In one of the Facebook groups I frequent, a recent discussion turned to the great game shows of the past.
“Press Your Luck” was the game that sparked the topic, and his Whammys and hypnotic painting is certainly a hall of fame entry worthy of the TV show. Other pillars like “Jeopardy!” and “The Price is Right” are even a step beyond that, with a spot on Mount Rushmore on the game shows.
As enjoyable as they were, it got me thinking of some of the shows where physical endurance was more important than knowing the exact cost of a can of chili. These were shows that asked their competitors to do an honest day’s work and earn their wealth by being physically punished or challenged.
My favorite of this genre was a short-lived 2002 show called “The Chamber,” which threatened to kill its competition.
The winner of a quick question-and-answer round was able to enter one of the two torture chambers, hot or cold. Each chamber vibrated and rotated during the lap and subjected competitors to either intense heat (up to 170 degrees) or cold (minus-20 degrees) as air cannons blew a 140 mph wind over them. The cold room also had jets of water to add a layer of ice to the competitor, who was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.
The object was to survive eight rounds, or 10-15 minutes, with the intensity of the heat or cold increasing with each round. They also had to answer questions to earn money during the physical torture. If they ran out of enough questions, their heart rate was too high, or they just gave up, the game was over.
Sadly, some viewers viewed this as barbaric rather than fun for the whole family. The complaints, along with the low ratings, led to the series being canceled after just three episodes. All that seems to exist now are some grainy VHS dubbing on YouTube.
Speaking of torture, there was a whole genre of shows in the ’80s and’ 90s that seemed designed to maim or at the very least humiliate 12 year olds. The physical challenges of “Double dare” come to mind, in which competitors often collapsed ladders to grab flags and tried to run through slippery mud that would shred the ACLs of most adults.
“The Legends of the Hidden Temple” was another of its kind. In the prize round, contestants had to make their way through an ancient temple (actually a cramped maze on a soundstage in Orlando) to assemble a stone (moss) idol in about two minutes.
The only way to win was to be a caffeinated 12-year-old with the cardio and endurance conditioning of an Olympic athlete, plus the luck of a leprechaun.
Which brings us to the final stop on this tour, the genre in which contestants actually took on professional athletes – the Pros vs. Joes, named after the Spike TV show of the same name.
Basically, the goal of Pros vs. Joes was to take an above average athlete and see if he could beat the pros at his own game. A baseball fan, for example, had to try and get a hit from former league pitchers. major. A football fan might win their challenge by taking on Bo Jackson or preventing Jerry Rice from catching a pass.
It was a pretty straightforward and fun concept, but in 2015 “Beat the Champions” aired on Fox and took it to the next level. Building on the concept of Pros vs. Joes, he leveled the playing field for middle Joes by handicapping the pros.
One guy, for example, had three chances to stop Rob Gronkowski from catching a pass. They went head-to-head on the first try for $ 100,000, and the Joe got more and more help with each attempt. For the final try, Gronk had to catch a touchdown pass while being guarded by 40 members of a church choir. The Joe ended up winning $ 25,000 when Gronk’s brother threw a hail pass through the choir on the last attempt. Gronk would have won the jump ball, but the pass was high and a bit long.
I did not invent.
Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin competed in a 50-meter sprint against what I presume to be a strong high school swimmer. Franklin’s disabilities eventually caused her to swim with jugs of milk strapped to her ankles, while a fire hose hurled water at her and another hose pushed her opponent in the opposite direction. Franklin still won all the races quite easily.
This one-off special was never made into an ongoing series, but one would just have to see what kind of absurd handicaps the producers could have come up with. Perhaps they could have teamed up with the creators of “The Chamber” and started amputating limbs in Season 2.
So let’s pour a bottle of Gatorade for what could have been. In an alternate universe, I’m pretty sure “The Chamber” has become “The Running Man” and that kids’ shows like “Double Dare” have spurred slimy TV producers to take down foreign orphanages in their continued quest for candidates. .
In this universe, they have just disappeared into the trash of television history.
Ernest Bowker is the sports editor for the Vicksburg Post. He can be contacted at [email protected]