From the same producers that have brought us “American Idol”, and “America’s Got Talent”, comes a new physical game show taken from a segment from a Japanese game show, HOLE IN THE WALL. The show wrapped filming today at CBS studios in Studio City. It’s official, the U.S. will now join all other countries currently running the show. It was stated on set that the only other country not airing the show is the United Kingdom.
Brooke Burns , who is beautiful, smart, and bubbly, (fans will remember her from “Dog Eat Dog”) is the interviewer host who stands on the stage floor, and Mark Thompson (Fox Los Angeles Weather anchor) is the commentator host standing on his own small platform above the stage. Also very charismatic and likable in-person. These two hosts are great selections for their roles on the show. Burns has the game show fan base already from “Dog Eat Dog” as well as the experience, and Thompson is naturally talented as a commentator from his anchor and voice-over work. Both Thompson, and the audience warm-up host, expressed much appreciation of the presence of Brooke Burns on stage. Especially since wardrobe department outfitted her in short dresses and short shorts for all episodes. After years of watching Burns on television and finally seeing her in-person for the first time. She actually looks better in person (yes, it is possible). Another note on both hosts, Burns’ hosting and interviewing style appears to be mostly improv. She takes-in some notes from producers via her ear piece and is seen studying her script off stage, while Thompson works with a teleprompter.
Sorry to say, the title of the show is exactly what viewers will get. Mark Thompson said it best: “Make the shape, get through the hole, and get points”. It’s a big traveling Styrofoam wall moving straight toward contestants on a track. Contestants are in two teams of three players. The teams sexes are varied: women vs. women, men vs. men, and women vs men. One Blue Team and one Red Team. Each team name themselves. Some examples: “Hometown Hotties”, “Skinny Minis”, “Spicy New York Meatballs”, “Super Jocks”, and “Greek Goddesses”. They each are given timed seconds to see the wall as it quickly approaches them. Contestants must stand in a narrow “Play Area” which sits in front of a neon green pool. Each player must figure out how to shape their bodies in order to get through the hole without falling into the pool located directly behind them, or breaking a chunk of the wall off. The holes vary in size and shape. If players think that the objective is simply to form his/her body to the exact shape of the hole, then they will fail miserably. One hole was in the shape of an arrow. Can we just say, the contestant had some trouble. No points are given to contestants who are knocked into the pool by the wall, or if they succeed to get through the hole in the wall without falling into the pool, but cause the wall to break.
Contestants are helped out of the water by real life guards, one male and one female who are in the wings off-stage. They came in very handy during one show that had a team of competitors who could not swim. One member from the team was visibly distraught and had to take a moment to recompose after being rescued out of the pool by a life guard. Not because the water is deep. Another contestant was seen standing-up in the pool.
Life guard awaits off-stage.
Rules of the game tended to change throughout days of taping. This caused frustration and confusion by audience members. During one game, a contestant was not allowed to score points by getting through the wall while lying-down, thus, resulting in their body being outside of the “play area”. Then in another game, a player did the same thing on the “three-person wall” round, and was awarded points. During the last week of filming, the rule was clearly stated as: “Players must start in the hole within the Play Area, but can finish outside of the play area”.
The show has a real sports event feel and look. Audience members are given “bangers” (balloon clappers), flags and pom, poms in red and blue colors. The mock stadium is divided into a blue section and a red section.
The game is broken-up into rounds of five. After Thompson introduces each wall challenge with: “It’s time to face the wall”, audiences count down, “3″, “2″, “1″. The wall is revealed once the large screen is lifted. Each time a contestant makes it through the hole in the wall successfully, they earn one point. The first round, (One Person Wall) one person per team competes; second round (Two Person Wall), two members must get through either one hole or two individual holes.; third round (Three Person Wall) three members must get through either one or three holes. The fourth round is called the “Speed Round” (a.k.a. “Speed Wall”). In this round, the wall moves at double the speed. Team members earn double the points (2 points per person getting through the hole instead of 1). All three players must get through the holes in the wall successfully in order to win $25,000 plus $5,000 bonus. If only two people get through the wall, the team wins $25,000. If one person out of the three gets through the hole, the team earns 2 points. At one time in the show, it was stated by hosts that one person getting through the hole during this round resulting in $5,000 going to the losing team. But, this may have been one of the rules that was changed because hosts were not heard saying that again. The last round is called the “Blind Wall”. This round is played by the winning team. During this round, they play for $100,000. If the two teams have tied by the end of the fourth round (“double speed round”), then each team plays for $50,000. This round is called the “Blind Wall” because one player from the winning team (or tied teams) is blindfolded and told by other team members how to shape their body in order to fit through the hole in the wall where they can win the grand prize of $100,000 (or $50,000 if tied). Amazingly enough, teams who did not earn a point during the whole game, scored the big money at the end while their team mate played wearing the “black-out goggles” that served at the blind folds.
All players are dressed in silver tight moon looking suits with the appropriate red or blue knee and arm pads. Hoodies are also attached to the suites which never seem to be used by contestants. All contestants are in their blue or red helmets.
In some instances, the holes in the wall that appeared to be too small for some of the overweight contestants, surprisingly, some of these contestants managed to get through. Audiences also witnessed some smaller sized contestants not able to get through the holes. The game is largely based on strategy. But, also, it was noted that sometimes, some holes appeared to be impossible for a small number of the obese players which seemed to be a decision made by producers based on entertainment purposes. One especially obese contestant received “oohs and Ahhs” from the audience, as well as some opinionated comments by the shows warm-up host who also works the show in England. He stated over the microphone to the pool’s under-water cameraman, “I hope you’ve written your will”, and “ready to make history. I have to tell England as soon as I get back”.
During the second day of filming, many mishaps occurred. In the first game of the day one team was not given any points for one of their rounds because one of the players succeeded to get through the hole, but was not in the “play area” at the time. That was correct because that is one of the stated rules of the game. However, during the second game of the day, a tie occurred between the two teams. This resulted in the final team playing for $50,000 instead of the $100,000. In the winning team’s final round, the player that was blind folded also succeeded at getting through the hole outside of the “play area”. A few moments after their celebration, Burns showed the team the replay footage on the big screen that the contestant indeed was outside of the “play area”. The production crew took a few minutes of time-out. Then, Mark Thompson announced that “the judges decision has been reversed”. The team was awarded the $50,000. Many audience members were upset by the outcome. The overall verdict was: If the show is going to have rules, they should always be upheld, not just sometimes.
During some technical difficulty,while the wall was coming out, the track that transports the wall, got stuck, resulting in the contestant viewing the wall longer than the alloted seconds. The show was stopped again. Producers threw that wall out, obviously in order to keep the game fair. One of the producers announced to the audience that the wall would be used in a future show. It was also noted that the walls are transported-in from downtown Los Angeles. Once the track was fixed, the crew loaded a new wall and proceeded with the rest of the game.
During the second to the last day of filming, twice, contestants managed to dismantle the entire wall off of the contraption that was holding it. And, during another game, the wall almost crashed into the audience that is seated behind it. In both instances, luckily no audience members were hurt. After the last incident, some time was taken out and the wall was put through several tests without that first row of audience present.
Wall almost crashes into audience behind it.
For such a simple seeming idea of a game, there was much difficulty and complications during taping. Most occurred out of how the rulings of the games were called by the judges, and the rules of the game. In one circumstance, during what I thought was a “three-person wall” round, the contestants were not awarded points after they successfully cleared the wall. One of their team mates knocked-out a small chunk off of the wall. This was such a close-call. Much time was taken-out by show producers to discuss the ruling. In the end, the team was not awarded any points.
After some conversation was seen taken place with producers and contestants, the show picked-up filming again with the round being shot as the fourth, “speed wall” round. Re-shoots were done of the hosts accordingly to the “speed wall” round, and the team walked away with $25,000 for the two teammates that got through the holes.
On another note, replay footage shown to the studio audience does not include the angle which shows the contestants facial expressions of their reactions to seeing their holes for the first time. Can’t wait to see the final edited episodes.
Also, according to some lines that were fed to Thompson, FOX may decide to air some back-to-back episodes of the show once it hits.