We Know They Have It, So Why Not?
I have mentioned in numerous articles how much I love Jeopardy. And, given that it’s one of the most popular game shows in history, one would think that this new world of streaming television could find room for it in its seemingly endless archives. But it’s always been tricky finding the series on line — which presents an interesting problem.
Given how quickly everything seems to end up on YouTube these days, one would’ve thought there would be a record of Jeopardy going back at least twenty years. And while you can find a lot of recordings of old episodes and more recent tournaments, it’s a lot less than you’d think. Like almost everything else on that server, what you find is piecemeal and with few complete games. I realize that’s perhaps inevitable for so many of the shows back in the twentieth century, but in this millennium where everything seems to end up online; you’d expect to see more.
Other streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, have not exactly stepped up to meet the demand. Hulu has had only a handful of episodes in the course of a career, and Netflix only started to pick up Jeopardy games in the past three years. Even here, there’s little continuity. For a few months, you could get the season premiere of the last twenty years, along with the odd tournament. Then a few months later, you’d get some championship runs of some local competitors along with some more recent tournaments.
Now, I realize Netflix’s appeal has always been, in part, due to its ability to keep its run of the TV and movies relatively fresh. And I know that there might not be enough space or demand for every single episode of Jeopardy. (Considering how much room they have for all of their original programming makes me seriously doubt that statement, but I’ll let it go for now.)
So I’ll propose a compromise. Why not put online every Tournament of Champions from the series inception til the current day? That would come to roughly 7000 minutes of playing time, or about 116 and a half hours. While that might seem like a lot, it’s slightly less time than the entire run of Law and Order: SVU or Criminal Minds, never mind all the episodes of Doctor Who they’ve got lying around. I have a feeling there might be more interest in that than seeing some of the more depraved serial killers on record, and its definitely more family friendly. Plus in a world where so much of our energy is messed in reality TV with people who have the celebrity lifespan of a fruit fly, it would be nice to have somewhere people who had accomplished something by having knowledge. I’d rather as many people knew of Eddie Timanus’ accomplishments than of the non-accomplishments of any Kardashian.
And perhaps we could also have a record of all of the special tournaments that Jeopardy has had over its run. I listed most of the ones in a previous article, but perhaps we could put online Super Jeopardy, the show’s first prime time big tournament way back in 1990 as well the 10th Anniversary Tournament of 1993. Knowing our history is nice, and knowing Jeopardy’s history would be even nicer. It would be another 75 hours, which is just a little less than half the amount of time you would spend on Blue Bloods, which has been on Netflix for a lot longer. (Hell, you could compare Tom Selleck’s mustache to Alex Trebek’s just for fun.)
I make this argument not so much as a Jeopardy fan — though I am one, no question — but as a fan of preserving TV heritage in general. I argue for the release on DVD of Classic TV many years ago, and now that streaming services have been willing to carry the ball, I think it is in the interest of the medium as a whole to carry the torch. Jeopardy is one of the great accomplishments in TV history, and now that Alex is gone, there should be some kind of record of his — and of the great champions that he so enjoyed sharing the stage with. If we can spare all that bandwidth for every incarnation of The Walking Dead, surely we can do it for Jeopardy.