Thursday, March 5, 2009

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Where failure is funny

Most Extreme Elimination Challenge logoIn America, we've got game shows such as Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, Jeopardy!, and The Price is Right. In Japan, the game shows are quite similar to ours, except Alex Trebek is an attractive woman with a bowl of hot soup tempting you to give up trying to win 80 bajillion yen ($7.50 U.S.) by outlasting the other guy who's also standing in a freezing, snow-covered outdoor jail cell wearing nothing but tighty-whities. Also, there are no podiums or trivia questions.

Yes, Japanese game shows have gained notoriety for being more absurd than Dennis Rodman's hair, so much so that there are really no more jokes that I can make about them; Japanese game show jokes have been almost as overdone as jokes about Dennis... Rodman's... uh, hair. Oops.

Irregardless! Whether the stereotype holds true for the majority or minority of Japanese game shows, there is one show in particular that is, in fact, fairly ridiculous, especially when a bunch of Americans get their hands on it.

I'm talking about Takeshi's Castle, a popular Japanese game show that is akin to a real-life video game.

MXC mushroom challengeContestants charge up a steep and slippery slope, trying to avoid the fake boulders rolling at them; they try race through a maze without getting caught by men in funny costumes; they dangle from a spinning mushroom suspended over a pool of water in to reach the other side; and they generally make fools of themselves while attempting (and often failing) to run, hop, and climb their way past any number of silly obstacles just to reach Takeshi's fabled castle, where presumably some treasure or princess awaits.

C'mon, folks. If a pudgy, pasta-loving plumber can do it, then this should be a cinch.

Takeshi's Castle is entertaining enough on its own, but America's Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (known, logically, as MXC for short) transforms the show from "entertaining" into "stupidly hilarious."

MXC takes actual footage from Takeshi's Castle, mashes it up, and completely replaces all of the Japanese speaking with off-the-wall English dialogue, gives all the challenges double-entendre-laden names, and adds side-splitting audio commentary to the challenges.

With this new dialogue, contestants are arbitrarily divided into two opposing teams, and the commentators weave a "plot" for each episode around them. Team matchups have included the likes of Cops vs. Cons, Las Vegas vs. Sesame Street, Personal Hygiene vs. Comic Book Industry, and Hot Chicks of Primetime vs. Hot Celebrity Mommies.

[20 sextillion yen says that somebody stumbles across this blog using the search terms "hot chicks of primetime" or "hot celebrity mommies." Or "sextillion."]

MXC invents new names and roles for the regular characters of Takeshi's Castle, resulting in a main cast consisting of hosts Vic Romano and Kenny Blankenship, field marshal Captain Tenneal, and field reporter Guy LaDouche, plus some minor characters such as Chief Otto Parts. Contestants receive punny names and goofy occupations that usually play off each other, and it's almost a guarantee that one contestant in each episode will proudly carry the last name of Babaganoosh. I bring this up because Babaganoosh is one of the funniest words you're allowed to say on TV.

True fact. Look it up.

MXC boulder challengeEach episode ends with Kenny Blankenship's Most Painful Eliminations of the Day, a recap of the worst wipeouts and biggest botches seen in the episode. Some of these are just embarrassing, while some are so amazingly painful that it's a wonder anybody can stand up and chuckle at themself after contorting into positions that not even Gumby could achieve. Hence their suspiciously wise catch phrase that everybody shouts together at the end of every show: DON'T!! GET!! ELIMINATED!!!

Folks, I rarely watch TV of my own volition, but this is one show that I would pause Mega Man to go watch. It's that funny. The humor ranges from sophomoric to silly to unexpectedly clever; it's probably not for young kids or anybody offended by political incorrectness or occasional sexual/scatological references, but there's such a good blend of humor that anything too disagreeable usually passes pretty quickly.

Still, it's pun-tastic, and it's outrageous, and I love it.

[Alex]: Hey, Nathaniel, don't you think it's time to actually show people some clips from MXC?

[Nathaniel]: Right you are, Alex! Here's two clips from the Superheroes vs. MySpace episode.

[Alex]: Doesn't this one have a half-naked guy in it?

[Nathaniel]: And some inappropriate and possibly offensive jokes, as well!

[Alex]: Well, I think we should at least warn people about that.

[Nathaniel]: Truer words have never been spoken. Let's watch those clips!

[Alex]: I think the Spike TV website has a bunch more of these clips, plus a schedule of when you can see these episodes on TV.

[Nathaniel]: Good to know. But I think our readers can handle one more clip before they go.

[Alex]: Or they could buy the DVD box sets of all five seasons. They're something like $25-$30 apiece.

[Nathaniel]: Indeed! But if our readers could afford real entertainment, they wouldn't be here, Alex. Onto our last clip, from the College Sports vs. The Mall of Baghdad episode!

[MXC logo from Wikipedia. Other MXC images from Image of Dennis Rodman's hair from Dennis Rodman from outer space. But you knew that already.]

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