Friday, March 29, 2024



The TV game show "Jeopardy!" turns 60 years old tomorrow.

There was a long original run, until January of 1975, with the man you see above, Art Fleming, as host, and he really was the master.  Watch the few episodes that are on YouTube.  Fleming slows down if he gets an ultra smart and cocky contestant.  He picks up the pace when the show lags.  Watching him work was a thing of beauty.

Fleming had another short run with the for about five months in 1978 and 1979.  It wasn't the same.  They screwed with the format and added a cumbersome bonus round.

There are still plenty of other fond memories.  I remember walking home from my elementary school for lunch with my mom.  NBC had a killer line up of game shows back in the day.  Campbell's vegetable soup and "Hollywood Squares" were frequently on my menu.  Mom and I had the opportunity to see more games during summer break.  There was still plenty of time to play outside.

I should add, I knew nothing as a tot, but I was amazed at the big mechanical game board, the brilliant contestants who were lightning fast, and the way Fleming handled the game.

"Jeopardy!" came back in daily syndication in the fall of 1984.  The local station ran it at 5:30 in the afternoon at first, before it really took off and moved to the "prime access hour.".  I would sit and watch in the WARM newsroom in Avoca, and compete with fellow broadcaster Guy Randall.  We were both surprised at how easy the questions had become.   By the way, Guy was really good.  It seems like the show eventually found a groove and the questions, or more accurately, the answers, became a little more difficult.

As I said when he passed, I was never really much of an Alex Trebek fan, until "Jeopardy!."  He did a few other game shows, and I thought he was rather wooden, but "Jeopardy!" fit like a glove.  On top of that, the producers had the great sense not to mess with the format.

If I can't watch in its entirety, I do catch the highlight clips on the internet.

60 years of "Jeopardy!" is an amazing broadcast success story.  It was good when I was a kid.  It's still that good.