Before “Jeopardy!” there was “The Chase.”
Not in the grand scheme of things, obviously, but in the mythology of James Holzhauer.
In 2014, the Las Vegas sports bettor who would blossom into the phenom known as “Jeopardy James” won $58,333 on “The Chase,” the Game Show Network remake of the popular British quiz show. He comes full circle as one of the stars of the prime-time reboot, debuting at 9 p.m. Thursday on ABC.
Holzhauer alternates with his fellow “Jeopardy!” legends Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter each episode as The Chaser, the trivia master trying to keep contestants from walking away with prize money.
“I’ve been hoping for this job offer ever since” that 2014 experience, Holzhauer told the Review-Journal in November when the series was announced. “The Chaser must combine two of my favorite things: trivia smarts and the persona of a pro wrestling heel.”
While only one of the three stars in each episode — Jennings is up first, with Holzhauer thought to get the spotlight next week — the remaining two are shown periodically talking smack about the contestants in the offstage Chaser’s Lounge.
“The Chase” is a difficult series to explain, but it combines the buzzers of “Jeopardy!” with the theatricality of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” and a little of The Banker from “Deal or No Deal.”
It also adds to Holzhauer’s collection of nicknames, having christened him “The High Roller.”