Episode 550: The Birds and the Bees and the Buzzers

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle game shows, and especially the gold standard of game shows, “Jeopardy!”

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Members receive extra audio recorded with each Overthinking It Podcast. This week, a special round of Jeopardy! written by Matt Belinkie, featuring clues about our favorite raspy-voiced celebrity, Harvey Feirstein!

Matthew Belinkie, new father Mark Lee, Peter Fenzel, and Matt Wrather discuss Jeopardy!, the perfect infant-care background TV show. Favorite game shows, what constitutes a game show, the cultural and political dynamics of the game, the role of Alex Trebek, and an actual round of Jeopardy on this episode.

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3 Comments on “Episode 550: The Birds and the Bees and the Buzzers”

  1. Liffer Member #

    Oh cruelest of ironies! I finally got through my backlog of OTI podcasts (which was embarrassingly long) only to have the podcast focus on Jeopardy!, which my wife and I are about three weeks behind on due to the holidays. I heard about the ScrumMaster here first…


  2. John C Member #

    Ooh, you know? I’d probably watch the action at what I imagine to be the Merv Griffin Memorial Debtors’ Prison. Chain gangs of Jeopardy! losers answering questions for pennies while Javert holds the longest grudge against some guy who won despite not responding in the form of a question.

    I had a very middlebrow-style problem with Jeopardy! as a kid, though, when I realized that the “Daily Double” doesn’t necessarily double anything. I don’t think that’s why I stopped watching, though, and am guessing it’s more about watching less prescheduled TV over the years. Maybe I’ll give it another chance, since it’s lurking on Netflix.

    Weird how quickly things seem to change, though. I’m only a couple of years older than the Overthinkers, but my memories of game shows skew much more towards Paul Lynde, Rose Marie (Hollywood Squares), and Richard Dawson (Family Feud). I almost wonder if it’s indicative of some sort of regime change or my attention to game shows just peaking early.

    But…are reality shows with a winner not game shows? I haven’t watched many at all, but they certainly seem pitched in the same way. I guess conversely, are game shows a kind of reality show?


  3. yellojkt Member #

    I’ve long held the theory that the common conjunction of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune makes a certain synergistic sense. Jeopardy is designed to make you feel as stupid as possible while Wheel of Fortune makes you feel smarter than all the contestants. It’s usually easy to figure out when a contestant has solved the puzzle and is just playing for more cash. By incentivizing not solving the puzzle, it lets the audience solve the puzzle and feel superior to the players.

    I know two different people who have been actual Jeopardy contestants and their descriptions of the experience are fascinating. There is also a small cottage industry of books about Jeopardy, usually written by former contestants. To be a multi-episode champion requires a lot of work and preparation, including practicing buzzer skills. On Jeopardy you can’t buzz-in until the question has been read. This separates Jeopardy from College Bowl and other smarty-pants quiz shows where answering a question before it is even read is encouraged. This also engages the audience because it gives the viewer at home just slightly more time to get the answer themselves.

    I am old enough to remember the original Jeopardy which was part of a generation of game shows which include Concentration and Password. So when it was rebooted with Alex Trebek, I was suspicious because his previous game show hosting job was on High Rollers which is about as brain-dead as a game show can be. But he has grown into the role as America’s quizmaster well to the point that hardly anyone now remembers Art Fleming.


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