Jeopardy! is an institution. For more than three decades, the game show was hosted by Alex Trebek, who, mustachioed or not, established a reliable tone for its episodes that became comfortable in its familiarity. The transition to new hosts required by Trebek’s death in 2020 hasn’t been without some very notable issues, but it’s also taken place within a format that’s only altered by degrees over the years. When we watch modern Jeopardy!, we still see the same sets, hear the same music, and call the same very smart people dumb for missing a Final Jeopardy! question that we knew.
Because of all this, watching any pre-Trebek era Jeopardy! feels strange. And watching a Jeopardy! pilot from before the show’s 1964 premiere feels even stranger.
The official Jeopardy! YouTube channel has decided to let us all bask in the discomfort that comes from the deeply familiar being made alien by uploading an unaired pilot shot before its 1964 premiere. From the first frantic flute notes and rolling bongos of its old theme song, the pilot feels essentially wrong.
After introducing the show format, Art Fleming interviews his contestants right from the jump, giving us player trivia before the game’s even begun. The unveiling of clues and the rhythm of the show as it moves through rounds of Jeopardy, Double Jeopardy, and Final Jeopardy is pretty much the same but the players are all sitting down, the music is wrong aside from the immortal Final Jeopardy theme, and there’s a sense of messiness to everything that’s completely unlike the smooth progression of almost every Jeopardy! episode.
Luckily, format aside, you can still yell at the screen when the contestants fail to answer clues that you think are obvious (seriously, none of these jokers know that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein?) and try to assure yourself that if you were filmed trying to play trivia on TV you’d do much better than the people on screen.
If you’d like to watch the full pilot for yourself, know that it will disappear back into the Jeopardy! archives, perhaps accompanied by a descending series of staccato musical notes, on April 6th.
[via Boing Boing]
Send Great Job, Internet tips to email@example.com