Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Jeopardy - James Holzhauer Is Making Jeopardy Boring!

The following is my opinion. It's just my opinion.

I spent my entire adult working life - working in television. Ironically, I rarely get worked up over much on television. Most series, even in success are gone sooner or later. Jeopardy with Alex Trebek has been airing on most ABC affiliates for 35 years. I've spent quite a bit of time watching this series over the course of the last 35 years. I haven't seen every episode in the history of the show (thank God for that) and I can only peripherally recall my mom watching the original Jeopardy hosted by Art Fleming (1964-1975).  In the age of the DVR one never has to miss an episode. From time to time, you find yourself not particularly partial to a game participant. That's inevitable. Some people are more appealing than others. Some contestants are charming. Some are humble. Some are quirky and some are downright eccentric. From time to time you get one so appealing and sincere you cheer them on. Ken Jennings, the most famous Jeopardy winner was someone you nearly delighted in.

The current Jeopardy contestant, James Holzhauer couldn't be a less sympathetic candidate for a quiz show. Professional gamblers aren't people we cheer for. Mr. Holzhauer was regarded as a mathematics whiz during his formal education period; and he decided to use his math skills to bet on sports. This is not a judgmental statement. It is just what he did with his math skills.

After a few days of Mr. Holzhauer's reign on Jeopardy I was suffering from boredom and I began to feel disdain for the way Mr. Holzhauer was winning the game and jeopardizing (no pun intended) the beloved Jeopardy franchise. I did something I was shocked at. I removed Jeopardy from my DVR schedule. I don't want the show to get a ratings boost from me by default. One human being in a 35 year run of one of the most successful brands in television history is literally destroying the brand. If you watch Alex Trebek's body language and demeanor and I've been doing this for 35 years you get the feeling Mr. Trebek isn't particularly fond of Mr. Holzhauer. Who would be? Who could be? This guy is destroying the show.

The moment of my enlightenment came early on when a question describing an obscure dance from the early 1960's was the clue. Holzhauer buzzed in immediately and without hesitation said "what is the mashed potato." The mashed potato. Where did he read about the mashed potato? Which documentary on the history of obscure dances from the 1960's did he view? Most people who came of age during the brief run of the mashed potato wouldn't have guessed that within five years of that period let alone fifty plus years later. Mr. Holzhauer is 34 years old and the dance had a brief period of quasi-fame in 1962.  How did he know that?  There's an episode from the series Monk which takes place in Las Vegas (the show takes place in San Francisco, but this episode was in Las Vegas) where Adrian Monk (who is a savant) is accused of counting cards at a blackjack table. His assistant states "he isn't counting cards. He is remembering them." He can remember just about anything.

Holzhauer is a professional gambler. He knows how to do the math on the Daily Doubles, but then again since he gets every answer he is going to land on all the questions, including all of the Daily Doubles. Since he is a gambler he never hesitates to go all-in. Why not? He messes with the game board by jumping all around the board and he wants to mess with the opposition even though he has no opposition (except on the Monday, April 29, 2019 episode). He has stacked himself against dozens of people who have most likely spent several years trying to get on Jeopardy to pay off some college debt, a car loan, pay for a wedding or take that trip to Machu Pichu they have wanted to do since they were 18 years old. Years of retained knowledge may finally pay off. At some point, you feel sorry for some people who know "stuff," but aren't able to retain every single thing they ever heard, saw, felt or encountered over the course of every single second in a 34 year life span. One doesn't get this because their dad worked crossword puzzles and a family member works on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.    

Watching someone demolish, destroy and ruin the competition is beyond boring. Try watching a baseball game with a score of 15-2 at the top of the ninth inning. People aren't just walking out of the stadium, they are turning their television sets, their streaming devices and however else they are viewing off as well.

Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, Austin Rogers and other notable long-term and big money winning champs became legends for the show and were brought back for annual Jeopardy champion contests. There won't be one this year, since Holzhauer will be the only person on the show for the next five years. Ten years. Twenty years. Holzhauer is beyond the unusual more advanced player. These advanced players brought an already consistently successful show even higher ratings. Currently, Jeopardy has seen a 5% bump up in the ratings, but research indicates his complete and total destruction of the competition will wear thin soon and the quiz show franchise will see a major dip in  ratings. At some point, who will be left watching? Could it get duller? Yes, it can and it will.

People lose on quiz shows all the time. That's life. When you go on a show you assume and rightly so you will be pitted against people with superb skills of recall. It doesn't mean you have greater intelligence or a high I.Q. to be on a quiz show. Clearly, people on quiz shows are not ignorant people, but the real skill of a champion on a quiz show is your ability to retain information (also, speed on the buzzing in device). Knowledge is power means something. Do you have the ability to recall something you read in 1986? Do you remember the name of the odd looking bird from a documentary you saw on PBS in 1998? To win means you can recall lots of stuff that most people couldn't care less about. What we are seeing with Holzhauer goes beyond what I just described.

The only way Sony TV gets James off the show is to cancel the show and then bring it back six months later. Either that or Holzhauer gets bored destroying people and winning money that won't even be in the budget. That most likely will not happen. Sony TV will have to up their budget and they will do it while the ratings begin to take a nosedive. They wont' have a choice.

My daytime relationship with Jeopardy has ended. I hope I am wrong and Mr. Holzhauer is off the show soon. Try taking on someone who literally forgets nothing. Again, this is all my opinion.

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2019



Odds Culture said...

Is someone jealous they can't win like James?

Andrew Sapiro said...

What a pathetic biased piece of junk, I'm sorry James doesn't fit your personal role model or what you want to watch but I love the guy. He's the GOAT and greatness should be respected and not ridiculed.

Andrew Sapiro said...

One other thing about your comment on Trebek and James, Alex has called NO ONE champ like he does on a nightly basis. Not even Ken got that respect so I'd say he really enjoys him and you clearly don't know what you are talking about (aka just being a hater).

teresitafrias79 said...

You post this opinion to be bashed, pathetic fool! Einstein, Galileo, Aristotle and other geniuses, we should admire them just like this smart guy, James. People join in any competition to win for money and prestige. Sports player risk their lives and limbs for these. No mercy even loyalty to a team. It's always all about money, honor and prestige as long as nobody cheats. That is life's reality. If Jeopardy really wanted James out, they should find smart contestants with good memory and leaked the questions and answers to them, especially in the the daily doubles and final jeopardy­čśá

ChiLAGal said...

Odds Culture - No, the writer of this piece isn't jealous.

Andrew Sapiro - If it's a pathetic piece of junk why even bother to respond? I didn't write that James wasn't fitting my role model. My role model is my mom. She can't play on every quiz show on a daily basis. I didn't ridicule James, but I did question his extreme form of knowledge retention. It's a legitimate question. I'm not being a hater.

Teresitafrias79 - I didn't post it to be based. It's my opinion. I opening the piece by saying it's my opinion. You have one-upped the silliness of this by comparing James to Einstein, Galileo and Aristotle. Sports gamblers risk their lives and limbs???? No, law enforcement and members of the military risk their lives and limbs. Jeopardy finds smart contestants, unless you are asserting everyone else on the show over the last three weeks is stupid. If they leak questions and answers they will be sent to prison.

ChiLAGal said...

Apologies for typos. I meant to say I didn't post it to be biased. I opened the piece by saying it's my opinion.

The Corked Spork said...

Your analogy to a baseball game with a 15-2 score at the 9th doesn't really track. We're watching someone play the game better than anyone before. Was it boring when Tiger Woods kept winning and winning and breaking records along the way in the aughts? Was it boring watching Michael Jordan dominate and break records in the 90s? Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak? How about watching a NFL team nailing a perfect season? I could go on. It's exciting to watch someone play the game perfectly. And there's still drama when he wins by only $18 in a nail-biter of an ending, (this just happened Monday.) He's breaking records every single game. There is a long way to go to 75 games, so until then I'll be excited each and every day. For anyone who truly loves Jeopardy! does not find this boring. An easier argument to make is how boring the game will be when he's finally gone and we go back to top-to-bottom/low wager game play...unless he's changed the game forever.

Anonymous said...

"We love to hear from the readers, so leave your comments whether you agree or disagree."

So why did you delete my comment about the Mashed Potato dance being a lot more well known than you think, mentioning the internationally-known songs "Land of 1000 Dances" and "Do You Love Me."

I also pointed out that the category for that clue was "Potato Salad" making it a very easy clue

Dr. Miguelito Loveless said...

Hilarious vitriol from people defending this champion! ChiLAGal was right on with her analysis -- guess people have very different styles of heroes these days
Keep Commenting -- it's amusing as heck!

Robert Ryder said...

I disagreed with your take on James Holzhauer and Jeopardy, but I sure wish people making comments would keep their remarks civil. By the way, Andrew Sapiro, if you're going to accuse someone of being a "hater," perhaps you shouldn't personally attack the author of the post. Just a thought.

ChiLAGal said...

Corked Spork - I understand your theory to a certain extent, but it still doesn't wash with what is happening on Jeopardy. Having said that, we here at The Flaming Nose appreciate a dignified disagreement. Yes, he unfortunately may be changing the game forever. Thank you for your comment.

ChiLAGal said...

To the anonymous commenter who came back to justify the mashed potato. The dance was an irrelevant blip on the pop culture radar of the early 1960's. The Twist was a significant moment in music's pop culture touchpoints.

Anonymous said...

To ChiLAGal, That's just your opinion that the Mashed Potato was "an anonymous blip" but I get it....

you just delete any comment that shows your opinion is wrong. Not cool. And you also didn't address my point that the category name was "Potato Salad"

You haven't been watching the show, so you wouldn't see that James knows 60s music quite well.

In addition to "Do You Love Me" and "Land of 1000 Dances", let me leave you with a couple of lines from a classic hit from 1966, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"

"He's doing the Monkey, the Mashed Potatoes,
Jump back Jack, See you later, alligator"

The dance first came out in 1959 and they were still doing it and singing about it in 1966 -- quite a blip, huh?

ChiLAGal said...

Anonymous: Why on earth would I address any of these absurd questions? Who cares about the Land of the 1000 Dances? The post is my opinion. You are obviously obsessed with this James Holzhauer situation, because you keep coming back. Yes, the post is my opinion. Start your own blog and write whatever you want as your opinion. The fact that you seemingly know all of this irrelevant information makes me think you should go on Jeopardy. Maybe you will beat James Holzhauer. Please do us all a favor and go on Jeopardy.

Andrew Sapiro said...

I am absolutely a hater of this author and she deleted comments that were more than reasonable to the discussion so totally justified.