Miami Vice, Murder She Wrote, Purple Rain, The Cosby Show, Nightmare on Elm Street, Night Court, Highway to Heaven, Van Halen 1984, Sixteen Candles, Punky Brewster, E/R, Muppet Babies, the personal Apple Computer, Springsteen’s Born in the USA Album and Gremlins.
“What is 1984, Alex?”
1984 was an incredible year and had such a huge impact on me. As a 12-year-old sixth-grader living in Nashville, Tennessee I was the youngest amongst five kids in a house that fought for any kind of television authority.
Needless to say, I never won the battle for the remote.
In 1984, prime time television pleased us with a reboot of the classic trivia game, Jeopardy. It was the one show that our whole family could agree on. No matter what was going on in our crazy lives, at 7:30 p.m., sports, phone calls with friends, MTV, Atari, and even homework took a temporary backseat to gathering around the television to answer random trivia in the form of a question.
That half-hour of the evening, Monday through Friday, became a ritual and was the final time together each night as a family until we broke off into our personal space and pursued our personal interests. Mine mainly consisted of closing my door, listening to music, and lipsynching to the fantasy that I was the next Jon Bon Jovi or Gene Simmons. If only I had a voice, a rock-star look, or any glimpse of talent whatsoever.
And yes, I played air guitar on a tennis racket and I sounded just like Eddie Van Halen doing it. Tik Tok today is no match for me strumming that Wilson Pro.
Jeopardy was part of our household even when it wasn’t on television. For those of us who were fans of the television series “Cheers,” who can forget the classic storyline when Norm was on Jeopardy and blew his lead at the end of the episode with the famous answer, “Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?”
Trivia was always going on in our house from watching game shows such as Jeopardy, to playing Trivial Pursuit, to even sitting by the radio trying to win prizes by answering the trivia questions of the day and then praying that we might be the right caller only to be frustrated by the expected busy tone.
Fast forward to 2008. While visiting my family in Florida, I wowed the family by answering the final Jeopardy clue three days in a row. Well, sort of. My family is technologically challenged and had no idea at the time that my phone had Google. By just searching a small part of the clue, the answer would pop right up. Yes, during my superiority run of Final Jeopardy, my family was shocked by my knowledge of former government officials in Kenya, Civil War Geography, and the Latin derivatives for verbiage used in William Shakespeare plays. I was amazing; well, me and Google.
So, here we are 36 years after the year when the reboot of Jeopardy came on network television. Sadly, we lost Alex Trebek this month after his battle with pancreatic cancer.
As far as my family, I don’t keep in contact too much with most of my siblings who used to gather and watch Jeopardy together. My brothers all live in separate states, live very separate lives, and unfortunately, my sister passed away some years back.
We live in a very different time now. Game shows are rarely watched, the days of families gathering together to watch live television shows are gone, and interaction for a definite time in front of the tube was changed forever with the invention of Tivo and later the popularity and diverse lineup of Netflix.
I’ll always miss that time. Alex Trebek brought many together, including my family. Rest in peace Alex, and know that you were such a blessing.
Sometimes appreciation isn’t realized until the moment is gone. Much love. If you remember the ’80s like I do, don’t forget that the man of 1,000 voices from Police Academy, Michael Winslow, will be taking the Abbeville Opera House Stage on Feb. 26, with special guest from America’s Funniest People, Roger Keiss.
Michael Elis is a comic emcee as well as a comedy and music promoter. Be sure to tune in to his radio show “The Mike on the Mic” show on WZLA 92.9FM for your favorites in country music and stand-up comedy, along with the most fun call-in radio show in the Carolinas.