Gales Ferry woman takes TV’s ultimate quiz on 'Jeopardy!'

Meredith Robinson of Gales Ferry takes a break between rounds for some face-time with "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.
Jeopardy Productions, Inc. Meredith Robinson of Gales Ferry takes a break between rounds for some face-time with "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek.

The answer is: Retired naval officer Meredith Robinson.

In true "Jeopardy!" style, the correct response to that prompt - in the form of a question, naturally - is "Who is the region's latest contestant on America's favorite quiz show?"

The Gales Ferry resident, who served as a lawyer at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, appears on "Jeopardy!" at 7 tonight after a whirlwind of pre-tests, an audition and the final taping - all of which started in January.

But Robinson's history with "Jeopardy!" extends to the 1990s, when she made her initial attempt to get on the show. She was posted on Guam at the time, and the show had traveled there on a contestant search. That year was a no-go, but years later she tried again and took the online test that assesses potential contestants' mastery of trivia. She didn't hear back that year, but her third attempt in January of this year proved to be the charm; come April producers contacted her to schedule an audition in New York. After testing well on screen and passing yet another trivia test, producers placed Robinson in the contestant pool for the year. Early this summer, she got the call to compete, and she was off to Los Angeles in August to tape her episode.

So what's Alex Trebek really like? Very professional, as it turns out. Robinson explained that the longtime quiz-master stays somewhat sequestered from contestants going into each show. As the holder of all the answers to every episode's questions, producers want to ensure no contestants acquire any accidental advantages by chatting with the host beforehand. At the first commercial, though, Trebek makes time for photos and conversation with contestants.

And while contestants are not allowed to divulge the outcome of a given show, Robinson did share what it's like for a first-time contestant to step behind the podium and pick up the buzzer in front of a studio audience and several TV cameras.

"It's kind of crazy," she says, laughing. "It's such a cliche, but when you sit on the sofa it's so much easier to come up with the correct answers. ... and then there's Alex Trebek, right there next to you."

"Jeopardy!" airs at 7 p.m. on WTNH. Robinson says she's hosting a viewing party tonight from her backyard, where her she'll have a screen and TV projector set up for optimal viewing.

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