Diehard danger! Fans have saved every question in a huge database

A sacred place where every casual viewer of Jeopardy! can appreciate the deep weight of the program’s 36 year history. A dissertation-level study that examined how the show’s nocturnal trivia affected the environmental knowledge of the American spirit. A detailed catalog of the countless times that Alex Trebek has guided us through Potpourri categories, arcane word games and 19th century novelists, whose names begin with the letter E.

What is the J! Archive?

You’re right. On the Fan Run J! Archives, a budding scientist can click on any season and year and witness thousands and thousands of tabular episodes. Lois Kurowski, a PhD student from Elkhart, Indiana, identified the playwright Edward Albee in response to the $ 1,000 reference to “20th Century Personalities,” during program No. 1,427, which aired on Tuesday, January 15, 1991. that Irma Rombauer printed The Joy of Cooking for $ 300 and seduced Zeus Leda in the form of a swan for $ 600. Kurowski wins the show of the day and brings her two-day income to $ 29,400.

Jeopardy! In its 36th season, it celebrates the brain’s unlimited ability to convey insignificant insights. The archive is of the same breed. These airy interviews that Trebek conducts with the participants after the first advertising break? The website moderators transcribe them like court records. There is a concise mathematical breakdown of the score over the course of a particular episode. Large sums run after every question. Just like Trekkies can dictate vows in Klingon and Tolkien’s followers can analyze Quenya scripts, a little niche of danger! Obsessives have articulated their exclusive fandom in an extremely brand-specific way to ensure that no daily double is forgotten and that every trebekism is taken into account.

There are national congresses that are less extensive than the J! Archive and Robert Schmidt, a 39-year-old patent attorney and the original architect of the website, emailed me that the full scope of Jeopardy! requires an almost insurmountable amount of work. Still, he doesn’t think he’s doing enough.

“I hope that one day at my pension I’ll be able to use my days to fill in all the gaps, but a lot depends on how well we as a community are able to preserve the consequences on video,” he said , “We used to have a much better coordinated division of labor, but nowadays it’s mostly a very small group of dedicated people who do all the immigration work.”

The J! Archive page for Jeopardy! Season 12.Picture: J! archive

Fifteen years later, much of the information on the J! The moderators continue to enter the archive manually. Mark Barrett, a 56-year-old in San Francisco who contributes to the archive, emails that he watches every episode on his computer with subtitles turned on, ensuring that when he completes the questions and no words he loses answers. “It is a click of the mouse to enter the data from the recording to the archive entry page,” he says. “The subtitles make it much easier to find the wording for clue crew cues when sometimes there is no text.”

Consequences of danger from modern seasons! are the easiest to adapt; They are all available digitally, and the archivists have a tool that automatically copies the text and pastes it directly from the information into the database template. But Barrett remains the most important thing for the community: In the 1980s he was at risk! he missed half an hour because of college tuition and late work shifts. Today he sits on a treasure trove of episodes that have never made it onto the Internet. This has become his sacred burden: Slowly carve through his VHS residue and fill in the remaining empty spaces on the J! Archive card.

“In 2019, I still haven’t exhausted my range of games that are not in the archive. I have about 150 games to archive and I think there will probably be around 1,400 games missing after that, ”he says. “The dream is that more games will appear via streaming services or participants with their own copies that they upload to YouTube and so on.”

Everyone who contributes to the database is in solidarity. Barrett tells me about a legendary archivist, Robert McIelwain, who didn’t have access to a VCR, but still Old Jeopardy! Follow on the website with the audio he was able to save from VHS magnetic tape. It takes a special kind of people to find their zen in the disembodied rattling of decades of Trebek clues, but the people who do swear it is more fun than it looks. “I can participate in a number of ways to hopefully make the show more enjoyable for viewers,” says Barrett. “Yes, it is time consuming to be an archivist. It is worth it to me, as it can be useful to many if I watch a reality show or play a video game instead, it would only be my guilty pleasure. “

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Museum

Contributors say the functional purpose of the J! The archive should serve as a resource for all past and future dangers! Master. This is where the granular attention to detail is most necessary. Yes, all questions and answers are printed on the website, but also the daily double risks and final jeopardy games. Be careful, and a meta game melts through the countless data points. You and I could enjoy the J! Archive as a digital memorial to a particular constraint, but there are many Jennings and Holzhauer acolytes that deal with this information.

“We have an almost complete record of Jeopardy! Strategy. We can look back on 20 years and look at this data and say: “Okay, nine out of ten leaders risk that certain amount in this end danger! Situation, ”says Andy Saunders, another long-time J! Archive contribution. “You can then develop your own strategy by considering this.”

Schmidt is most proud of his creation when he hears the J! Archive that players referred to during Trebek interviews. During the all-star tournament, which brought together the strongest rivals that have ever appeared on the show, NBC broadcast video clips of Ken Jennings and David Madden, who were still dealing with the game and database over the years. “Watson from IBM would not have been possible without the archive already being available,” adds Schmidt, referring to the AI ​​module, the Jeopardy! in three exhibition games in 2011. “I was told that personally by some people behind Watson.”

It’s hard to imagine American television without exposure! And even harder to imagine exposure! without Alex Trebek. Nobody feels this more than those who have made it their life’s work to transcribe every word of the host’s career. In March last year, Trebek announced that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. There have been few updates since then, but the ones we’ve received are coated with the kind of serious composure that points to a future that no one wants to think about. “I have had a good life, a fulfilling life, and I’m approaching the end of this life,” 79-year-old Trebek told CTV News in October. “If it happens, why should I be afraid of it?” And so the greatest game show host in history refuses to fear death every week on prime time television.

“Some people think that the show’s main talent can be re-cast as a moderator and that the show goes on normally. I think the show is much more fragile and finding a suitable replacement for Alex will be a Herculean task, ”says Schmidt. “If you want to be a millionaire, you can cancel after 20 years, then it’s Jeopardy! also threatens to lose popularity. “

In the mid-2000s, Schmidt believed that he was different from the J! Archive, when Trebek called it up, ends. It would be poetic: two giants of competitive little things that hang their buzzers at exactly the same time. He doesn’t feel that way anymore. The responsibility is too great. Schmidt now believes that the archive will be crucial for the transition to the upcoming dark water – a feeling of normalcy when a broadcaster enters its second chapter after 36 years.

“Danger! Is not a magically self-perpetuating entertainment object. It has to be constantly cared for by people – and especially by a host – who can take care of it,” continues Schmidt. “Alex has brought along a number of talents who never Viewers need a host they can lovingly embrace, and that requires the new host’s love for the game. ”

Schmidt remembers the single time a reporter Trebek thought about the J! Archive. His answer? “Come on, people, get a life.” Trebek is humble by nature – he doesn’t want anyone to waste his time documenting all his clues and answers and having small talk between the podiums. But Schmidt, Barrett and Saunders trust in the transformative power of Jeopardy! They have watched the archive change lives, including their own, and believe that everyone deserves the same privilege. The best way to honor Trebek? Make sure the show survives him.

“The J! The archive will be a lasting tribute to the man who looked in the living rooms of generations of Americans every night,” says Schmidt. “In a century no one will remember what it meant to Alex Trebek organized a game for them every evening of the week, but at least they will be able to look up a small part of the experience online. ”

Luke Winkie is a writer from San Diego. In addition to Polygon, his work has been published in The Atlantic, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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