Once they enter, there's no turning
back! Tonight, within these steel walls, human endurance will be taken
to its very limit. If anyone can make it through all seven levels, they
could walk away with more than $100,000! Will it be worth it? Welcome
SHOW: THE CHAMBER
AIR DATES: January 13, 2002 to January 25, 2002
CREATOR: Dick Clark Productions
HOST: Rick Schwartz
WATCH IT AT: Veoh
(clip; no full episodes could be found)
So "The Chair" was a bust in the U.S., though it found life in Europe
for up to two years at a time. What about the OTHER prime time game show
from 2002 featuring contestants answering questions while under duress?
Well, FOX's "The Chamber" never showed up outside of the U.S...but that
was probably because no sane European or Australian would be STUPID
enough to try out for this show! Whereas "The Chair" was mild in
comparison and only monitored a contestant's heart rate, "The Chamber"
took the concept to its most illogical extreme. And, not only that, but
contestants went through all that crap for PEANUTS compared to what "The
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Two contestants, always one male and one female, competed in a
list-making competition. The host gives a subject and the two go back
and forth giving possible answers that fit the subject. When one person
gives a wrong or repeated answer or takes too much time TO answer, the
point goes to the opponent. The first to get two points gets to enter
Electrodes, muscle contractors and medical equipment are attached to the
player before entering the Chamber. They are offered $500 to bail out
(though nobody took the offer) and, if they didn't, they have to sign a
waiver stating they are entering on their own free will (which is
ridiculous 'cause you KNOW they signed a litany of such papers before
they even showed up on camera).
The Chamber came in two varieties. The Hot Chamber included temperatures
from 110 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (43 to 66 Celsius) and a chair that
rotated back and forth. The Cold Chamber featured temps from 30 to -20
degrees Fahrenheit (-1 to -29 Celsius) and water jets spraying the
player. In both Chambers, the chair would shake with earthquake-like
force, wind turbines would blast the player with gusts up to 55mph and
those aforementioned muscle contractors would get harder and harder to
endure as time went on.
The game is played in seven one-minute rounds. During each round, the
conditions inside the Chamber worsen and the player's "stress quotient"
- an equation that used blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature
as variables - is constantly measured. A pre-designated "Danger Zone" is
shown along with the player's current quotient. During each round, a
player has to answer questions thrown at them by a different voice,
ranging from general knowledge to multiple choice to personal questions
such as "What is your mother's maiden name?". For each question answered
correctly, the player earns $1000. After each round ends, the Chamber
goes into "standby mode" for a few seconds before the next round begins.
The game ends in one of five ways:
1) The player answers two consecutive questions incorrectly
2) The player's "stress quotient" stays in the "Danger Zone" for 20
3) The medical staff deems the player cannot continue or has been
4) The player shouts "Stop the Chamber!"
5) The player endures all seven minutes without any of the above
conditions being met
In the case of the first four, the player exits the Chamber and the
money earned to that point is halved. If, however, the player gets
through all seven levels AND answers at least 25 questions correctly,
their amount is TRIPLED. If less than 25 questions were answered right,
the player still left with whatever they earned. The maximum number of
questions is never stated, but, given that they say contestants can win
over $100,000, it can be assumed that at least 34 questions can be
Uh,...well,...the....Chamber itself looked pretty impressive, I guess.
I'm sure medieval torturers would've loved to have THIS setup. Well,
either them or the "interrogators" in a certain Cuban prison
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
Oy vey, where to start?!? Let's start with the fact that these
(obviously) deranged people were so desperate for money and/or TV
exposure that they WILLINGLY subjected themselves to stuff normally
considered "cruel and unusual punishment" in most court systems. Is it
any WONDER only one person get to the seventh level...and THAT person
actually SUED the network because he was hospitalized afterwards!
And that's another thing: with all that crap they had to endure, they
left with, at MOST, $20,000 (that was the guy who sued and was given
$100,000 by the production company). They couldn't have given more money
per right answer for each more-difficult round?! Was FOX that freakin'
cheap after "Greed" tanked?!?
And they FURTHER saved money because, every time a contestant got a
question wrong, the "voice" wasted about five seconds reminding them
that the next wrong answer would end the game. Uh, HELLO! They knew that
going IN! You could've just moved on to the next question. Time is
MONEY, y'know! Not MUCH money but still...
The so-called "host" did nothing but commentary and giving the subjects
during the Face-Off. It was told that veteran host Matt Vasgersian was
slated to host...but was so disgusted with the format that he walked
off. So FOX had to scramble to get this correspondent from "Extra" to
take his place. They might as well have left that "voice" do everything,
but I guess they needed a human face to put the blame on for this turd.
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
I think it's safe to say that, if anyone ever mentions "The Chair" or
"The Chamber" again, it should ONLY be used to describe two forms of
capital punishment. Thank God no one suggested a game called "The
Hangman's Noose"! No, I think Lewis Black summed it up best in this
Both shows were purely exploitative, the resulting lawsuits against each
other were thrown out in the interest of maintaining good taste and
whoever came up with the initial ideas for them should be PLACED in the
"chair" and "chamber" for the first degree murder of our brain cells!
NEXT TIME: The
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Chris Wolvie is hot then is cold, is "yes" then is "no".
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