What the Hell Is Going on With 'Wheel of Fortune'?

David Becker/GettyImages

Wheel of Fortune is a perfectly serviceable show for people who don't want to think too hard while remaining sedentary but will always be a distant second to its time-slot companion Jeopardy!. And that's just fine because the program has put together a 47-year run and turned both Pat Sajak and Vanna White into superstars while making a ton of money. A weird thing has happened, though, over the past few months as a spate of bizarre moments have gone viral on social platforms and low-brow blogging sites like the one you are currently perusing.

First there was a controversial finish back in December that pitted co-workers against each other in nasty debate. Last month, three contestants found themselves in the ridiculing barrel after failing to solve a rather simple puzzle. The jokes grew so pervasive that Sajak himself stepped in to plead for some humanity. Then a few days later Sajak himself stepped in it when he joked about a contestant's toe.

Weird vibes all around.

Anyway the latest incident involves some confusion over paddle boats and pedal boats.

Now, perhaps this is a regional thing but I have never heard of a pedal boat. Not once. It's always been paddle boat. Your mileage may vary. So my first instinct was to blame Wheel for such an incomprehensible puzzle. Then I realized that there were D's and A's on the board when someone guessed "paddle boat" and you absolutely need to be better than that when trying to solve. No matter how confident you may be.

Cursory research, of course, provides the required background on pedal boats but you can rest assured I'll die before ever adopting the term. Paddle boat for life.

The larger point — if there is one — is that Wheel of Fortune has suddenly become our most scrutinized game show. It's rare that a week goes by without some wild stuff emerging in grainy Twitter video to perplex a nation. All press is good press?