Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The problem with giving everyone a voice

Network pilots are subjected to research, part of which is Focus Groups.  It is here you learn that some nimrod doesn’t like your lead character because she wore red shoes.  Or she took too long folding a towel.  Recast at once! Now, with the internet and social media, everybody is a Focus Group participant.  And the results are, as expected, fucking stupid.  

Take, for example, one of the Facebook JEOPARDY fan groups.  These are some of the actual comments on why Mayim Bialik is not fit to be the host and must be removed immediately.  And I’ve spared you all the outrage over her egregious selection of wardrobe and eyeglasses. 

When she goes into commercial breaks, she holds the podium and moves her shoulders back and forth.

She pauses too many seconds to let everyone know if the answer is correct or not.

She is an actor and brings too much of that to the stage.

I wish she would stop the Shatner-like pause before she says, "That's right.”

Well, just make it easy to understand. She’s annoying and has a face for radio.

I almost lost it tonight watching jeopardy......she is so rude and HARSH with her...NO....response. so over her!!!

When she is finishing up with one contestant chat, saying that's great, etc. , she is already looking at the card for the next contestant. She is just not a natural.

So it’s not that has bad diction, reads the clues wrong, is ill-prepared, isn’t engaged with the contestants, is not in complete control of the stage — she moves her shoulders when going into a break.   It’s absurd.

And what’s even more absurd is that networks, studios, and producers make decisions partly based on this type of worthless input.   The solution of course is NOT to listen, not to take this nonsense seriously.   These people are only railing because they now have a platform.  Before it was just their scarecrows.  Let Mayim do her thing.  

NOTE:  This is a travel day for me so comments won't be posted until late into the day or evening.


Elf said...

The only thing I don't know about is whether the ratings change depending on who's hosting that week. If one of them gets superior ratings, and the execs think that higher level would be maintained by giving that host the gig full-time, then that's likely what will happen.

That said, both hosts have their quirks that annoy some people, and Trebek did as well. I am, however, firmly Team Ken. Mayim is fine and I wouldn't complain if she got the job, but all other things being equal, podium-holding methods notwithstanding, Ken has the legacy factor going for him. It's a sense of continuity. Ken IS Jeopardy. Mayim is an actress who also hosts Jeopardy.

Charles H Bryan said...

I have to say that I've noticed that pause before confirming an answer, too. I don't know if she's waiting on someone in her ear for a confirmation or if there's some other reason. It doesn't seem like she's doing it to be dramatic, though. I prefer Ken Jennings, but I don't hate her.

Stuart said...

Notice that 3 of 7 comments you picked as examples are about her "pause". That's because it's a legit complaint, and very distracting, even to the contestants.

I like Mayim, but she's not the right fit for J host.

Carl T said...

The internet is an incredible advancement for humankind, but it also has the huge downside in allowing village idiots to find each other.

Mark Chaet said...

First project I was ever involved in casting was a low budget action adventure film which had already cast their martial arts lead. When the producers sat down to decide on who to cast (from those who had auditioned) for the female lead, the choice seemed clear. One actress was clearly better than any of the others who had come in. But her hair was shorter than the male lead's hair. Oh no. No one considered a wig. Or that the objection was absurd. She was out and someone else was in.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Ken, but some of those comments are valid.

I can do without the dramatic pause she uses too frequently, especially bonus questions. But I don't know if it's her style or the producers' telling her to do it.

And her "No" can be a little harsh, like she's talking to a dog who crapped on the carpet. Ken Jennings does it much better with an unspoken undertone of "not quite", "good try' or "almost."

I don't understand your unconditional love for Mayim. She's OK but she's no Ken Jennings.


maxdebryn said...

RE: village idiots - I have taken to reading the "Rex Morgan" daily comic strip at the COMICS KINGDOM site. The terrific Terry Beatty is the writer/artist. The comments posted everyday are incredibly hateful. The posters all seem to think that they're funny. They're wrong.

Carter said...

I don't watch it, but those are legitimate complaints. The basics of hosting a game show.

Mike Doran said...

To Ken, when you see this:
Welcome back.

First thing I saw this AM was Bill O'Reilly's psychotic break about Governor Pritzker of Illinois.
Mr. O'Reilly is putatively a professional - he is employed (and compensated) to give opinions about this world of ours, and those who supposedly run it.
I, on the other hand, am an amateur - I have no standing to characterize Mr. O'Reilly's behavior as 'psychotic', it's just my reaction to it (yours may vary).
My point (?) would be that these days, everybody is doing these kind of judgments, with as little justification as I am - but all of us are taking our cues from the "professionals", and that's something to worry about.
At least I'm worried about it; here I'll admit (not proudly) that my at-home, in-person reaction to Mr. O'Reilly's outburst was at least at his level of white heat (I didn't use "Mister", for one thing), and at my age, that's a self-indulgence I can't afford.

For the record, I am a registered Democrat in the State of Illinois; I voted for Gov. Pritzger in the primary last week, and I intend to vote for him in the general in November - but I made that decision long ago, and Mr. O'Reilly's fulmination has only confirmed my feelings on the matter, So There Too.

So, Ken: I humbly ask that you make a Friday Question out of this, and answer it, or try to.

By the bye ... Mayim Bialik seems like a nice lady, calm and pleasant, and she ought to be allowed to grow into her position, as anybody else ought to.
(Remember, somebody once thought that Joe Pyne deserved a shot at it ...)

Mike Bloodworth said...

Today's blog brings to mind the "Frasier" episode, "The Focus Group." (Not one of Ken's) Guest star Tony Shalhoub is the only member of a focus group that doesn't like Fraiser's radio show. Frasier becomes obsessed with tracking him down and finding out why.
Not an exact parallel. But it would make a funny segment on someone's show to have Mayim Bialik show up at some troll's house and say, "What the fuck?!" Hilarity ensues.


Ted. said...

I've also noticed the "pause" before she says if an answer is right or wrong. It's probably a fraction of a second, but makes a difference in this fast-moving game. But my issue is: How is it her problem? Clearly there's a production staff that has to make an official determination about each answer's veracity. (They do this virtually instantly, to the point that they sometimes get one wrong and have to change the result later in the game.) So why isn't this information being communicated to the host more quickly? Is there something different about how this part is handled with Ken Jennings (or was with Alex Trebek)? I have a hard time believing that Mayim Bialik is just slow on the uptake. Whatever is actually going (a tiny bit) wrong, it's up to the show to fix it.

Reed Bunzel said...

Having worked in the broadcast media my entire career, I have developed an attitude of "don't do research." My experience shows that research only serves as a yardstick based against what people already know or expect. Anything "brand new" will be rejected out of hand, or at least discarded because it does not fit the mold of "what already exists." It doesn't matter if it's radio, TV, or film will only hear people compare it -- at least in their own minds -- against what they already know. It takes a truly open mind to be able to accept something unique in content or delivery, but research will not (cannot) measure this. [My research friends in the biz will most assuredly disagree, but they've done a lot of research on it.]

kcross said...

Ken, I have a Friday Question that I can't determine if you've answered before. If you could go to a performance of any band in history, with any configuration of members (like Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne, or Benny Goodman with Gene Krupa), which performance(s) would you choose?

Also, I agree with you about Mayim Bialik. Let her grow into the role. Drew Carry is doing fine on The Price is Right with his annoying quirks, and where would Cheers be if social media was as big in 1993 as it is now?

Kosmo13 said...

When I see Mayim Bialyk host Jeopardy, it sometimes feels as though I'm watching an actor playing a game show host rather than watching someone actually doing the job of a game show host. She comes across as especially artificial in her interactions with the contestants: "well that's really interesting, Dave" or "we hope that won't happen here tonight, Susan." She sounds like she's reading pre-scripted comments off a cue card, rather than listening and giving a sincere reaction. I was never aware of that with Art Fleming, Alex Trebek, Mike Richards nor Ken Jennings. Even Ted Baxter was more convincing as a Quizmaster.

I'd be in favor of eliminating the portion of the show where the Jeopardy host asks the contestants to talk about themselves.

Bryan said...

Good Lord, reading the comments on this post reinforce your points very well... They're both fine, and I happen to favor Mayim. I like her, she's smart and seems pretty comfortable in front of the camera. I too have read comments from these Facebook groups. You think they're bad, you should read the comments in the Star Trek groups, talk about nuts....

Spike de Beauvoir said...

I wonder if there was a focus group that chimed in on naming a new ice cream "Big Olaf." It might be lovely, but Big + Olaf somehow doesn't evoke a primo dessert experience. Snowshoes maybe?

Michael Lively said...

No problem with Mayim Bialyk as host. She doing fine. All hosts have growing pains. Watch the first game shows that Trebek did before Jeopardy. I was thinking that they should have brought College Bowl back years ago as a proving ground for the new replacement host. Either Mayim Bialyk or Jennings is fine but neither were my first choice.

Bob K said...

I feel the same about political opinions. Emotional, ill-informed diatribes that only make me wonder if the writer threw out their shoulder patting themselves on the back.

Stephen Cudmore said...

Ted: I don't think there is a production staff member who has to make the call, unless there is a call to make, like a strange pronounciation or ambiguous response.

The host is provided with the full set of clues and responses including "acceptable " and "be more specific" answers, ahead of time.

I suspect Ms. Baylik's need to wait for the voice in her ear means she's a bit less confident that she knows the board when she walks out there than Alex, who studied those notes intensily before every show for 35 years, or Ken, who is a machine designed by God for winning at Jeopardy!

blinky said...

Ken, you have identified exactly what is wrong with the whole fucking world now. It used to be that everybody had stupid ideas but you didn't know they had stupid ideas because they kept them to themselves. Now everybody thinks they have an opinion that everybody needs to hear.
And every social media platform trains people to think that their ideas are so awesome by getting "LIKES". It is so seductive. I post a picture of a banana and I get 50 LIKES. So now I am a professional photographer. My opinion matters! They LIKE me.
Oh well, humanity had a nice run, it's your turn cockroaches.

Roger Owen Green said...

The pause makes me feel as though she is unprepared.
When Alex, but also several of the guest hosts, replied, it was quicker. Alex - and he's a tough act to follow - worked, he knew the answers, but also what variations were acceptable, not acceptable, or needed more info. Ken is better. Heck, Joe Buck was better. The goal is to clear the boards, and I think she costs maybe a question or two a round.

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh, and Kosmo13: they will NEVER get rid of the interview section. They want rooting interests. Some people want to know that Ryan Long won enough to get out of debt or that Mattea Roach was in a pop video. Now losing the 5-day rule means the interview is more difficult (and more boring, IMO). But after a season for "super champions", the interview will be here forever.

Don P. said...

Mike Bloodworth: Look up the show "H8r" with Mario Lopez, which consisted of celebs tracking down people who didn't like them and demanding to know why.

Breadbaker said...

Not going to enter the fray, but there was a question last week about Japanese drama. There are two kinds of Japanese drama. The first contestant said, "What is Kabuki?" Mayim said, "no." The second contestant said, "What is Noh?

I put it on the producers that they did not drill into the host's head "if the first contestant gives an incorrect answer to this one, you must say anything except 'No.'"

Barry Traylor said...

I watch it off and on but my son who is a huge JEOPARDY fan told me it is about the game not the host, although he really hated OZ.

stephen catron said...

I like them both. The nit pickers are absurd. I'd like them to keep both in rotation makes it a bit more interesting.

Buttermilk Sky said...

In CITIZEN KANE Jed Leland says something to the effect that Charlie Kane had no real beliefs but he had opinions about everything. That's social media -- everybody feeling the need to share opinions, no matter how trivial, hurtful or just plain dumb.

I watched JEOPARDY! last night and it seemed like Mayim was a little quicker in telling contestants if their response was right or wrong. I hope she doesn't feel obliged to take all criticism to heart, as some of it is bound to be just plain dumb. She has her own style and does not need to imitate Jennings or Trebek or Art Fleming.

John said...

It seems to take a very specific talent and skill to be a great game show host. Trebek certainly had it. Vanna White's valiant effort filling in for Pat Sajak as host of Wheel of Fortune showed what an outstanding job Sajak does.

Jeopardy! invited its audience to judge and review a long line of fill-in hosts, and viewers obliged. A lot of us thought that Mike Richards was the most effective one to test for the job. At our house, we thought Savannah Guthrie did a fine job, but our first choices were Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings. People seemed united in their disgust at seeing the odious Mehmet Oz soil Jeopardy!'s reputation by his presence on that stage.

In my opinion, Bialik is an excellent host, very close to nailing it, close enough to be considered a terrific success. The same with Ken Jennings.

As for the nasty comments from the peanut gallery, there are terrible people everywhere you look. Just stick your head out the window or turn on your computer and there they are. Hell, if you were to say "Let's hear it for ice cream!" among the cheers there would be attention seekers telling you how disgusting it is. Don't be offended by these types, they are an immutable fact of life.

Kelly Sedinger said...

I do actually share a few of these observations, but I generally chalk them up to quirks that will probably go away as she gets more comfortable and experienced in this role (if she keeps it long-term). Game-show host is a pretty specific kind of gig, and I assume it takes a while, especially when filling big shoes. Drew Carey's first few months on THE PRICE IS RIGHT weren't spectacular either (though he had experience as a stand-up comic to help). Not a game show, but it took Trevor Noah the better part of a year to get to a point where THE DAILY SHOW felt like HIS show. I have a feeling Bialik will get there sooner or later.

Might be interesting to go back and look at Trebek's early days on JEOPARDY! as well, though maybe not, since he'd already been a game show host, so the gig wasn't totally new to him.

(I really wish SNL had done a sketch with Will Farrell and Darryl Hammond, in which Trebek enters heaven and there's Connery waiting for him....)

Ward Cornell said...

I believe that you can find videos online of Alex Trebek from when he hosted the high school quiz show REACH FOR THE TOP. My high school was on the show twice back in the mid 70s.

Andrew said...

I agree with the commenters who are annoyed by the pause. I think it's unfair to the contestants. For whatever reason, she keeps them in limbo.

Curt Alliaume said...

Speaking as somebody who took years to accept Alex Trebek over Art Fleming, I know where some of these people are coming from. (Of course, now I look back at the Fleming episodes and I'm going, "What the hell was I thinking?")

I'm fine with Mayim.

tavm said...

I hope Ms. Bialik is not reading any of the comments about her especially all the underserved criticisms. Let her and the producers make their pics. If Ken gets it, fine. She probably can't host every ep if her time in "Call Me Kat" interferes sometimes. Let the best host win!

Roger Owen Green said...

I got to watch the first two games of Alex Trebek during the pandemic.

Game #1 was a lock game for Greg, and he bet only $300 in Final J. Trebek says, "What are you, chicken?"

Game #2 Greg had $9,500 Lynne $5,000 Paul $1,100. "Calendar date with which the 20th century began." They all bet EVERYTHING and they ALL got it wrong!

(Alex: Oh, boy. What... I'm at a loss for words in a situation like this. [Whistles] Hey folks, easy come, easy go. Because all of our contestants wound up with nothing, we have consolation prizes for each of them. Tomorrow on Jeopardy!, we'll be bringing in three new players to play the game...)

(Voices offstage: The answer!)

Alex: You mean 'What is the question. The question is January 1, 1901

I think Alex goaded Greg, and possibly the others to bet it all. He and they learned from that, I think.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Thanks, Don. I had never heard of that show.

Sally said...

I don't think some of these criticisms are undeserved. Obviously anything about what Mayim wears is totally unhelpful to the conversation, but if her lacking skill is taking away from the game itself, whether through her pauses or insincere interactions with the contestants, then it is objectively a worse product. For the record, Ken Jennings has much to improve on as well, particularly in his diction. I personally prefer him in the role but have a feeling that the show will continue with both so as to not alienate fans of either. At least that's what the new producer said a few weeks ago.

JS said...

I like Bialik. People are really hard on her. I could never be in her position - I'd be obsessing over every fault viewers pointed out. I'd drive myself, the director, and everyone around me nuts. You really have to have a tough skin, especially now with social media.

JoeyH said...

Just get on with it and name a host.
The owners of the show have turned this whole process into a circus.