The first “Jeopardy!” episode without host Alex Trebek aired on Monday.
Following the iconic game show host’s tragic death last year due to pancreatic cancer, “Jeopardy!” has elected to line up several guest hosts until a replacement is named, and frequent champ Ken Jennings is first on the list.
He took to the stage for Monday’s episode, and in Trebek fashion, offered a brief monologue in tribute to the late host before kicking off the game.
“You know, sharing this stage with Alex Trebek was one of the greatest honors of my life,” he began. “Not many things in life are perfect, but Alex did this job pretty much perfectly for more than 36 years, and it was even better up close.”
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Jennings continued: “We were dazzled by his intelligence, his charm, his grace; really, there’s no other word for it.”
The star then appeared to temporarily get choked up.
“Like all ‘Jeopardy!’ fans, I miss Alex very much and I thank him for everything he did for all of us,” Jennings concluded. “Let’s be totally clear, no one will ever replace the great Alex Trebek. But we can honor him by playing the game loved.”
Buy-and-large, fans were pleased to see Jennings and were fans of his emotional message.
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“#jeopardy truly isn’t the same without Alex Trebek, but Ken Jennings provides *some* sense of normalcy,” one fan tweeted. “Except I started crying during his tribute to Alex at the beginning of the show.”
“Not me instantly sobbing during Ken Jennings’ monologue about Alex on Jeopardy,” said another.
A third added: “Ken Jennings did a great job in his first episode. He gave a very touching opening statement and was quite personable. Alex Trebek loved Jeopardy and thought very highly of Ken Jennings. No one can ever replace him, but I think Ken did Alex proud.”
“Ken Jennings out here making me cry,” noted yet another.
“Watching #Jeopardy and Ken Jennings is great but I still miss Alex,” a fifth viewer noted.
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Another audience member commended Jennings for being “a nice contrast” to Trebek and offered up their “vote” to make him the “permanent host.”
The final jeopardy episode featuring Trebek aired on Friday and elicited emotional responses from viewers.
A week ago, the iconic host kicked off an episode with a touching message of hope at the top of the show.
“Hello, ladies and gentlemen, you’ll recall that about a month ago, I asked all of you to take a moment to give thanks for all of the blessings that you enjoy in your lives,” he began. “Now today, a different kind of message.”
Trebek continued: “This is ‘the season of giving,’ I know you want to be generous with your family, your friends, your loved ones, but today I’d like you to go one step further.”
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He asked fans to “open up” their hands and hearts “to those who are still suffering” as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and “people who are suffering through no fault of their own.”
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“We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society,” Trebek continued. “And if we all pitch in just a little bit, we’re gonna get there.”
Trebek served as the host of “Jeopardy!” since 1984.