Anniversary Post: Jeopardy!

[And here I was going to write about Jeopardy! and it turns out I did last year. So I’m just going to run it today because I’m literally falling asleep at my keyboard. I keep waiting for life to get easier, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Although getting rid of my publisher’s constant insults is a big step in the right direction. -FM]

Jeopardy!The game show Jeopardy! is 52 years old today. But it hasn’t been on all that time. It started on NBC and ran from 1964 through 1979, with a two year absence from 1976 through 1978. During that period, it was hosted by Art Fleming. Then, after four years off the air, it was brought back in syndication with the new host Alex Trebek. It was created by Merv Griffin, who created pretty much every “normal” game show you can think of. (All right, that’s a vast exaggeration.)

When I was a kid, I loved game shows. But I hated Jeopardy! There are good reasons for that. Now I kind of like it because I’m good at it. But it is just a quiz show. Providing the questions for the answers is very slightly clever. But it is designed this way simply to hide the fact that it is a boring quiz show. Eight year old Frank was no fool.

I’ve written three articles about the show. The first was simply, Jeopardy! In it, I explained why I would never try out for the show. Short answer: the up side is not compensation enough for the potential that I would humiliate myself. The second article was, “Power Players” on Jeopardy! Out of Touch. I was shocked that media figures were so ignorant and I commented on how the questions were easier for these elites than they are for normal contestants. And the last one was my finally getting around to answering a question that has been on my mind for years, Maximum Possible Win on Jeopardy! How much money could you walk away with on a single episode if you got every question right and maximized the “daily doubles”? $566,400. But the most anyone has ever won on a single episode is only $77,000. Only ten people have ever made more than $50,000.

Happy birthday Jeopardy!

15 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Jeopardy!

        • Regarding the iframe, by the way – I’ve begun to suspect that it’s a security issue, not a bad-HTML issue. Might it be a settable option in the comment system? It’s not that important to me that I be able to embed videos, but it is starting to bug me that I’m doing something wrong.

          I just experimented – if I post malformed HTML, it saves. Try to post an iframe, and it just disappears – and if I click to Edit, it’s gone as if there’d never been anything there.

            • Thanks for that – as I said, the actual embedding/not embedding wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the nagging suspicion that it was a wetware fault on my end. (Or a PEBKAC situation, if you prefer.) I see that the plugin automatically converted my link from before, so…

              • Yeah, I understand. I’m glad you got me to check it out because I thought that everyone could just do it. It’s too bad. I’m not that keen on how the plugin works. But it’s better than nothing.

  1. The Jeopardy skits with Will Ferrel’s Sean Connery who hates Alex Trebek are one of the few things I ever liked on SNL.

    • Yes, it is very funny.

      I wrote an article about how the questions were easier on celebrity Jeopardy! I don’t think that’s the point of the skit, of course. But it is part of making sure that the prols don’t realize that the power elite just aren’t that smart.

      • Yeah, I once saw “Dr. Oz” and he couldn’t even handle the dumbed-down version.

        I had an online exchange with a super-bright person who was on the show and lost bad. She said what killed her is how many answers she knew, but either hesitated to push the button or got nervous and said the wrong answer.

        • Also, a big part of the game is how fast you can repeatedly press the button. But I also have a problem with people thinking the show has much to do with being smart. There are just some people who collect facts. And the questions are set up to give hints. So if you knowledge base is a mile wide and an inch deep, you are likely to do well. I remember a question about Gargantua and Pantagruel, and I thought, “Not one of those people have ever read the book.” On the plus side, the show does have a certain amount of dignity. The contestants aren’t required to act like they jut snorted a gram of cocaine.

          And Dr Oz! Isn’t he the ultimate symbol of American “meritocracy.” Oprah likes him so he’s a star.

  2. I am surprised you couldn’t think of anything else but since you are too worn out to write anything else out…

    However it was National Doctors Day so you could have riffed on that…maybe next year. Tomorrow is a day you can eventually write about how we bought the US Virgin Islands from the Danish.

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