Wednesday June 25, 2008 12:00 am
TV’s Turning Japanese!
I think we’re turning Japanese. Flip your TV to ABC and you’ll see weird costumes and almost unbelievable stunts on Wipeout and I Survived a Japanese Game Show, two series based on popular Japanese game shows. FOX plans to release a similar show, their version of Japan’s Hole in the Wall, this coming fall.
What do these shows bring to the U.S. gaming table? In two words, shock value. Anyone who has viewed the You Tube clips can see that Japanese games are daring, daunting…and at times very, very bizarre. Hole, for instance, makes competitors face off against solid walls with strangely-shaped openings offering the only survival. And if they fail? They fall into water, and lose the game. Many Japanese game shows require extreme physical exertion, along with an element of the oddly and brutally funny, in equal measure. If you laugh when you see someone fall down and possibly hurt themselves, for instance, Japanese game shows are probably your bag.
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There’s one major problem with all of this: no one is currently planning a new version of Takeshi’s Castle. This Japanese game show ran in the 80s to a certain level of success before finding a new home in the U.S. market under a brand-new banner - MXC.
You can find this show on Spike, which blends video of Castle with pun-intended voice-covers in good old English to off-set the Japanese writing which sometimes springs up on screen. I might as well admit it outright - I am somewhat obsessed by MXC, which stands for Most Extreme Challenge.
The show offers up clips of Japanese contestants wearing a variety of crazy costumes and putting themselves through all manner of almost-hellish physical challenge and torment. The results are often hysterical - they’ll make you gnash your teeth and wince, sure, but hysterical all the same. I once wrote a would-be exposé on MXC, fully believing there was something sinister behind the game show itself, and in researching discovered that Takehi’s Castle is very simply a show meant to be something like a live-action video game. The results add up to a highly entertaining, strange and yet fully riveting program.
And for my money, it would lend itself perfectly to a U.S. market. With network television suddenly jumping on this bandwagon, there is possibility for the future: MXC could arrive as a truly U.S.-based game show.
We can only hope.
- Related Tags:
- abc, adaptations, fox, game shows, games, hole in the wall, i survived a japanese game show, japanese, mxc, remakes, spike, spike tv, takeshi's castle, takeshis castle, wipeout
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