June 04, 2003

Embrace The Weak, Punish The Strong

Over on Television Without Pity, I recently opined that another reason SlackerJosh may have pointed the NFLWives to the middle bus rather than letting them flounder on the late bus was that he wanted to keep a 'weaker' team up high, increasing the chance that a 'stronger' team would be eliminated. I've also seen seen this (twice in a row!) when I was in the studio audience for Jeopardy! in 1990. Making the comparison would have been seriously off-topic for the TWoP forum, and they're pretty strict about staying on-topic, but I can elaborate here (disclaimer: all details accurate as of August 1990, so if (f'rinstance) they've changed how many episodes they tape in a day, sorry).

In the third episode taped that day, the leader going into Final Jeopardy bet such that if A) he got the question right, B) the second place person bet it all, and C) the second place person got it right, they would tie for the win (the person in third place was not a factor). Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. This is pretty rare; it generally only happens when two players are tied for first going into Final. Jeopardy! rules in such an event are to pay both contestants and bring them back for the next show as co-champions. That's how Sarah Cox, a schoolteacher from Bangor, Maine, won her first Jeopardy! game--on the coattails of someone who let her.

At the time, the dinner break was after the third show of the day. So as we're chowing down on the Soul Train set, I got into a conversation with a guy named Steve, and the topic came up. I said that I couldn't understand why Paul (I think his name was Paul) would let Sarah back into the game like he did. Steve replied that he thought it was a very Machievellian move, and his theory was that Paul thought he could handle Sarah in the next game and that way he'd only have to battle one unknown instead of two.

Did I mention that Steve's a lawyer?

Naturally, Steve got selected to play the next game. Going into Final Jeopardy, he was in exactly the same situation Paul was in the previous game (Steve leading, Sarah close, Paul not a factor). He bet exactly the same way. Final Jeopardy played out exactly the same way.

We'll never know just why Paul dragged Sarah along. But we know exactly why Steve did.

Posted by Chris at June 4, 2003 08:36 AM

Category: Reality TV