Deeper Into Jeopardy! XX: Pin the Tale on the Donkey – $400

Jeopardy! category: PIN THE TALE ON THE DONKEY (28-05-2014)

$200 clue: This title boy & his pal Lamp-Wick get turned into donkeys; later he “becomes a marionette once more”

Correct response

The gist: Lured to a land full of toys, turned into a donkey, and then skinned alive by fish to turn him into his original form. Children’s lit at its best. Pinocchio the marionette was on his way to invite all his friends to his graduation party when he ran into the young boy nicknamed Lamp-Wick, one of a long series of characters who lead the puppet astray. Lamp-Wick as a scheme to go to the Land of Toys where children play all day and never work, which sounds just fine to Pinocchio. They hitch a ride there with The Coachman in his donkey-drawn wagon, and after their arrival have a fantastic few months playing all day. Unfortunately, they wake up one morning to find they’ve grown donkey ears – as it turns out, the main side effect of the Land of Toys is that idle children metamorphose into donkeys, which The Coachmen then hitches to his wagon in a cycle of play-and-punishment. The Coachmen sells the donkey Pinocchio to a circus where he performs until he hurts his leg, at which point he’s sold to a man who wants to skin him to make a drum. The man tosses poor Pinocchio into a lake to drown him – but lo and behold, the man returns to find nothing but a soggy marionette, who says that the fish had eaten the donkey away from his true wooden form.

And this is just one of the misadventures that Carlo Collodi penned for his beloved marionette. He also:

  • Crushes a talking cricket
  • Burns his feet off on the stove
  • Almost gets used as firewood by Mangiafuoco the puppeteer
  • Gets conned, and later hanged, by a fox and a cat
  • Gets imprisoned by a gorilla judge
  • Gets caught in a weasel trap
  • Gets eaten by the Terrible Dogfish (twice), and
  • Nearly gets eaten by The Green Fisherman

And by the way, in Collodi’s book his nose only grows once as a result of his fibbing – it was Walt Disney who made that the character’s most famous trait.

Pinocchio and Lamp-Wick notice their donkey ears, from a 1902 illustration by Chiostri and Bongini

The clue: Although I don’t think the donkey scene, in either the original novel or the 1940 Disney film, is a terribly obscure one, the writers opted not to rely on knowledge of the story by giving the rather glaring hint that the character in question was a marionette. That might even be a bit on the easy side for a $400 clue, but it certainly seems within a standard distribution, at least.

In Jeopardy!: Pinocchio shows up in 43 regular clues and three FJ! clues in the J!Archive. The show’s asked about a whole lot variety of things with regards to the puppet. Fellow characters like Gepetto (six), Jiminy Cricket (seven and a FJ!), and the Blue Fairy (four) all appear. “When You Wish Upon a Star,” a famous song from the Disney film, appears six times. Carlo Collodi, the character’s creator, appears three times. And of course, the fact that he’s a puppet is mentioned another six. But really, such a beloved character can be asked about in so many ways that there’s not much use in trying to find patterns for him.

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