There are times, very rare times, when a television show or film provides a breathless, rapid machine-gun fire volley of low brow jokes and sexual double entendres so artfully piled on, and so skillfully delivered, that the suspect material becomes almost poetic. Add to this poetry of filth and degradation endless shots of crazed Japanese smashing their way through large-scale obstacle courses while fracturing their noggins and severing their junk, and you have art. Still one of the funniest, most clever shows on TV, Spike TV's MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge works itself into a fever pitch of rapid-fire scatological and perversion jokes, while highlighting some of the "painful eliminations" of Japanese game show contestants, to create a show so dizzyingly daffy and hysterical that you frequently have to back up the episodes three and four times to really believe what you just saw and heard.
The premise is surprisingly simple. In 1986, Tokyo Broadcasting System premiered Takeshi's Castle, a comedy game show that pitted contestants against increasingly difficult physical challenges in an effort to storm the castle and win a million yen. But unlike American game shows, the physical challenges of Takeshi's Castle would never have made it past the legal departments of the major networks. People got seriously hurt competing on the show, and the wild and wooly challenges often provided horrific-looking close calls for the contestants who failed them.
Enter American wise-asses. Paul Abeyta, executive producer and head writer for MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge and TV producer Peter Kaikko came across the bizarre footage of Takeshi's Castle. Pitching the show to Spike TV in 2001, Takeshi's Castle had now become MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, where the original Japanese footage was chopped up, edited, and dubbed in with hilarious sex, body functions, and pain jokes. Executive produced by Larry Strawther and written by Christopher Darga, John Cervenka, Roy Jenkins, Victor Wilson, Mary Scheer, Herb Goss, and CeCe Pleasants, MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge quickly became a cult must for TV junkies who had never seen anything like it before on American TV.
The contestants of the original Takeshi's Castle were now formed, through the magic of editing, into two rival teams, such as the Cable TV Workers vs. White House Employees. Pitted against each other in death-match style, Kenny Blankenship (Christopher Darga) and Vic Romano (Victor Wilson) provide breathless color commentary on the events. Dufus Kenny, who's main interests are chicks and porn, is offset by Vic, a world-weary, wiser dufus with a dark past -- who's also mainly interested in chicks and porn ("Right you are, Ken"). Covering the events down on the field is reporter Guy LeDouche (John Cervenka), a perverted little twisto who obsesses over the most vile bodily functions while ogling the women (and men) who perform on the show. The master of ceremonies is the handsome Captain Tenneal (John Cervnka), who begins each episode down on the field by insulting and baiting the contestants, before giving his rousing rallying cry, "Let's get it on!"
The field obstacle courses in Takeshi's Castle have been renamed, of course, for MXC, so now the non-existent teams battle each other on such heinous courses as Dirty Muddy Balls, Rotating Surfboard of Death, Circle Jerkers, Sinkers and Floaters, Brass Balls, and my particular favorite, the Log Drop (you get the idea from those titles of the level of humor here). As the contestants barely manage to stay in one piece as they maneuver through these deadly obstacles (which frequently end up with the contestant falling into a slimy, mud-filled pond -- known as "the fluid" on MXC), Kenny and Vic provide a frequently filthy running commentary on their activities, with some hilarious made-up names for the various positions the contestants find themselves in ("She's going into a 'Kneeling Street Begger' and uh oh! She falls right into a 'Defrocked Priest' and right into the sludge!"). Mary Scheer provides the voices for all the women contestants, and she's particularly adept at providing hilarious, hysterical screams as the female contestants smash into mud. At the end of each episode, Kenny provides a recap of the events, which he calls his "Most Painful Eliminations of the Day." Clips of the worst crashes are repeated, sometimes over and over again, backed up and reversed, and played again and again, so we can enjoy the horrific knocks and bumps.
MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is primal stuff here. First, the very nature of the original footage is fascinating, particularly when you realize that these people are coming very close to permanently injuring themselves just to be on TV. The slapstick nature of their sometimes scary crashes are worthwhile on their own. But the brilliant writing of MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge carries the Takeshi's Castle footage into an even higher (or is it lower?) level of perversity and humor, and makes for one of the funniest shows on TV. If your comedy tastes run to wild noggin' bashing, spine splintering, kidney bustin' slapstick, along with scatological, perverse sexual double entendres (which would encompass most guys, I would assume), then MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Season Two is your dream show.
Here are the 13, one-half hour episodes of the two disc box set, MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Season Two, as described on its tri-fold slipcase:
Food Service vs. Hobbyists
Hi-Tech vs. Civil Service
Cable TV Workers vs. White House Employees
Reality TV vs. Animal Lovers
Toy & Games vs. Office Workers
Beauty Pageants vs. Military Personnel
Entrepreneurs vs. Hotel Staff
Entertainment Media vs. Unions
Wedding Industry vs. Trucking Industry
Financial Industry vs. Alcohol Industry
Real Monsters vs. Commercial Mascots (aka: The Monster Show) Highlights
Fast Food vs. Aerospace (aka: The Winter Show)
Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.