Judge David Johnson fears the Log Drop!
Our reviews of MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Volume Three (published November 28th, 2007) and MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Volumes Four & Five (published November 27th, 2008) are also available.
Get it on!
Spike TV's half-hour on the cheap lands (hard) on DVD for its sophomoric sophomore season. Damn it if I don't laugh like a 12-year-old at the sight of Japanese people falling head-first into pools of mud.
Facts of the Case
One of the launch shows for the burgeoning Spike TV network back in the day was Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, a bizarre hybrid of MST3K and, um, hallucinatory narcotics. Footage was taken from a wacky Japanese game show called Takeshi's Castle, and then over-dubbed with a slew of corny jokes. Takeshi's Castle features a string of over-the-top games and stunts for hapless contestants to compete in, and most ended with some sort of mild head trauma.
For the Spike TV incarnation, hosts Vic Romano (Victor Wilson dubbing well-know Japanese actor Takeshi Kitano) and Kenny Blankenship (Christopher Darga dubbing Hideo Higashikokubaru) introduce the week's face-off, involving a random assortment of competitors, like the hotel Industry or White House Staff or Former Olympians. Ensuing: falls, splats, wipe-outs, crashes, dumps, lunatic Japanese costuming, and more innuendo-packed, base humor than you can shake a chopstick at.
Two discs, 13 episodes:
I love this show dearly. Yeah, I said it, and I mean it. It's crude, infantile, produced on the cheap and hit-or-miss funny, but MXC is one of the most compulsively watchable series I've run across. I probably saw these Season Two episodes at least four or five times during happy days when we had basic cable. In fact, my memories are even fonder because—Sentimental Crap and Space Filler Warning!—my fiancée at the time and I would order out, light a few candles and soak up the MXC goodness. Does that make us losers? Perhaps. Well, yes actually. But hey, that was quality time and we just recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary and we owe it all to Spike TV!
The meat and potatoes of this profound timewaster of a show are the ridiculous games the contestants participate in. From the Rotating Surfboard of Death to Window Pain to Sinkers and Floaters (a favorite of ours) to the ever-popular Log Drop, where folks look they consistently sustain life-threatening blows to the cranium, the level of mayhem and pain applied to the competitors is sky-high, and, as schadenfreude dictates, provides hours of ceaseless entertainment. Some games are better than others, and by "better" I of course mean "more painful," but each show should at least provide one physical challenge that will lead to comical suffering.
The other aspect of the production is the dubbing, and judging by the
accompanying behind-the-scenes featurette, a fat amount of work and prep goes
into the writing. Too bad little truly fruit is borne from the labor. While
creativity abounds in the color commentary and play-by-play, so much of the
writing is littered with really, really, really bad puns and sexual humor, the
voice-over serves mainly as filler, overlaying the crazy Japanese footage. There
are a few exceptions: the opening with
But in the end, it's all about the painful eliminations, and this season is flush with classics, most of which transpire on the infamous Log Drop. Ah, the Log Drop, an inspired physical challenge that deserves its own 22 minutes. Seriously, just keep sending a stream of contestants—preferably overweight women with little maneuverability—over these rotating cylinders of bloodletting and that's a winning series.
Magnolia brings us the shows in their native full frame aspect ratio, which look about as good as you can expect for footage culled from a two-decade old Japanese network. For bonuses, you get an actual episode of Takeshi's Castle which is even weirder than you think (dig the Captain's long discussion with a female contestant about the size of her breasts), a brief but revealing making-of featurette and the 25 most painful eliminations of the season.
It's not brain-taunting fare, but MXC more than scratches that immature-potty-humor/watching-people-hurt-themselves itch that we all have—and are maybe afraid to admit it?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
• Original Episode of "Takeshi's Castle"
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