Unlike most other game shows, especially those that proliferated in the 1970’s, Jeopardy! is beautifully simple, almost minimalist. Sixteen categories—or seventeen if you count the final round—and one hundred and twenty-eight questions—or one hundred and twenty-nine if you count the final round—and the only real strategy is be quick with your buzzer and stick to what you hopefully know. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the final round—if you’re far enough ahead you won’t have to do any complicated math for your final wager.
It’s the game’s simplicity that made Alex Trebek the ideal host. I don’t mean he was a simple guy, but he knew that when hosting Jeopardy! less is more and he was perfectly understated and kept the same even tone throughout everything. Yes, I laughed at the SNL parodies, but, with all due respect to Will Ferrell, I don’t think he ever really got Alex Trebek. If Sean Connery—who, sadly, also left us recently because, well, 2020–really had been a competitor on Celebrity Jeopardy! first of all I think he would have been too classy to make crude jokes about Trebek’s mother or draw pictures of him having sex with a horse, but if he had I think Alex Trebek would have chuckled politely, given a sardonic look to the audience, and moved on.
With that in mind I’m reposting this as my way of saying, or rather asking, what is hail and farewell, Alex Trebek?
[Jeopardy! theme music plays. Alex Trebek stands center stage.]
ALEX TREBEK: And we’re back to this very special episode of Jeopardy! Let’s take a moment to talk to today’s contestants.
[He crosses over to the contestants.]
ALEX TREBEK: Count Dracula, you’re an undead Romanian prince. I understand you can assume the forms of a bat, a wolf, and a white mist, and you travel extensively. Tell us a little about the charity you’re playing for today.
COUNT DRACULA: Is blood.
ALEX TREBEK: Can you elaborate on that?
COUNT DRACULA: Of course. Is great need for blood in Romania. I bring people of all kinds to castle in Wallachia. I take blood and dr—uh, give…give to those who need blood.
ALEX TREBEK: That sounds like a great cause. Moving on, Frankenstein’s Monster, you’re an assemblage of body parts from different corpses. Some people call you “Frankenstein” but that was in fact the name of the doctor who first animated you.
FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER: GAKH!
ALEX TREBEK: Okay then. Tell us about what charity you’re playing for.
FRANKESTEIN’S MONSTER: GRRRRGH! HANNNN! GARGH!!!
ALEX TREBEK: Yes, the Firefighters’ Association is a noble cause. All right, and our third contestant was going to be The Invisible Man but we couldn’t find him.
VOICE FROM AN EMPTY SEAT IN THE AUDIENCE: I’m right here!
COUNT DRACULA: Children of the night, what music they make.
ALEX TREBEK: We were very lucky to get as a replacement the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Creature, I’ve been admiring your suit.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON: Thank you, Alex, it’s specially designed to pump water through my gills and keep my skin moist. It’s made by Armani. But I’d really like to talk about my charity.
ALEX TREBEK: Go ahead then.
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON: It’s called River Run, an organization that purchases, preserves, and reclaims large parts of the Amazon rainforest. Once we lose biodiversity it’s impossible to get it back.
ALEX TREBEK: Well okay. Maybe later we can talk more about that suit. I get a little dry under these lights myself.
[Trebek crosses back to his podium.]
ALEX TREBEK: All right, we have one two-thousand dollar clue left in the Double Jeopardy round under the category Sci-Fi Food, and the clue is: Revenge is a dish best served cold, but this Klingon dish should be warm and wriggling.
FRANKESTEIN’S MONSTER: GAGH!
ALEX TREBEK: That’s correct! I have to remind you again that we ask contestants to phrase responses in the form of a question, but since we’re playing for charity we’ll bend the rules again. Frankestein’s Monster, that brings your total up to seven dollars.
And now for final Jeopardy! The subject today is Renaissance Artists. Take a moment to think about that while you make your wagers.
And here’s the clue: this Italian artist was both a painter and a sculptor, known for both the Sistine Chapel ceiling and a statue of David, and he made a mean Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Thirty seconds, contestants.
ALEX TREBEK: All right, let’s see your answers. Count Dracula, we come to you first. You had $200 and you wrote down…“is blood”.
COUNT DRACULA: Is answer to everything.
ALEX TREBEK: And you wagered two-hundred dollars, so I’m afraid that leaves you with nothing. Next we come to Frankenstein’s Monster. You wrote down “Abby Someone”. Interesting, but incorrect. What did you wager? Nothing.
FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER: GARGHHHH!
ALEX TREBEK: So you still have seven dollars. Finally we come to the Creature From The Black Lagoon who looked like he couldn’t be caught with a score of fifty-four thousand, seven-hundred dollars. Uh oh, you’re shaking your head. It looks like you wrote “Michelangelo” then crossed it out and replaced it with “Donatello”. I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. And what was your wager?
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON: I figured go big or go home, Alex.
ALEX TREBEK: You bet it all. Well, that means Frankenstein’s Monster is today’s champion. Congratulations!
FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER: TREBEK GOOD!