Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On The Air: Jeopardy! (1964)

A: It is one of the longest running game shows in history, celebrating 50 years in 2014.

Q: What is..... Jeopardy!?

It's true. Jeopardy! launched in 1964, and while it hasn't aired for a full 50 years, there certainly is cause for celebration this year. Art Fleming was the first host, and his first run on NBC lasted 11 years (1964-75), ending only because program director Lin Bolen wanted to attract younger viewers, and thought that Jeopardy! was skewing too old. During the final year (1974-5), Jeopardy! made its first voyage into syndication with a weekly nighttime version, also helmed by Fleming.

After three years away, Jeopardy! returned to NBC in 1978, but lasted a year, with a spiffed up format. John Harlan took over as announcer, with Pardo concentrating on Saturday Night Live. The current edition, hosted by Alex Trebek, marks 30 years in September, and it'll be interesting to see if Sony & CBS, which share the rights to the series today, will do anything in the way of flashbacks. The "Battle of the Decades" tournaments running of late encompasses only the Trebek era. Worse, there aren't a whole lot of quality prints from the Fleming era.

One of those prints, however, is from June 1974:

Fleming & Pardo cemented their pop culture status in 1985, when "Weird" Al Yankovic made a video for "I Lost on Jeopardy!", which mashed up the series with Greg Kihn's hit song, "Jeopardy". Pardo can even be heard on the CD.

Rating: A.

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