On this day in 1964, the popular game show Jeopardy made its debut. The show was created by Merv Griffin who also composed the show’s famous theme song. In the introduction to Alex Trebek’s The Jeopardy Book, Griffin explains that he wanted to create a trivia game show, but he was worried about the backlash from the 1950s quiz show scandals. On a plane flight in 1963, Griffin’s wife had a breakthrough idea, when she said off the cuff: “Why not just give them the answers to start with?”
Griffin originally called his show “What’s the Question?” but that changed when he showed his game to a network executive. The executive was concerned that the game lacked drama since once a player had a sizable lead, he could play it safe. The executive commented, “I like what I see, but the game needs more jeopardies!” It’s that comment that changed the show’s title and the show’s format. After the executive’s comment, Griffin added the climactic moment that makes or breaks the show: Final Jeopardy (1).
Appropriately enough, the word jeopardy began as a French gaming term from chess, meaning a divided or even game. It evolved, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, to mean any game in which the chances of winning or losing were even (2). So when the executive told Merv Griffin, “The game needs more jeopardizes,” he was most likely not referring to the modern sense of the word, meaning danger or peril, but to the gaming sense of the word, meaning, “Let’s keep the final outcome in doubt until the end.”
Today’s Challenge: “Five Funky Facts for Five Hundred, Please”
What is a general category that you know enough about to write quiz questions for? Brainstorm some Jeopardy categories, such as Authors, Novels, The Beatles, or Game Shows. Then, write 5 answers and questions in the Jeopardy format.
Answer: This game show debuted on March 20, 1964.
Question: What is Jeopardy?
(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
Quotation of the Day: Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy. -John Dewey