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“I Survived A Japanese Game Show” and “Wipeout” debut shows

ABC debuted two new shows tonight. One a game show and one, well, something else. Both have their roots in Japanese game shows and booth feature American contestants trying their hands at something new and different.

“Wipeout” is the most like a game show and features obstacle course based elimination rounds and new contestants everyweek. While “I survived a Japanese Gameshow” is more realty television with a repeating cast that competes each week for rewards and to avoid elimination. $50,000 is at stake for Wipeout, but a cool quarter million dollars is the reward for surviving the Japanese game show experience.

Up first… Wipeout

Opening Obstacle Course – Elimination Round
Hosts John Anderson and John Henson participate with a commentary that was obviously scripted post-filming. It has some cheesy comments and a few good lines, but nothing that hits it out of the ball park. The contestants are obviously chosen for their funny personalities and their ability to tolerate a lot of MUD!!! You’re mostly watching for the big spills on the pretty much impossible obstacles.

Some of the participants are taking this more ‘seriously’ than others with outfits and strategies that may or may not work. But most contestants are just trying their plucky best to get through a very difficult course.

And that’s it. Twelve finalists, although we’ve only seen about half of them compete..

Next Up – The Sweeper

The Sweeper features 12 contestants on pedestals with a sweeping bar that changes speed and height as it goes around. First six down are out for good and the last one standing takes home a $1000 bonus. The round actually starts out fairly swiftly and we quickly find out that being short in height is a disadvantage. Funny use of the telestrator here, however.

This segment actually looks pretty tough. It’s down the police academy graduate and the candy man, the youngest member of the contest… candy man wins. And we’re down to six.

One more elimination round is up next. The Dizzy Dummy will eliminate two more contestants. This one is tougher as balance is required and you’ve just been spun around until your dizzy. Then if you hit the water, you have to return to the beginning of the course. First the tippy tables, then the water course.

Only one person advances from each heat and the rest have to spin again and then cross the course again. I hope they have ambulances standing by because that spinning repeatedly could mess someone up. As it turns out candy man has to bow out early.

At last we have our four finalists and they move into the night and the big “Wipeout Zone”. It has four stages, a big slide, a Donkey Kong-esque Barrel Jump, a Spinner, and finally the Trampoline Launchpads. Best time through the course takes the $50,000 prize.

First up is Nick LeLand, our police academy graduate. Forging ahead with no strategy. The barrels slow him down a bit and then he meets the spinner which he gets on the second try. The trampoline section isn’t easy either but he finishes with a time of 5:43

Next up is the only woman in the final, Jessi Duran. She’s quick at the start and dispatches the barrels in short fashion, but the transition between the barrels and the spinner gets her. Less than a minute to make it through the launch pad trampolines to beat Nick’s time. The suspense is well played, and she just makes it in front of Nick with a 5:36 mark. It’s a tough course and that just might hold up.

Third finalist is Arthur Sevcik, a jazz dancer. Agility was useful early in the contest, but would it serve him in the Wipeout Zone? He hits the barrel run with no problems and quickly steps on the spinner. With just over a minute elapsed he’s already onto the final section… the trampolines. But his luck ends there and he has to take a second shot. His time is 2:40 and that sets a pretty quick pace for…

Travis Mitchell, the mouth of the south. He’s been the strongest competitor so far, but Arthur set a low time. With just a few stumbles, Travis makes it to the trampolines but he too takes a dip. And then takes too long to make it back up to the top.

That leaves the first champion as Arthur Sevcik. Congrats and don’t spend those 50Gs in one place.

Looks like future episodes will feature new obstacles and more hapless contestants. I’ll probably tune in.

Next up tonight is “I Survived a Japanese Gameshow

The show starts right off the bat following 12 contestants into a giant sound stage in Tokyo, Japan. The contestants have been fooled into thinking they’re just on a tour until they get on the set and find out they’re on TV and competing in a Japanese Game Show called – Majide.

Host Romu Kando has a great personality and leads the crowd with some inside jokes that poke innocent fun at the contestants while explaining what’s going on to the contestants. He moves back and forth between English and Japanese (which is subtitled) for the local audience with ease. I like how the audience really gets into the show yelling and cheering, even banging drums.

I’ve never seen the Japanese version of this show before, so I can’t tell you how close this version is to the real thing. But so far the graphics appear authentic, they’ve only added English translations. Japanese game shows are known for getting pretty wild, so I’m guessing we should hold onto our seats.

While the show cuts to a ‘commercial break’, we see contestants run backstage and get split into teams, Yellow Penguins and Green Monkeys, and dressed for the show. They all have to wear business suits for some reason.

Conveyor Restaurant is the name of the first game. The team has to serve an ‘eater’ as many mocchi balls as they can while running and falling on a conveyor belt. Each runner ends up in a vat of flour, so it quickly gets a bit messy. The Green Monkeys score what looks like a pretty good score of 10.

Then the Yellow Penguins are up, they start slow, but come back in the end. It literally comes down to the last second when the Yellow Penguin’s eater can’t swallow fast enough to force a tie.

So what do the Green Monkey’s win? A tour of Tokyo. Which is what they thought they were getting in the first place. Losers have to drive rickshaws and then choose someone for elimination.

So, it turns out this is more like Survivor on a Soundstage than Jeapordy! There are rewards and punishments and then eliminations. Today the Yellow Penguins choose Darcy and Bilenda, the two worst competitors, to compete in the elimination contest.

Darcy and Bilenda get dressed up like Bugs for a game called “Bug’s Splat On your Windshield”. It’s basically a version of human skeeball with a trampoline and three chances to score with different point targets. After three rounds they are tied and it’s off to a tie-breaker round. Bilenda does a good job and scores an eight. Darcy, at a bit of a disadvantage being shorter, loses and is eliminated in a shall we say unique fashion as she’s carted off stage by a herd of well dressed men.

So far so good, why haven’t game shows like this migrated to the US yet? The Weakest Link move aside. The UK has nothing on this. Oh wait. Wipeout is supposed to be a US version of the Japanese game shows. But it didn’t have the same energy as “Majide”.

Both shows were good, but of the two I preferred the survivor elements of “I Survived a Japanese Gameshow”. I’ll definitely be tuning in for more.

What did you think?

5 thoughts on ““I Survived A Japanese Game Show” and “Wipeout” debut shows”

  1. It (I survived a Japanese Game Show) was awesome! I love the bug suits! And the hyper japanese guys in suits! Majide! *does finger thing*

  2. I watched about 15 minutes of this show. I couldn’t stand any more (Charlie Rose was interviewing the producer and director of the new Hunter Thompson biopic – now that’s good television) It’s obvious that the participants are actors, working off a script, or at least have their “characters” managed. The Audience is a “managed” audience and the show in question is not a real show, it was created specifically for this Americanm made show, based on the concept of a Japanese game show. Knowing that the entire show is “fake”, takes any spontenaeity out of the action , and therefore any possible enjoyment of the show. The producers really missed the point on this one, going the safe route, rather than letting the action unfold in a genuine manner. Great concept, but screwed up by the exuctives. Hopefully the life of this one will be mercifully short.

  3. Husband and I watched both shows and enjoyed them. We laughed quite a lot through Wipeout, but I think we enjoyed Japanese Gameshow more, because we’re both big Japanophiles and would love to go to Tokyo (and Tokyo DL/DisneySea) some day. Just not quite the way these poor contestants have ended up there. ;) I like Ben (on Green Monkeys) for some reason, and hope he does well.

    We watch Ninja Warrior quite a lot, so it was very obvious what Wipeout was based on, but I’m not sure how long the contestants being made fun of will remain funny.

    I hope we get to see a lot more of the contestants of ISAJG being immersed in Japanese culture. I saw the capsule hotels in one of the ad clips, so that will be amusing (probably as a punishment for losing a round, I’m guessing). And I wonder if Mama-San will ever get miss always late to change her attitude? We can hope.

  4. We watched both shows. We had a bunch of good laughs during Wipeout. The commentary was enjoyable but not as funny as the original dubbed version. We really liked “I Survived..” best. I can’t wait to see what Momasan does to the cast next week. This may replace Big Brother as my favorite summer show.

  5. Personally, I liked Wipeout much more. But as I admitted to my roommate last night, as cheesy as ISAJGS was, I’m sure I’ll be watching it all summer, too.

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