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LeVar Burton has a shaky "Jeopardy!" debut, but he's still very much in this game

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28.07.2021

"Jeopardy!" producers have welcomed more than a dozen guest hosts to its podium since January, but only LeVar Burton arrives with the wind at his back. In sailing terms this is a boon. On land, a good gust can knock a person off balance which, in a figurative sense, explains Burton's struggle in his astronomically anticipated debut on Monday.

Among all of the contenders to permanently replace the late and adored Alex Trebek, Burton's tryout was designed to attract the highest level of attention and anticipation.

Late last year, the 13-time Emmy winner inspired a Change.org petition to persuade the show's producers and Sony Pictures Television to name him as Trebek's successor. It is still racking up signatures, with around 260,000 people having added their names at publication time. The prospect of Burton taking over for Trebek so excited the popular imagination that the New York Times gave him a lengthy profile. "The View" also invited him on to benevolently instruct Meghan McCain on the canard of cancel culture.

Opinion writers including yours truly have made the case for him to get the job based on his career qualifications, popularity and advocacy for education and research. Now that we've gotten a look at what he can do, my opinion hasn't changed.

Yes, he endured a few minor stumbles, including a misstated disqualification that led to points being restored to one contestant. Those only serve to emphasize Burton's humanity. It proves that seasoned veterans still get opening night jitters. Moreover it also show how badly Burton wants this job.

For a moment, let's remove affection and nostalgia's influence from the equation and contemplate the question behind this high-profile competition for one of television's most respected roles: What do we require from a "Jeopardy!" host? It's a simple yet deceptively complex consideration.

One of the many realizations this months-long marathon of tryouts has revealed is how uniquely difficult replacing Trebek is shaping up to be. His legacy is gigantic, both in terms of the show and on TV. As I previously........

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