2020 indelible TV moments: Trebek, debate bluster and Floyd

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This image released by Jeopardy! shows Alex Trebek, host of the game show "Jeopardy!" Trebek's memoir, "The Answer Is: Reflections on My Life," will be released on Tuesday, July 21. Trebek made no secret of the fight with pancreatic cancer that claimed his life on Nov. 8. If there was any good to come of it, he inspired others and learned how much he was appreciated and loved. (Jeopardy! via AP)

When the coronavirus pushed people out of the world and into homebound isolation, the small-screen's role grew bigger than ever.

Television and its mobile iterations bore witness to a tumultuous year of presidential politics, the pandemic and racial reckoning, including the agonizing scene of a man begging police for his life that galvanized Black Lives Matter protests.

TV hosted a growing number of entertainment choices, as old-guard Netflix and Hulu were joined by new streaming services — ready to receive movies intended for blockbuster status but deprived by shuttered theaters.

Most crucially, the medium substituted for the connection that was stripped from nearly all but essential workers as offices, stadiums and other gathering spots were left deserted. In their place, came TV accounts of the emotional toll paid by those in health care; of economic despair; and the affection for a game show host. And, for diversion, a sexy thriller and a celebrity confession.

Here are a selection of the defining moments of 2020 from the perspective of The Associated Press' media and television writers.


It was more than a moment. For nearly eight minutes, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd, ignoring pleas for mercy until Floyd's life slipped away. Brave observer Darnella Frazier, then 17, held up a phone camera so a sickening and infuriating video record of Floyd's death was preserved. The images led to worldwide protests, for the first time engaging many people who considered the issue of police misconduct mostly abstract.