If you haven’t been watching “Jeopardy!” since Alex Trebek’s emotional final show, you’re missing out. I’ll be the first to concede it’s not quite as good without Alex. How could it be? But Ken Jennings seems like the natural replacement host. The Carl Yastrzemski to Trebek’s Ted Williams. Producer Mike Richards has been a capable second choice. Nothing spectacular, but the guy you know is doing a good job because you don’t notice him much. He’s workmanlike. Like the backup QB who doesn’t put up video game numbers but doesn’t turn the ball over.
What the show has lacked since Trebek’s ascension into Trivia Valhalla is the most random and uncontrollable element of all: Drama. There have been few dominant contestants. No one has gone on a long winning streak. And there’s been little of the wild, unpredictable board play or next level betting strategies of say, a James Holzhauer. What can you do? That’s the nature of competition.
That is, until last night’s Final. It was a true barnburner in every sense of the word, aside from the lack of a barn or burning of any kind. We had the charming Melis sitting at $2,000 after stumbling on a Double Jeopardy. There was the pride of The City of Champions Brockton, MA, Tim, who dominated the pop culture categories to climb to $14,200. And tied with him was champion Jon, who cleaned up on the more esoteric, scholarly questions.
No humble, just brag: I had this one right away. Down to the fact I.M. Pei designed the glass pyramid that was added in the 1980s. But the betting was was made this one special, not my uncanny ability. Melis took a knee with a $0 wager and let the other two shoot it out, mano y mano. Smart move. Because what we got was the rarest of rare Finals. They pulled the unprecedented Double Cliff Clavin.
Neither left a dollar on the board. And like two gunslingers hitting each other with a fatal blow, they left Melis standing. All hail our new “Jeopardy!” Queen. I don’t want to jinx her, but long may she reign.