goodson-Todman effort for CBS called "Double Dare." Not to be confused with the later kiddie stunt show of the same name, the program had two contestants tackling challenging, "Jeopardy!"-like material in an intriguing format. The music and sound effects were standard game-show terrible and the set was too flashy, but the show deserved a longer run and should be revived--as long as it isn't dumbed downed.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I said it earlier in the week and I'll say it again, WATSON!
Or how about former Howard Stern cast member "Stuttering John" Melendez?

Have a blessed Pesach.

M.B.

Kosmo13 said...

Did someone other than Bill Cullen host "The Price is Right?" That just seems so wrong.

Terry said...

This has nothing to do with today's post - other than it's a question about "Cheers" and Jeopardy did play a prominent role in one episode. Of course my potential Friday question has nothing to do with that episode, but here goes:

I was recently watching a Season 1 episode with Harry Anderson as Harry The Hat and I wondered if you had any stories to share about working with him. Who came up with all of the little mini-scams that Harry would pull on the Cheers gang? Like betting he could drink a shot without moving the hat it was under. I noticed he's listed as a "special technical adviser" in the credits so I assume he came up with a lot of that stuff himself. I always enjoyed his appearances. RIP Harry.

Barry Traylor said...

I have no desire to watch the show while Oz is on. I consider him no better that a snake oil salesman.

Cap'n Bob said...

Goober, not Guber.

Remember Art Fleming? A lot of people were aghast when Trebek became the new host of the Jeopardy! revival. But he worked out okay. Looking at some of the people set to guest, I can see there are a few I wouldn't watch unless they were on fire. I don't have a suggestion, but the guy who hosts America Says is very smooth.

JS said...

I thought he did okay. I didn't even know a lot about him coming in - he is apparently controversial - maybe people started out not wanting to like him?

Philly Cinephile said...

I would say that you have my undying gratitude for this post, but you already earned that for creating ALMOST PERFECT. Undying gratitude plus one -- is that a "thing"?

rbarthjr said...

Hey, easy on the snake oil salesmen of the world, Barry! 😬

Buttermilk Sky said...

I like Jennings apart from his voice. I now know that ninety percent of what we heard was Alex (who started his career in radio) reading the clues, so it really is important to have someone who doesn't sound like the mayor of Boys Town. Maybe a vocal coach or some hormone injections...

James said...

PUtting people like Dr. Oz on gives them exactly what they want--lots and lots of free publicity. You know they'd have Trump host it if they thought they could talk him into it. Not because he'd be a good host, but just for the attention given the show.

Matt said...

Back in the day it seems like there were more qualified candidates because there were more experienced radio hosts. If I was running the search I would focus on smart likable stand-up comics. They are used to thinking on their feet.

scottmc said...

This post reminded me of the Mary Tyler Moore show episode where Ted Baxter auditions to be a game show host. As I recall,Ted loved the game, was a good host and they were going to offer him the job. At the end Lou Grant persuades Ted to remain a newsman. I wonder if Ted becoming a game show host would have made a good spin off possibility.

Ben Scripps said...

As a signatory of the petition, I was ready to hate Oz from the get-go, but I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt when he started. I couldn't make it through the first half of the Jeopardy! round before I gave up. Never minding all of the other issues, Oz is simply not right for this show.

John said...

Dr. Oz's career arc: Talented surgeon. Oprah's medical expert. Snake oil salesman. Game show host.
We're doomed.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

It would be interesting having Trump as a guest host if only because he and the late Merv Griffin--creator of "Jeopardy!"--were once archrivals in the casino industry.

Mike Barer said...

Ken would make a great guest host.

Anonymous said...

I think people are being a little harsh on Oz and mixing their dislike of his daytime show into their evaluation of him as a game show host. He's not great but he's not horrible either. He does what any competent host does: he reads the answers clearly and has 10 different ways of saying "yes."

-30-

DanMnz said...

He's a fake Dr from Oprah (who does ZERO in life but "influences" people with mental issues)
Need we say more

The New Head Theory said...

I used to call those people "black holes of comedy". Comedy goes it, but it never comes out.

Steve said...

Anon -30-:

He really doesn't read the clues very competently. A lot of them have to be re-recorded in post-production. You can tell from the sound quality.

On one occasion I noticed, he told a contestant he had given the correct answer when he was wrong. The constestant corrected himself afterward, which normally wouldn't be allowed, but they had to give it to him because of Doc's error.

Roger Owen Green said...

Re; Dr. Phil - he was on the celebrity Who To Be A Millionaire in the past few months, and took so long to answer a question, they showed 10 MINUTES LATER... Decide already, dude.

Anonymous said...

Actually it is fun to see all these guest hosts. I think the producers have already picked the permanent host. This series of guest hosts will just put distance between Alex T and the new host like when Jack Parr left the Tonight Show and before Carson took over. Several guest hosts took weekly turns hosting. I really dislike Dr. OZ but in my opinion he has been the best.

Anonymous said...

When I read that Dr. Oz was going to be guest hosting Jeopardy, the first thing that came to mind was that he was selected because he has the same syndicator (Sony Pictures Television.) Come to think of it, that's the ONLY thing that comes to mind...