GSN: (September 1997 - September 1998)
I'm just thankful that Jeopardy! actually added Kids Week in their regular rotation of special weeks in their seasons. Basically all it was is kids, between the ages of 10-12 playing the game for cash and prizes. That's all that needs to be done for a kids version of Jeopardy.
So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that when I mention that Scott Sternberg...yeah, the same gigantic mullet wearing mullet that produced the porno-riffic Everything Goes, the cheaply done and cheaply pathetic Let's Go Back & other craptacular programming like The Singing Office, did a kids version of Jeopardy back during the same time period that he did a kids version of Wheel of Fortune, you'd run away in horror. So, we dig deep into another edition of "Socking it to Scott Sternberg" and oddly enough, another Game Show Network show that sucks. So to question the answer, "The kids version of Alex Trebek's game show that shouldn't have been on TV at all."
The question, "What is Jep!?"
The host of this show is Bob Bergen. Apparently he's made a name for himself in various TV roles and as a voice actor for various cartoons, including the 1996 blockbuster Space Jam. While he's good there and in other roles, as a host, he leaves a lot to be desired. He gets overly excited for certain things, mainly incorrect answers he gets too excited over, but we'll be covering that later on in the induction. Aside from that, when he introduces the contestants, he sometimes mispronounces names and I remember a couple times when the kids had Junior in their name, he'd sometimes say it as a question, kind of like how Ron Burgundy from Anchorman said his name like a question when someone messed up on the prompter. I can understand being somewhat overexhuberant for the kiddies, but when you are more excited for kids failing to come up with the correct answers than the correct answers, then there's something wrong.
Now, the format. It's the basic Jeopardy format, and there's no need to explain that. However, changes were made to this game to make the game...more exciting? Well, they were probably meant that way, but they failed miserably. To start, instead of having just a board with 25 monitors with the top 5 being the categories and the other 20 holding the point amounts to be used for the round, which would have been true to the original board, instead of a weird looking board with 11 monitors with the top 5 monitors holding the questions, and 5 monitors of the same size on the lower part of the board, where the questions would be shown & one big monitor in the middle for my next bone of contention with this show, the randomizing point total. After a contestant selects a category, they must hit their big red button to stop the points randomizer and then they get to the clue. This irks me a bit, because with the randomizing point total, you could get 5 or so clues worth 400-500 but then you get the rest of the round worth only 100-200 points. It just doesn't make sense. I'm assuming Scott Sternberg did this to institute fairness so that anybody can come back to win. But then again, isn't that what Final Jeopardy! and the Daily Doubles are for?
And while we're on the subject of Daily Doubles. On Jeopardy, they are hidden behind 1 of the dollar amounts and can be picked at any time, if you're lucky. On Jep!, it's hidden behind either the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th clue in a category, but you have to burn through the rest of the clues in order to get to it, and in the first round, there are sometimes 2, instead of the traditional 1. It just doesn't make any sense to me, maybe because the board doesn't look right at all. Less annoyingly, there are Jep! Prize squares, where if you are correct, you win a prize of sorts and the Jep! Squad, a precursor to the Clue Crew. Those are ok, and keep within the focus of the game.
Unlike the penalties for an incorrect answer. Normally on Jeopardy, you just lose the amount of the clue. On Jep!, not only do you lose the amount of the clue, but Scott Sternberg decided that wasn't enough, he thought he'd add the time honored kids game show tradition of a bit of mess. For the first incorrect answer, they'd heat up the vat above the contestants head and when they gave a second incorrect answer, the stuff in the vat got dumped on their heads, which was either packing peanuts or balls of some sort. It's just a cheap way to add mess to a show...THAT NEEDS NOTHING ADDED TO IT! And for a third incorrect answer...
They send the contestant back behind the wall for one question to further halt their progress. I mean, doesn't taking away points hurt them enough? Does Scott Sternberg have something against shows that were better than his original programming that he has to ruin kids versions or other versions of the show? Anyways, I'm getting sidetracked. This type of penalty, like the dumping of items on the contestants wasn't needed at all. If it doesn't make sense, then why add it.
I may be nitpicking here, but just as a small comment, I don't get why they needed the sound effect for the buzzers. If the light on the podium wasn't enough of an inclination as to who buzzed in, I guess the annoying sound effect was to hammer it home.
Aside from those things, Jep! played much like Jeopardy. Although, they could have done with just calling the other two rounds Double Jep! and Final Jep! instead of Hyper Jep! and Super Jep!, but that's very minor.
At the end of the show, the contestants got to pick their prizes. The third place contestant got to pick from prizes that were about $100-200 in value, the second place contestant got prizes worth $200-300 in value, and the winner got to pick a prize worth about $500.
However, it should be noted that while some of the prizes were good, some of the prizes stunk to high heaven, especially when they offered a Limo Ride to and from School for a week. I guess to make it more appealing, they threw in your choice of 10 CDs to go along with it. If there were some sort of hierarchy for bad grand prizes for kids game shows, this would have to be right up there, if not the worst. Let's think about it. After that week of being escorted to and from school and being popular, the kids will riot against you and then bring you down like mad. I do think the show could have just benefitted, like Wheel 2000 by giving the kids some sort of trip. I mean, how hard would it have been for the kids to win a trip to Space Camp or since they were shooting in California, maybe Hawaii or if you want to go the other route, maybe a computer, like what they actually did on Wheel 2000.
And that was Jep! Lasted 1 year of new episodes in its original run, and for another 2 or 3 in reruns on the "Kids Zone" that GSN had, which needs to be trashed at a later date. Either way, Jep died due to poor hosting and poor direction from Scott Sternberg. Sure, Harry Freidman was also Executive Producer, but at least he kept the show somewhat stable, but the rest of the show was just garbage. I'm just thankful that Jeopardy started doing regular kids weeks to their shows. I mean, what kid wouldn't want to win $20,000+ for being smart. Sadly, Scott Sternberg continues to pump crap back into our TV screens, with various reality shows and somehow, he hooked up with Merrill Heatter to produce Catch 21, which would be an excellent show, if not for some of Sternberg's touches and hosting choice, so we're stuck with yet another average game.
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