Friday, November 21, 2008

New Show: Estate of Panic

Episodes: The first 2, full length, 45 minute episodes
Clips: Nine clips, about a minute each, which generally feature meet-your-contestant interviews
Studio: SCI FI
Rank: B -
Reality shows have a long history of trying to frighten their contestants without getting sued, and they've had varying levels of success. It's a difficult task-- how frightened can a contestant become with camera crews in the room, and an underlying knowledge that no serious harm can occur?

This show takes the interesting tack-- if they can't make their contestants frightened, they can at least make them panic. The basic idea is that contestants are put into a room that contains hidden cash scattered throughout. Their goal is to find as much cash as possible and get out of the room. The first catch is the elimination process-- the last person left in the room is eliminated, while the person who finds the least cash is also eliminated. So they have to walk the line between staying too long and not staying long enough.

The second catch is that the room they are in gets rapidly less habitable as soon as the search begins. The first episode featured a basement that rapidly flooded, a garden loaded with live electric wires, and a library room that literally caved in. And of course, each room was laced with a healthy number of snakes, bugs, crabs and assorted creepy-crawlies to add to the effect.

I'm a sucker for these kinds of mindless shows, and this one has the added bonus of featuring one-off episodes. Like Fear Factor, each episode features a brand new batch of contestants who are whittled down to a winner. So you really don't have to invest anything in order to partake. The host is also not bad, some British guy who can fire off bon mots without ringing the bell of cheesy melodrama too loudly.

Good mindless fun.
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