Storm the Castle (1993, US)

In our latest edition of the feature that takes a peek at how different countries around the world handle domestic versions of the same show we cast a glance towards Storm the Castle, The US domestic version of Takeshi’s Castle that never made it past pilot stage.

The show was made by Vin Di Bona Productions whose other shows have included a one hour broadcast pilot of Conquer Fort Boyard, one series of The Big Moment (the US version of Japan’s Happy Family Plan aka The Moment of Truth) and America’s Funniest Home Videos.

The game titles used here reflect the ones used on the show. We don’t think half of them are as good as the version the Brits know and love either, which in turn probably aren’t as good as the Japanese ones. Still, though.

2011 Edit: I’m sorry the pictures are a bit small, I’m sure 192×144 seemed like a good idea at the time I wrote this. However it’s all on Youtube at the time of writing.

30 families running for their lives through some woods in Universal Studios in Hollywood. With five people in each family, that’s 150 people. They’re hoping to win $15,000 on…

Storm the Castle!

Note the title font. Now, we saw this thing on How 2 once that suggested that food, even if it’s perfectly good, becomes unappatizing if it’s coloured differently. Whilst the Japanese show we all know and love is red and grey and blue, and set on a rubbish tip, Storm the Castle utilizes pastels and is set in 20 acres of Hollywood Studios. It might taste like Takeshi’s Castle, but would we really want to eat it?

Let’s find out.

Our hosts Nely Galan and Michael Burger. We know Michael is an actor and has hosted a few gameshows since. Nely is a bit of an unknown quantity. The IMDB suggests she’s a producer these days, if it’s the same person.

After a couple of short event previews we launch into some clips of the elimination round. The aim is to find ten of the thirty families to play the game proper. Their first task is to get over the high wall…

… and once up the top and having slid down the other side to be one of the first ten families to find fourteen tennis balls hidden in a big mud bath.

The qualifying families are paraded. We never find out who the losers were.

The first challenge is entitled Devil’s Domain, the game we know as the Honeycomb Maze. The idea is to run round a maze in the shape of a beehive and pick the correct door that leads to dry land, the blue pontoon in this case. You can guess what happens if they run out the wrong door.

And to help our plucky contestants run out the wrong door, they’re going to be chased around by Beetlejuice and somebody else. If they catch them, they’ll chuck them out the nearest exit. Successfully completing the task earns the family 15 points.

On occasion Burger will chat to the families before they send their kin in on a game. It’s an excuse to let off some testosterone and “wooh! Yeah!”ing really.

Instead of the Japanese cries of “I’ll do my best!” before each game, the American’s are reduced to “Wooh! I’m X and I’M GONNA DO IT FOR THE X FAMILY!”

A man in a maze, yesterday.

A man drowning, soon after. Beetlejuice laughs on.

It is possible though as this young lady proves. She gets a short interview.

The scoreboard. Yes you are expected to keep track of the scores of ten families, so I hope you’re paying attention at the back.

This games called Beach Boys and Gals, we know it as a slightly less difficult Wipeout. Whilst Surfin’ USA is playing in the background, contestants are expected to jump onto a hovering surfboard (far left) and then (moving clockwise) jump over the yellow worm, duck under the dolphin, jump onto the platform, jump back onto the surfboard, duck the second dolphin and then leap onto the platform to win the game.

Well that’s the theory at any rate.

Next up is Human Bowling where members of the families dress up as giant skittles and hope to avoid getting knocked over for five points.

Luck of the draw determines who is going in which position. She’s just picked the Ace. Which is a shame, as that means she’s the front pin and directly in the line of fire.

Whilst dressed as pins their legs are tied together making it very difficult to balance once you get pushed.

Here comes the ball now…

Oh dear. In the trade I believe that’s called a split.

Never mind though, the families still on their feet earn points and other members now get a go.

We only show this picture because it’s one of the few where Michael is shown carrying some sort of cane.If this was a concession to be a General Tani (Lee) type character then we don’t think it’s that good.

Mudbath Math, aka the Slipway. As the contestant travels downhill on his trolley a mathematical equation flips up on those boards to his left, there.

When it reaches the bottom he must tell the twins the correct answer. If it’s correct then he wins points and stays dry…

… but if you get it wrong then the twins pull a lever and you get thrown into a mud bath. Well they say it’s a mud bath, it looks more like a vat of water with a smattering of brown dirt on top to give it some colour.

Although particularly useless people don’t even need to get the question wrong to fall in. This woman didn’t grab hold of the trolley well enough and was thrown forward by it’s abrubt halt.

Family Togetherness. Two members (usually for hilarity reasons the heaviest member and the kid) try and cross the water on “teeter-totters”…

… with hilarious consequences!

It can be done though, and the prize is five points for each team member that gets across. It’s perfectly possible for light-on-their-feet kids to scramble across even when the adult has fallen in.

This game was only played on couples and parent and child editions of Takeshi’s Castle.

Skipping Stones is Takeshi’s Castle‘s blue riband event really. Here though it’s named Stepping Stones and is reduced to a couple of highlights.

The idea is to get a good up and then run across the stones to the other side. The comedy aspect comes with the contestants not knowing which of the stones are stable and which ones will sink when stepped on. It takes inertia and good balancing skills to recover from hitting a wobbly stone, else go A over T into the water.

This man’s just about got it.

This man hasn’t.

Next up is the Spinning Mushroom (aka Mushroom Trip). Contestants are given a strap with which to grip the stalk of this massive mushroom. The idea is to hold on to it for dear life as it spins towards the bottom on a zip wire. You can just see a contestant falling off in this picture.

Holding on but then overshooting earns you na-da as well.

But anyone who does land it earns their family a whopping twenty points, and two members are allowed a go.

The penultimate event is The Gauntlet, like a giant real life 2D video game. The contestant must run from the start on the right to the goal on the left whilst avoiding being put off by the gremlins. They are also against a timing device, in the Japanese show it’s a purple mushroom, here it’s some sort of wind fan thing.

This contestant has trouble getting past the turnstyle thing. Like many obstacle courses, the best way through it is to attack it rather than let it attack you.

Get past that and you face the trampoline into the energy sapping crawl-through-lots-of-vats-of-rubber-balls-and-foam-bricks section.

The avoid-the-giant-demolition-balls bit.

Notice there’s a countdown clock in the corner. It appears when there is thirty seconds left for females and twenty seconds left for males.

The swing-across-the-mud-bath bit. This is actually easier than the Japanese one as the rope is a lot shorter so you end a lot higher.

Also different to the Japanese show, if you don’t make the swing you’re allowed to try and climb back up to the end. I think time is going to beat this person though.

And the prize for finishing too late? You get pushed off into the mud. Getting there within the time though wins lots of points.

The final game before the big final is Dunk Your Parents, a game exclusive to Storm the Castle. The parent is sitting on a trolley on a slipway. One of the levers will dunk them into the water. The other levers carry other surprises and are worth 5, 10 and then 15 points. Pulling the dunk lever ends the game there. It’s a game of chance.

Surprises include: a pie in the face!

A bucket of water!

It might not look it, but this man is actually cheering. He knows his family are in the final.

But the monster is going to strike the gong anyway.

And there we go.

And here are our two top scoring families! One of them will pocket $5,000 as second prize, but one will walk away with the $15,000 top prize. And how do they storm the castle?

Well they get in motorized dinghys for a start.

Each family has a set of twelve balloons, one pink and one dark purple. The family must burst eleven of them using plastic swords. With the eleventh popped, they must tag the youngest member sitting on a pontoon to burst the twelfth and final balloon. Whoever does that first is the winner.

You can see the running scores down the bottom. The Angulos with the pink balloons are two up on the Warners.

The Angulos double team their penultimate balloon!

And they are our winners! They’ve stormed the castle!

Fireworks!

And here’s yer cash! Thanks for reading, goodbye!

This article was originally written in 2005. The following comments were left in the comment box:

NJ:
A very American take on what is a very Japanese gameshow. Whilst it would be good early on I doubt US audiences would hang on to it for long. And US people don’t have the same charm as the Happy-Clappy-Jappy-Chappies. 

Oh, and the points system cheapens it too. The finalists don’t actually storm the castle rather than race their opponents to the castle. No guards=bad and no Bridgeball=bad.

Ryan:
Sorry, by far the best part was the lady flying off the moving trolley.�

Classic.

Too bad they didn’t make it; I didn’t think it was half bad. The problem is today that they would basically cover them all over with foam pads – part of the hilarity that was missed with the only ever US edition of MXC/Takeshi’s on Spike TV was safety proofed from here to kingdom come. 

I realize it has to be done… but it loses something. 

Thanks for the memories though! 

Ronald
we like the character providing custardy pie goodness the best.

MJ:
Nely Galan is one of those figures in Hollywood who keeps working, despite a not-too-impressive record. She was an exec for HBO for a while and worked for SiTV, an attempt at an English-language cable channel for Hispanics. Her one triumph was devising “The Swan,” the ghastly makeover show-cum beauty pageant format that is owned by Fremantle (she also appeared on both U.S. series as the “life goals counselor” member of the panel that messes with the contestants). A qualified triumph, however–after the first series did well for Fox (thanks to scheduling after “American Idol”), the second series last fall bombed and it’s doubtful that a third series is coming–but Fremantle’s selling the format to other territories–has the UK seen it yet? 

BTW, former RTE presenter Amanda Bynum presented both U.S. series, after presenting “Paradise Hotel” and “Forever Eden” for Fox (and an webcast chat show after last year’s “24” series on fox.com). She moved to America for this?

Brig Bother:
Ah, I did wonder if it was the same person – it seems a baffling career move to jump from pilot show producer to exec via some not brilliant shows. Ta for that!

I think The Swan has shown up on a cable channel somewhere (Living TV probably) but it certainly didn’t hit the mainstream. 

Amanda Byram is baffling. She was quite good hosting The Big Breakfast (Channel 4’s anarchic breakfast show) before it was axed though. She was going out with Patrick Kielty at one point, who you may remember hosted the pilot for the US’ ill-fated version of Deal or No Deal.

NJ:
Yep, The Swan showed up here on Living and I think five showed an interest in getting it for terrestrial. 

Do Fremantle own everything gameshow related now?

Jay Jianoran:
In 2003, Storm the Castle revived as MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge in which contestants will be painfully eliminated in possible stunts or events, with most games take place in mud, and  

P.S. For a new season of MXC it will be renamed back to Storm the Castle and Michael Burger will play the role as Kenny Blankenship, and have more voice actors as well guest voice actors.

Jay Jianoran:
We’ll here’s the event lineup in MXC Form 

1. Drop in the Ocean�
2. Door Jam�
3. The Rotating Surfboard of Death�
4. Spare Me!�
5. Little Man in the Boat�
6. Plank Spankers�
7. Sinkers and Floaters�
8. Eat Shittake�
9. Dash to Death�
10. Dunk Your Parents (If this game made it to MXC!)�
11. Showdown (Hopefully will se as well!)

Jay Jianoran:
We’ll here’s the event lineup in MXC Form (as of now) 

1. Backyard Bocce Ball Bloodbath�
2. Door Jam�
3. The Rotating Surfboard of Death�
4. Spare Me!
5. Sorry, Wrong Number�
6. Plank Spankers�
7. Sinkers and Floaters�
8. Eat Shittake�
9. Dash to Death�
10. Do Or Die (If this game made it to MXC based on Final Fall!)�
11. Showdown (Hopefully will se as well!)

chris a:
lot of death orientated games aren’t there?

Oliver:
I’m going to agree with what NJ said two years ago. This is a VERY American take on what was an amazing Japanese game show. And no, Americanizing foreign game shows is definitely not a good thing.

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