May 052004
 
Authors: Jeremy Anderson

Television watchers across the country have made Spike TV’s

“Most Extreme Elimination Challenge” one of the most popular shows

on cable. Fans tune in each week to watch everyday Asian folks take

part in crazy, physical challenges set to truly laugh-out-loud,

though purposefully inaccurate, English dubbing.

“MXC” is a hilarious blend of “American Gladiators,” “Mystery

Science Theater 3000″ and “Iron Chef.” However, the real origin of

the show is a little-known – at least to American audiences –

Japanese reality program from the ’80s.

All of the footage shown in “MXC” is taken from the hit Japanese

reality show, “Takeshi’s Castle.” Though not well-known to American

audiences, “Takeshi’s Castle” was a big hit for the Tokyo

Broadcasting System from 1985 to 1990.

Beat Takeshi, a man referred to by “MXC” publicist David Schwarz

as “the Clint Eastwood of Japan,” hosted the original show. Takeshi

has been renamed Vic Romano for “MXC” and is voiced by co-writer

Victor Wilson.

Takeshi’s Castle Online said that in each episode a character by

the name of General Lee rounds up 100 volunteers to participate in

various challenges and attempt to remain in the game long enough to

eventually try and take over the fortress of Takeshi’s castle.

This same Web site reported that the show was so popular that

that two Japanese video games were made back in the ’80s based on

it. Players could guide a character through obstacles such “Sinkers

& Floaters.”

One of the most probable questions someone viewing “MXC” might

ask is, “What were these people competing for on the original

show?”

The prizes, Schwarz said, “were not very lucrative” and included

such rewards as “oven mitts and trays of food.”

According to Schwarz, “Takeshi’s Castle” was first discovered as

a gateway to “MXC” when Paul Abeyta and Peter Kaikko of R.C.

Entertainment ran across some footage of the show and decided it

would be funny to create a new TV program based on it.

“They put a quartet together and got to working on this crazy

show,” he said.

This quartet includes the writing and vocal talents of

Christopher Darga, Victor Wilson, Mary Scheer and John

Cervenka.

Mary Oldenburg of USA Today reports that Abeyta and Kaikko

possess the rights to the 130 hours of “Takeshi’s Castle,” which

could make possible the creation of around 500 episodes of “Most

Extreme Elimination Challenge.”

Despite that fact that “MXC” depicts Japanese people making

fools of themselves, Spike TV has not received insulted

responses.

“The show doesn’t make one single reference to Asians,” Schwarz

said. “It makes fun of everyone else besides Asians. We have not

received one single (angry) letter or phone call.”

Schwarz said he believes the appeal of “MXC” is twofold.

“The show works on two levels: It is funny to watch the

different stunts and it is so well-written,” he said. “I can’t say

enough about the four writers.”

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