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... And Evidently Fear Is No Longer A Factor For Me
Travis Eberle

By 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


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