Thank goodness the host is chill, because Monday’s “Jeopardy!” show was on the tense side.
Between one contestant feverishly pumping the game show buzzer like it was a malfunctioning lighter at a concert in 1987 and another nervously shifting her weight back and forth behind the podium, it was a debonair Aaron Rodgers and returning champ Dennis Chase, rocking a patterned bowtie with a striped shirt, keeping things grounded.
Rodgers kicked off his second week as guest host in midseason form — reciting one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, reading a clue about Pythagoras, Epicurus, Socrates and Diogenes as if they were old friends and sliding in a quick endorsement for “Reno 911!” when the Nevada-set “Cops” parody that features inept deputies and police uniform short shorts for men turned up on the board.
“Yes!” Rodgers said when Chase answered it correctly. “It’s a great show.”
For those viewers who still find Rodgers a little too low energy, monotone or, as some have bluntly pointed out on social media, boring, actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore brought some bubbly to the half-hour as she read the Drew’s Clues for the Famous Families category.
In an interview with Peter King of NBC Sports over the weekend, longtime “Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards said rehearsing to host the show is one thing, doing it for real is another.
“The intensity goes up in the real game, which Aaron found out,” Richards told King. “You can see, even with the second show, his voice got better, his command got better, he started to enjoy it and have fun. But the truth is, you never truly relax. You’ve got the open, introducing the categories, 15 questions, the short interviews with the players, 15 more questions, 30 questions in Double Jeopardy, sum up, introduce Final Jeopardy, then do that, and through it all, you’re the arbiter of every question.”
According to King’s story, Rodgers spent three days on set at Sony Studios in Culver City, California, in mid-February. It was rehearsals on the first day, followed by two days of filming 10 shows — two in the morning and three in the afternoon each day.
“At the end of the three days, Aaron was exhausted,” Richards said to King. “But he was so complimentary to everyone in the studio and on the team. We were his offensive linemen for those three days. He treated us all so well. He hated to go, and we hated to see him go.”
Rodgers is the fifth guest host to step behind the lectern since legendary host Alex Trebek died in November. Richards, Ken Jennings, Katie Couric and Dr. Mehmet Oz have also all taken a turn. Anderson Cooper, Bill Whitaker, Savannah Guthrie, Mayim Bialik and Sanjay Gupta are still to come, with possibly others to be announced before a permanent host is named.
Rodgers has made no secret of his desire to land the full-time job and has said he thinks he could accommodate the game show’s filming schedule while still playing for the Green Bay Packers.
“What I find fascinating about Aaron, is his second career could be better than his first,” Richards said in the King interview. He also teased a fun Packers-related moment on the show coming up this week that has Rodgers “exasperated.”
Rodgers added another $25,500 from Monday’s show to his first-week total of $117,725 to be donated to his selected charity, the North Valley Community Foundation.
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Follow Kendra Meinert on Twitter @KendraMeinert.