Andy’s Weekly Thoughts: July 24–28, 2023

Welcome back to the tenth installment of Andy’s Weekly Thoughts, where I give my thoughts about various happenings in the world of Jeopardy!

Jeopardy’s Upcoming UK Version

Information about the upcoming UK version of Jeopardy! is starting to surface. According to UK game show information source Bother’s Bar, the hour-long episode will consist of two Jeopardy! Rounds (£25/£50/£75/£100/£150), followed by a Double Jeopardy! Round, and then Final Jeopardy. Bother’s Bar is predicting that wins will be in the range of £1,500. I’m not so sure. Stateside, an average win is in the range of about 35% to 40% of the total clue value of the board; even if it drops to 30% in the UK, that’s still going to be a shade under £3,000. (We’ll see who ends up being correct, though!)

Now That The Season’s Over: Yes, I Noticed This Too

In her fashion recap on Tuesday, Jeopardy! fashion connoisseur Lilly noted that “In the month of July, we have seen the majority of champions wearing a different outfit on Day 1 than is shown on their Contestant Zone headshot. Previously this had been a pretty rare anomaly worth pointing out— during the preceding six months of 2023 (January – June), the only other time an outfit mismatch like this occurred was Holly Hassel (June 14th).” As some who notices things like this—and generally doesn’t point it out when it happens, as I don’t want to be overt about spoiling that sort of a thing for my readership—I do find it annoying that the show’s web team has chosen this path, though I’m sure it wasn’t an intentional choice. It’s certainly one thing that I hope the web team tightens up for Season 40.

My Thoughts On Season 40’s Writing

The following is intended to be a very nuanced take on the major drama in the world of Jeopardy! regarding the writing for the early part of Season 40.

It’s unfortunately clear at this point that the AMPTP and its member production houses are going to continue to be greedy and not meet the very reasonable requests of the Writer’s Guild of America. For everyone who thinks that “repeated clues” are terrible, AI-generated content—where the AMPTP absolutely wants to go as a cost-saving measure—is absolutely going to be worse. There is absolutely no way that AI would ever be able to write content for Jeopardy! to nearly the same level that the show’s WGA writers write to.

But, I digress. It’s clear that Jeopardy! wants to get through this strike the same way that it got through the 2007–08 WGA strike: by reusing past clues. My thoughts on this development actually differ based on when the game boards were finalized. If these game boards were completely finalized before May 2, 2023, and were signed off on by the writers before the writers went on strike, I have absolutely no issue with “recycled” clues. The writers are welcome to put out whatever material that they would like, and if they think the best way to get through this era of the show is by re-using their best work, then I trust the writers. (And, as I’ve said multiple times to prospective contestants: use J! Archive. Go back 5-10 years, and study the material. It will help.) However, if these game boards were not finalized before the strike, and other workers are doing the work that the striking writers would otherwise do (that is, compiling and finalizing game material), then I hope that the WGA’s grievance policies hit Jeopardy! very hard for utilizing replacement workers in this instance. (And Jeopardy! would be very deserving of any grievances levied at it if it chose this route.)

I should also say: The Jeopardy Fan is an online publication dedicated to covering Jeopardy!. As best as I can tell, there have been no instructions from the WGA for publications to stop giving press coverage to struck productions—and until and unless that sort of directive comes from the WGA, I will continue to cover this show the same way that I always have.

Yes, I Said This Last Week, But It’s Really Worth Saying Again

As I said last week: there’s really a simple way for this strike to end, and that’s for the AMPTP to stop being greedy and give the WGA what the WGA is looking for.

In Conclusion

I’m sure that there will still be weekly columns throughout the summer; there’s certainly going to be enough news to warrant it!

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14 Comments on "Andy’s Weekly Thoughts: July 24–28, 2023"

  1. I’m going to give my thoughts on each of the four bullet points here…

    UK version – In my opinion, the formatting would be better off with 30/60/90/120/150 clues in the first two rounds and 60/120/180/240/300 in “Double” Jeopardy. There’s always been an even progression in clue value, so why stop now? Plus, having two Single Jeopardy rounds raises further questions about Daily Doubles. I wish they had just done the Celebrity Jeopardy format of Single/Double/Triple/Final.

    Outfit mishaps – I actually didn’t notice until Lilly pointed out, but after I did, I can’t not focus on it. Unless memory fails me, I don’t think this happened with 2-day or more champions. But yeah, between that, the failures of the website shortly following Ben Chan’s official loss, and the final scores for Game 1 of the Masters Final getting leaked a day in advance, I’m thinking there might need to be a change in the web team.

    AI-generated clues – I saw some of the attempts at writing AI generated clues on Twitter, and to put it simply, they’re too easy even for KIDS WEEK. Like, one of them was literally “this country built the Great Wall of China”. Unlike most things, I highly doubt AI will be able to make more complicated clues no matter how much detail people give the prompts. That would probably be the sole thing that would make me actually stop watching the show.

    Paying writers – This isn’t rocket science. And somehow, the AMPTP is still failing at it. I even saw a couple people on social media say that the writers are being greedy and unreasonable, which just left me stunned at how a human being thought typing that on their keyboard and posting it for the world to see is a good idea. (And yes, it was on Twitter.)

    I’ll still be on here pretty much every day throughout the summer, and even with the recycled clues thing, I can’t wait for S40 to start!

  2. Bill Vollmer | July 30, 2023 at 12:58 pm |

    You keep saying that the AMPTP should “quit being greedy” and, give the WGA “what it’s looking for.”
    I believe the best solution is compromsie. The AMPTP gives the WGA what it wants at an level less than their stated demands, while the WGA gives the AMPTP what it is looking for at the same level. The same goes for SAG-AFTRA in it’s dispute with the AMPTP.
    Nobody will be completely happy, but as I understand it, that is the best result from compromising.
    Moving onto a family rant, I keep seeing clickbait headlines about this former champion, and, that former champion “boycotting” the show until the WGA strike is over. Since the people refered to in the clickbait stories, have no official connection to Jeopardy until invited back for something like “Jeopardy Masters Tournament” their honoring the WGA “picket line” means nothing.
    Another clickbait headline claims a remark by Ken “cost” a contestant money. Watching the show, I saw nothing that came even close to what the US edition of a British tabloid website proclaimed.
    Only thing it proves is how popular Jeopardy is, and, to how “low” these sites will go to get people to click on them.

    • What is a level less than stated demands? Only 20% of writers lose their house? Some AI writing? No. No. No. You are 100% wrong here, Bill. WGA is the reasonable party here, their demands are reasonable, and the AMPTP wants to wring every last cent they can out of entertainment, to the detriment of the end product itself.

      • Katerina E. | July 31, 2023 at 12:54 pm |

        Likewise, on the SAG-AFTRA side, the AMPTP wants to be able to sign an extra to come in for one day of filming, at a flat fee, and have the rights to use and re-use the extra’s image and likeness in perpetuity at no additional compensation. Basically, they want to cut out as many actors and writers as they can and allow everything to be done by computers and programmers. Taken to its logical end, it’s all very dystopian and art will suffer for it.

      • Bill Vollmer | August 2, 2023 at 11:51 am |

        Everyone thinks that their demands are the “reasonable” ones, and, that the other’s are so wrong. Why can’t both be “reasonable” on some level?
        The writers have a right to make a living from their work, along with other rights similar to the performers. The producers have an obligation to keep costs down, so that they can make a profit for their investors. Too low on one side, no one wants to be a movie or TV writer. Too high on the other side, the producers have a hard time selling their product. Compromise is where the two curves meet, as we learned in economics.

        • Bill:

          Because one side’s demands are greedy, while the other side just wants to actually be able to pay for their housing and living expenses.

          If the CEOs want to make more of a profit for their investors, it, quite frankly can come out of their own compensation — which, right now, is currently well into eight figures for many.

          The fact that multiple people came out in the comments to tell you you’re wrong here might possibly give you some pause. Instead, people making eight figures don’t need you to carry water for them.

          • Bill Vollmer | August 5, 2023 at 4:31 pm |

            Andy; from your comments, you seem to be an “insider” from the writers side. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just that you are familar with the details of what the WGA is proposing, and, possibly with what the AMPTP is proposing as an counteroffer.
            I’m just an outisder. I know only the broad outline of the WGA’s proposal, which I find fair. Of course “the devil is in the details.” Possibly (though not probably) there might be something in the specifics I couldn’t support. Though I doubt it. On the other hand, I’ve seen nothing about a counteroffer from the AMPTP, so I can’t say anything on that.
            Does the AMPTP need me to “carry their water”? No, and, neither does the WGA. Both sides can take care of themselves, thank you very much.
            As an outsider I want both sides to get as much as they can from each other. That’s the comprise I envision

    • What the WGA wants is to be paid fairly for their work and to not be replaced by AI. The AMPTP offering anything less is just about as bad as not offering anything at all.

      • Bill Vollmer | August 2, 2023 at 11:58 am |

        IF the AMPTP’s counter offer to the WGA’s demands is truly equivalent to that, then they are fools. I find it hard to believe that intelligent businessmen are such fools. But then there is Elon Musk, who seems like he has to drastically remake Twitter to recoup his investment. Outside observers seem to feel he in ruining his product by doing that.

    • You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, Bill.

      • Bill Vollmer | August 2, 2023 at 12:09 pm |

        Do I know everything? Absolutely not. Do I believe that either side is “better” than the other no. From what I’ve read, the basic outline of the WGA’s demands are fair. The details, I don’t know. I haven’t seen even the basic AMPTP response, but typically that is a “lowball” which only minimally meets the union demands.
        The WGA eventually will get the outline of their demands met. The AMPTP will get something besides labor peace. Will both sides be completely happy? No.

  3. Michael Johnston | July 30, 2023 at 2:36 pm |

    I’ll stick around here for the rest of the summer and for the start of the new season. I won’t be watching the new season until the WGA is satisfied and back to work.

  4. There is a new trivia app that uses AI for at least some of its questions. I’ve played it and it kind of sucks. It’s not even that an AI could never make a good clue, or that humans don’t write bad clues (I know I certainly do). It’s more that there is some ‘je ne sais quoi’ in the touch of a human writer. It’s clear when there is a clue or category born from the spark of curiosity, and it’s clear when its from the a scraped data set.

    Beyond that though, it’s important for us to keep in mind that we (as a society) can use this incredible new technology of AI to serve humans and improve lives, or we can use it to exploit humans and improve the bottom line of whichever private equity firm buys it out. It’s good to remember Kranzberg’s first law of technology: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.”

  5. Andy – wishing you and your family a safe and happy summer.
    How’s the weather on The Rock?
    Best wishes.
    Mark (from parts unknown)

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