In the midst of the current economic recession, Network television seems to be hurting to the point that legitimate (possibly decent) programming is being scrapped because they’re too expensive to produce.
Stations are turning to the alternative, which unfortunately results in low-budget Reality Shows, Mindless Entertainment, and Game Shows. While no one is impressed by shows like Howie Do It or the mediocre, but painfully appealing Deal or No Deal (I’m sorry if I’m picking on you, Howie), there are some ridiculously impossible game shows that stir up a stomach-churning nostalgia.
5. Nickelodeon GUTS!
As a form of American Gladiators made for children, it was a fair transition. As a balls-out endurance trial for how much abuse kids could take without breaking down and later committing suicide, it ran circles around its nearest competitor.
The most epic brand of Nickelodeon GUTS was of course Global GUTS, a follow-up to the original show which actually featured kids from various countries being (plausibly) forced into subjecting themselves to a good ol’ American ass-kicking.
No write-up about the obnoxious and humiliating practices on GUTS would be complete without a quick look at the giant jagged fiberglass finale: The Aggro-Crag. The three contestants would race up this mountain at the very end, enduring falling foam-rubber rocks and confetti/dry ice blasts to the face in an effort to be the first jackass to hit a button at the apex.
The ‘winner’ would acquire a “glowing” hunk of plastic for their troubles. Oddly, no one ever figured out that they could chill back for the whole competition, and then haul-ass up the Aggro-Crag for the win. Like most hardly-thought-out game shows, the finale rendered all of the other rounds obsolete.
4. Double Dare!
Not only did this show succeed in combining the civility of Jeopardy with the shame and embarrassment of a public kick in the cunt, but also helped to develop a long line of germaphobic game show hosts (okay, now I really am picking on Howie).
Marc Summers, the host of Double Dare, Super Sloppy Double Dare, and Family Double Dare would not be caught anywhere near the elaborate contraptions in which he would torture his youthful contestants, but to his credit, he would stand in the background and laugh as they were injured and humiliated for a cable audience…which is my dream job.
I don’t think I need to lay out a case for why this show was ridiculous, but I would like to elaborate further on the show’s final stage. As if the winning team hadn’t been through enough Physical Challenge shit in twenty minutes to constitute years of therapy, they were then forced to pay for their prizes with a fight through an obstacle course which could only be described as a cross between Mini-Golf, a Jungle Gym, and absolute Hell on Earth.
3. Nick Arcade
Nick Arcade was the show that both made video games competitive and exciting, and also ruined certain games forever. As exciting as watching someone else play video games is, Nick Arcade took it to the extreme!
Every degree of spectator-gaming was exploited in this show; from watching kids play games, to watching kids in games, to watching kids watch other people play games. If all of this sounds confusing and mind-numbingly boring, you’ve obviously never seen this show.
Contestants competed in Video Game-related challenges which were (more often than not) literally impossible. Like most Nickelodeon game shows, this concept relied on little more than random retarded luck.
After a contestant would arbitrarily choose a direction for the show’s mascot video-game character, Mikey, to move, they would either be faced with a Question, a Lose-a-Turn, a prize, or the dreaded “Challenge.” The typical challenge allowed for the contestants to choose an arcade game to play for a minute in a feeble attempt to beat the unprecedentedly high score.
What made the show interesting what that nine times out of ten, a contestant would be some sort of idiot Savant who couldn’t get any of the trivia questions correct, but could fuck Paper Boy‘s shit up in under a minute.
The cherry on the top of the Nick Arcade cake was the winning team’s journey intothe video game world which was incontrovertably cooler in theory than in practice. This played out with a morbidly disappointing interpretive dance in juxtaposition with a green screen. A digital scene would be projected for the audience to see, but really, all the contestant could do was flail about wildly hoping that one of his arms would haphazardly score a Gold Coin.
2. Legends of the Hidden Temple
When you mix a wacky and unpredictable game show with spurious facts and pseudo-educational programming, you get this atrocious, yet endlessly entertaining Nickelodeon gem.
Legends is easily one of the most enjoyable programs that Nickelodeon still airs in syndication. The inane trivia and bizarrely hilarious shit that these poor children are put through more than makes up for the lack of rhyme or reason.
The show begins with six teams and after one round, two of these teams are either emotionally crushed or literally drowned, knocking them out of the competition.
The next round knocks two more teams out of commission, but this time, by a series of unanswerable questions directly related to a historical account as told by a giant Olmec head (whose name happened to be “Olmec”), which may or may not have anything to do with actual history.
The two teams that make it this far have very little time to celebrate before they are thrust into mortal combat, competing and fighting for survival in order to attain two arbitrary pieces of plastic Olmec Gold.
The finale of the show, undoubtedly the most entertaining, allowed for the winning team to enter Olmec’s Temple, solve a series of shabby puzzles, find the Main Treasure and make it out alive. The challenge here, if you recall, was that at any time, in any place, a Savage could pop out of the woodwork and capture the contestant (for food or sexual slavery, I assume), giving them no chance to continue on.
1. Finders Keepers
You may or may not remember this show. It enjoyed a brief stint in the late 80′s and was re-ran until 1990. I was much to young to recall watching it, but luckily, through the magic of Nickelodeon Games & Sports (GaS), we’re able to relive the insanity that was Finders Keepers.
As inscrutable as this show was, I’ll attempt to explain it. Contestants were given some sort of vague clue and then thrown into a gigantic fantasy-land dollhouse full of junk in order to punch-drunkenly spaz around aimlessly looking for whatever they thought the item might be.
The first round involved finding hidden pictures in a drawing; but it was the same principle. The Host would give some arbitrary clue such as “something you might wear” and the baffled contestants would have to figure out what the fuck he was talking about. Essentially, it was the game of What Number am I Thinking of?
Remember the last time you really needed something that you knew was in your room but had no idea where? You turned your entire fucking room upside-down hunting for 2 hours when until you realize that you left it in the basement…
…Now, imagine that you had to do complete this task in about 90 seconds and you had no idea what the fuck you were looking for in the first place!
That’s just about a fair summary of Finders Keepers, the most batshit insane game show ever…and probably Howie Mandel and Marc Summers’ OCD Fear Factor.
3-Seconds in: Imagine how shit-yourself-terrifying that must have been.