After a two-week break for the annual Tournament of Champions, won by Sam Kavanaugh, “Jeopardy!” returned to regular game play last Monday. As part of that change, the show transitioned into another guest host, with Mayim Bialik replacing former Tournament of Champions winner Buzzy Cohen behind the lectern.
Bialik’s appearance will also raise money for a cause dear to her heart, as Jeopardy! will match contestants’ winnings during her two-week stint, donating those funds to the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Gen-X viewers of a certain age will remember Bialik as starring in the title role in Blossom, an NBC sitcom on the air from 1990 through 1995. Subsequent to her work as a teen actress, Bialik received a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2007. She later returned to acting, considering it more conducive to life as a parent, and starred in “The Big Bang Theory” from 2010 through 2019.
Unique Background Brings Impressive On-Camera Persona…
Bialik’s distinct skillset, combining experience in front of the camera with a background in academia, gave her an authoritative yet engaging personality as a host. From a brief yet impassioned opening to her first show to witty banter with contestants — on Friday, she joked that the defending champion’s most prized possession, a string of pearls a relative gave, would go to the episode’s winner — Bialik balanced friendliness and determination in a way that kept the show engaging but on-point.
In earlier interviews about the next host of “Jeopardy!,” executive producer (and guest host himself) Mike Richards noted he wanted the replacement for Alex Trebek to “be the arbiter of the game, [because] the host is the initial judge. You have to be credible when you give the response.” As a real-life Ph.D. — with a doctorate in neuroscience, no less — Bialik brings that credibility, coupled with an easy on-camera persona.
Most of the other guest hosts bring at least one of those skill sets, but not necessarily both. For instance, the mannerisms and stage presence of Aaron Rodgers most closely resembled those of Trebek,
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