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101 (Terrifying) Ways to Leave a Game Show [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

The typical summer TV schedule is usually jammed with cheap-to-produce “reality” shows that send me running to Redbox.  But a new show has come along to challenges Summertime monotony. The spectacle of untrained contestants plummeting off of a cliff, being catapulted high into the air with explosives or finding themselves strapped to the top of a bi-plane in mid-flight, is impossible to turn off.  ABC has found the perfect combination of reality show drama and irresistible train-wreck with their latest hit 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show. The crazy stunts these losing contestants go through, means they’ll do anything it takes to win!

The premise of the show is quite simple.  A group of eight contestants go through four levels of trivia questions, each question has three correct answers and one wrong answer.  The single contestant who answers the question wrong is removed from the show by an outrageous stunt.  All contestants are usually strapped to the same device, then at the last second, the loser is removed from the show by one of the 101 outrageous ways.

Many of these are stunts right out of the movies.  Some of the crazy games included:

• On a Wing and a Prayer: the losing contestant is strapped to the top of a bi-plane that takes off into the mountains.

• You Fuse, You lose: all the contestants are strapped into chairs with explosives underneath.  The loser is launched straight up into the air.

• Down with the Ship: all contestants are strapped into ships, with the wrong answer, the loser is cannon-balled and sunk.

• The Balls of Doom: all contestants are strapped inside large steel balls, where the loser is rolled down a steep hill into a canyon.

• Flame Out: the contestants lean against a wall that is set on fire, and the loser is blown through by a high pressure fire hose

• Stage Fright: the contestants stand with their backs on the ledge of a tall building.  A mock press conference takes place and the loser is knocked off the side of the building, into thin air and then hit in the face by all the news microphones.

• Release the Hound: the losing contestant is chased down by a pit bull.

• Indiana Jeff and the Tower of Boom: where the losing contestant is ejected off of a mine cart at the end of a track and sent skyward.

And that’s just a small sampling.  I can still see the contestants strapped to the top of a moving semi-truck hoping not to get the wrong answer and be thrown off the side.  And my mind keeps replaying a scene with a woman being dragged down the street on a red carpet behind a limousine!  Get the idea?  I couldn’t quit screaming at the TV, getting especially vocal when the players blew an easy question about Las Vegas casinos.

On the last round of each episode, the four remaining contestants are sent up a spectacular ten story tower.  They are each strapped to a platform overlooking the pool of water below.  This round there is only one correct answer and the three losing players are dropped or tossed (the method changes in some unique way each show) from the platform into a terrifying drop to the pool below.

Of course, this all happens one by one with the host Jeff Sutphen pressing a joystick trigger.  The final winner receives $50,000.

I couldn’t imagine what that must feel like. After they fall, ending up in freezing water, their jeans, sweatshirts and jackets heavy and soaking wet. That can not be pleasant

The show is the latest in a long line of reality series and game shows that has been imported from the United Kingdom.  The series was originally produced for the BBC last summer and aired there for 8 episodes. Endemol, who produces 101 ways to Leave a Game Show, has been successful importing other international hits to the US such as Big Brother, Deal or No Deal, Fear Factor, and Wipeout.

Jeff Sutphen, the host of the American version is slowly working his way up in the world of television.  Most of his work was as a producer for the Nickelodeon shows U-Pick Live and My Family’s Got GUTS.  He was most recently the host of Brainsurge, one of the channel’s game shows. He also hosted the countdown show to the 2010 Kids’ Choice Awards.

Jeff works perfectly as a host. When introducing the consequences of losing in each segment, he adopted the catchphrase “and here’s how” to explain how the loser would be removed. He throws subtle humor at the white knuckle contestants who are nervously strapped into the various contraptions.  He also appears to be quite good at ad-libbing and can definitely hold the suspense until the last millisecond.

In order to participate in a show like this, the contestants have to sign long disclaimers and massive stunt, safety and medical personnel would have to be present for legal and insurance reasons.  Some of the ways these people exit so terrifying that even my knuckles are white.  Despite all of the outrageous stunts, the show maintained a high level of safety.  The contestants are visibly strapped in and connected to safety wires.  Thankfully, there were no official injuries reported during this first season.

As with most reality shows, what you see on TV is not completely unscripted.  There would have to be numerous stops for safety checks and to rig up the stunts.  It appears that the production for each episode takes place over one day, since the final tower drop is at night.

Sadly, 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show had its last official air-date this past Tuesday, but you can still watch episodes on

The series was originally picked up for 6 episodes.  The producers were hoping the network will request more. The show started off strong in the ratings, but viewership continued to drop with each airing.  Wipeout, another ABC reality series faced the same fate in its first season, but was renewed long after the final first set of shows aired and is now on the network throughout the entire year.  No new episodes have been ordered for the United Kingdom version.

THE 411

Title: 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show

What: reality game show

Network: ABC

Number of episodes: 6


JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: While the show is no longer on the air, full episodes are available to watch on ABC’s website and are available On-Demand on your local cable system through August..  Definitely take a little time and check it out.  Now that they are on demand, you can watch them on your own schedule.

It’s not a mean spirited show and while it’s designed to be a slight torture fest, it’s played almost as a comedy.  It’s certainly not going for the Fear Factor gross out shock-and-awe television.  I call upon ABC to pick up this show for another season next summer, or even for a series of specials that can air during the year.

There are a few differences between the US and UK versions.  Besides a different host, in the UK a reporter would chat with the losing contestant after going through their outrageous elimination.  I would love to hear what some of these people had to say after going through this!

And as a bonus, check out this entire episode from the BBC version:

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