[24 June 2008]
I SURVIVED A JAPANESE GAME SHOW 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday WIPEOUT 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday ABC
Reason to watch: It’s summer. You’re bored. Nothing else on. All good reasons (there’s always a good book, or a newspaper, by the way), but these shows also could be breakout hits. “Whaaa?!” you say. They’re members of a subgenre that launched about three years ago with “The Simple Life” - reality TV spoofs.
What they’re about: “Human cannonballs! Human pinballs! Crashes, smashes and mud splashes!” explains the entirely unhyperbolic press release from ABC for “Wipeout.” But this really does pretty much sum it up. Twenty-four people without any sense of shame go through various obstacle courses en route to a $50,000 prize. You have contests like the “Dizzy Dummy” or “Dirty Balls.” Of the latter, host John Henson (“Talk Soup”) explains to his co-host, John Anderson (“SportsCenter”), “Mama never told me there’d be balls like this.” Large, meaty people tumble over these giant balloons, looking very foolish, and - best I can tell - incapable of making it over the last ball.
Concerning “Game Show,” 10 Yanks shot this in Japan in early spring (contestants were told they were only going to compete in a reality show, but not that this would be their fate). Various competitions are, in fact, culled from actual Japanese game shows. As part of their endurance test - the winner gets $250,000 - they must try to eat food on top of the head of another contestant while he/she is on a fast-moving treadmill. Then, umm, let’s see. Oh, yes, there’s also the game called “Chicken Butt Scramble.” I’ll let ABC tell you what this is about: “The contestants create their own version of Japanese scrambled eggs as they attempt to smash goo-filled oversized eggs with only their butts ... while wearing chicken suits.”
Bottom line: ABC hasn’t provided much in advance to watch - smart network! - but there were some clips for “Wipeout,” and they were (seriously) hilarious. I also spoke with “Game Show” producer Art Smith (“Hell’s Kitchen”) a couple of weeks ago, and he insists the whole affair’s a spoof, and a funny one at that. I’m sold. Both look and sound like a lot of fun.