"I for one welcome our new computer overlords," "Jeopardy!" competitor Ken Jennings wrote resignedly on his screen, as Watson the IBM computer thoroughly stomped on him and fellow super-geek Brad Rutter during Watson's final appearance on the syndicated game show.
Watson racked up a total of $77,147 during competition after wagering $17,973 that "Who is Bram Stoker?" was the correct question to the clue: "William Wilkinson's 'An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia' inspired this author's most famous novel."
Jennings and Rutter got it right, too. But when the dust settled at the end of Wednesday's competition, Jennings (with a total of $24,000) and Rutter (total of $21,600) were so many laps behind Watson's $77,147, it was as if they were running in the next race.
In Wednesday's final match, Watson competed - if you could call this walkover a competition - against Rutter and Jennings in a full game of "Jeopardy!" The winning Watson took home the $1 million grand prize. Actually, IBM donated it to two lucky charities.
Heading into its final night of stealing every scene on "Jeopardy!" Watson had pretty thoroughly whomped the two brainiacs.
After hitting both Daily Doubles on Tuesday's show - the middle of a three-episode competition arc for Watson - the IBM computer was leading with a commanding total of $35,734. Rutter's pot stood at $10,400. And Jennings had to be wishing he'd never agreed to participate in this man-vs.-machine February-sweep stunt, 'cause he was holding an embarrassingly low $4,800.
Jennings holds the show's record for winning the most consecutive games (74), and Rutter is known for earning the most money in "Jeopardy!" history. Watson was not impressed.
That is not to say Tuesday's edition of "Jeopardy!" was lacking in drama. Quite the contrary. When the second night of play got to the "Final Jeopardy!" category - "U.S. Cities" - the situation was thus:
Jennings looked a delicate shade of green on the left, with just $2,400 in his pot. Rutter, looking stricken on the right, had $5,400 to his credit. In the middle: Watson, looking smug, had amassed $36,681.
The "clue," as show host Alex Trebek read: "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero. Its second largest for a World War II battle."
Jennings bet his entire kitty that the correct reply was "What is Chicago?" Rutter wagered $5,000 that the question was "What is Chicago?" Apparently Rutter planned to console himself with $400 if he got it wrong.
Both men were correct! That put them both . . . still hopelessly behind Watson.
Watson thought the question was: "What is Toronto?" On the other hand, Watson had wagered only $947.
"Oh, you sneak!" Trebek cooed.
The $1 million prize is money well spent for the syndicated game show's producers. In its TV debut Monday, Watson handed "Jeopardy!" its best single-day rating in four years. The next night the show broke that record, clocking its biggest rating in nearly six years, according to preliminary stats from Nielsen Media Research.
Warner Bros. TV will resume production on "Two and a Half Men" at the end of this month, sources report.
This past Monday, you saw the last original episode that had been made before production was shut down. CBS ordered 24 episodes of its hit comedy for this TV season. That was episode No. 16.
Last month, after one of "Men" star Charlie Sheen's particularly spectacular binges (followed by a hospital visit), series creator Chuck Lorre, producing studio Warner Bros. TV and CBS issued a statement professing that "we are profoundly concerned for [Sheen's] health and well-being" and that they would therefore shut down production on the show "in support of" the actor's decision to enter the very exclusive Charlie Sheen Rehab Center, in Charlie Sheen's House, Calif.
Lucky for the network, the show - in which Sheen plays a debauched jingle-writer who has a house on the beach in Malibu and whose chiropractor brother moves in with son in tow - does very well in repeats. CBS will probably be able to wring about four more episodes out of the show if all goes well over the next several weeks - our euphemism for "Charlie Sheen ratchets down the crazy."
So far, it hasn't been going well. Apparently, Sheen was bored at the Charlie Sheen Rehab Center, apparently having no hobbies. So he called syndicated radio shows to fill the time. Twice this week alone, he's called in to the Dan Patrick Show to phone in the kind of comments that cause celebrity suck-up Web sites to clear their home pages to make room for display copy with photos.
On Valentine's Day, Sheen told Patrick that he's all better and ready to go back to work:
"I'm here. I'm ready. . . . I heal really quickly, but I also unravel pretty quickly - get me right now!" he told Patrick, which is the most concise description of Sheen's work habits we've ever heard.
Only he also told Patrick that when he did that photo-op with members of the UCLA baseball team early this month - you may have seen the blog post about his stirring anti-drug speech to the team - what he really told them was:
"Stay away from the crack, which I think is pretty good advice, unless you can manage it socially. If you can manage it socially, then go for it. But not a lot of people can."
That pounding sound you heard was CBS and Warner Bros. TV press reps banging their heads against their office walls.
CBS's press department in particular has had a rough time of the Sheen situation - mostly because The Reporters Who Cover Television cannot decide what their position is on the Sheen Issue.
In January, at Winter TV Press Tour 2011, they excoriated CBS for not intervening and shipping Sheen off to dry out, or even firing Sheen, which would be tantamount to killing the show.
But when CBS and Warner Bros. announced that they were shutting down production, TRWCT excoriated CBS all over again - for causing all those "Men" crew members' lost wages.
Then, someone noticed that on the final original episode this week, Lorre had written on the so-called Vanity Card that appears in each episode's final seconds, about how well he takes care of himself and "if Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really [ticked]."
The press excoriated Lorre for that:
"Jeers to Chuck Lorre for biting the hand that feeds him - and his entire crew" screeched TV Guide.
" 'Two and a Half Men' boss jokes about Charlie Sheen possibly dying," scolded blogger TVTattle - which technically is not accurate. What Lorre joked about was the inevitably of Sheen inevitably dying at some time, as will we all.
Sheen, on the other hand, loved it. Naturally, he called his new BFF, Patrick, to discuss:
"I took it as a huge compliment - he basically wrote a brilliant little piece of literature and called me Superman!" Sheen said.
Lindsay Lohan says she will not - repeat: not - appear on David Letterman's CBS late-night talk show Thursday to read his Top 10 list, contrary to CBS's announcement.
"I'm not sure how this happened, but I am sorry for the confusion," La Lohan tweeted, hours after the network issued a news release touting her Thursday appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman" via satellite to read Dave's Top 10 list.
"We made a mistake," Letterman's WorldWide Pants said a few hours later. "Someone purporting to be a friend of Lindsay's reached out to the show yesterday, allegedly on her behalf, and booked her to appear. Clearly, this person was not authorized to make commitments on her behalf."
A few hours after that, Lohan's father, Michael Lohan, announced, via TMZ, that he was the someone purporting to be a friend of Lindsay's. Which means there's nearly a 50-50 chance it's true.
The topic of the list they had prepared for Lohan to read will, alas, forever remain one of those great mysteries. We're guessing it would have had something to do with her recent date in court, during which she was officially booked on charges of felony grand theft for allegedly walking off with a $2,500 necklace from a trendy Venice, Calif., jewelry store.
Of course, the big take-away from that court date was the Little White and Wildly Inappropriate Kimberly Ovitz-Designed Dress that Lohan wore for her court appearance - she looked fab - which immediately sold out online.
Two days after Oprah Winfrey won that bet she'd made with new CNN show host Piers Morgan, announcing she'd booked Michael Vick to her syndicated talk show Thursday, Feb. 24 - Vick pulled the plug.
"Mr. Vick's representatives called last night to cancel his appearance for personal reasons," Oprah's Harpo production house acknowledged Wednesday afternoon when called for comment.
"Dear Mike Vick, sorry to hear about you canceling Oprah. I'm here if you need me, Kind regards Piers"
That's Piers tweet-gloating Wednesday upon hearing the news . . .
It had not been much of a surprise that Oprah had landed Vick, given that Vick himself said about a month ago he'd wager Oprah would win the bet because, as he told USA Today, "I know nothing about that other guy."
And, of course, Oprah actually had canceled the bet a few days ago, tweeting: "I'm pulling out of the bet. I don't know why I let [Piers] talk me into it. I don't gamble."
Which is odd, because when Piers offered her the bet on the debut of his CNN show, seen 'round the world, Oprah upped the pot - to about $317. The bet was made in British currency, Piers being a Brit and all.
The next day, Piers explained why he thought Oprah canceled - where we come from, it's called welshing - on the bet, tweeting: "Mr. Vick's people told me he couldn't do [an interview] with either of us if bet remained, as he can't collude in gambling" - adding, "I smell a rat here."