Welcome back to another installment of Andy’s Weekly Thoughts following the season’s first week! This column will move to Saturdays; check out my weekly recap column in Geeks Who Drink’s Questionist every Sunday! Or, you can sign up for the Questionist newsletter here!
What I Would Have Aired As Encore Presentations This Summer
In my years in charge of this site, there is generally a correlation between the number of people watching Jeopardy! and the number of people visiting The Jeopardy Fan. I have also found over the past couple of years that reruns of tournaments, as opposed to reruns of regular play games, have seen more people come to The Jeopardy Fan, as fans who missed the tournaments the first time are more invested in the overall outcome (or, they get re-invested even if they watched the tournament the first time around). Thus, it is probably a better decision overall for the show to just rerun tournaments in future summers.
This past summer, instead of Second Chance–Tournament of Champions–4 regular play episodes from last September, I would have taken the 16-episode Tournament of Champions and the 14-episode High School Reunion Tournament to get to the 30-episode count. I would also conjecture that this decision would align with what happened during the Trebek Era and be a better ratings decision for the show overall.
Why I Think Early Season 40 Ratings Will Be Down—And The Strike Won’t Be To Blame
As I mentioned in my writeup on Wednesday, search traffic levels regarding Jeopardy! has been down precipitously this week compared to normal—they are at the levels that we normally see during the summer reruns. This, once again, leads me to believe that the average American television viewer (the ones who aren’t terminally online and who aren’t aware of the labor issues plaguing Hollywood at the moment) still thinks that the show is in reruns. Moreover, viewers’ TV guides are not helpful on this front as well: these episodes are being billed as “Season 37 Second Chance”. To your average viewer, who might have seen Season 38 Second Chance earlier this summer in reruns, this says “more reruns”—and those viewers will be waiting until they see an episode they believe to be new. I would strongly recommend changing the episode descriptions to “September 2023 Second Chance” and “October/November 2023 Champions’ Wildcard” to demonstrate that these episodes are new.
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On Clue Quality During The Strike
Robert K S of J! Archive said the following this week: “As we continue to get deeper into the strike we might see some Finals that were previously set aside for a reason”. I think he has a very excellent point. The show’s writers often reject clues for various reasons, quality being one of them. I would say that it’s very likely that as the show goes through its backlog of unused clues that we may start to see clues of lesser quality—clues that might have originally been rejected for not being up to the show’s usual standards.
I also think that we very definitely saw one of those Finals on Thursday. A number of commenters here at The Jeopardy! Fan and a number of people on Reddit expressed confusion about how to parse Thursday’s Final Jeopardy, including 8-day champion Ben Chan. Ben suggested the wording “A 4-letter northern hemisphere world capital that begins and ends with the same letter”. While I might reword that still to “This 4-letter Northern Hemisphere world capital begins and ends with the same letter”, I think that would have been a much better choice of Final, bringing the players unambiguously to “What is Oslo?”
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LearnedLeague 98, Match Day 14, Question 2, And How It Relates To Jeopardy!
Here’s Question 2 from yesterday’s LearnedLeague match: “Real-life husband and wife comedy team Jim and Marian Jordan played a fictional couple on a top-rated NBC radio program from 1935 to 1959. Marian’s character was named Molly; what was Jim’s character?” The correct answer to the question is Fibber McGee.
In the 21st-century re-tellings of the history of Jeopardy!, where Julann Griffin suggested to husband Merv that he give the contestants the answers, the “first” answer posed by Julann was supposedly “5,280.” (How many feet are in a mile?) However, The Jeopardy! Book tells a much different story. In a clear case of 1940s and 1950s pop culture being less known to 21st century audiences, Merv Griffin’s version on Page 2 of 1990’s The Jeopardy! Book was just a little bit different. In that introduction, Merv recounted:
“So,” Julann joked, “why not just give them the answers to start with?”
She was kidding, but the thought struck me between the eyes. She said to me, “79 Wistful Vista.” And I replied, “What’s Fibber McGee and Molly’s address?”
What actually came first between “5280” or “79 Wistful Vista” is probably lost to time. However, it is telling that in 1990, “5280” was not mentioned anywhere in that introduction, which leads me to believe that “What is Fibber McGee and Molly’s address” is the actual first Jeopardy! question.
It’s been an interesting first week of the show, for sure. Week 2 begins Monday!
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