TV Review: I Survived a Japanese Game Show

TV Arts

By Ray Richmond
Jun 25, 2008

"I Survived a Japanese Game Show" contestants fly to America

Airdate: 9-10 p.m. Tuesday, June 24 (ABC)

With ABC’s “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” we get the equivalent of a 
45-second YouTube video stretched to an hour, week after painful week.

It’s rather like a “Saturday Night Live” skit that should have stayed a 
skit and not wound up on the big screen (“It’s Pat! -- The Movie”). 
There’s a reason that idiotic, humiliating games that transform people 
into human fertilizer are a staple of TV in Japan and not the U.S. In 
their game shows, the Japanese have elevated cruelty to an art form. The 
idea that we’d sit at our computer monitors and guffaw at the culturally 
befuddling absurdity that goes along with being a Japanese contestant is 
one thing, but to think it would cross over to American TV takes the 
joke a surrealistic step too far. We’re left scrambling for our mouse 
and the left-click button, only to realize to our horror that we’ve once 
again been full-on invaded by Japan.

That said, it really is funny to watch this show for about five minutes. 
It starts off with a game in which Americans are made to eat off of a 
plate attached to the head of a teammate running on a treadmill. Based 
loosely on a concept imported by executive producer Tim Crescenti from 
Denmark, the idea here involves whisking 10 unwitting Americans to Japan 
to compete before a live audience and a cloying, jeering Japanese host, 
Rome Kanda. It’s a reality show-within-a-game show, with the winner 
taking home $250,000 and the glory of being made a laughingstock before 
the citizenry of two nations.

If this were consistently funny or remotely interesting, we could of 
course forgive the fact that “Japanese Game Show” bisects the Seventh 
Circle of Hell. But instead, it’s just the same dopey, preening, 
hallucinatory vibe over and over. The zany challenges -- people smashing 
eggs with their butt wearing a chicken suit or covering themselves in 
flour in myriad ways -- pile up to the point where we’re literally 
screaming for this visual assault to stop.
It’s not just the game itself that proves so torturous but all of the 
ridiculous add-ons that go with it: the childlike cartoon visages of 
various animals, the sound effects that appear to have been lifted from 
a preschool’s arsenal, the pep-rally hysteria of the audience and of 
course a host whose mission seems to be pushing the contestants to 
rehab. Rumor has it that a handful of states already are considering 
piping episodes of “Japanese Game Show” into the execution chamber as a 
novel method of sending those on death row to the Great Beyond, but 
officials fear it will be struck down as cruel and unusual punishment. 
Fortunately, those who aren’t locked up can escape the lethal impact 
using a remote. For now.

Production: Greengrass Prods. Host: Tony Sano. Executive producers: 
Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, David Sidebotham, Karsten Bartholin, Tim 
Crescenti. Producer: Oscar Beltran.
It's in HD. That improves things. Check out One of those
girls had a belly button low neck blouse and no bra. Wow. The
absurdity of the setup prevented everyone from getting into a
catfight. And I like the last chance to stave off elimination.
Politics can clearly be circumvented. Not a bad setup.
I thought the show was fun.  But then again I like to watch outrageous 
shows from foreign countries as it's a peek into their culture.  Trying 
to figure out Sabado Gigante without knowing Spanish is laugh!
I find myself rapidly losing interest in this show. I find the elimination 
politicing that occurs on most reality shows beyond tedious.

I am curious about the midget wrestler wearing bondage gear that appears
reguarly, myself.
Maybe it was the fact that the show's producers are totally inept. 
Giving away which team was losing and who was going into the final 
elimination challenge in the previews. Maybe. But sadly the show has 
devolved in almost record time from charming summer froth to sullen, 
typical reality show blah. Barring the Joel McHale lookalike, Donnell 
and Belinda, the rest are nothing more than talkign heads. And the fish 
market tour seemed to lose much of its relevance but just having gushing 
but really disjointed talking head segments by the contestants. And 
throwing in a whistle and mud did not make the rice planint challenge 
seem any more insteresting than the loud and yet boring pachinko parlor 

By the time it came down to Darcy and Meaghan I was pretty meh on the 
whole episode. Again, maybe it was because in the previews seen last 
week and even earlier for the show's promos before it even started 
airing, we clearly see Meaghan perfectly plant her leap. Maybe it was 
because Meaghan manages to mix entitlement with thinks-she's-pretty 
syndrome and yet still manages to be dull. Maybe it is her jabbed lips 
or her hair. She annoys but she doesn't enflame loathing worth tuning in 
for. Darcy just comes off whiney. This is the show. This is the nature 
of the show. Even without knowing what the show was, you joined a 
reality competition and this, sadly, tragically, is the nature of the 
show. And as much as I would rather have seen Meaghan go, at least now I 
don't have to hear Darcy whine ever time she gets sent in on how unfair 
it is.

If Weed doesn't mix things up soon, as in the next episode; maybe having 
teams go to the the wayside (like they should have in the first place -- 
it should have been a mad free-for-all in the spirit of the surprise 

Not sure how I feel about Donnell. I kind of feel for him because I just 
don't think he is all that bright. Charming, enthusiastic and actually 
looks like fun. But I do think it took him that freaking long to figure 
out exactly what Meaghan's immunity would mean for a team that was going 
to be going into the next challenge with only three people. And two of 
those three would be Mary and Meaghan or Mary and Darcy. Donnell was 
most likely looking at going in against Mary next elimination round. But 
damn, Donnell, you don't go back on a handshake that. You don't. 
Especially not after the previous fallout with Olga. You end up looking 
weak, idiotic and really untrustworthy even within the confines of a 
reality competition.