... And Evidently Fear
Is No Longer A Factor For Me
now you have heard the news.
Those in the know have
found out that "Fear Factor" has been pushed back to a
midseason replacement role for NBC, rather than having
its traditional September season premiere. And all I
have to say is...
It's about time.
Back in the summer of 2001, "Fear Factor" was something
new. The challenges in the first few seasons were
visually exciting, and the B-stunts were entertaining,
or at least most of them were. Frequently, the stunts
would mix some sort of physical skill or game
(shuffleboard, skeeball, and the like), with the
opportunity to score zero, therefore having an automatic
pass into the final round. In later years though, it had
become variations on "Here are the most insane things we
had from earlier seasons, you get to feast on all of
them. Enjoy." That doesn't take any creativity. Where
are the fish eyes, cow brains, and pig hearts from the
days of yore?
It all starts to become the same. Watching people
swimming around in raw sewage and mud isn't fun anymore;
it's just nasty for nastiness' sake. The B-stunts were
all the same, and the other stunts lacked originality.
How many variations on climbing out of a helicopter or
driving a car off a ramp can we have before it's just
not fun anymore? Each year had one or two really
interesting stunts (Go-kart chicken is a personal
favorite). The rest we've seen before.
You can see the proverbial wheels coming off the cart
too. Season five had Favorite Winners, Couples Reunion,
Best Friends in Las Vegas, New York versus Los Angeles,
and several other 'special' episodes. What happened to
six people competing in three extreme stunts to win
$50,000, and a shot in the tournament of champions at
the end of the season? Season three had a few special
episodes, enough to keep the players on their toes, but
it wasn't an 'every week' thing either. When Joe says
it's an All-Gross show, or that this week features four
stunts, it's a genuine surprise. The surprise and shock
of the show has worn off, and that's the main reason to
give it a rest.
There comes a point where the show doesn't break any new
ground. Instead, Fear rests on its laurels, content to
do the same things every week. Like "Match Game" back in
the 1990s, I think "Fear Factor" should ride off into
the sunset. Five years of good ratings is nothing to
scoff at. But maybe I'm premature. Perhaps waiting to
January and reformatting the show is for the best. But
to succeed, "Fear" needs to return to it's roots, not go
off in a bunch of different directions.
Travis Eberle has no
problem climbing out of sinking cars while eating cat
testicles. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.