If you have read Don’t Blink for even the shortest amount of time, you know that my wife and I are diehard Jeopardy fans. For most of our years as a couple, the show was a consistent part of our nightly routine. We literally kept score.
But my fandom for Jeopardy stretches back pre-Sidney. I watched it with my college roommate nightly in our dorm room. Growing up, my family would tune in multiple times per week. Our favorite computer game for our clunky desktop was Jeopardy. We had flash cards.
What made Jeopardy so endearing was its consistency. You had the structure, you had the theme music, and you had Johnny Gilbert. But of course the undisputed anchor piece—the glue that made the show a smashing success—was Alex Trebek.
Waking up to the news yesterday morning that he had passed was not surprising but it was sad. A force who had been a part of my life for three decades, albeit from my television screen, was gone. Say what you will about having a connection with someone you had never actually met, Alex was in all of the numerous living rooms I have called home over my years on this planet. He really was like a houseguest.
I admired Alex Trebek because he was fair. The man hosted a hit game show with skill, accuracy, and diplomacy. There was never any doubt that a contestant would get a fair shake or that a round would go off without a hitch. He never showed bias and he took his personal integrity seriously. Because of this, Jeopardy was a game that could be enjoyed and trusted by everyone. He was the ultimate impartial referee.
Another redeeming trait of Alex’s that I respected was his dry sense of humor. Whether it was during his interviews with contestants or his quips between clues, Trebek never ceased to amaze me with his wittiness. He had a true knack for not missing a beat. It always came across as genuine, sly, and hilarious.
But I think maybe his best quality was his tenderness. Because of pop culture portrayals, Alex Trebek might be classified by some as an ultra serious, deadpan brainiac with a robotic personality. But for those of us who watched him regularly, we knew there was much more to him than an SNL parody or a cameo on “Jury Duty.” Alex was appreciative, compassionate, and authentic—all qualities that were evident as he interacted with contestants and viewers at home.
Jeopardy will never be the same. Hopefully Ken Jennings will be the new host and he will add his touch to the show, but there is simply no replacing the person who dealt out clues for the past 37 years.
I’ll take, I miss you for $1,000, Alex. Don’t Blink.