Five New Game Shows We Need

You know what we need?  Better game shows.  Most game shows now are shows where people get voted off the show by one or more of the other contestants.  That sucks.  I want shows where people leave on stretchers. Let’s make prime time exciting again.

“The ones where they kill you, baby.” – Stephen King

I hate shows like Survivor and The Bachelor(rette.)  They suck and if you disagree you’re entitled to that opinion but it’s a stupid opinion.  Every show like that is basically a high school council election and is just as thrilling.  All sizzle, no steak.

Even shows that have an objective metric of success are being ruined. “American Ninja Warrior” is a heck of a show when they’re actually showing people doing the course, truly remarkable feats of athleticism… but in 44 minutes of runtime, they MIGHT show 16 minutes of competition.  The rest is saccharine “profiles” of the competitors.  It’s not at all uncommon for them to spend two minutes telling you why Jim is such a great guy, and then Jim falls into the water 17 seconds into the course, and they mention in passing that nine people you didn’t see did the course and three of them completed it.  It’s as if you were trying to watch a hockey game, but they only showed 20 minutes out of 60, and skipped some of the goals so that they could tell you how Erik was saving up to buy his sister a house.   It’s one of the most stupidly edited shows in television history.

More of this, please. The ACTUAL GAME.

If I made game shows, there’d be none of this.  You’d introduce the competitors and get on with it.  I have some great ideas.

1.  We Fought A Zoo

In We Fought A Zoo, contestants will win money by surviving encounters with hideously dangerous animals.  Or they won’t.

The game will begin with three contestants who will be presented with a minimum expectation of survival for a ludicrous amount of cash, like a million bucks.  Every situation will be different from the last, but all will involve the real possibility of death or dismemberment:

  • Can you last 20 seconds in a 10-by-10 bedroom with a Siberian tiger?
  • Can you survive 30 seconds of a boxing match with a grizzly bear?
  • Can you make it 1 minute in a half-Olympic swimming pool with a great white shark?
  • Can you last 45 seconds in a room full of angered killer bees?
  • Can you go a full two minutes having diamondback rattlesnakes dropped on to you from a 10-foot height?

Once presented with the situation, the contestants must then bid UP the time – if Jim says he’ll do two minutes with the shark, maybe Janice bids two minutes ten seconds, and then Dmitri goes to 2:20.  For a million bucks I think a lot of people will convince themselves they’re a bear whisperer.

“Nice boy. Niiiiice boy.”

Once the bidding is over, the “winner” is shoved into the room with the tiger or whatever, and we see what happens.  If they make it, they win; the crew extracts them and they get a big check.  If they don’t, I guess the animal wins, and we see who wants to be tied down over a fire ant nest for $2 million.

NOTE: If you don’t think people would sign up for these shows, you underestimate human hubris and greed.

2.  Home Depot Thunderdome

As opposed to We Fought A Zoo, which would be a very expensive show to make, Home Depot Thunderdome would be pretty cheap, apart from the prize money.  Filmed before a live studio audience, the idea behind the show is that each contestant is allowed to choose one item that can be purchased from a fully stocked Home Depot.  (If the item requires assembly, it will be assembled prior to the contest.)  Two contestants are then put into a 30-by-30 room with nothing but a T-shirt, shorts, shoes and their weapon of choice, and whoever is left alive gets a million bucks.

Do you go for a simple weapon, like an axe, hammer, or machete?  Do you try one of those 12-foot-long tree branch cutters?  Do you go complicated, like a chain saw?  Powerful but very heavy!  (If your weapon needs fuel or an extension cord, you get it, but your opponent could always go for the cord.)

I like a double-bladed option.

There’s an endless number of ways to add fun and excitement to this.  The last show of every month, for instance, will require the competitors to do battle while each is driving a Hyster H40-60 forklift.

Will Julie from Calgary, who’s chosen a fire axe, take out Alison from Oakland, who’s swinging a big scary chain over her head?  You’ll find out Tuesdays at 8.

3.  Burnin’ Down The House

Home renovation shows seem fun so we should have one of these.

The idea behind Burnin’ Down The House is that two families switch homes for a week and, using their own money, have to redecorate each other’s houses.  Anything is allowed, from new furniture and window coverings to completely redoing kitchens and bathrooms. The show’s producers will take care of all the permits.  Since you only have a week, you have some strategic decisions to make; just redoing furniture and a little paint is easily done in a week, but doesn’t have the same impact as totally redoing a kitchen, but redoing a kitchen might not be something you can finish in a week no matter how hard you try, so do you take that risk?

At the end of the week a panel of professionals judges the homes.  The family that did the best job gets to move back into their newly decorated (but second-best) house and all the expenses they incurred are paid for, plus they get a vacation to a five-star resort.  The family that loses has their house burned down with Molotov cocktails and are thrown into the street.

Second Prize

4.  The Stalkersons 

The Stalkersons will be like a normal reality show except none of the people featured will know they’re in the show.  Using top intelligence agency skills, equipment and techniques, The Stalkersons will follow the life and times of ordinary families without actually getting the families’ consent.  While they’re away on vacation, some nice family will have their house rigged with cameras, listening devices, and the like so they can be watched 24/7.

If the family proves too boring (as they probably will) then the Stalkersons crew of professional spies will plant some conflict-inducing stuff, like another woman’s underwear in the husband’s jacket, or a big bag of weed in some do-gooder teenager’s bedroom, or other forms of mayhem-inducing treachery.  Won’t Mr. Nguyen have a lot of questions to ask when he finds a cache of guns and fake passports in his wife’s side of the walk-in? Faking browser histories would be really fun too.  Relatives, neighbors and friends will be paid to introduce any number of lies and bizarre new problems into the family’s life.  The possibilities for hilarity are endless.  In addition to the home, hidden cameras will be installed throughout the family’s workplaces and vehicles to ensure they can be watched at all times by fascinated viewers.

This show would be especially exciting for paranoids, I guess.  Of course, after a few seasons of seeing this happens to family after family, most people would be.

5.  Chef Out Of Water

I can’t really think of a good variation on cooking shows, but I do notice that most cooking shows star arrogant assholes.  Obviously Gordon Ramsay is the worst offender here, but, really, do you think any of these celebrity douchelords who insist on being called “chef” like they’re some sort of minor nobility are ACTUALLY among the 1,000 best cooks on the planet?

This is JAC’s Bistro, on Kerr Street in Oakville, not too far from my house, and I bet $50 their staff can kick Gordon Ramsay’s ass. This plug is not paid for, they’re just that good and you should eat there.

The idea with Chef Out of Water is that people like Ramsay, or Mario Batali or whatever the other people on Masterchef are called, are abducted from their homes in the middle of the night and made to do someone else’s job for a week while the people who know how to do that job scream at them for screwing up.  Let’s see them be an ER intake nurse, or a sanitation worker, or just pull a shift at the driver’s license place, and see how goddamn smart they are.  There’s no prize here, only the one the viewer gets when the smirks are wiped from their faces when they find out that being a cook isn’t the most amazingly complicated job on earth.

Anyway, I’d watch these shows.

(EDITORS NOTE: Game Show 1, originally “Real Survivor,” whcih was sort of like the Hunger Games, was replaced with “We Fought A Zoo,” because it was funnier that way.)

If you have any more ideas, post them!

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