I Lost at Jeopardy

Nothing to do with this topic. Deal with it.

Please do not judge me, but lately I have been watching Jeopardy reruns on Netflix. Let me explain. First, I do not have TV. I have unplugged from cable and satellite and no longer have access to the regular over-the-air channels. Yes, I know. It is possible to pull them in via other methods or stream them or whatever. I am savvy enough to figure out how to do these things if I there was anything interesting enough on mainstream TV that I care to watch with enough sense of urgency that it can’t wait until it shows up on Netflix, at which point, for example, I can watch the entire six seasons of Nashville in one long weekend instead of it taking six years of my life. Six years I could never get back.

I have had Netflix since 2010, when it first became available in Canada. The cutting of the cable cord did not happen immediately, but it was a fairly swift downward spiral once I did the math of fifty bucks a month versus five. And no commercials. And watch whatever whenever, not just when the TV guide says you must watch or miss it until summer reruns. At the beginning, Netflix was wonderous, like stumbling upon the twenty-fifth book of a very prolific mystery novelist and then getting to revel in her entire back catalogue for countless summer vacations.

But ten years in, Netflix is not turning my crank so much. I know all its secrets, have heard all the amusing anecdotes a thousand times, and most importantly, have washed and put away its underwear so often any shred of mystery has evaporated. Which is why I am on my third time through the six seasons of Nashville and reduced to watching reruns of the Jeopardy tournament of champions from 2012, a shoo-in for spoiler alert poster-child of the 21st century, even though we’re only twenty years in.

So, there I was, settling in for the tournament of champions rerun. No commercials (BTW), but they do include the chitchat between Alex and the contestants at halftime. As you may know, Alex asks them about some amusing story or fun fact about their job, hobby, travel incident or what not, you know the drill. What occurred to me was, these tournament of champion people have been on probably at least six shows, not counting this one. On each and every one, they needed to trot out a new and different tidbit about their life to tell Alex. More pressure than the actual game.

I know this because fifteen years ago, I got selected to try out for Jeopardy. The tryouts were held at the CTV studio in Toronto. There was kind of a weird bleacher setup where we took our seats to complete a timed, written, trivia test. As we waited for the proctor to arrive, we were asked to fill out the cover sheet with our contact info, and answer the first question: if you get chosen to be on the show, what do you want Alex to know about you?

I paused for a moment. Or maybe many moments. Then it came to me like the name of an obscure African country. Alex, I would say, I am a professional figure skater. This was completely true. And probably still true unless there is a statute of limitations on professional figure skating credentials. Alex, I would not say, I am only a professional figure skater because when I was sixteen, I earned money by teaching power skating to hockey players, which magically turned me into a “professional.” I guess if they had only bought me dinner, I would still be an amateur. But I digress.

I wrote the test, did not ace the test (too many U.S. presidents, not enough obscure African countries), and then, as a dramatic surprise, Alex himself showed up and gave us a fatherly benediction about how everybody was a winner just to be in the room. Right Alex. Since when have you ever been a professional figure skater? See you at the 2013 tournament of champions tonight, Alex. Just wait until the final Jeopardy question. Get ready to cut a really big cheque. To me.

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