How production schedules created an odd time warp for Rhone Talsma’s ‘Jeopardy!’ episode

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Rhone Talsma, who defeated 40 day “Jeopardy!” champ Amy Schneider on the episode that aired Jan. 26, 2022, has known what happened for months.

Talsma taped his first game Nov. 9, 2021, which was actually before the game Schneider’s first win was aired Nov. 17, 2021.

How is that possible?

Like many game shows, “Jeopardy!” tapes multiple episodes per day in order to streamline production costs.

“Jeopardy!” typically takes five shows a day for two days a week during select times of the year. That means that after just two calendar days, the show is able to get two weeks’ worth of episodes taped.

That taping schedule means that the show quickly amasses a backlog of episodes yet to air (in Talsma’s case, it was nearly three months before his episode aired).

Obviously, everyone present at the taping knew Schneider had been on a big streak when Talsma stepped behind the lectern before Thanksgiving since the show includes the returning champion’s number of wins and total amount in the open.

Past contestants have said the show has them sign agreements saying they won’t reveal what happens on the show before it airs, but under non-pandemic circumstances it might have been harder to keep things under wraps because the show typically tapes with a studio audience.

These audience members are asked to stay quiet too, though having members of the general public watching can make it harder to keep the outcomes of games quiet.

However, “Jeopardy!” is currently taping with a limited studio audience due to the coronavirus pandemic, so that may have made it easier to keep things a secret.

The show hasn’t been showing its audience on air since the pandemic protocols started.

Prior to the pandemic, part of the audience was dedicated to the pool of potential contestants invited to that day’s taping (they are selected at random to compete). Family members and friends of audience members also can come along and watch the proceedings.

It’s not clear how the pandemic has changed this protocol, though the show could be using a masked, socially distanced audience and still likely be in compliance with Hollywood’s COVID protocols. It could also be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test to be in the audience.

That said, it’s most likely the “Jeopardy!” studio audience is made up of that day’s contestant pool and perhaps a small group of invited guests.

It’s also not uncommon for shows to stop using a general, open studio audiences for certain episodes where things need to be kept “secret” (such as, with sitcoms, season or series finales) so “Jeopardy!” could have done something similar as the Schneider streak continued in order to keep things as quiet as possible — even without the pandemic going on.

For example, the show could have used staffers and their families as audience members or simply gone without one and eliminated audience shots.