Wipeout: Premiere Review
Wipeout: Premiere Review
Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, the Japanese game show which aired on SpikeTV from 2003-2007, is the only reason Wipeout exists.  MXC took the Japanese show Takeshi's Castle, which aired in Japan for a few years in the late 80's, and re-dubbed it with American commentators and fictional dialogue for the contestants.  The show featured ridiculous competitions and challenges, often resulting in humorous falls and faceplants.  MXC was a cult hit, the kind of series college students watch at 2am on a Wednesday.  Wipeout debuted tonight on ABC and, while the series doesn't have MXC's kitsch factor (how could it?), it's a harmless little summer series, and one which you won't feel guilty for watching. 

The unlikely duo of Sportscenter anchor John Anderson and former Talk Soup host John Henson host the show, with Jill Wagner (Punk'd) working the sidelines.  MXC was known for its hilarious color commentary from the (fictional) duo of Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano and Wipeout tries its best to bring the same off-beat humor to the proceedings.  In most regards, they fail.  The two Johns have some potential, Henson was a good Talk Soup host after all, but most of the jokes fall flat.  I wouldn't be surprised if they improve their give and take the more episodes they get under their belt, but for now it's a weakness. 

Wipeout starts each episode with 24 contestants from all walks of life.  They compete in four rounds, whittling down the competition from 24 to 12 to six and to four for the final challenge, The Wipeout Zone. 

The first round weeds out the riff-raff, those contestants whose sole purpose is to provide the cameras with devastating tumbles.  All four rounds are basically large-scale obstacle courses, players having to jump from point A to point B without falling into water or mud.  The first round is all about just finishing as fast as possible, because some of the obstacles are plain impossible (take, for instance, the “Punching Wall” which is a climbing wall you're supposed traverse while dozens of boxing gloves jut out from holes in the wall at random intervals). 

Round two tonight was The Sweeper, where the final twelve players were placed on pedestals arranged in a circle while a humongous, cylindrical padded stick flew around in a circle, forcing the contestants to jump over it.  In the third round, Dizzy Dummy, the final six players were placed on a souped up merry-go-round, spun around for awhile, and then raced over an obstacle course.

The final round, The Wipeout Zone, is similar to The Eliminator on American Gladiators, only if there were no gladiators.  The final four take their turn on the four-part obstacle course and the fastest time wins the grand prize: $50,000. 

I found myself openly hating this show during the first round, mainly because the competition at that point seemed entirely arbitrary.  The later rounds, however, had me mildly entertained, as the skill required increased (though the challenges were still silly).  Wipeout taps into the inextricably human need to see people fall on their faces.  In that way, the show succeeds as a momentary summer distraction. This is a show you can watch with your kids.  It's a show that won't make you hate yourself for watching (I'm looking at you Tila Tequila).  Mostly, it makes one reminisce longingly about the heyday of MXC.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of ABC)