Is “Jeopardy” Television’s Most Endangered Species?

William Flessner (left), Jack Riccardi and Jonathan Gurwitz

Is the TV show “Jeopardy” in jeopardy?

(Or is our love in jeopardy, baby, oooh…?*)

When I was a kid, “game shows” were the frothiest, silliest stuff on.

Now, of course, a lot of things could compete for that description.

“Jeopardy” is an enduring champ. Continuously on the air since 1964, and in its current form with Alex Trebek since 1984, the show holds most of the records for its genre.

Bartender Austin Rogers’ 12-day “Jeopardy” champion run came to an end Thursday night, but that made me wonder about the show’s own “streak”.

As you probably know, “Jeopardy”, invented by the redoubtable Merv Griffin, is a general knowledge game show. You can’t win by being sassy, saucy or sexy. It doesn’t help to be charismatic or funny. People of all ages and types have won the show because they are generally well-rounded, well-read people. In their own way, smart.

There’s no short-cut, although Rogers, a New Yorker, says he prepped by watching reruns. Might help.

Still, to be a Jeopardy contender, you have to know a little about a lot of things. Read. Keep up with current events. Know something about history, the arts, sports and the like.

In 1984, that might have meant you read a daily newspaper front-to-back. Back then, a lot of people did.

A network nightly newscast in ’84 would include news reporting from D.C., but also actual foreign bureaus. In depth. Serious.

See where I’m going with this? This TV show presumes a sharp audience, and the wide availability of brainy, willing contestants.

How many Austin Rogers are there these days?

In a time where “outrageous” counts more than “smart”, how much longer does “Jeopardy” have?


* What is the song “Jeopardy” by the Greg Kihn Band, Alex.



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