Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

January 21st, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Turn it off! Turn it off!

I’ll admit it. I watched the preview of Fox’s new game show The Chamber. Any game show involving bondage and torture is worth a peek. Only the Fox network is sleazy enough to try this latest gimmick on the tired quasi-suspenseful game show schtick.

The premise is strap someone down to this chair, put it in “the chamber”, and subject them to taxing stimuli, like intense heat or cold, shocks, odors, strong winds, vibration, rotation, all the while asking them trivia questions. Get two questions in a row wrong, you are done. If the “medical sensors” determine you are approaching your pre-established limit, you are done. You can also ask to stop. Yes, it’s a game show with a safeword.

If any of these things happen, you lose half of the prize money, which can go up to $100,000. That’s after going through seven escalating levels of intensity.

Ridiculous? You bet.

It’s irritating to watch. The repetitive explanations of what’s going on are tiresome. The attempts at building suspense end up being just annoying. The host attempts to be “edgy” but comes off like a lifeless, humorless robot. The show uses all the current cliches of prime time game shows: cheap suspenseful music, banks of spotlights that zoom around in cue with the music, sets that look like rejects from failed science-fiction pilots. The questions register pretty high on the nitwit factor. Prime example: “What letter is used in comics over characters that are sleeping?” At least that question wasn’t multiple choice.

In the preview, we only get to see two types of chamber, hot or cold, which the hapless contestant is assigned at random. Supposedly more are on the way. My guess is the run of the show won’t require it.

The cold chamber is the worse of the two, and unfairly so, mainly because how the safety check system works. The safety system measures heart rate and blood pressure as two major variables. Exposure to sudden extreme cold initially causes both to rise, quite sharply. The guy who got the cold chamber was yanked out for just that reason. He was pissed, because he felt fine, and he was doing well on the questions. I felt bad for him.

The real torture taking place isn’t to the poor bastards in the chamber, but to suckers like me who watched the damn show.

One creepy element of the show was the number of questions that involved products. It seemed every third or fourth question had product placement in it. So now we can watch people not only being quizzed on their consumerism, but the questions are advertisements in and of themselves! Now that’s Fox television for you!

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