The world of game shows was in full swing in 1986 and 1987. Revival after revival after revival came on the air in the hopes of pulling slices of the ratings pie away from new shows in production. The two shows inspiring this upswing were of course, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! both of which had already received the home game treatment. There was a problem, though. Pressman, who oversaw the production of both shows’ home versions, determined that the games being released weren’t quite awesome enough. The company took care of Wheel’s problem with the awe-inspiring Deluxe Edition, while Jeopardy! was taken care of with this, the Electric Edition.
Prior Jeopardy! games had included plastic or metal crickets for signaling (and a die for tiebreaker-breaking) and a stack of play money. The Electric Edition phased these out in favor of two cooler props: A set of nine-volt battery-operated lock-out buttons and a set of three scorekeeping consoles.
Despite the syntax on the box (which boasts “electric response controls and contestant scoring consoles”), only the response controls are electric. One houses a nine-volt battery while a set of wires keeps the three of them together. The correct way to operate them requires some explaining to anybody who plays the game for the first time. The light only stays lit and your opponents will only be locked out as long as a button is being leaned on. In other words, the proper technique is to press the button only once (not push it over and over again, which is the natural game show buzzer instinct) and then stay on it until you’ve actually given your response.
The manually-operated scoring consoles are pretty spiffy contraptions, although the difference between the actual consoles and the rendering on the box makes a bit of a difference. The tens and ones space are occupied by a “00” sticker on the actual devices, which means you can’t place a strategic bid (like bidding $5,001 when you only need $5,000 to tie) or place a bid that sends an awesome subversive message to three other people (like the incredibly cool & rebellious Kermin during the college tournament a while back).
The rest of the game is
about what you’d expect from Pressman. Wrong number of categories on the board
(accounted for by a rule that says everybody gets $500 to start),
randomly-placed Daily Doubles, no actual Final Jeopardy! There’s also an odd
rule that your score can’t go into negative numbers, probably because the dude
who designed the score consoles forgot to put a “+/-“ slide.
(The Electric Edition came with a full 71 games!)
DURABILITY: Not Applicable. Hard to know how the buzzers would have held up under other conditions not involving an incompetent Ebay dealer and a dude who knows a few things about wiring.
OVERALL RATING: (4.5/5)
Special Dedication: This copy of Electric Jeopardy! was obtained in the worst Ebay transaction I’ve ever taken part in. Having paid a $10 shipping charge in addition to my bid, I was understandably surprised when the game arrived Postage Due on my doorstep. I opened the box and was astonished to find that despite the “complete and excellent condition” boast on the item description, this copy of Electric Jeopardy was neither complete nor in excellent condition. It was missing a $100/$200 slide and the sheets for games #1 and #2. The box was collapsed on one side. Most egregiously, the lock-out devices were in the worst shape imaginable. The battery case housed a battery at least 10 years old, covered in its own dried, caked-on acid, which had also oozed and dried onto the wiring.
Removing the battery caused part of the inner workings to literally fall apart in my hands and render the buttons useless. With a heart full of hostility, I took the game, such as it was, to a good friend of mine, known in internet circles by his nom de plume of Ford W. Maverick. Armed with only a miniature soldering iron, some cardboard, Coca-Cola, and wiring obtained at Radio Shack, Ford spent the next hour and a half cleaning and repairing the buttons until PRESTO! The buttons worked, they locked out, and they housed a new battery as perfectly as you could imagine. They also shone like new.
As if that weren’t enough, Ford also had a perfect match for the cardboard used to make the dollar slides, and after a little measuring and exacto-knife hackery, I also had a replacement. This review is dedicated to Ford W. Maverick, the most technically gifted dirty comic strip artist I've ever known.