Perhaps I should admit right from the start that America’s Funniest Home Videos still, after all these years, makes me laugh; that’s just how I roll. Getting a chortle out of watching people doing ridiculous things is as natural as eating and sleeping. And no one does ridiculous better (or with more gusto) than contestants on Japanese game shows. So it’s with embarrassing anticipation that I’ve been looking forward to ABC’s new I Survived a Japanese Game Show, a reality TV/competition hybrid that’s shipped a handful of all too stereotypical Americans (the Staten Island Diva, the country boy, the naive blond) to Tokyo, set them up in a house (complete with bossy Mama-san and remote control toilet), and cast them on a crazy gameshow called Majide, translated by turbo-charged host Romu Kandu as “You Got to Be Crazy.” And everyone involved is, just a little bit: the contestants, the host, Judge Bob, and the Japanese audience members who enthusiastically throw gang signs and beat on drums and tambourines.
The prize for being the last American standing is $250,000. I think I would compete on this show for free. Why has it taken America so long to latch onto this kind of programming? We’ll expose the ugliest truths about ourselves on Dr. Phil or compete for A Shot at Love with a bisexual pixie named after booze. We have no shame. So why not dress up like a fly (in very fetching red bloomers) and throw ourselves on a huge fake windshield, leaving a green-goo smear as we slide off, for money?
That was just the final challenge of last night’s premiere episode, which dashed the dreams of smalltown single-mom Darcy, who was sent home after losing by one point to determined veterinarian Bilenda. The first challenge, Conveyor Restaurant, had the contestants split into two teams. Dressed in black suits and goggles they had to serve mochi balls (a traditional sticky rice blob which one “eater” described as “putty”) off the top of their heads to a designated eater (who was standing on a platform and couldn’t use his hands) while the servers ran on a fast-moving treadmill. When the eater was finished, he would press a button, and the runner would drop to the ground and be sent flying off the back of the treadmill into a vat of flour. It was ludicrous…and genius all at the same time. If only the show had more of this insanity, and none of the reality TV living-in-the-same-house nonsense, which slows down the laughs (though I think Big Brother and The Real World could use a house-mother like Mama-san to keep everyone in line). It doesn’t yet compare to the real thing, like a show called Human Tetris, but what really does?
So,did anyone else watch last night? And are you going to tune in again?
addCredit(“Japanese Game Show: Craig Sjodin”)