The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: Goodbye to a Legend

There were a few things I debated choosing for this feature this week. This Is Us featured a powerful moment for Kate, as she confronted the man who abused her as a teenager and spoke to the pain many women carry with them for years after damaging relationships. The Rookie set the tone for its new season with a few strong speeches about accountability, privilege, and the need for change in policing that made me feel hopeful about the direction the show is going to take. And of course, my beloved Buffalo Bills pulled off another victory on national TV yesterday.

But I couldn’t talk about TV this week without talking about the moment that moved me the most—Alex Trebek’s final episode of Jeopardy!, which aired on Friday.

I grew up with Jeopardy!, and Trebek’s voice is probably more familiar to me than the voice of some family members. Playing along with Jeopardy! is a daily pastime in my house, and my whole extended family gets involved when we get together for birthdays or dinners at my grandmother’s house. Jeopardy! was even a topic of conversation at my cousin’s wedding, with my relatives debating whether or not James Holzhauer was good or bad for the game. (For the record, I am a huge fan of Jeopardy James and genuinely hoped I’d see him on my trips to Las Vegas over the last couple of years.)

Alex Trebek felt like family in the way only a long-running TV personality can feel. Whether he was asking contestants about their strange hobbies or teaching me new facts about geography and opera or even showing up in Disney World on Ellen’s Energy Adventure (to remind us that brain power is the one source of power that will never run out), he was a constant in my life as I grew from a kid who had no idea what was going on to an adult who has been known to dance around the kitchen after running a category and dreams of making it onto the show herself one day. And even as he battled cancer, he was still a presence in my home and the homes of so many fans—we grew even more attached to him because he let us see his vulnerability, which in turn allowed us to see his strength and determination.

There have been many celebrity deaths that have cut deep, but there’s something about Trebek’s that feels different—more personal. Maybe it’s because he felt like a daily dinner guest; maybe it’s because his gentle demeanor was often a balm for the soul after watching the news that would air before Jeopardy! So many of us who grew up with Jeopardy! don’t know a world without Trebek; he was our longest-tenured teacher. 

A legend like Trebek deserves as many tributes as possible, and the one Jeopardy! prepared for him on Friday night was a lovely look back at his career—his hairstyles, his funny moments, his family, and his genuine love for his job. He was a man who guided us through a game that taught us many things, and in his final months, he also taught us a lot about facing your own mortality with grace and honesty.

Television won’t be the same without him, but it’s more than that. Dinnertime at my house—and the houses of so many people I know—won’t be the same without him.

That’s quite a legacy to leave behind.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

9 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: Goodbye to a Legend

  1. “What is brain power, Alex?” will always be what sums up Alex Trebek to me. (That and “Zip it, Judy.”) I cried so hard watching this episode. The tribute at the end was sweet and obviously necessary, but what really got to me was how normal everything that came before it was. It was just an episode of Jeopardy! hosted by Alex Trebek. Somehow that made it hit harder that we won’t ever get that again.

    • The sadness I feel knowing we won’t even get to see him in EPCOT anymore cuts deep. And I totally agree. There was something so real and deeply sad about it being a normal episode. Because that’s how life works. You often don’t know your last day is going to be your last day. And that felt like a really powerful example of that fact. And now I’m just going to go cry again.

  2. I don’t know why I was acting like I had any intention of actually choosing between multiple moments from my TV week when both was always the way I was going to go 😉

    So starting with The Rookie! Specifically, Wesley and Commander West’s speeches in this episode. I really love both of these actors to begin with, I’ve had a crush on Shawn Ashmore since I was 12 and Mike Beach was always so good to fans on The 100 and it’s left me with an eternal soft spot for both of them. But even without that, they nailed their speeches and it makes me feel good about the direction this show is planning to take. Wesley’s frustration at Nolan not getting the reality of his situation coupled with his knowledge that it would be a very different situation if Nolan were one of his regular clients led to a moment that was both accurate and needed as well as feeling very in character. Then when you add Commander West’s speech on the importance of IA and how often they’re vilified (which Beach just knocked out of the park), I feel like the writers are really taking their roles seriously this season and trying to add something to what the network procedural genre can be.

    Moving on to The Expanse, I have to sing Wes Chatham’s praises at all times. He plays someone who isn’t inherently a good person but who cares deeply for his people so beautifully and makes that division between the violence he’s capable of and the softness he can show feel seamless and make perfect sense. Amos is my very favorite character on this show and way up there for favorite male characters in general (I have a type, he’s basically Eliot Spencer in space) and in his separation from the rest of his chosen family, we get to see just how much they have influenced and changed him. He knows he is missing a standard moral compass, his aim growing up was survival by any means possible. But he’s also chosen to surround himself with people he knows are good in a way he doesn’t know how to be and let them show him the right thing to do. And in this week’s episode, he realized how far he had slipped back into his old self and how much he needs to get back to them and hearing him specifically vocalizing that broke my heart a little in the best way.

    • I love hearing you talk about The Expanse, but of course, I am primarily here to yell at you about The Rookie and how SHOCKED I am that this is going well so far. 😉

      Both of those moments you pointed out were handled perfectly. Wesley was the perfect character to remind Nolan that he’s getting special treatment because he’s seen the other side of it through this Black clients. And Commander West’s speech was perfect. One of the most frustrating things about police procedurals is the way they make IA always seem like the enemy, and I appreciated that being directly called out here. It marked a turning point for this show, and after last night’s episode, I’m glad to see that tone is here to stay. It was also really seamlessly integrated into the storytelling. It didn’t feel like a “very special episode.” It felt natural to bring these issues up and to have them brought up by those specific characters (who happen to be played by great actors). I’m really excited to see where the show goes this season, which is not what I thought I’d be saying a few months ago.

    • I had to jump in here real quick to say having a character that is basically “Eliot Spencer in space” is now something I am very much looking forward to whenever I get to The Expanse!!

      Also, very much yes to those The Rookie moments. I was pleasantly surprised that they handled those so well and it didn’t feel forced into the narrative, it actually felt very natural and real (and needed). And of course that the actors delivering those moments are excellent doesn’t hurt. 😉

  3. This is a lovely post about Alex Trebek. My family isn’t a Jeopardy one so I have very little familiarity with him, but he sounds like he was a great guy and he’ll be very missed.

    My pick for the best thing I watched last week was The Rookie’s season premiere. It was such a good episode, and pleasantly surprised me in a number of ways. The way they handled the main storyline was totally different than most shows would do it, and I think I enjoyed it because of that. It was less about the drama of the story, and more about the realities of the situation and the choices Nolan had made in the process. Along with the great moments about accountability, privilege, and the way the IA department is usually regarded, one of my favorite parts of the episode was the storyline of Angela and Wesley and her unexpected pregnancy. I adored Wesley’s speech reminding Angela that maybe this wasn’t exactly the way they had planned it, but that she wasn’t alone – that while a lot of things might change, their partnership was not one of those things. His comment about how he’ll still cry seeing her walking down the aisle and she’ll still make fun of him for it for the rest of their lives was just perfect, and such a great representation of their dynamic. I love those two so much, and I’m very excited to see their journey through pregnancy and a wedding.

    • I love everything you had to say about The Rookie’s premiere! It was such a great thesis statement for how they’re going to handle things this season, and I’m excited to see that tone and careful examination of real issues continue.

      I’m also so happy you brought up Angela and Wesley because they made me so happy! They’re such a great couple who balance each other so well. I absolutely love the way they make Angela such a badass but also give her these real moments of vulnerability, and this episode made me even more excited for their wedding.

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