Despite all of the hosting hubbub that played out both on and off of Jeopardy!’s iconic stage in 2021 and 2022, with Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik now officially the permanent successors to Alex Trebek, the show itself has largely remained the same across that span. But that won’t exactly be the case for the upcoming Season 39, with executive producer Michael Davies aiming to bring more sports-esque stakes to the game show moving forward. Beyond new tournaments being added, and the upcoming primetime offering Celebrity Jeopardy!, the daytime TV staple will be shaking things up in a couple of big ways for its seasonal Tournament of Champions, and apparently those decisions weren’t easy ones to make.
After introducing the left-field twist earlier this year that the next Tournament of Champions will welcome two “second chance” champs who didn’t make the initial cut, Davies & Co. revealed that the next tourney will also mimic sports playoffs by giving the season’s three highest-earning winners — the newest Top 10 entrants Matt Amodio, Amy Schneider and Mattea Roach — a straight shot to the semifinal rounds without having to compete in the first batch of games. As well, the next ToC will change up the finals’ Two-Day Total format of yesteryear by making it a First-To-Three-Wins process, which should make things far more unpredictable for both viewers and players.
Michael Davies, who was brought into the Jeopardy! fold in the aftermath of former head honcho Michael Richards trying to take over the show amidst resurfaced scandals, has started giving fans a more in-depth look behind the scenes of the show through the burgeoning Inside Jeopardy! Podcast, and it’s on the latest episode where he, former champ Buzzy Cohen, and producer Sarah Foss talked out the impending changes. It might seem like Amodio, Schneider and Roach are getting an unfair advantage, but according to Davies, they earned it, saying:
Past ToC host Buzzy Cohen followed that up with further arguments for why they deserve such a unique distinction going into the next Tournament of Champions, and explains why not competing in the quarterfinals could be more of a disadvantage than Jeopardy! fans might expect. In his words:
Cohen is definitely speaking truths there, given how important all things buzzer-related are for Jeopardy! hopefuls. To that end, Michael Davies said the producers may find a way to aid in that process as well, and in a manner that would be a slice of game show history unto itself. According to Davies:
Considering how excellent Matt Amodio, Amy Schneider and Mattea Roach were during their lengthy win streaks, that hypothetical practice game would be like the minor league version of the GOAT tournament between Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter. It seems like the kind of thing Holzhauer would put some big bets on, too.
As wild as 2019 was for Jeopardy!, with both Holzhauer and Jason Zuffranieri crushing the competition and reaching the Top 10 of all time, the past year delivered a hugely popular trio of champs whose combined wins total more than $3.5 million. So while I can understand some people questioning why anyone is getting special treatment now without it being a thing before, this is arguably the best group of contestants to test the waters for how it’ll work. Now we just have to wait until it starts up on Halloween.
Jeopardy! Season 39 will debut in syndication on Monday, September 12, so check your local listings to see when it’s playing in your area. Celebrity Jeopardy! is one of many primetime shows hitting the 2022 TV premiere schedule, so be sure to stay updated!
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.