We Need To Talk About ‘Jeopardy’, The Horrifying Kid’s Show That Everyone’s Forgotten
18 years later, I'm still scared of camcorders and red contact lenses.
Horrifying kid’s shows are weirdly far too common.
Courage the Cowardly Dog was basically a giant, animated fever dream that covered everything that is scary in the world. Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids really wasn’t much better, with stories of horrible children getting their just desserts. Hell, Aussie show Lift Off literally had a dirty, faceless talking doll as a main character on the show.
Basically, kid’s TV has really taken a turn from the calmness that was the Teletubbies and The Wiggles. But I firmly believe that no ~kid’s show~ was more horrifying or scarring than Jeopardy, the sci-fi drama about UFO hunting in the Australian Outback.
And no, please don’t confuse this with the gameshow hosted by Alex Trebek.
Mind Jeopardy that was on CBBC years ago? Was about a group of Scottish students that go looking for UFOs etc. It was absolutely terrifying, donno how they got away with that
— party ross anthem (@Rauss_Mc) January 11, 2018
The Major Mindfuck Plot
For those who need a reminder, Jeopardy is a CBBC show that was filmed in Australia, and aired from 2002-2004.
The show’s story followed a group of eight Scottish high school students, who were part of their school’s UFO Club. After “winning” a school-run draw to attend the club’s annual trip, the eight teens and their teacher, Mr. Simmons, travel to the Australian bush to hunt down UFOs.
To document their findings, each student is also given a camcorder to record their hopeful alien sightings. Now, as a concept that all sounds fine. Who doesn’t love a bit of teen drama filled with the possibility of ~spooky encounters~, accents and the picturesque views of Australia? Well, jokes on everyone because this show was a fucking nightmare.
And thanks to the shaky camcorder footage, which a lot of the story is told through, Jeopardy ends up feeling like the Blair Witch Project for kids.
— CBBC Memories (@CBBCMemories) May 1, 2013
Nothing to do with the game show. It was a Scottish supernatural drama about a bunch of kids who went UFO spotting in the Australian outback for reasons. It was baby's first Blair Witch Project and I was obsessed. https://t.co/9ksVcOVurV
— Kayleigh Donaldson (@Ceilidhann) July 15, 2019
In the first season, the groups excitement over getting to go on a trip Down Under quickly turned into fear as their teacher literally falls over a waterfall and just… goes missing, which sounds stupid, but to a child is true nightmare fuel.
From here, the group start experiencing paranormal activity like strange lights and weak radio signals, which all leads them to getting abducted by aliens near the ocean. I know, it sounds utterly ridiculous but this is actually horrifying content for a literal children’s program.
The real freaky stuff, however, happened over Season 2 and 3 after a CIA-style organisation get involved. After the abduction, two of the teens go missing as the rest are placed into a military-style facility. Once they escape and go on the run, they realise that they start to lose big chunks of time and memory, and eventually manage to teleport themselves back to Scotland — but six weeks into the future, where they’re suddenly all invisible.
The only people who can see the group are the two teens who originally went missing after the abduction. They tell the group that they remember nothing and that everyone thinks the group is actually dead. To fix this, the group travel back and become visible again, but that’s when they all start getting red-eye virus, which is about as horrible as it sounds.
The red-eye virus — easily the scariest part of the entire show — turned out to be a side-effect of getting abducted. The virus would split the teen into two before they vanished into thin air. But in a bonkers twist of events, everyone who vanished actually reappeared on a random island, that also acted as another travel portal.
However, everyone who was affected by the red-eye virus suddenly had the mental age of a seven-year-old, for some reason. At the end of the series, the remaining two unaffected teens managed to somehow convince the group to help them transport back to the day of the UFO meeting to convince the group not to go, using all the tapes they recorded during their trip.
And because Jeopardy was just way ahead of its time, viewers were able to vote on how they wanted the series to end — spooky, happy or surprising. Naturally, everyone picked spooky. So once the pair had successfully convinced the group to not go on the trip, they encountered their past selves and their eye’s started to turn red in shock, before the credits began to roll and their fate was left in the balance.
Got speaking about it with someone the other day who also remembered, and forgot how genuinely fantastic it was. Like a kid’s version of X-Files or Twin Peaks. Also novel ending where viewers voted for the one they wanted, and got one hell of a creepy one. pic.twitter.com/zEfwjFuVZx
— Will Carroll (@Mr_WillCarroll) July 14, 2019
actually if i can just go on a tangent about Jeopardy, I never knew a red contact lens could terrify me, but congrats team, that image is forever burnt into my mind.
— Yuki (@TwewyTrash) July 31, 2020
A Great Show, But Just Not A Kid’s One
Now, let’s be real. Jeopardy was a great show, that’s not even a question. Much like the superhero series, Heroes, Jeopardy was just way ahead of its time. I mean, a choose your own ending? In 2004? This show clearly was the blueprint for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.
What doesn’t make any sense, however, is how Jeopardy was ever classified as a kid’s show. With all the alien abductions, CIA-style holding facilities, “death”, red-eye viruses and kidnappings, I struggle to see how ABC3 thought “yep, this will be great for the after-school slot”.
I was eight when this aired, and this was shown after school along with programs like Angela Anaconda. Imagine being an eight-year-old child watching The Saddle Club, and then for some reason Jeopardy shows up next.
I am traumatised and still am.
Rewatched Jeopardy (the one abut the Scottish students). What a classic but how tf was it a kids show?
— rayan. 🎲 (@truexrayan) February 23, 2017
For those who are keen to relive the terrifying series, a legend has actually uploaded all the episodes onto YouTube for your viewing pleasure.