About the game show JEOPARDY!


I’ve had several questions from various people about the game show JEOPARDY!, on which I appeared in 1998.

When will you be on again?

Never. Unless you make it to the Tournament of Champions, you’re done when you lose in the Alex Trebek era, which started in 1984. This means, technically if you had played in the Art Fleming era, you could theoretically participate again. Fleming last hosted in 1979, so someone 21 then would now only be 64. But most would be far older.

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be on again. The social media buzz about contestants’ sexual orientation, gender identity, income, personality quirks, et al. is irritating.

And the hosts seem to focus a lot on the statistics, especially the players who win a number of games and become dubbed “super champions.” “Chris won answered 34 questions, getting 31 correctly.” It’s like hearing too many baseball stats: “Smith batted .412 against lefties in day games.” You can find the numbers on the website.

Speaking of the hosts, a lot of social media chatter about Mayim Bialek’s apparel and Ken Jenings’ alleged haughtiness. Ken Levine complained about this here. Some of it I think is correct, such as accepting incomplete answers, such as 90210 for Beverly Hills 90210.

Regardless, I look forward to the selection of a permanent host. Or hosts, probably, since there is going to be an hour-long Celebrity JEOPARDY once a week on ABC.

It’s a young person’s game

Trebek was fond of saying that he knew about 70% of the answers. However, a younger player would always beat him, he declared, because his response rate would be slower. Watching the show daily, I know this to be true. It might be a clue about a movie I’ve seen, but I can’t retrieve the title in the allotted time.

So I’m excited when I actually get a response correctly and quickly that NO ONE gets right, or even rings in. From one game:

IT’S A “SYN” “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” is one way of explaining it. What is synergy? (I blame Weird Al for knowing this.)

BODIES OF WATER The Conchos River, the longest in the state of Chihuahua, is a tributary of this one. What is the Rio Grande?

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNERS: 1961: this Swedish Secretary-General of the U.N., posthumously. Who was Dag Hammarskjöld? (Some answers I get BECAUSE I’m older than the players.)

9-, 10-, and 11-LETTER WORDS: From German and Yiddish, it’s the act of offering unsolicited advice to someone who’s playing a game. What is kibitzing? (BTW, I HATE kibitzing.)

The ToC

I’m on record opposing the loss of the limit of five days as champion. In particular, someone who dominates a game is boring for me to watch. It’s like seeing a 45-14 football game.

That said, this fall’s Tournament of Champions is going to be really interesting. That’s because a lot of these players have already faced each other.

Jonathan Fisher (11 wins) beat Matt Amodio (38)
Eric Ahasic (6) beat Ryan Long (17)
Megan Wachspress (6) beat Eric Ahasic
Zach Newkirk (6) beat Brian Chang (7)
Amy Schneider (40) beat Andrew He (5)

When they’re seeded, I’m sure the JEOPARDY producers will make sure these pairs do not meet in the first round.

Check Ken Levine’s interview with Suzanne Stone who spent 38 years working at JEOPARDY here and here.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “About the game show JEOPARDY!”

  1. While I do concede some of the criticisms of Mayim Bialik on the Ken Levine thread, I did find some of it rather mean-spirited, and I wonder if people shouldn’t try to remember that “game show host” is a very different type of job than “actress”. I suspect she’ll grow into the role just fine as she goes (assuming she sticks with it), much as Trevor Noah did on “The Daily Show” (not a game show, but another example of someone taking over an established property from a beloved host). Trebek didn’t have to grow into Jeopardy! himself as much, because he had already been a game show host.

  2. Kelly – While I agree that some of the criticism of Mayim is mean-spirited, I think a lot of the problem is the work effort. Trebek came in early and knew the board cold. Jennings does the same thing. Based on the info I got from Stu Shostak’s show with his resident TV critic/expert Wesley Hyatt and Mark Evanier, Mayim does not. The show, as I understand, takes longer to record because she’s not as prepared as Trebek or Jennings. Some of the guest hosts prepped more, I believe. Joe Buck seemed to, maybe Savannah Guthrie. The announcer iS different. But she STILL doesn’t say that the player with less than $1000 in the first round can bet up to $1000 and double that in DJ. The contestants mostly know this, but an audience member may not.

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