Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Shame On Me: Wipeout

I generally stay away from reality television. Sure, I've seen a couple of episodes of things here and there, but usually those were viewed with someone that had an interest in the program. Who was I to argue when there was nothing better to do? (Like having an engaging conversation, or, depending on the particular show, staring blankly at a wall for an hour.)

So I'm not sure what sucked me into checking out ABC's new summer time-waster, "Wipeout." Sure, people falling on their asses is universally funny. (Just ask Bob Saget. But if you ask him in person, expect him to say something disgusting.)

But shouldn't that ass-falling have some sort of story built around it? Otherwise, it's not very far removed from the vision of the future that the (underrated) film Idiocracy paints, where the #1 television show is called "Ow! My Balls!" You can probably figure out the "plot."

The guise that ABC came up with, the way that they collected so many ass-fallings in one place and pretended that they were worth viewing, was to call it a "game show." Contestants run obstacle courses to narrow down the field before trying their hand on the ultimate course for a big check.

I suppose I checked it out because I hoped it would help me relive those early Saturday morning glory days of watching "American Gladiators." The AG update was a huge disappointment, focusing too much on the contestant's stories and instant replays than real competition.

But at least it didn't have idiotic, inept, border-line offensive commentary like "Wipeout." When the people bouncing off things and falling into mud come off better than the announcers, you know it's bad.

In addition, I'm convinced that some of the obstacles are literally impossible to get through without falling. That takes all of the fun out of it. Watching people fall over and over gets mind-numbing really quickly.

So mind-numbing, in fact, that I watched the entire episode, unable to concentrate on anything else. When I die, I'll lament the extra forty minutes of my life that I could have spent counting the bathroom floor tiles.

Make no mistake: "Wipeout" is not a game show, it's a reality show. And the reality is that people will watch anything if it involves people falling on their asses.

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