Friday, January 18, 2008

The Greatest Show on TV

I am a man of discriminating taste. Still, some stuff sneaks in that others might think is questionable. I love Miles Davis (hard to argue with for any jazz fan), yet I also like the Dead Milkmen and William Shatner (yes, he sings). I like Sartre and Kafka, but enjoy the comics pages as well. Similarly, I like PBS documentaries, but my favorite TV show is MXC. Most eXtreme elimination Challenge is a fusion of modern American and Japanese culture that raises TV to a new level.

Here is a quick description of the show: There is a Japanese game show called Takeshi's Castle. It involves contestants doing all sorts of crazy stuff so they can be the one person who takes on Count Takeshi so they can win the prize (about $8k.) The tasks that the count puts these people through are generally very ridiculous tasks involving mud, water, fake boulders, costumed goons, or a combination of these elements.

A bunch of Americans then dub Takeshi's Castle with their own ideas of who everyone is and what is going on. They give the contestants fake names and avocations (e.g., "Wendy Fleiss, a duty-free hooker that operates out of 7 major hubs") and group them into fake teams (e.g., Meat Industry vs. Cartoon Voice Actors), and then describe the action in the show. It's hilarious.

The schadenfreude involved in watching such events as Log Drop or Sinkers and Floaters (my favorite) is incredible. Everything is made of foam, so it is hard to imagine that much of it actually hurts, but the added sound effects really help communicate more pain than there is. Though I like a bit of slapstick as much as the next guy, the part that really makes this program sing is the banter between Vic Romano and Kenny Blankenship. These two guys are awesome. It is incredibly low-brow stuff, but it consistently makes me laugh. Wikiquote has a small sampling of the hilarity, but it is much better in the show.

Vic is the play-by-play man, but more importantly he is the straight man who sets up Kenny's lines. Kenny has a maturity level that is somewhere between a stereotypical frat boy and a toddler. He enjoys scatological humor as well as all sorts of really base sexual humor.

Their banter is the perfect complement to the visuals. This isn't Masterpiece Theater, but it really makes me laugh. You might not need external genitalia to enjoy this show, but it probably helps an awful lot. If you have never had the urge to watch Animal House, then skip this show. On the other hand, if you like slapstick and potty humor, then check it out.

The Day
  • Workout: shoveling slush last night
  • Music: Led Zeppelin

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