Wipeout (2008, USA, ABC, Endemol)

Matt Kunitz of Fear Factor fame wanted to make a funny stunt based show. So here’s the US’ answer to Takeshi’s Castle and Ninja Warrior.

It’s Wipeout!

The show opens with a montage with the hosts giving a description of the show.

And here are our hosts, comedian and talk show host John Henson and sports journalist John Anderson. They’re not on the field, they’re commentating on the footage.

And our third host, the sideline reporter, is actress Jill Wagner who interviews most of the contestants and cheers the contestants on, albeit in an amusingly insincere manner.

Here she is interviewing the first contestant today, Neil Smith, who when asked what talents he’s got to help him through the course describes himself as “ridiculously good looking”.

And here he is on the top of the start ramp for the first round, the Wipeout Qualifier.

Simply, 24 people run the course, the people with the top 12 times go through to round two.

The qualifier consists of four obstacles. If you fall off, you swim to the end and move on to the next one. As Neil is the first contestant, you’ll get to see his entire run.

The first obstacle changes every week, this week it’s the doughnut run. Four sets of doughnuts, a safety platform, and then a further four doughnuts. As you might be able to suspect, the obstacles are designed so that lots of people will fall in. In this case, if you fail the first set of doughnuts you have to climb up onto the halfway platform and try the second set before moving on.

The second obstacle is usually the Sucker Punch. Get across the small ledge to the other side using the grips on the wall to help you…

But try and avoid the random mechanised boxing gloves or this tends to happen.

Right, pick yourself up, get up the ramp and it’s time for the show’s signiture obstacle – the Big Balls. Four large balls made out of galvanised rubber.

The idea, obviously, is to try and bounce your way across the top. The reality is that most people fall in.

The final obstacle today is the Pole Vault – launch yourself down the ramp, grab the pole and try to stick the landing on the Big Ball. Or failing that, swim round to the steps on the other side. The clock stops when you a) stick the landing or b) stand upright on the top step.

You can see the Johns have a telestrator to help demonstrate.

Well he didn’t stick that…

So the clock stops when he’s on the platform. This final obstacle changes each week also, but it’s always a swing of some sort.

The next twenty minutes are the highlights from the wualifying session with John and John’s deadpan commentary.

There’s a running joke about the run down the ramp onto the floating platform not being an official obstacle but perhaps should be one because so many people seem to mess it up anyway.

One contestant who manages to get across the Big Balls without wiping out (a rare feat) looks unstoppable, until she gets to the pole vault and shouts “where’s the pole?” and spends the next 15 seconds looking for it. The Johns helpfully point it out.

After much deliberation she just jumps for it. It turns out she thought the 30ft high pole would be yellow…

And here’s how not to do the Big Balls.

The top twelve people go through to round two, and here’s six of them now.

Round two is very simple, it’s called The Sweeper. It’s the same game every week but each week there’s a variation – this week the sweeper has got THE SPIKES OF DOOOOM attached to it so it looks like a toothbrush.

The aim is simple – jump over the sweeper as it sweeps past, getting higher and faster as the game progresses.

If you get knocked off your 10ft high platform, you’re eliminated. The first six to get knocked off are out of the game, but the fun doesn’t end for the six survivors – the last man standing wins a $1,000 bonus.

Round three alternates between the Dizzy Dummy and the Dreadmill every week, but this week it’s the Dizzy Dummy. Contestants strap themselves into a spinning contraption and are then spun for about a minute. They then have to complete an obstacle course.

This contestant threw up and decides to quit shortly after.

There are two courses and the contestants alternate between them on each round. This week they are the Crazy Beams – make your way along thse beams (which rotate freely so clever contestants can create a path) to the end. If you fall in you have to go back to the start…

… and the Pole Vault – launch yourself across two platforms to get to the end. If nobody makes it, the round is dead and it’s back to the crazy beams. Between each round, they must get spun again!

This continues until we’re down to the final four. They get to compete in the Wipeout Zone for $50,000.

The four remaining contestants take on the final round individually with the fastest time winning the money.

The same four obstacles appear every week on the Wipeout Zone, but there’s always some sort of variation to keep players and viewers on their toes.

The first obstacle is Killer Surf – launch yourself off of the ramp and fly through the air.

Obstacle two is the Barrel Run – run up the slope and jump over the barrels. When you reach the top the barrels will stop coming. If you fall off an element at any point you will need to swim back to the beginning of the element.

The next bit is an unofficial obstacle, it’s the Wall Climb. The contestant muct use the ledge and handholds provided to get across to the other side. To make things more difficult, this week there’s a water cannon firing at the wall.

Obstacle three is probably the toughest of the lot – it’s The Spinner. That sloped platform is spinning quite fast, you have to time your leap on and on the other side time your leap off to the other platform. Failure means you’re going to go spinning off either due to gravity or because those foam bollards are going to whack you. The ideal jump is to jump behind one of the bollards so you won’t get spun off. A fall here means swimming back to the Wall Climb.

Get past the Spinner and you’re on the final element, the Launchpads, four trampolines placed at different heights. If you fall off, you need only swim back to the beginning of the Launchpads.

The clock stops when you’re standing upright on that spot, there. If he can do that last jump in under six minutes, he wins $50,000!

And Jill congratulates him. He shouts a lot. “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT! YEAH!”

“And we’re talking about $50,000 for our new Wipeout champ, ninja Kyle Adler!”

“That’s a lot of action figures my friend!”

“To be sure, and YOU be sure to join us next week for a new batch of contestants, some crazy new obstacles and of course a whole lotta wipeouts. Til then America I’m John Anderson..”

“And I’m John Henson for Jill Wagner, goodnight, and big balls.”

This article was originally written in 2008, the following comments were left in the original comment box:

Where’s the pole? Where’s the pole?

I was thinking why I have been enjoying this show so much this summer. I think it boils down to the fact that even though people are having a tough go, everyone is having tons of fun.

It’s nice to see a show such as this when we see too many shows that are only about snarking at each others.

Just my two cents though!

Chris S.
I’m not entirely sure that throwing up disqualifies you from the game. The contestant that threw up voluntarily quit after he took that last spin.

Brig Bother:
Yep, I’ve just checked the tape and you’re right, so I’ve changed it. Thanks!

Clifton Hone:
No, the game show that disqualifies you for throwing up is G4’s “HURL!”. and as G4 runs both “NINJA WARRIOR” and “UNBEATABLE BANZUKE” (“MUSCLE RANKING”), they get ripped off three times!

3 thoughts on “Wipeout (2008, USA, ABC, Endemol)

  1. Reboot

    > Right, pick yourself up, get up the ramp and it’s time for the show’s signiture obstacle – the Big Balls. Four large balls made out of galvanised rubber.

    They don’t look like they’re coated in zinc…

    [I think you mean “vulcanised”]

  2. Anonymous

    The girl who got across the Big Balls was the FIRST person to EVER make it.

  3. Anonymous

    From the “spikes of doom” part

    John H.:”The SPIKESS OF-”
    John A.:”Bristles”

    I’m an American, and I posted the comment about the girl who got across the Big Balls-Ariel Tweto. Apparantly, she did “seal hopping” in the Alasakn olympics or something (I didn’t mention she was from Alaska? Oops.). She used the technique from that to beat the big balls. Cue shock from the Johns.


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