Dan Patrick’s ‘Sports Jeopardy’ fumbles at the line of scrimmage

Dan, I’ll take disappointing game shows for $1,000.

Proving that even the best ingredients sometimes result in a webseries misfire, Crackle’s Sports Jeopardy gets off on a slow, tedious start resulting in a disappointing, dull half-hour of sports Q&A less far less fun than $2 draught trivia night at the local pub. Not even Dan Patrick, the ex-ESPN, Emmy Award-winning daily talk show host who doubles as Sunday Night Football pre-game guy, could save this from becoming a major borefest.

While it might not seem like it based on two of its first four episodes, the show was more than a decade in the making, Sports Jeopardy executive producer Harry Friedman told the Daily Dot. “We had some success about 15 years ago with Rock & Roll Jeopardy! which lasted 105 episodes on VH1, so we knew it could be done,” Friedman said. “Since then, sports has grown exponentially and this idea always [was] in the back of our mind. We were waiting for the right time, the right delivery system, and the right host.”

Friedman agrees that Patrick is the ideal person to be the show’s ringleader. “Dan is more than just a sportscaster,” Friedman said. “His [daily talk] show is more than a sports show. He gets into topics such as legislation, rules issues, debates about the role of concussions in sports, and other topics of the day.”

The executive producer also thinks the new format for this Web-delivered quiz show, which rewards points toward a season-ending tournament, will create some compelling drama when it comes to Final Jeopardy wagering. Contestants have to decide whether they want to win that episode (which also comes with a $5,000 cash prize) or try to better some of the previous high totals for a spot in the finals.

Friedman goes on to say that the 52 episodes that Crackle has committed to will be delivered via the Web to allow young audiences to watch it whenever, wherever, on whatever device they want. In short, we’re looking at Jeopardy for a new generation.

That said, Jeopardy, which has been around since my family only had one black-and-white TV, is an iconic broadcast property that has become part of our cultural consciousness with such phrases as “put that in the form of a question” and a ready ballast for a number of hilarious spoofy bits on Saturday Night Live and even SCTV. To take that legendary quiz show, with its own special je ne sais quoi, and attempt to add to its franchise by building a man cave set, tossing in some somewhat arcane sports trivia questions, and calling it good programming, is a recipe for disaster. 

Dan Patrick tries his best to liven things up, but the show’s staging provides him little elbow room to engage with his guests with his familiar quick quips and singular interviewing style. But the biggest issue is the contestants. They sure may know who won the Stanley Cup in 1975 (Philadelphia Flyers), but man, they are deadly dull. Which leads me to wonder…

Back in 1985, several lifetimes ago, I was a contestant on the “real” Jeopardy, a reincarnation of the original version (1964-1979) when Art Fleming was the host. The process of being selected as a contestant was far more than being better than your competition at knowing the capital of Peru (Lima) or the name of Dumbo’s mother (Jumbo, which I answered incorrectly). In order to get on that very selective show, you had to exude that “ready to jump out of your skin” level of excitement. Clearly, the process of selecting the folks for Sports Jeopardy omitted the bubbly personality phase of the pregame bootcamp. The six contestants in the two preview shows were as stiff as statues with facial expressions that emoted fear, not fun.

As punchless as the question-and-answer part of the show is, there is a strange postgame huddle in which Dan and his announcer/sidekick, Kelly Miyahara, sit around and schmooze with the players to recap the game. But the losing contestants are in no mood to relive the mistakes they just made, so this painful segment is marked by a series of blank stares. This oddly conceived video suffix is an off-base take on The Box Score, a regular part of Dan Patrick’s weekday talk show in which his crew (The Danettes) talk about the highlights from that day’s broadcast. Over there, it works; on Sports Jeopardy, it bombs. As a suggestion, it would be great to see more of the highly accomplished Miyahara, who has long been a member of (the regular) Jeopardy Clue Crew and a veteran Ironman athlete.

To me, the biggest disappointment is the misuse of Dan Patrick, a true sports star, but one whose talents go far beyond the playing field. He has been a featured player in nearly all of Adam Sandler’s films, the best of which is his cameo in Just Go With It. Surely he can do better than this.

Screengrab via Sony Pictures Entertainment

Allen Weiner

Allen Weiner

Allen Weiner has been a market research analyst in the area of new media and technology since 1994. He’s worked as writer, publisher and newspaper executive. He is the co-founder and publisher of Kombucha Network and the former managing vice president of Gartner.