Summer replacements are not destined to be spectacular displays of profundity – not with the networks being ever cheaper and taste ever lowering. I mean, yeah there is great stuff on cable, but the Big 4 are hurtin. One of the easy things is to find a stupid game show, and ABC hit on a British import which certainly fits the bill. ABC’s version of 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show fits the genre perfectly, considering how much experimenting ABC has done with Japanese imports and things which seem both extreme and capable of reducing the dignity of its contestants. What I can say is that – while the show is total junk – there are few things that leave my mouth agape, and it was during the entire show. As an added bonus, when I was agape, it was for the intended reason.
The format of the show is pretty basic. Contestants have to answer some number question (how many whatevers were sold … what year …) and based on closeness to the answer, they get the chance to pick choices from a multiple choice question where only one answer is wrong. Obviously finishing last in the numbers game can be a real problem. The loser is the one who gets eliminated, and the show is admirably creative in eliminating them. For instance, this happens:
Now, the stunts in the American version are every bit as impressive. In the episode I saw, a contestant was eliminated by being in the bed of a pickup truck which is driven off of a cliff. Of course, the contestants are harnessed and attached to a helicopter in a case like that … but it is truly scary and it sure doesn’t feel safe when you go down. This is sheer spectacle of course – but that is the whole point. It appeals to the mammalian brain, or maybe the reptilian one – but I can only report that it works.
The only downside is that the host, Jeff Sutphen, is an obnoxious retard who you want to punch. Fortunately his chances to ruin the show are minimal. You only have to put up with a small amount of his crap before you get another magical elimination. The show is not brilliant, but on its intended level, it’s as entertaining a game show as I’ve seen recently.