Wink: In the west, gameshows reward knowledge. Ours punish ignorance!
Homer: *WHOOOMPH* AHH! AHHHHHH!
One of the interesting things about having a cycle of interests is that if you wait long enough, what's old becomes new again. Add this to the fact that when it comes to tv shows, there actually is new content if you wait long enough and it's almost like finding unexpected treasure. After all, once you catch up on a show there really isn't much you can do other than wait and I'm not one of those people who likes to follow anything over the long term episode by episode. In fact, that generally drives me nuts and I try to avoid it whenever possible. It's almost like hoarding in a way. It's better to slowly amass a huge pile of bounty that you can slowly consume over time or gorge upon in a bacchanal orgy of gluttony. It probably gives you a couple of glimpses into my personality there.
Given all that, it was a happy surprise that I was reminded of various reality shows and searched through the wiki pages for several to find new seasons since the last time I had looked. Most notably, there was a new and potentially last season of Solitary. Apparently the demise of the Fox Reality channel means that any future seasons are unlikely at best which is a shame. Solitary is everything grand about a reality show. It's almost Japanese-like as the entire purpose seems to be to watch people suffer. All it's missing is a sarcastic host doing the voice over and a panel of snarky celebrity commentators and it could be running in Japan right now.
The basic concept is this: 9 people choose to enter solitary confinement in little pods which are approximately 10x10 wherein they are experimented upon by a computer named VAL, a female and only slightly less murderous version of HAL. Begin with sleep and food deprivation and then add various treatments causing pain, discomfort, frustration, or the urge to vomit. Contestants can quit the treatment at any time but the first to do so is kicked out of the game and passes on the chance to earn $50,000 if they are the last person standing. Since all of the contestants are isolated in their own pods and never actually see one another, they have no clue whether someone else has already quit and a good portion of the game involves needless suffering. Examples of treatments involve having do strenuous exercise in a full body monkey suit in between rounds of eating bananas. It sounds easy at first but after the 15th banana mixed with sweltering ground pounds/running laps and it soon becomes torturous. The best part, of course, is that both the viewers and the contestants know that they can quit at any time. There's no necessity to go through some of the insane and, frankly, Saw-like treatments other than their own determination to continue. No matter what you think about reality shows in general, Solitary is pretty damn hardcore both in the severity of the treatments and in the relatively lackluster prize. How many people do you know who would repeatedly smack themselves with a wooden paddle, hundreds upon hundreds of times, and to the point of welts just for the chance to possibly win 50,000? I've said before that I would have let Michael Jackson fuck me in the ass for a million dollars but for a 1 in 9 chance at $50,000? I'm not nearly as gungho.
In the beginning, I had the same reaction to Solitary that I had upon seeing a lot of Japanese game shows. That I couldn't believe it was even on the air considering how likely lawsuits were. I consider it a minor miracle that I've never heard of some attempted litigation since the show seems geared completely toward breaking people. True, they willingly inflict the damage upon themselves but when has a sense of self-responsibility ever entered our legal system? This is a country where burglars trip on crap inside houses they illegally enter, sue for damages, and win.
Anyway, I recommend Solitary for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. The treatments are fiendishly clever at times and it's certainly one game show where it's hard to honestly say you think you could do better.