In the battle of ridiculously stupid game shows specifically created to fill up the summer with cheap lighthearted and forgettable filler programming based on popular Japanese-style game shows where people do stupid stunts, there is no clear winner. Well there is, but it is Ninja Warrior on G4 and it is actually a Japanese game show. As far as these new knockoffs on ABC, there's good and bad about both of them, but I can't really see either of them sticking around for all that long. That won't stop me from trying to determine which one will reign supreme based solely on their premiere episodes, however.
Round 1: The Hosts
This one hands down goes to I Survived a Japanese Game Show. It has the perfect one-two combo. The quiet and attractive Tony Sano, who basically escorts the contestants from one location to the next. Then there is Rome Kanda, an over enthusiastic but typical Japanese game show host who yells out instructions to the contestants in English, while jovially joking with the audience in Japanese. This is in opposition to the two Johns (Anderson and Henson) who are doing play-by-play over on Wipeout, which is so cheesy and corny that it would be better suited for America's Funniest Home Videos instead of a sporting event. If they canned the dopey duo and promoted "sideline host" Jill Wagner, they might earn some extra points. She enjoys some good laughs at the contestants' expense, but seems to avoid the cornball dialogue.
Round 2: The Contestants
Gonna have to go with Wipeout on this one. While I was initially disappointed by the lack of fit contestants trying to overcome the obstacles, that quibble quickly fell to the wayside and the true competitors made it to the final and more intense rounds. Plus, if you don't like a player, each week there's a fresh batch. So no one is around long enough to truly grate on your nerves. Japanese Game Show has your average gaggle of reality show wannabes who think the key to being interesting on TV is having attitude and behaving badly rendering any segments where they are talking nearly unwatchable. Hard to support players when they are just so irritating (The Mole this season is another perfect example of this syndrome).
Round 3: The Challenges
This is a tough one and they are kind of neck and neck, but I'm leaning towards Wipeout at this very moment since those challenges are for sure tough, while Game Show is just wacky. Though as Mindy pointed out this morning to me, Wipeout really should clean off the "Big Balls" between rounds because there's nothing worse than slippery (and slimy) balls. Yeah, I completely agree. But I worry that even though the obstacles on Wipeout are sick (in a good way) that I'll get sick (in a bad way) of watching random people tackle the Dizzy Dummy or spinny wheel of death (I'm sure it has a jazzier name) every single week. My hope is that the final course stays the same, while the earlier rounds get switched up. That'd be awesome. I am admittedly curious as to what wild task Game Show throws at their players next week considering they've already had them running on treadmills, driving rickshaws and eating odd foods. It's got the potential to make a come from behind win of this round if Wipeout sticks to the same-old same-old formula.
Round 4: Enjoyability
Much as I was slamming this show before it premiered to anyone who would listen (my love of Ninja Warrior made me instantly hate anything seeming to be a ripoff), I've got to give this one to Wipeout as well. It is just plain old funny to watch people fall flat on their faces. Call it schadenfreude, call it mean-spirited, whatever, people covered in mud and getting knocked off of platforms is funny. As long as I can watch this show with the volume down to tune out the hosts, it should be fine. Then there's Japanese Game Show, which is a great concept, but suffers from some serious reality show envy. Why show the culture shock of the people living in the house with Mama-san? That's just demeaning and mildly offensive. Why make me see that some people stay too long in the bathroom while others don't like to take off their shoes? I don't care. This isn't Big Brother I just want to see how they fare with the language barrier and the wild games. And the whole "winning" challenges and losers have to do an Amazing Race style task like carting sumo wrestlers in rickshaws around town is just stupid.
And the winner is... Wipeout. I think this one has the potential to be the next Fear Factor/American Gladiator-style addictive if essentially inconsequential game show on television. At this point, I don't really give Game Show more than one season. Let's see them prove me wrong. Game on!
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