New Castle News

February 26, 2014

The Couch Potato: ‘Wheel’ and ‘Jeopardy’ like part of the family

The Couch Potato
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — There are few constants in life.

The sun shining in the day, the moon glowing at night and beyond that, not much else can be counted on day in and day out.

In my own life, I have seen relatives pass, relationships end, people move on and just about everything else come to an eventual end.

When I think about the constants in my own life, only my parents have been there from the start. They are reliable, loving and always there, and that is comforting. It would be for anyone.

Believe it or not, the intro to this column is setting up something completely ridiculous, but still remarkable, I think. Because in a world filled with endings, television has given people my age one remarkable constant — “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.”

Somehow these shows just keep chugging along and delivering the goods. It’s hard for me to imagine my childhood, my teenage years, college days and now adulthood without these shows playing in the background.

Whether we were eating dinner, playing a game, talking on the couch or just looking for an engaging half hour of television, “Jeopardy” and “Wheel” were always there on the TV.

My mom is the undisputed champion of “Wheel of Fortune,” and she’ll be the first to tell you this if you ask her. I was too young to remember this, but if I’ve heard this next story once, I’ve heard it a thousand times.  

My mom and dad were watching “Wheel” one night and my mom got up to do the dishes. She was in the kitchen and my dad was still watching in the living room. The puzzle was two words, five letters each and there were no letters yet up on the board. My dad yelled in to explain the puzzle and told her it was a person. My mom yelled, “Roger Moore,” who is a former James Bond actor, and sure enough, she turned out to be right.

Fast forward a number of years to when I was in high school. We used to get two NBC stations, one out of Pittsburgh and one from Youngstown, and they each showed “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune” from 7 to 8 p.m., but in reverse order. So at 7, my parents and sister watched “Wheel of Fortune” while I was off in my room working on homework or something. I came out at 7:30, and they switched over to the other station where the same episode of “Wheel” was playing again. I didn’t know that they had watched it already, and as the puzzles came up with one or two letters, they would guess it correctly. I was in shock, as I could not believe how good they were at getting the puzzles correct. I think they finally told when it was over what they had done.

When it comes to “Jeopardy,” there is no better format for a quiz show that allows you to compete at home. I spent a good part of my childhood trying to beat my dad, to no avail, but continually trying nonetheless.

In adulthood, Mrs. Couch Potato and I used to play all of the time before we had the French Fries, but still get in a game every once a while. Mrs. Couch Potato’s problem is she can’t block out the noise from the kids, while I can laser-focus in. Either way, I think she’s beat me once in eight years, but that’s because I was sick or something. At least I’ll tell myself that, anyway.

Regardless of how you feel about these two shows, you can’t deny that they have been staples of modern-day television. As the hosts get older, I seriously ponder what the plan is when they decide to step down, and the answers worry me.  

My hope is that Pat, Vanna and Alex are the only hosts the shows ever know, because like Drew Carey on “The Price is Right,” it just feels wrong with somebody else in charge. Even though Mrs. Couch Potato doesn’t like Pat, which I think is blasphemy.

Anyway, I hope they all keep on hosting as long as possible. Like a parent who has been reliable, loving and always there, it will be extremely hard to say goodbye.

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