If we had to name a patron saint of Titania, it’d be a close call. A number of contenders come to mind. Will Shortz, for instance. Andrew Danjumbo. That one guy in that movie. And of course, our virtual dinner companion for so many months last year—Ken Jennings.
Jeopardy! has been an obsession for me for practically as long as I’ve had the ability to ask questions. My mom had pretty strict rules about our television-watching habits, but one that we could all agree on was that if dinner was served during Jeopardy!, which in central Indiana is syndicated at the accomodating time of 7:30, we could watch it while we ate. I’ve always had a taste for the trivia, and if I remember right, my performance during these sessions was pretty impressive for a fourteen-year-old. But it was nothing compared to my dad, a regular Jeopardy! buzzsaw, as Alex likes to say. His ability to devour question after question continually made us wonder why he never tried out for the show. (His excuse was that he was afraid of making an embarrassing blunder on national TV, which as silly as that is, was probably not a joke.)
Sarah never got to watch Jeopardy! growing up, but she still aqcuired a taste for the trivial. It’s hardly a surprise that we found common ground in our love for Jeopardy! When Ken went on his MOAB (Mother of all Buzzsaws) run last year, Sarah and I would sit down in front of the TV—with dinner, of course—and cheer him on. Even though the local ABC affiliate airs the show at 3:30, we had Ken ready and waiting for us on the TiVo when we got home. Kenfest became the apex of our day, the spiritual release we’d look forward to while slogging through work.
And then, he lost. We still watched Jeopardy! on occasion after that, but we’d often skip a few shows, and watch a few days’ worth of Final Jeopardy!s in one shot before bed. It wasn’t the same. The producers must have felt the same way, because a few months later, they presented to the world what they called the Ultimate Tournament of Champions—a several-month geekfest of all their past champions and five-day winners. The tournament would eventually narrow the field down to two… who would then play Master Ken in a three-day series. We couldn’t wait.
Fortunately, we don’t have to any longer. The semi-finals wrapped up last week, meaning tonight’s show is what we fans (and Alex, who we all suspect to be a secret lover of Ken) have been waiting for. Ken returns. Will the Buzzsaw chop away his competition? Will he break his own one-day record? How will he design his name on the podium?
These questions and more, mere hours away…