Having been to Japan and Korea over the past few years recently my craving for outrageous, nonsensical, ridiculous game shows is a beast that just doesn’t get fed enough here in America.
Over there, you can turn on the tube at any given hour and see monkeys playing an ‘American Idol‘-like show or eager contestants dressed in furry costumes eating God knows what for chump change. And let’s not forget the colors and sounds of these games shows – it’s like being in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory on acid!
So when American shows like ‘Wipeout‘ (an extreme obstacle course where almost everyone wipes out at one point or another) or ‘Hole in the Wall’ (where contestants have to get their bodies through cut-out shapes) popped up, I was tickled pink. I am one television junkie who is not ashamed to admit her love for the silly.
When my editors here gave me the task of spending five hours on top of a 7-story, 100-foot downtown building to watch stuff fall from the roof and write about it, how could I say no? I’m talking about ABC’s new ‘Downfall,’ which is one part ridiculous game show (like the aforementioned) and one part super-hard trivia question-type game show (a la ‘Jeopardy‘).
Here’s the deal: Hosted by WWE star Chris Jericho, ‘Downfall’ contestants have to answer questions in a variety of categories, including Dancing on TV, Drink Up, The 1990s, Serial Spouses, Hail to the Chief, Pop Culture Cars, All About Atlanta, High School Chemistry, Sad Songs Say So Much, and others.
Catch a Clip of ‘Downfall’:
And, the questions are not that easy. Did you know that Pepsi was originally called Brad’s Drink? I didn’t. Who the hell is Brad? Lots of difficult political questions are thrown in the mix, which seems incongruous with contestants who appear to be there just to dangle off a building or watch luxury items crash to bits.
As contestants answer questions, gift items – ranging from BBQ grills to boats – are going by on a conveyor belt and if the he or she doesn’t answer enough correctly, the objects go over the edge of the building. The cash prizes, by the way, start at $5,000 and go up to $1 million.
If the contestant starts to freak out because he or she can’t answer the questions, the conveyor belt can be reversed by using one of two options: “Surrender a Personal Possession” (it’s self explanatory) or “Friend on the Belt.” Yes, you can put your grandmother, your BFF, or your spouse on the belt, who gets harnessed up and can be dropped 100 feet to the ground for everyone’s enjoyment. And, boy, is it enjoyable.
Host Jericho agrees. “When you’re a kid it’s all you want to do right?,” he told Fancast at the taping. “Drop things off of high places. It’s fun. It just appeals to everyone. It’s a high intensity, high-energy show, like WWE. I’m like a party host making sure everyone has fun.”
As the taping continued, I was surprised by how excited I got. Maybe it was the bags of chocolates they were serving us to keep our energy up, but before I knew it, I was yelling out answers (Paul Simon sang ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover!’ Doofus!!!). I was squealing as prizes ranging from a giant gumball machine to a dishwasher to a home gym went crashing over the edge making wondrous loud sounds from below. I was screaming for the first contestant Rico to “Stay! Stay!” instead of taking his measly $5,000 win thus far and leaving. And, I was saying to the person next to me when Rico’s friend Sean was put on the conveyer belt: “I want this guy going over.” My equally masochistic bench mate agreed. “Yeah. He’s gotta go.” We crossed our fingers and hoped it would happen.
And it did! Sean ended up going over the building’s edge and much to our surprise, as he dandled 100 feet in the air, looking over the Los Angeles skyline, he yelled out, “f*#k!” much to the producers’ surprise. I’m sure the censors will bleep it by air time.
‘Downfall’ debuts Tuesday, June 22 at 9/7c on ABC.
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