Wheel of Fortune contestants: hardly America's finest


By Justin Rybinski
6/23/02

                 
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Okay, i officially have no faith in my elders anymore. i was killing some time waiting for people to call me back at around 7:20-ish when i decided i should watch some tv. Surely something of minimal entertainment would be on so i could easily burn an hour off of the long summer day. The channel that was on when the tv started up was my local ABC affiliate and they were showing Wheel of Fortune.

No biggie, right? Well, the puzzle at the point i started watching was "SHERLO__ HOLMES & _R. _ATSON." The first contestant, Andrew, had $8,500 so far this round, which isn't too shabby. Not wanting to risk landing on a Bankrupt or Lose a Turn space, he decided to Solve the Puzzle. He confidently declared, "Sherlock Holmes & Mister Watson." There was a brief pause and Pat Sajak didnt know what to say. The buzzer sounded, Andrew was wrong. Obviously.

That alone is quite pathetic. However, it gets worse, somehow. The next lady, Jean, started with no money and decided to spin the wheel. Her first spin landed on Bankrupt, but since she had a Free Spin token, she was able to go again. On her second spin, she landed on a Palm Beach Vacation space and guessed a C. She got it. Jean's next spin landed on another specialty space--a $5,000 Shopping Spree somewhere. She guessed a K and got it. Apparently not happy with her pile of winnings, she spins again. Amazingly, she landed on ANOTHER great spot: $3,500. She guessed a W and got it.

Okay, for those of you not paying attention, the puzzle currently looks like this: "SHERLOCK HOLMES & _R. WATSON." What happened next should go down in history as the saddest event to ever happen on a game show, eclipsing Cliff's adventures on Jeopardy on "Cheers." It's still Jean's turn, and she looks confused for some reason. She is clearly stalling, and eventually spins the wheel. It lands on a nominal value, but still, at least it wasnt a Bankrupt. What does Jean do? Does she play it smart and guess a D, thus winning this game and probably the rest of the show? No. She guesses an M. A fucking M. Even though there ALREADY WAS an M in the puzzle. Even though Andrew ALREADY GUESSED "MR. WATSON." Even though the most ignorant cretin knows that it is DOCTOR Watson, not MISTER, not MISSUS, not PRIME MINISTER, not MONSIGNOR. DOCTOR. Jesus christ, where do they find these people?

After Jean guessed M, everything just stopped. The audience didn't know whether they should laugh hysterically or "awwww" in pity. Once again, our happy host PS had nothing to say. i don't remember the "wrong" buzzer sounding, but perhaps i was too caught up in the moment to notice. Eventually, the next guy spun the wheel. It landed somewhere very cheap, like $500, and he guessed a D with a touch of ridicule in his voice. He was then asked to solve the puzzle, to which he repsonded "Sherlock Holmes and DOCTOR Watson," clearly emphasizing the "Doctor." This puzzle was the only one this guy solved correctly, but for this one episode only, the Wheel of Fortune producers should have bended the rules and disqualified the other two contestants.

The sad part about this is that Andrew and Jean were older people, not your typical 25-40 year old people who are usually on the show (at least on the few episodes i've seen). Andrew looked about 45-50 and Jean was clearly over 55. This means there's a good chance they were educated before our nation's school systems went down the tubes. If some 20-year-old punk got this wrong, i wouldn't be too surprised (i can say this because i'm 22). But i expect more from people who have been around the block a few times. Of course, it's probably wrong in some way to no longer appreciate any and all people over the age of 40 based on the actions of two people i saw on tv for ten minutes.

Oh, Andrew ended up winning this episode with a very low total. I believe it was around $4,500, which is terrible for any episode after 1990. His final puzzle was exceedingly simple, even for a imbecile like himself. Using the "modern" way of selecting letters (now you get nine letters as opposed to the old-school way of five), it ended up being "GLUE ST_CK." Had he said "Glue Stack," i think i finally would have given up on non-cartoon tv shows forever. With my local FOX station still showing reruns of The Nanny ad nauseum, i think i may do that anyway.

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