As Mayim Bialik quickly learned upon taking the hosting lectern, Jeopardy! fans are a passionate bunch. They’ve been known to lose it over a jacket, so a host telling a contestant their response is wrong when it was technically an accurate answer? For Jeopardy! fans, that’s simply unacceptable.
According to Mayim Bialik, it was the ire from Jeopardy! fans regarding these mistakes that caused the decision to simply shut down production when a particularly tricky situation arises. When producers need time to decide whether or not a contestant’s response is an acceptable answer, they bring the game to a halt.
In an interview on Steve-O’s podcast Wild Ride, Bialik explained the need for the breaks in filming. “We sometimes shut down for close to an hour over one decision,” Bialik said. “So, you don’t see that.”
“You just see the like, ‘Oh they rule on this,'” the host continued. “But any episode where we correct someone’s score, like, ‘The judges have rules that mahogany is also an acceptable tree that beings with an M,’ or whatever it is, usually means we’ve shut down for like an hour.”
Though it’s no doubt a tedious task, this decision makes sense. In Bialik’s words, such a decision “can change the course of the game.” Because of that, and the fact that fans will notice if something is amiss, it’s imperative to get it right.
Mayim Bialik Says ‘Jeopardy!’ Has a Resident Lawyer to Oversee Each Game
The Jeopardy! crew is so dedicated to ensuring that each episode of the game show goes smoothly that there’s an attorney on set at all times whose job is to monitor the proceedings of the game. “There’s a lawyer on set all day,” Mayim Bialik said. “A lawyer from standards and practices. Imagine going to law school, and you get placed on Jeopardy!. They just sit and make sure that everything’s kosher.”
While corrections aren’t uncommon, adding another hour to the workday isn’t the most ideal situation. In an effort to prevent these and ensure the show runs without incident, Jeopardy! producers do their best to work through every possible way a contestant could answer each question before the round begins.
“So, for certain things, they’ll already list other acceptable answers,” Bialik shared. “For things where a couple answers are acceptable, or they’ll make a note, if like, ‘Oh, if they say this, they need to be more specific,’ right?”
“I’m like learning those things,” Bialik said. “But sometimes, they’ll come up with something and I’m just like, ‘I don’t know.’ And so, yeah, I have a light that turns green if it’s a go and if turns red if it’s not.”