Jeopardy! did the right thing on Monday when it announced that it would stop taping new episodes of the long-running trivia show. There are simply more important things to worry about than game shows when a pandemic is spreading across the globe like COVID-19 currently is, changing life as we know it in the United States along the way.
It’s not clear what will happen or when both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune will resume taping, which is fair given both shows hosts are in a vulnerable age bracket for coronavirus and have recently dealt with major health issues. That could mean we’ll be without new episodes of both shows for a good while, even with the buffer that’s built into their taping schedules.
Jeopardy! typically tapes episodes three months in advance, which means the longer the world has normal activities on pause the greater the chance that syndicated providers simply run out of new episodes to air. This is something that happens when the show is between seasons, and those gaps are usually filled with re-runs of notable stretches of play or the various tournaments that happen throughout the year.
Still, the best possible thing they could do to fill those expected gaps is to re-air the regular season appearances of GOATS James Holzhauer and Ken Jennings. The two had epic runs on the show, with Jennings famously winning more than $2.4 million over 72 appearances early in this millennium. Holzhauer, meanwhile, shattered single-day winnings totals with his 2019 run that lit up the internet. They faced off in January in an electrifying GOAT Tournament that got plenty of people excited, so there’s no shortage of games they’re involved in that could be used if there’s a true episode drought.
The wildly popular Jeopardy! GOAT Tournament isn’t really an option for syndication here, as it was a primetime event bought by ABC. Its episodes were also an hour long, which won’t fit in the window. But if airing these episodes won’t work on traditional TV, it would be great to see those on streaming services for fans to re-watch at their own leisure. A 2018 deal with Netflix put 45 episodes on the streaming service and 60 were already available on Hulu. There are three Jeopardy! “collections” currently on Netflix: A “Celebrate Alex” one and two that highlight specific contestant runs of Cindy Stowell and Seth Wilson. Adding Jennings’ 72-game run may be too much at once, perhaps, but Holzhauer’s more recent 32-game streak is certainly more manageable.
Both would provide great entertainment in a time where fans of the show are clamoring for things to do, and reliving Jennings’ run in particular would be a good reminder of just how strong a contestant he was during his heyday. Another fun option would be the various outstanding performances from Brad Rutter, the third Jeopardy! GOAT who was the show’s most monied contestant until January’s GOAT Tournament.
We’ve seen a number of content providers releasing movies early and trying to give customers what they want while they’re social distancing, and there will soon come a time when there just isn’t any new Jeopardy! to go around. Playing the hits would be a great goodwill gesture for a streaming service or a network to iron out the details and provide a bit of distraction to what’s currently going on in the outside world.