Humour compensates for sucker punches
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.