#150 - It's Torture
Because putting kids in stocks and pretending to kill them is entertaining.

 

ITV (1989)
Text by: Robert Seidelman

There's not much that game shows can do that truly infuriate me.  One of the worst ones are torturing contestants, whether it was a form of penalty for losing a challenge by chopping off some hair or putting them in any form of life-threatening situation where they have to answer a bunch of questions from a bro-douche of a host while being put in a freezer-like environment for the sick pleasure of a few.  Oh, sorry, that's me still fuming over how a crappy show like The Chamber gets made and better pilots get shafted.

Since it's Kid's Month, you'd think that this form of stupid plot device would be exempt from a kids game show in any country.  Well, not quite.  In between ITV's massive kiddie block in 1989 dubbed Motormouth, a game show was aired that featured kids being put in comically created torture scenes which had them eliminated in various ways that would make any young one tremble and any parent furious.  I had planned on doing this for UK Month, but it better fit here.  It's now time to put this show in its place entitled....It's Torture.

Steve Johnson would be the host for this mess.  Unfortunately for us, he hadn't learned how to be a good host yet, as he would be with Mouse Trap or Terror Towers.  He would come off as the super-fake excited kids game show host that I would come to despise over the years.  Mixing elements of Skip Lackey, Larry Zeno and the Cryptkeeper made him come off with about as much sincerity as your basic garden variety politician trying to get into a position of power by kissing as much ass as he can.  He had the energy, but didn't harness it to where it could be used to its best potential.

The format is also tortuous to watch.  Four teams of two competed to start in a game.  One person would be in the gallery above while the person below would be the victim, provided if they didn't answer any questions right or not enough.  Steve would ask a question and the person in the gallery would buzz in.  If they were right, the three other victims would move a step closer to their destruction.  If they were wrong or if they ran out of time, their partner would move a step closer.  As you can see above, it's moving closer to a pit filled with acid or lava or something that would kill instantly if it were in real life.  This would continue until three of the four victims were gone.  It's the whole premise that has me angered about this show.  Torture isn't fun.  You get tortured if you commit a heinous crime, like say driving a plane into a couple of towers or putting homemade pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon to kill innocent people.  Maybe it's the current atmosphere that we live in that is making me hate this show, or the fact that its kids that are being put through the wringer.  Either way, I'm against this show.

The winners would move on to the finals, but not before they get to play a little Newlywed Game style question called "The Hot Seat".  One person would be put in a helmet where they couldn't see or hear anything, while the other would be put in some stocks and answered a question about their partner.  If they were right, then they won a goody bag of show stuff and a small prize, usually a new album or something to that effect.  I don't mind the question posed, I mind the atmosphere.  Under no circumstances should a kid be put in stocks, unless they have committed a serious crime. 

This process would repeat two more times, except with the next bunch of kids either being squashed by a gigantic log...

...Or by being put in a variant of the "Chokey" i.e. having a door slam up on them with nails sticking out of it.  At least the pit left it ambiguous.  These two actually saw the rolling of the log and the sticking of the door.  All the while with Steve Johnson praying that he wouldn't have to act like this and could get a better vehicle for himself. 

The final was called "Gunge 'em In The Dungeon".  The segment started off with someone wanting to get one back at a sibling who did something wrong.  They would each get a goody bag and the one that did the wronging would have a weight lifted off the protector and the gunge would pour all over them. 

The actual game would continue after that where the three teams would play the game as before, but with two weights on each gunging station.  A question was asked to the teams.  If they were right, they picked which team to steal a weight from and put it on their end.  If they were wrong, they had to throw a weight away.  If a team had no weights on, the gunge would pour on their partner and their game was over.  Once two teams have been gunged, the winner would get a bigger prize.  I.e. a Nintendo or a Sega Master System or some other cool form of electronic prize. Now I don't have a problem with this end game.  There was some strategy to be played with the weights ala Catch 21 with who to put a bad card on and the gunging was harmless.  It's everything leading up to this point that made me furious.

Apparently, this was also part of a big tournament.  The winners of the weekly game would come back for the Grand Christmas Final for some huge trip, because there's nothing I'd want more than to have to go through this again.  I also guess the producers saw the faults in all of this and decided to change it into a bigger form of Gunge 'em In The Dungeon.  That's how bad the show is, if they changed gears midway to try to continue a better version of the show. 

Yeah, this show sucked for all the reasons that make me furious.  Steve Johnson left a very bad taste in my mouth, which was just thankfully that one moment with Mousetrap showing off his better attributes as a host, and the torture elements that the show had made little sense and was just there for nightmare fuel, and not even good nightmare fuel at that.  Bottom line, the show sucked and was a terrible idea from the word It's.