Hu­mour com­pen­sates for sucker punches

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

IN the tele­vi­sion re­view­ing busi­ness you take the dross and the gold. You can’t land a Foyle’s War ev­ery week. Even so, when I was handed a copy of Wipe­out I had a ter­ri­ble thought: what if this ended up be­ing my last TV re­view? Surely it would be akin to be­ing given ( in­sert fast-food con­glom­er­ate of your choice) for your last meal, then find­ing a rat’s tail in the box.

Then I watched Wipe­out , a lo­cal spin-off of an Amer­i­can show of the same name, and re­alised it’s not that bad. More like a ham­burger and chips from the greasy spoon, not par­tic­u­larly healthy but prob­a­bly not life-threat­en­ing.

So if I do fall un­der a bus to­mor­row, this non-think­ing per­son’s game show, which es­sen­tially is about peo­ple fall­ing over and other peo­ple laugh­ing at them, will not be the worst I have borne in the line of duty.

Here’s how it works: in round one, 20 men and women com­pete over an ob­sta­cle course, run­ning and jump­ing on slip­pery plas­tic mats and balls placed over wa­ter, and dodg­ing the ro­botic fists of the ‘‘ sucker punch wall’’; in round two, the fastest 12 move on to an­other chal­lenge, usu­ally a vari­a­tion on be­ing hit by plas­tic beams while bal­anc­ing over wa­ter; in round three, six sur­vivors more or less re­peat round one but af­ter be­ing spun around to make them dizzy; and in the cham­pi­onship round the three fi­nal­ists sort of do the same, ex­cept they don’t get spun around but it is darker. The win­ner takes home $ 20,000.

The con­tes­tants are billed as or­di­nary Aussies and that seems a fair enough de­scrip­tion, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion that pref­er­ence is given to

Good-hu­moured: Kelly Landry, peo­ple with oc­cu­pa­tions, in­ter­ests or phys­i­cal traits that the laid-back hosts, James Brayshaw and Josh Law­son, can make fun of.

Tonight, for ex­am­ple, we have a de­mo­li­tion ex­pert, a bloke who likes chess, a very tall woman and a male foot model. The last re­ally needs the prize money, we are told, be­cause nei­ther of his feet will get out of bed in the morn­ing for less than $ 10,000.

That’s quite witty and Josh and James — and spunky on-field host Kelly Landry — are easy on the ears and eyes. The con­tes­tants, too, are a

’ s on-field pre­sen­ter good-hu­moured bunch. They know they are there for a short time and a good time. When a self-styled loud­mouth named Lay­ton faces the ob­sta­cle course and yells ‘‘ Here comes the pain train, baby!’’, it’s hard not to laugh.

In their in­tro­duc­tory pat­ter, the hosts say the con­tes­tants are ‘‘ will­ing to sac­ri­fice men­tal and phys­i­cal well­be­ing’’. It would be easy to make a crack about the view­ers be­ing at sim­i­lar risk, but I’ll leave such cheap shots to the sucker punch wall.

Stephen Romei

Wipe­out Aus­tralia

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