LeVar Burton Finally Guest-Hosted ‘Jeopardy’ Last Night and It Felt…Right

LeVar Burton Finally Guest-Hosted ‘Jeopardy’ Last Night and It Felt…Right

Fan-driven internet campaigns have certainly become A Thing in recent years and, unfortunately, they can be rather hit-or-miss. Many focus on trivial and hate-filled demands instead of bringing awareness to anything more meaningful. Fortunately, that was not the case with the online push in favor of LeVar Burton, former host of the Reading Rainbow educational program and most well-known for his turn as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, to become the next host of Jeopardy! after the passing of the iconic Alex Trebek.

Last night, Burton became the latest celebrity to guest-host the beloved game show and, honestly, it just felt right.

As excited as many of us were to see Burton finally get his shot behind the podium, nobody wanted him to be there more than LeVar Burton himself. Take it straight from the man himself, who tweeted shortly after the announcement of his Jeopardy! guest host stint: “I am overjoyed, excited, and eager to be guest-hosting Jeopardy!, and will do my utmost best to live up to your faith you [put] in me. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! Go ahead and take my word for it, this time.” Burton’s spirit of humbleness and appreciation continued on the air, as he opened the show last night with this statement:

“As a longtime viewer of the show, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to guest host Jeopardy! And I’m proud to be here to honor Alex’s legacy, and I’m gonna do my best to ensure that these talented Jeopardy! contestants enjoy their moment here as well.”

As you might expect, his appearance on the game show had an immediate effect on social media trends both in the United States and worldwide. Countless fans took to Twitter to live-tweet the show and encourage others to watch, in the hopes of boosting the ratings and proving that the online demand for Burton translates to actual viewing numbers. Should this entire week go well across the board, it’s not impossible to imagine Burton eventually being awarded the hosting job full-time.

Burton’s Performance, and What He Means to Fans

LeVar Burton did exceedingly well for a first-timer, though the show wasn’t entirely without its awkward moments and rookie mistakes. An early hiccup occurred when one of the contestants tried to squeak out an answer after time ran out on him, leading to a brief moment of confusion on Burton’s part as the next contestant attempted to jump in and answer in turn. She guessed incorrectly, but it wasn’t clear whether the initial contestant’s answer was wrong or he simply ran out of time. Before the “get to know the contestants” segment after the very next commercial break, however, Burton magnanimously owned up to his minor mistake and, likely at the direction of producers, awarded that question (and its $600) to the woman.

The rest of the program went swimmingly, with Burton sliding into the role with ease as he relied on his decades-spanning experience hosting Reading Rainbow, as well as the natural charisma that has always made him such a watchable presence. Importantly, he never once attempted to make the proceedings about himself, though he was living out what’s clearly been a longtime dream of his. Alex Trebek had a very similar approach to the job, picking and choosing moments with precision to let his deadpan wit and dry humor add even more enjoyment to the overall show.

This, among many reasons, is why longtime fans of LeVar Burton have thought he’d be a perfect fit for the Jeopardy! gig. Burton has become an adored figure among Star Trek circles, not just for portraying the fan-favorite engineer with sensitivity and passion (he also went on to flex his directing muscles with several episodes of various Star Trek spin-offs and even episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles as recently as this year) but also for his real-life heroics in philanthropy. A quick look at his Twitter feed this week shows a compassionate advocate for medical research and humanitarian causes. Of course, Burton signed off his first Jeopardy! episode by saying that the total winnings of the contestants would be matched and donated to Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit organization supporting children’s literacy.

Burton’s guest-hosting duties will span this entire week until July 30. We’ll be watching every episode and hoping there’ll be much more to come soon after.

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