The best emcees do more than throw it to commercial and eliminate contestants. They’re also a key ingredient into what can turn a show into a long-running franchise.
“America’s Next Top Model”
Strength: She knows what you need to do if you want to get on top, and is generous with her advice to aspiring models — especially when preaching how being different can work to your advantage.
Weakness: Can’t resist the cheesy skits and over-the-top drama queen moments, all the while being robotic as she hands out her patented line about the beautiful ladies standing before her.
“Dancing With the Stars”
Strength: A veteran host who is wickedly agile with the quips and ad libs as he glides through his duties like a ballroom king.
Weakness: Often seems to forget that he’s hosting “Dancing With the Stars,” not “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
“So You Think You Can Dance?”
Strength: She’s cuter than passel of pups, with a quirky charisma that suits the show well.
Weakness: Her fast-chat style and thick accent result in pronunciations that are unrecognizable or easily mocked.
Strength: Every bachelor needs a wing man, and he’s always there offering support to the contestant struggling to make tough decisions.
Weakness: Often fades into the background, making him less than memorable as a host.
“The Amazing Race”
Strength: Best one-eyebrow hitch in the business, and he can rattle off the detours and roadblocks rules like no other.
Weakness: Never gets enough airtime so viewers can see how he might interact more with the contestants.
Strength:A classy, beautiful woman who knows her way around the runway and isn’t afraid to express her opinion in a way that’s not disarming.
Weakness: She’s not always successful in straddling the conflicting jobs as host and judge, which require her to be both hand-holder and executioner.
Strength: She respects the chefs and the craft of making fine food, never slipping down that easy slope of being snide or bitchy.
Weakness: Sometime a little conflict is good, and although her even-handed style is admirable, a little spice would be nice.
Strength: Probst knows how to stir up those simmering hostilities, often throwing a match on a situation and watching it flame up like a tribal council bonfire.
Weakness: After 20 seasons, how long can he keep the sparkle in traditional lines such as, “OK, survivors. Ready?”
Strength: You can’t deny this passionate potty-mouth gets the chefs sizzling in the kitchen to the verge of a total meltdown.
Weakness: Screaming like a drill sergeant gets annoying, and it’s only a matter of time before someone drops dead from stress right on the spot.
Strength: From the start he’s provided the lifeline to contestants as they face the judges’ oft-harsh comments, interpreting their remarks for both singers and viewers.
Weakness: Spends too much time chatting with the judges, grabbing face time when the show needs to be moving along so it doesn’t bleed into “Glee.”
“The Biggest Loser”
Strength: Not easy to take people to task who already have considerable self-respect issues, but this woman, who has freely admitted to having her own weight problems, keeps contestants honest and inspired.
Weakness: There’s not a spontaneous bone in her body as she recites the predictable scripts without any real feeling.
Strength: Never wavers in the boardroom or worries about putting all the contestants on the hot seat in determining who gets fired.
Weakness: He can be random in his decisions, often letting his feelings for a particular contestant — particularly in the celebrity edition — cloud his judgment.