30 Day Television Challenge: Day Two

A show that you wish more people were watching: Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! is probably my all-time favorite program. Because Jeopardy! isn’t a *series* per se, like The Sopranos or Firefly, with a narrative, plot, characters, etc. it’s more of a “program” than a series or show.

What makes Jeopardy! interesting is that it is part of what ought to be considered the deluge of television: game shows. Unlike dramas and news programs, Jeopardy! is part of a genre that is the greatest contributor for television’s reuptation as the “Idiot Box”. Accordingly, whenever my father sees my mother and I watching Jeopardy! he remakrs on what a shame it is that two “intelligent” people would watch game show trash.

Of course, those of us who are initiated know better. Jeopardy! is one of the most high-brow programs on TV. In cerebral cliques or peer groups, your social capital can be appraised by how many questions you can answer on Jeopardy! And not only is it a great place to test your knowledge, it’s also a great way to pick up random facts.

The first thing of note about Jeopardy! is that it reverses the question-answer format of traditional trivia game shows. As you probably know, the show provides the answers and the contestants have to provide the question.

Initially, this appears to increase the difficulty of the game, because now contests have to process the information and then reformat it, almost like a double answer. But I think this actually speeds up the game and allows the show to cover more territory. Here’s what I mean: If you ask someone a question, they have to search their memory for the approrpiate answer and then judge whather it’s correct. Conversely, if you give them the answer, the brain can link this information more quickly.

Consider how much faster and how many correct answers are given on Jeoarpdy! compared to something like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? In the case of the latter, the contestants are given 4 possible answers and they have to determine which is correct. With the former, the contestent knows the answer but just has to determine to location of the information, so to speak.

Also, not only is the pace faster, but the game continues despite contestants answering incorrectly. I felt this was always a flaw with a lot of trivia-based game shows, especially Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? We never too seldom get beyond the more simple questions, and if we do get something challenging, there’s too much time wasted. As I said, Jeopardy! manages to cover lots of territory.

Moreover, the trivia isn’t all high brow. On top of the more academic subjects like history, literature, geography, etc. you also get some pop culture, sports, and lifestyle questions, too. Jeopardy is really great at testing your all-around knowledge. And Jeopardy! is more than just trivia. There are also great wordplay and fuzzy logic challenges, which is where the infamous Watson ran into trouble.

(no, that’s not me on the right…)

I suppose the main reason why I wish more people were watching Jeopardy! is that I’d like to have more competitions. I’m very competitive and love putting my trivia skills to the test. I contend that no one can beat me when it comes to movie and sports trivia, hockey especially.

But there are rules of ettiqute that must be followed. Firstly, don’t chirp the question before Alex has finished reading the answer. That is one of my pet peeves. My mother, with whom I often watch Jeoarpdy!, always pulls this shit and it drives me nuts. Secondly, answer in the form of a question. Part of the fun of Jeoarpdy! is the answer-question format, so don’t go cheating.

Also, I think people could do with more facts. So many of our decisions are based on folk-psychology and misinformed prejudices. The reliance on fact as opposed to sophistry is something sorely missing from public discourse. It’s what allows charlatans to rise to the top, thus determining public policy.

But that’s it! I’m off my soap box. Now, let us bask in the glory that is Alex Trebek…

Alex is the anti game show host. He’s not tacky or over the top; he’s a gentleman and a scholar. More importantly, he’s not pedantic or ostentatious. Whenever a contestant answers incorrectly, Alex answers with that avuncular demeanor of someone who is infinitely more knowledgeable than you will ever be but doesn’t like to rub it in.

“Oooo, no, sorry. The former currency of Greece was the drachma. The drachma. Please select again.”

cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on September 5, 2012.

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