Dressed in minimal protective gear, a young Japanese man smiles for the camera before leaping onto a rotating surfboard. As it cuts an arc over a pool of brackish water, he leaps over pink dolphins and bravely tries to avoid molestation from a transvestite Indian Princess. And that's offensive enough with the sound OFF.
Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, or MXC,
sets giddy lows in political incorrectness once you listen
to the dubbed commentary, and that's the way fans like it.
Speciously translated from a Japanese game show called Takeshi's
Castle, it's occasionally jawdropping in its cruelty,
but for the most part, it's also hilarious.
Regularly broadcast on Spike TV, MXC has just seen its second season release on DVD, so viewers at home can gather it all up in one big pile of baba ganoush. Not that it should be viewed in one sitting; the half-hour episodes work best as bite-sized pieces of slapstick glory.
Despite having some clever games, each episode plays out in a similar fashion. Competitors from one or two industries (sometimes legitimately applied by the commentators, sometimes arbitrarily) go through a series of games. In the original Japanese series, these competitors are trying to survive to take the actual castle, barely referenced in MXC. Hence what we see in the American version is more segmented and edited for maximum mockery.
And that humor stays at a pretty sophomoric level, but then again, it's Spike TV, not A&E. You should know what you're getting. For low humor, the regular cast aims pretty high. Aided or guided by a crack team of writers (at least two), they riff and spar as hosts and competitors with some great non sequitirs. It's also a show in which the sound mixing deserves a lot more attention; off-the-cuff remarks really seem to come from the playing field.
Without the jokes, however, MXC is fascinating to watch. The producers must know that, too, for the "behind-the-scenes" featurette barely exists. There's not a lot of pulling back the curtain on the frat house stuff. What we really need is original show creator Beat Takeshi's inspiration in the first place.
The set includes one episode of Takeshi's Castle, preserving its original competition narrative and demonstrating that there may not actually be that much difference between co-hosts Count Takeshi and Councillor Higashi (in Japan) and their American translations Vic Romano and Kenny Blankenship. Insipid banter knows no international borders, apparently. It's a little funnier in English.
Regardless of language, the show is best viewed with a bunch of friends. Any episode at random should be fun, though we have to offer one warning - the potentially funniest episode got gutted from its original broadcast. Though the only possible way to make the obstacle courses funnier was to force the contestants to wear Halloween costumes and theme it to pop culture, it seems that also violates some copyrights here in the U.S.
Where once the Science Police from Ultraman battled against several Toho monsters, they're now all gone, and the remaining episode isn't just stunted, it's more nonsensical than usual. At least "The Winter Show" didn't get sued by Frosty the Snowman, so that one remains in all its glory.
Gather some friends. Gather them a few times. And whatever you do - don't get eliminated.
MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge Season 2