Ready for Pat Sajak’s final spin of the wheel?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

June 7 will be a bittersweet day in TV history, as the final “Wheel of Fortune” hosted by Pat Sajak airs.

Sajak announced his retirement plans a year ago, allowing himself time for a VICT_RY L_P, naming of a successor and cleaning all the spare bullion out of the sofa in the dressing room.

“Wheel of Fortune” has been like comfort food or an oasis in a chaotic world, so millions of viewers are saddened by Sajak’s departure; but very few were truly caught off-guard by the announcement. The “Wheel” target audience is more likely to be shocked by defibrillators than by showbiz wheeling and dealing.

Not everyone is impressed with Sajak’s accomplishments, but that can be attributed to jealousy. (“Big deal. I could stand there for 41 seasons hosting a gameshow – if I hadn’t flunked Public Speaking and if I was remotely affable and if I had paid my dues in radio and if I didn’t have bone spurs and if they could fit the studio into my parents’ basement and if…”)

Many youngsters mistook “Wheel” for a science-fiction program. (“A dude sticks with the same job for more than six months? And he doesn’t get a cappuccino break and video-game break between each spin? Who writes this stuff – George Lucas???”)

Sajak is undoubtedly retiring at the perfect time. Not only does he have nothing else to prove, but societal pressures are starting to breathe down the neck of the broadcast. Maybe you heard about the contestant declaring, “Pat, I’d like to shoplift a vowel.” And don’t get me started on the discussions about changing the name of the show to “Wheel of Fortunes Stolen from the Exploited Masses.”

Speaking of changes, “Wheel” remains a Big Fish in the shrinking pond of traditional TV; but surely Sajak saw budget cuts looming. (Remember, the cast of the popular “Blue Bloods” had to accept a 25-percent pay cut just to get a final season.) Wheels are an extravagance, so why not go retro with “Sled of Fortune”? And Wild Cards could be replaced with business cards. (“The lighting director also empties septic tanks on the side.”)

“Wheel of Fortune” will still be in capable hands, as Vanna White has signed another two-year contract and Ryan Seacrest will slide into Sajak’s hosting position.

Things should chug right along, even though some viewers think Seacrest is already overexposed. Perhaps, since the same day he signed with “Wheel,” he also inked deals to host 13 bar mitzvahs, the election of the next pope and all eight hours of “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Millard Fillmore’s Birthday Eve” – as well as providing the voices of Siri, Alexa and the little voice in the back of your head that tells you to leave a note when you ding someone’s car in the parking garage.

Even Sajak will be around for at least three more years, in an off-screen capacity as “consultant.” Not sure what consulting a finely tuned machine needs, though. (“Pretty gown for Vanna? Sure, why not? Don’t forget commercial breaks! Braille Week? Somehow, I just don’t have a feel for it…”)

Speaking as someone who remembers Pat Sajak since his days as a Nashville weather forecaster, I hope he enjoys many happy adventures ahead.

And that his guardian angel isn’t constantly hyperventilating, “You moron! I can’t believe you don’t know the answer to this!”

Copyright 2024 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”

Controversial author Harlan Ellison once described the work of Danny Tyree as "wonkily extrapolative" and said Tyree's mind "works like a demented cuckoo clock."

Ellison was speaking primarily of Tyree’s 1983-2000 stint on the "Dan T’s Inferno" column for “Comics Buyer’s Guide” hobby magazine, but the description would also fit his weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades" column for mainstream newspapers.

Inspired by Dave Barry, Al "Li'l Abner" Capp, Lewis Grizzard, David Letterman, and "Saturday Night Live," "Tyree's Tyrades" has been taking a humorous look at politics and popular culture since 1998.

Tyree has written on topics as varied as Rent-A-Friend.com, the Lincoln bicentennial, "Woodstock At 40," worm ranching, the Vatican conference on extraterrestrials, violent video games, synthetic meat, the decline of soap operas, robotic soldiers, the nation's first marijuana café, Sen. Joe Wilson’s "You lie!" outburst at President Obama, Internet addiction, "Is marriage obsolete?," electronic cigarettes, 8-minute sermons, early puberty, the Civil War sesquicentennial, Arizona's immigration law, the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, armed teachers, "Are women smarter than men?," Archie Andrews' proposal to Veronica, 2012 and the Mayan calendar, ACLU school lawsuits, cutbacks at ABC News, and the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

Tyree generated a particular buzz on the Internet with his column spoofing real-life Christian nudist camps.

Most of the editors carrying "Tyree’s Tyrades" keep it firmly in place on the opinion page, but the column is very versatile. It can also anchor the lifestyles section or float throughout the paper.

Nancy Brewer, assistant editor of the "Lawrence County (TN) Advocate" says she "really appreciates" what Tyree contributes to the paper. Tyree has appeared in Tennesee newspapers continuously since 1998.

Tyree is a lifelong small-town southerner. He graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications. In addition to writing the weekly "Tyree’s Tyrades," he writes freelance articles for MegaBucks Marketing of Elkhart, Indiana.

Tyree wears many hats (but still falls back on that lame comb-over). He is a warehousing and communications specialist for his hometown farmers cooperative, a church deacon, a comic book collector, a husband (wife Melissa is a college biology teacher), and a late-in-life father. (Six-year-old son Gideon frequently pops up in the columns.)

Bringing the formerly self-syndicated "Tyree's Tyrades" to Cagle Cartoons is part of Tyree's mid-life crisis master plan. Look for things to get even crazier if you use his columns.