SANTA FE – Mention “Jeopardy!” and most fans think American history, sports, nature and potpourri.
This Friday, Old New Mexico will get its own category on the venerated quiz show. At 6 p.m. on CBS Channel 13, a lone burro, adobe buildings and a cart designed to navigate the Camino Real will flicker across local TV screens.
It all started with El Rancho de las Golondrinas (The Ranch of the Swallows) just south of Santa Fe.
“Jeopardy!” producer Brett Schneider called the Spanish Colonial living history museum late last January requesting help in designing questions for a New Mexico focus, Golondrinas deputy director Mike King said.
Since 2001, the show’s “clue crew” of roving correspondents has taped video hints around the world to display alongside clues given during the show. A team of four or five landed here last spring.
“They said one of the staff members had visited us and fell in love with the place,” King said. “We worked with them coming up with the questions. They knew exactly what they wanted.”
Then the game show workers distilled the information down to “five or six” clues, King added.
“We suggested things like having to deal with chiles, with animals of the Southwest, things about adobe, things about the Spanish influence in the Southwest, a few history questions,” King said.
In the meantime, videographers filmed sites around the historic ranch dating to the early 1700s.
“They did their homework,” King said. “They knew pretty much what they were doing.”
The film crew shot a scene in front of an adobe wall between the general store and the sheep pen, King said. They used one of the rancho’s burros in another scene, and shot another with the reproduction carretas (Spanish carts).
Golondrindas was an important paraje (stopping place) along the Camino Real, the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Located on 200 acres in a rural farming valley near La Cienega, the museum is dedicated to the history, heritage and culture of 18th and 19th century New Mexico. Original colonial buildings on the site date to the early 1700s; others have been reconstructed from northern New Mexico. Villagers wearing period clothing offer visitors a glimpse into the celebrations, music, dance and activities during the state’s Spanish, Mexican and Territorial periods.
“Jeopardy!” was the creation of the late Merv Griffin. The program is a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers. They must phrase their responses in question form. The original program dates to 1964. Today’s syndicated version is hosted by Alex Trebek. “Jeopardy!” has won a record 30 Daytime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award.