Seven Obscurities By Sam: Reality TV and Game Shows

With the recent premiere of The Sing-Off and the new reincarnation of Skating With Celebrities (now known as Skating with the Stars), it’s time for the first ever Seven Obscurities By Sam. SOBS is where I will enlighten you – my reader – with some of the most unnecessary, odd, and obscure information that I have accrued in my vast experience as a connoisseur of the bizarre. This week, we’ll be discussing the reality shows and game shows that just make you shake your head and hope for a Legends of the Hidden Temple remake sooner than later. Let’s get started:

7. Think Like a Cat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJshmRkn21c
We’ll start off with one of the Game Show Network’s original shows. Think Like a Cat is a show that was probably created by the 113-year-old grandmother of GSN’s CEO. The first round of the show was a “lightning round” where the cathletes had to finish a bowl of cat food before their competitors, combining the unhealthy excitement of a Chestnut vs. Kobayashi eating competition with the lameness of cats. The second round was called “Are You Smarter Than a Cat?”, and odds are if you’re watching a segment called “Are You Smarter Than a Cat?”, then you’ve already answered this question for yourself. Finally, there was a 1 million dollar challenge presented by – you guessed it – Meow Mix! Yes, the show sounds like a Christopher Guest movie gone terribly wrong. But did it galvanize the entire cat enthusiast community? Well…I’m sure it would have…had it lasted for more than one episode.

6. Mr. Personality

Mr. Personality was a reality show from 2003 that featured a woman searching for her husband among 20 bachelors. The producers would want you to believe that what makes Mr. Personality different from other shows is that all the bachelors were forced to wear identity concealing masks for the entirety of the show, but the real game changer is that it’s hosted by Monica Lewinsky, who unfortunately was not wearing a mask.

5. Dhani Tackles the Globe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfXtVwMoFi0

If I were to ask you to describe a role model, what would you say? Would you say that he must be a mediocre linebacker in the NFL? Would you say that he must create a company that sells high-end bowties? How about his passion for bicycling?

In any of these cases, there is no better role model than Dhani Jones, former all-of-the-things-I-said-up-there-in-the-last-paragraph. What is he doing now? He has a show on the Travel Channel, where he flies around the globe taking on different cultural groups and their local sports. It’s like an international, physical, less obnoxious version of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. Check out the clip of Dhani Jones learning how to play Jai Alai. Now that’s entertainment!

4. Skating With Celebrities

Much like the existence of the Sasquatch or the presidency of Millard Fillmore, there is little evidence to back up my forthcoming fantastical claim, but trust me: even though there are no YouTube clips of some of the contestants online, this still actually happened. In 2006, FOX executives had a secret meeting in Rupert Murdoch’s underground Volcano fortress beneath Safeco Field in Seattle. It was during this meeting that they determined the one wrinkle that Dancing with the Stars left untapped: freezing the entire floor beneath the contestants. And so Skating With Celebrities was misguidedly born. Hosted by Summer Sanders – of both Olympic and Figure it Out fame – the show featured some once glorious sitcom actors…and Bruce Jenner. Highlights of the show include Willis from Diff’rent Strokes falling on the ice, Dave Coulier from Full House revealing his affinity for hockey skates (Uncle Joey was a big Red Wings fan, remember? Right guys? Anybody?), and the first pre-Kardashians instance of someone exclaiming, “What the hell happened to Bruce Jenner?!”

3. Celebrity Duets http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzU-pA6LHpU

2006 was a watershed year for FOX reality shows. If Skating With Celebrities was the Dwyane Wade of 2006 reality shows, then Celebrity Duets was the Secretariat. The show had everything you could ask for: celebrities who should not be singing, extremely impressive recording artists singing with them, a Cheech Marin/Peter Frampton duet, Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (see the clip above to hear him utter the words he was born to say. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Chaka Khan!”), the ever-confusing Little Richard and Marie Osmond, Marty McFly’s mother singing with Michael Bolton, and of course Wayne Brady as a host. The show was created by American Idol judge Simon Cowell, probably as a way to get back at Americans for treating him as a modern-day King George III.

2. Hole in the Wall http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7NKhQDBW6I

An old, classic example of someone laughing and saying, “Look at what those silly Japanese game show contestants do! How absurd!” has turned into an international phenomenon. Human Tetris, or as the kids call it now a days “Hole in the Wall”, was then brought to American network television, and now has a place in the primetime lineup of Cartoon Network. The object of the game is to fit your body through different shapes. How did we get here?

1. Who Wants to Be a Superhero? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btSoRgyXrgY

My favorite obscure reality competition of all-time aired in that magical year, 2006, on the Sci-Fi Channel. The show was hosted by Marvel Universe (that’s the Spiderman one, for the people who aren’t as superhero savvy) creator Stan Lee, whom you may know better as the bus driver in an episode of Heroes. There were 12 contestants, each trying to become the next great comic book superhero. These were “normal” people who created their own costumes and super identities like Cell-Phone Girl, Fat Momma, and Monkey Woman. They had to face many super-heroic challenges throughout the show, like sprinting through a yard filled with dangerous attack dogs. The kicker for the show was the incentives for the contestants to be on the show. Nitro wanted to bring in some business for his toy company, Creature wanted to be a reality TV star, Monkey Woman was an actress trying to jumpstart her career, and Feedback was under the impression that he was in reality a superhero. Each of these contestants – except for Feedback, the eventual winner – were kicked off the show for their greedy intentions.

One show highlight involved a traitor among the contestants. They were all shocked to find out that Rotiart had been the traitor all along! They were even more shocked when they learned that Rotiart spelled backwards is traitor. Thank you Stan Lee and Sci Fi, for providing us with such an erucsbo show.

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