An SF State professor and an executive assistant from Colma will compete tonight on Alex Trebek’s final episode of Jeopardy!, airing at 7 p.m. local time.
What is… the last episode of Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek as host is set to air tonight, but we already have some spoilers on what will happen on the broadcast. As seen in the teaser below from the official Jeopardy! Youtube channel, it will be a normal episode of Jeopardy!, but also with “a very special look back at your favorite Alex moments and memories.” Trebek, who has hosted Jeopardy! since its 1984 revival and had hosted other television game shows since 1966, passed away at the age of 80 November 8 after a nearly two-year battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
Trebek filmed a series of episodes on October 29, ten days prior to his death, and the show's executive producer Mike Richards told CNN that it was clearly a difficult day for Trebek to get through.
"He was in pain and we knew it," Richards said. "He’d had surgery. I couldn’t believe he was already back from the surgery that he’d had just two weeks before that. I had chills the entire tape day."
Richards said he told Trebek, after the cameras turned off, that his composure and professionalism that day was an incredible feat.
But the San Francisco Chronicle has another spoiler for tonight’s show, and it adds a little local color to the momentous broadcast. An SF State English professor is among tonight’s contestants, and the contestant Jim Gilligan had been auditioning for the show since the 1990s before eventually making it on the episode that was taped on October 27.
And we being huge Jeopardy! fans here at SFist, we can confirm that last night’s returning champion is Yoshie Hill, an executive assistant from Colma. In an awkward and accidental bit of foreshadowing on Thursday night’s episode, Hill shared the old joke “You’re lucky to be alive in Colma,” a reference to the town having more residents in graves than live citizens.
Set to air TODAY, the taping of @SFSU professor Jim Gilligan's #Jeopardy appearance, the late Alex Trebek's final episode as host, was an emotional roller coaster.— SFChronicle Datebook (@SFC_Datebook) January 8, 2021
Read more here: https://t.co/TNghpswl9Q
“It’s definitely a bittersweet moment,” the professor Gilligan told the Chronicle. “‘Hey, I finally achieved one of my life’s dreams, I’m going to be on “Jeopardy!,” and I met Alex Trebek.’ But it was the last episode he ever taped in his life.”
Trebek did not realize the show would be his last when it was taped. “It was pretty clear that he was not at 100%. He still did a great job, but he was walking a little bit more slowly,” Gilligan said. “It looked like he was in pain a little bit. But if you watch the show, you’ll never be able to tell.”
The game-show-within-a-game-show of who will replace Trebek as Jeopardy! host is still very much in flux. All-time winningest Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings will get the role at first on an interim basis, and those episodes are already taped. But Jennings was recently tarred by his role in the ‘Bean Dad’ Twitter dust-up, plus a series of other pretty assholish tweets that have surfaced, so surely that does not help his candidacy. The LA Times reported Wednesday that Katie Couric (“All of ‘em, Katie!”) had been signed as a second temporary host. It is rumored that Trebek had privately hoped that a woman would succeed him as Jeopardy! host.
We have our own “favorite Alex moments and memories" here at SFist, most notably that time in 2011 when Trebek snapped his Achilles tendon here in San Francisco, in the act of (of course) chasing a burglar at his Union Square hotel room. The suspect stole cash and a bracelet Trebek’s mother had given him, both of which were returned, as the caper was executed in fairly incompetent and likely intoxicated fashion.
Alex Trebek’s final episode of Jeopardy air at 7 p.m. tonight on KGO, ABC-7.
Image: CULVER CITY, CA - APRIL 17: Game show host Alex Trebek poses on the set of the "Jeopardy!" Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament Show Taping on April 17, 2010 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)