Here's the problem with reality game shows: The stakes are never high enough! Example! What happens when you're voted off the island on Survivor? You're transported to a luxury hotel to wait out the rest of the game, instead of... you know... being dropped into a pit of venomous snakes! Or what about when you're ejected from American Idol? Sure, they make the crying loser sing one last humiliating song—but why not simply pick them up with a steam shovel and drop 'em into an Arby's dumpster? Because that's what they'll be eating out of for the rest of their lives.
Now say what you will about the Japanese (I only say positive uplifting things), but HOLY COW PLOP. They are THE... BEST... when it comes to game shows with stakes that are sky high. There are shows where contestants get run over by rolling stone balls—not Mick's or Keith's... ACTUAL rolling stone balls! Or they're forced to climb a slippery pole wearing only underpants (which is a normal day for me... but you get my drift). Or they're strapped to a catapult, and if their grandmother answers a pop-culture question wrong, the catapult is launched, the clothes are ripped from their bodies (not sure why that happens), and the loser flies 50 feet through the air screaming, "GRANDMA-MAAAAAAAAAA!!"
That, my friends... is entertainment.
That's why you should check out any Japanese game show import that comes to the states—especially this week's debut of Exit (Syfy, Tues June 4, 10 pm). Based on the Japanese show Dero!, contestants team up inside a series of dangerous, inescapable rooms. If they answer questions correctly they can safely... Exit! If they fail, they also... Exit! (To a seemingly horrible death. Of course, they don't really die-die; they just end up in a waiting room until the game is over. Why aren't they actually killed? Probably an insurance thing.)
Anywhoop, what follows are descriptions of some of the terrifying rooms in Exit... aaaaand what I'd do to improve them.
Plank Room—The contestants step on planks jutting out from the wall. First the floor disappears, and then for every wrong answer, each plank retracts into the wall until finally?"AIIIIIEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee!" (That's the sound effect for falling into a seemingly endless void.) MY IMPROVEMENT: I'd heat the planks to 600 degrees Fahrenheit... but otherwise, pretty cool room, bro!
Water Room—The contestants are trapped in a glass room filling with water. For every correct answer, they turn off one valve... if they fail? "Glub, glub, glub." (My sound effect for drowning... did you get that?) MY IMPROVEMENT: Sharks improve everything.
Ceiling Room—This one's pretty simple! Every time they answer a question wrong, the ceiling drops a bit until... "No. NO! OH SWEET GOD NOOOOOO... splat." (Getting-crushed sound effect.) MY IMPROVEMENT: They sure are wasting a lot of chairs and tables. I recommend buying from IKEA.
Shredder Room—Contestants kneel in a long, low room where a giant shredder is slowly moving toward them. Answer wrongly and... "BuzzzzzzzzSCHOINGGANNNG! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" (That's the sound I heard last week when I got my hand stuck inside a running margarita blender.) MY IMPROVEMENT: More margaritas!
This Week on Television
BzzzzzSCHOINGAAANGLOING! EEEEEE! @WmSteveHumphrey
WEDNESDAY, MAY 29
7:00 BRAVO INSIDE THE ACTORS STUDIO
It's the 250th episode featuring host James Lipton and his most Lipton-ish guests of the past.
8:00 CBS THE AMERICAN BAKING COMPETITION
Debut! Unless they're talking about pot brownies, the name of this thing makes me want to kill myself.
THURSDAY, MAY 30
Bosses team up with employees to run the obstacle choice—which means they're humiliated simultaneously for once.
10:00 NBC HANNIBAL
The team begins to doubt Will, who continues to be mind-screwed by the evil Dr. Lecter.
FRIDAY, MAY 31
9:00 SHO RICHARD PRYOR: OMIT THE LOGIC
A fascinating documentary on the life of the troubled, brilliant comedian.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1
10:00 BBCA THE NERDIST
Season finale! Special guests: Seth Rogen, Natasha Leggero, and the unspellable Zach Galifianakis!
SUNDAY, JUNE 2
AMC THE KILLING
Season premiere! The moody detective show returns with the promise of a new case that will be more interesting than the last two seasons! We'll see.
Midnight TOON THE VENTURE BROS.
Season premiere! The one hour (!) season premiere of this heeeelarious Jonny Quest parody!
MONDAY, JUNE 3
10:00 ABC MISTRESSES
Debut! Four lady pals succumb to scandals and sex while dating married men! (Finally, the show feminists have been drooling for!)
10:00 NBC REVOLUTION
Season finale! Neville and Flynn give new meaning to the word "evil" (exchanging it with "Cinnabon.")
TUESDAY, JUNE 4
9:00 NBC AMERICA'S GOT TALENT
Season premiere! How many times do I have to tell you?? NO, they do NOT!!
10:30 BRAVO KATHY GRIFFIN: CALM DOWN GURRL
Her newest stand-up special! Call all your gay friends or anyone else who doesn't find her annoying.