Magnolia Pictures // 2004 // 260 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dennis Prince (Retired) // November 28th, 2007
"What are these people running from? They're not -- they're running to the toughest competition in town."
If obstacle course competition is your thing and you had always hoped the meatheads from "American Gladiator" would just flat out bite it and be reduced to a heap of crumpled human limbs, then get ready for MXC -- Most Extreme Elimination Challenge. A fledgling piece of programming for the emerging SpikeTV channel (still known as "TNN, the first network for men" in 2003 when this show premiered), this has become the stuff of cult craziness that has spawned all manner of Yahoo! groups, fan sites, and pirated DVDs burned from TiVo'd episodes (hah -- cool). It has enjoyed a five year run but seems to be running out of favor with the programmers at Spike. Over the past season, the show has been relegated to after-midnight airings and now is difficult to find altogether, save for these recent DVD volumes.
"Sure -- just another way for the network to make a cash grab; that sucks, unless I get royalties, then it's pretty cool."
These days, it's getting difficult to catch an actual broadcast of MXC on SpikeTV, the network seemingly laying the groundwork to become the C.S.I./UFC Network.
"I'd rather watch the MILF Network with a companion website where I can download podcasts to my iPod and watch them in my Jetta when I'm driving on the freeway -- hah."
So goes the mysterious mind of color commentator Kenny Blankenship, a guy driven to score chicks and beer when he's not out cruising around in his Jetta, usually trying to score chicks and beer. When at home, Kenny tends to his cat, Mr. Sphincter, plays video games, and surfs porn. Seated in the announcers' booth next to him is Vic Ramano, the stalwart play-by-play caller who strives to keep a sense of order and professionalism in his commentary when he's not dodging inquiries into his personal past filled with failed marriage, alcoholism, and blown-glass figure collecting. Vic tries to maintain an upright approach to the show despite Kenny's predilection for perverse distractions. And speaking of upright perversions, there's the visually distracting Guy (say it "Ghee") LaDouche, field interviewer who's always game to have a go with the contestants and has always remained ambiguous about his sexual orientation. In his field shorts and pith helmet, Guy's pithy observations tend to focus on salves, lotions, and the numerous lady-berries he's eager to interview, face to face. Meanwhile, the impossibly handsome Captain Tenneal plays master of ceremonies, providing pre-competition admonitions to the field of contestants, posing his philosophical musings only to proclaim to all, "well, you're wrong!" When not managing the flow of contestants through the start of each challenge, he's out promoting his recently published autobiography, Well, You're Wrong!.
The challenges are a collection of daunting endurance tests that combine the spirit of good-natured competition with the horror of death or disfigurement. Players pit their own physical prowess and aptitudes against the MXC obstacles such as the mind numbing "Boulder Dash" (with real boulders), the dizzying "Rotating Surfboard of Death" (with treacherous pink dolphins), the uncertain "Sinkers and Floaters" (where you can't tell which stones are merely bobbing on the surface), and the agonizing endeavor known as "Log Drop" (where your run can be cut short if you slip into the safety fluid below). In each challenge, Japan's finest -- plus a few off-shore tourists, it seems -- give their best efforts to survive the tenuous tests without getting eliminated. Those who do live to tell and can maintain a minimum level of coherence are invited to move on to the next round. Of course, pride is on the line here as these contests pit various groups or otherwise social collectives against one another. For example, you'll be fascinated to find out just how treacherous today's youth has become regardless of social setting when the Country Kids team goes up against the City Kids team. If politics is your game, then your cynical suspicions will be confirmed when you watch Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Third Party, where everybody loses. Or, just enjoy the heartwarming setting when the Romance Industry gets up close and personal with the Firearms Industry.
To get the most that MXC has to offer, you need to approach it properly. Prepare yourself in the same manner as you might when you decide to hang with a buddy on a Saturday afternoon watching college football. Arrive unshaven in an outfit fished from the bottom of the clothes hamper (a slight damp smell that is reminiscent of a ripening kitchen sponge makes for a perfect bouquet). Have a 12-pack of beer under your arm. As you cross the threshold, fart -- the two of you will laugh as if it were the first fart you ever heard and it will properly set the tone for the day. Drink three or four beers quickly, preferably in some sort of "game" fashion ("Standing rules -- first one to sit down has to drink a beer," or "No chicks allowed -- any time you say your wife's/girlfriend's name, you have to drink a beer"). Grab some snacks, the sort that are easily dropped into the cushions of the couch or ground into the carpet ready for the domestic partner to clean up later. Now, have a seat and begin belching toward your buddy's face, slyly and undetectable, then laugh hysterically when he finally recoils from the pungent olfactory assault; he'll likely fart in retaliation, blaming his midnight run for churros as the cause for the unnatural odors wafting your way. Now you're ready.
With the stage set, here's a new volume of 13 episodes that should tickle your fancy ("Ooh, Guy likes). A preparatory disclaimer, though: don't be fooled into thinking you're getting the 3rd Season lineup here. Although the previous two DVD boxed sets contained all episodes from the respective 1st and 2nd seasons, this one only contains about half of the third-year episodes. The good news is that you'll get unedited episodes this time around (unlike the Season 2 set that has a chopped up Halloween episode -- poor Piss in Boots). The bad news is that you'll miss out on the season opener, the hour-long "Almost Live" special filmed at Universal Studios-Florida and featuring Tony Hawk and Tara Dakides. Here's what you do get in this one-half-of-the-third-season set, though:
Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Third Party
Unemployed vs. Environmentalists
Snack Food Industry vs. Print Media
Baby Products Industry vs. Paranormal
Adventurers & Explorers vs. Dental Industry
Country Kids vs. City Kids
Organized Crime vs. Weight Loss Industry
Novelty/Gift Industry vs. the Death Industry
Amusement Park Industry vs. the World's Oldest Profession
Oil Industry vs. Make-Over Industry
Film Industry vs. Phobias
Romance Industry vs. Firearm Industry
Footwear Industry vs. Electronic Gaming
Each episode is presented in the original 1.33:1 full frame format The image quality is acceptable but never exceptional. Color is a bit oversaturated most of the time but that helps to emphasize the various bruises and contusions suffered by the contestants. The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix and it sounds good enough to replicate the various bone breaks, skull fractures, and flesh scraping sounds that make this such an enjoyable good time. If you like extras, there are a couple of the original episodes of Takeshi's Castle here but those guys aren't nearly as witty as Vic and Kenny. And, for those who just enjoy highlight reels (probably because they have ADHD or IBS or something), there's Kenny Blankenship's Top 25 Most Painful Eliminations of Volume Three.
MXC is perfect entertainment for those seeking mindless, sophomoric humor that is nonetheless quick and clever. Its comedy works on a most subliminal level for many Americans, they who have always found English dubbing over Japanese films to be hilarious to no end. It eclipses the Mystery Science Theater experience in that the audio realm is completely controlled by politically incorrect bubbas without having to fend off the players actual dialog (yet, how many among us would understand the original Japanese dialect being spoken and, for those who can't, how many would succumb to insensitive mockery of the language?). Instead, voiceover actors Victor Wilson (as Vic Romano) and Christopher Darga (as Kenny Blankenship) run roughshod over the similarly comedic episodes of Japan's Takeshi's Castle. Of course, Romano and Darga take this up to '11' on the crass humor scale and to perfect effect. It's sort of liking the Three Stooges after they've taken mushrooms or something.
That's about it -- we've discussed the concept of the show, the proper way to prepare for viewing, the actual episodes included, and the technical aspects of the discs. And so if there isn't any additional testimony...pheeeew, who farted? Oh, gad, that's horrible -- my eyes are burning. Uck -- you knuckleheads, get outta here. Court adjourned...and someone open a window, quick!
Review content copyright © 2007 Dennis Prince; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 260 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Takeshi's Castle" original episodes
* "Kenny Blankenship's Top 25 Most Painful Eliminations of Volume Three"
* Official SpikeTV Site
* Season Two Review