Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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For the Love of God: No More Special Jeopardy Episodes Ever

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 31, 2007

Some matters require divine intervention

I was never the biggest fan of Jeopardy! growing up–for the great majority of my life, I’ve sucked at anything trivia-related that didn’t in some way involve music, movies or TV, so the general knowledge necessary to perform adequately at a show like Jeopardy! was never really within my grasp (not to mention that the cancellation of the too-soon-for-this-world Rock & Roll Jeopardy left a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth). But recently, I’ve gotten into it–I still suck at all but one or two categories per round (the pop culture one and the vocab-y one, usually), but I realize that I still find it pretty interesting. It’s just a great game show format–rapid-fire trivia with no unnecessary Millionaire-like pauses for dramatic effect–and it feels pretty great when I actually know the answer to something. Plus, I guess it wouldn’t kill me to learn a thing or two about stuff out of my normal realm of trivia dominance.

But I haven’t been able to watch it for the last two and a half weeks, and it’s starting to piss me off. For two weeks, it was Teen Tournament time, and I couldn’t bring myself to see how I did against a bunch of teenagers. Not because I consider myself above them or anything–I’m quite sure that they’d kick my ass if pitted against me on the show–but because playing along with it at home is a lose/lose situation. If I know some of the answers, fucking wow, I’m able to hold my own against a bunch of high school kids. And if I don’t know the answers, well, then, how pathetic is that? Either way I’m guaranteed to feel bad about myself, and that’s one thing I certainly don’t need from my TV watching.

But far, far worse than the teen tournament is this Celebrity Jeopardy thing they’ve been doing at Radio City Music Hall this week (and maybe next week too, but dear lord I hope not). And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the SNL skit–it’s just a couple of A or B-list celebrities playing the game in front of a live audience. This should be bearable–hey, at least they’re adults, and successful ones at that, but that’s obviously no guarantee that they’d be good at Jeopardy!. It’d make me feel pretty damn good to see Regis Philbin flop in front of a live audience when he’s behind the buzzer for once.

Unfortunately, the formatting of the thing makes it beyond unwatchable. The bantering is deadly, and worse, it’s very time consuming, as are the new “special” clues, where a celebrity guest comes out to “help” with the clue (the one I saw involved one of the Wicked stars singing about half of one of the show’s songs, before asking a barely-relevant question about Wizard of Oz). But even more annoyingly, the audience claps after every single answer. And the contestants wait for it. Usually by the time of the first commercial break, half the board wil be cleared, at the end of Celebrity Jeopardy’s first act, they were at most seven or eight questions in. That was all I could stand to watch anyway.

To take this show away from me now like this is unforgivable. It’s become a rock of my nightly TV watching, something I turn to whenever I’m home to watch it. Unlike other relatively reliable nightly programming (namely the Simpsons, Seinfeld and Scrubs re-runs), it’s actually new every night, and there’s no such thing as a “bad episode”. It’s a guaranteed half-hour of solid, involving entertainment in an otherwise murky and uncertain lineup of summertime viewing. Plus–and luckily, this should come as a shock to absolutely no one at this point–I need my trivia fix. In the college bowl off-season, I only get so many outlets, and even though it’s not my prefererd subject matter, Jeopardy! was doing a nice job of tiding me over until the school year starts once more.

So fuck this shit. Give me back my normal formatting, and give me back my ordinary intellectual contestants, who I don’t hate and who I don’t feel bad about being absolutely demolished by. Some formulas just shouldn’t be tinkered with.

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5 Responses to “For the Love of God: No More Special Jeopardy Episodes Ever”

  1. Chris said

    Jeopardy! is on hiatus right now for the summer. The Summer Teen Tournament was the last run of new episodes of the season. There are six weeks of reruns (probably two weeks of the celebrity shows, then the College Tournament and the Tournament of Champions) before the new season starts.

    I don’t think you’ll find any real fan of the show that actually enjoys the celebrity weeks now. It was different when it was just celebrities playing the game. Some of them, like David Duchovny or Mark McEwen, were really good at it, a la Mark McGrath on Rock N Roll Jeopardy. But then they had to go and tart it up with the “person comes out and takes five minutes to give one clue” junk. And it all went to pot.

  2. Eric said

    You completely echo my sentiments. However, I gave in and watched last night to see Curt Schilling, Bradley Whitford’s wife and some dude from Desparate Housewives.

    Not a good half-hour, except seeing Schilling fail is always fun.

  3. anton said

    It’s pleasantly ironic that David Duchovny was good at real Celebrity Jeopardy, since he was one of the funniest guests on SNL’s Celebrity Jeopardy.

    “And Jeff Goldblum… apparently doing Tai Chi…”

  4. Joe said

    I watched this last week in the doctor’s waiting room. Other people around me were answering the questions out loud.

    Has Wheel of Fortune completely abandoned their “normal” formatting? It’s been years since I’ve seen an episode that wasn’t teen WOF, college WOF, professional athletes WOF, family WOF, WOF on Miami Beach, WOF in Hawaii, etc.

  5. Juliana said

    I have to say… tonight’s episode wouldn’t have been that bad if they hadn’t used the same questions that they used during the Teen Tournament.

    Plus I can’t really say anything good for Neil Patrick Harris.
    I’ve never liked him.

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