SAN DIEGO, December 13, 2012 – Step aside, Jackass, Wipeout, and Stunt Junkies. You are pretenders to the throne. The king of them all is back: Fear Factor.
The wild ride fans remember has returned after being off the air since 2006 after a five year, 148 episode run with ten new episodes airing on NBC Monday night at 9 p.m.. Show producers promised the show would be “ramped up” to make it “even more challenging and competitive than ever before.”
First change: Fear Factor is now shot in high definition. Camera technology has evolved to provide more close-up angles. Stunts are bigger and more complex, much like shooting a stunt for a movie.
But that’s it. Otherwise, the tried and true formula fans loved the first time around remains the same.
Hanging from a helicopter, crashing a moving vehicle, cold water and lots of gunpowder detonating stuff? Check.
Teams of buffed-out full of themselves adrenaline junkies willing to tackle just about anything on network television? Check.
“Eww, I can’t believe she just ate that!” stunts involving the ingestion of the nastiest stuff some sick person thought up? Check.
Seal the deal with the return of original Fear Factor host Joe Rogan, and there is no doubt about it. Fear Factor is back and producers were smart to stick to the formula that worked the first time around, amplified for 2011. Word to the wise, though. Don’t watch the show while you’re eating dinner.
Original executive producers David Hurwitz and Matt Kunitz reunited this summer for the Fear Factor reboot. Rogan apparently wasn’t a shoe-in originally, but it’s hard to imagine the series without him. The comedian has come back to the Factor with fresh ink and a thicker physique after hosting Ultimate Fighting Competition (UFC) shows. He offers the right combination of trash talk and real enthusiasm to the show.
Excited fans made #FearFactor a top trending topic on Twitter on its debut night, cheering on the stunts, tweeting and commenting on the fun. Social media is made for TV shows like Fear Factor where half the fun is talking about it with your friends.
For those unfamiliar with the format, each episode features four teams of two people, usually family or friends, who must complete three tasks that range from nerve-racking physical stunts to the grossest of gross-outs. Any team that balks at doing a stunt is out.
For the teams who successfully complete each stunt, whichever team completes the stunts in the least time wins $50,000, along with bragging rights no one else can match about what they were willing to do on national TV for a measly $50K and the chance to hear Joe Rogan say to them, “Fear is not a factor for you!”
In the first of two back-to-back episodes, brother and sister team Alex and Amanda succeed in being flown by a helicopter, opening barrels to grab flags in the bed of a truck hurtling toward a wall before it hit and exploded; eating live scorpions after getting them out of a bucket buried in some nasty dark goo that looked like dirty motor oil; and being strapped to the front of a cement truck grabbing flags while crashing into obstacles.
Episode number two featured an amusing cast of teams who were ex-spouses or boyfriend/girlfriend. They faced a classic water stunt crashing a car into a pool; immersed themselves in 3,000 gallons of cow’s blood while fishing around for cow hearts and spitting them over the side into a bucket; and what Fear Factor does best, crafting a challenge featuring a moving bus, helicopter, and speedboat. Teams swam to a cargo net attached to a moving chopper, crawled up to unlock bags, grab a flare and toss it onto a floating fuel station which blew up.
Most impressive stuntwork: the skilled helicopter pilots who had to ascend, descend, and follow the teams while tethered to the copters, maneuvering at the same speed as the players on the ground in the first stunt. Additional choppers provided superb camera shots. Margin for error on their part: zero.
You find yourself shouting out loud in spite of yourself when you watch Fear Factor. Call it mindless, but it’s mindless fun, well produced and impressively staged. It’s the TV equivalent of eating ice cream. You know it shouldn’t be your regular diet, but it’s not going to hurt you once in a while. Indulge and enjoy it.
What better way to spend quality time with the family this holiday season than watching people get blown up, dangle from a helicopter, or eat something revolting? Think about it – who’s the ultimate flying daredevil? Santa Claus himself, of course. Merry Christmas, America!
RATINGS UPDATE: In its debut, Fear Factor posted some of NBC’s best ratings all season. Preliminary figures from Nielsen show Fear Factor averaged a 3.2/8 share in adults 18-49 and 8.7 million viewers overall at 8 p.m. and then held onto the audience in its regular 9 p.m. slot, great news for its debut. According to industry magazine Variety, it’s the best for a regular NBC program on Monday since the series premiere of The Event over a year ago, and is more than double the weak ratings of The Sing Off, which it replaced. It’s also the second best for any NBC entertainment series this fall, barely behind the season premiere of The Office. A nice present from Santa under NBC’s tree!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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Copyright © 2011 by Falcon Valley Group
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