Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
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Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC) is an American comedy television program that aired on Spike TV from 2003 to 2007. It is a re-purpose of footage from the Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle which originally aired in Japan from 1986 to 1990. The re-purposed "MXC" created a completely new premise, storyline and characters. The MXC re-purpose created two teams competing against each other à la a typical Saturday afternoon network football game broadcast, with players trying to win points for their teams by surviving through different challenges. In the original program the Count and his underlings would follow the progress of the players as they moved through the course. In the re-purpose Count Takeshi became veteran network announcer Vic Romano and the count's flunky became young upstart Kenny Blankenship.
|Most Extreme Elimination Challenge|
|Created by||Paul Abeyta |
|Starring||Victor Wilson |
|Opening theme||Firebrand by Bumblefoot|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||81 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Paul Abeyta |
|Running time||approx. 20 minutes|
|Production company(s)||RC Entertainment, Inc.|
|Distributor||Magnolia Home Entertainment|
|Original release||April 19, 2003 –|
February 9, 2007
Most Extreme Elimination Challenge was created and produced by RC Entertainment, Inc. (Paul Abeyta and Peter Kaikko) in Los Angeles, California and Larry Strawther (a writer and producer on a number of network sitcoms). The three were friends who had worked together at Merv Griffin Productions in the late 1970s. Strawther was the staff on the Dance Fever pilot which Abeyta took over as Executive Producer the following season, while Strawther stayed with Jeopardy! Between jobs they would occasionally try to create their own projects. One of these was the 1990s talk show spoof Night Stand with Dick Dietrick. MXC is the property of both Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) and RC Entertainment. The 2004 special episode MXC Almost Live is the property of Viacom International, which was filmed in Orlando, Florida by the producers of MXC.
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||13||April 19, 2003||July 19, 2003|
|2||13||July 31, 2003||November 6, 2003|
|3||27||April 22, 2004||April 7, 2005|
|4||15||October 20, 2005||March 9, 2006|
|5||13||November 9, 2006||February 9, 2007|
The premise of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (as distinct from Takeshi's Castle) is a game show that is hosted by the eccentric characters Vic Romano (Vic Wilson) and Kenny Blankenship (Chris Darga), along with the field marshal Captain Tenneal (John Cervenka) and the field reporter Guy LeDouche (John Cervenka). The announcer (John Cervenka) would begin each episode with this standard introduction:
What are these people running from? They're not! They're running TO the World's Toughest Competition in Town!
When the show was transitioning away from its full name, it briefly added "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge!" to the end of the opening.
Eventually the opening introduction was changed to:
Get fired up for MXC! The world's most toughest competition in town!
Usually, two or three teams of contestants compete in several turn-based and head-to-head challenges. The only episode done without a competitive team base was the first episode ever made, which was simply centered around the stereotypical antics of college girls. Even though this was the first episode made, it was the seventh episode of season one to air. Most other competitive teams do not truly have a real-life rivalry (e.g., Season 1, Episode 2 "Donors vs Addicts"), while others such as Democrats vs Republicans vs Third Party do.
The contestants compete in a variety of challenges, usually four per episode, but occasionally as many as six. The challenges are extremely hard, and a majority of the contestants fail to complete the challenges. Throughout the show, painful failures to complete challenges are reviewed by Vic and Kenny in the "MXC Impact Replay" (briefly given sponsor names like the "Snickers Satisfies Replay" and the "Slim Jim Snap of the Day"), which is essentially a sports-themed playback feature. Occasionally, the Impact Replay is used for Kenny's pleasure, in looking at the female contestants, items, or random events in the series which he finds funny or disappointing. Contestants who do complete a challenge earn one or two points for their team (maybe even more). The team with the most points at the end of the episode wins the competition. At the end of each episode, Kenny counts down the ten "Most Painful Eliminations of the Day", which usually focus on the events shown in the Impact Replay, but sometimes includes random events that involved the main or recurring characters.
Kenny and Vic, along with any other people around them at the end of the show, all end the episode by saying: "Don't get eliminated!"
MXC Almost Live and other special episodesEdit
On April 22, 2004, Spike TV aired a special edition of the show to start the third season, featuring skateboarder Tony Hawk and snowboarder Tara Dakides. The special was taped at the Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida using students from nearby colleges and appropriately dubbed MXC Almost Live. The special edition is not based on the original Takeshi's Castle footage, but only has some added in for Vic, Ken, the Captain, and Guy LeDouche. Actors were hired to play those who would replace the roles of the latter two, named "Major Babe" (Michelle Sorrell) and "Gip LeDouche" (Eric Esteban). While everyone in the episode is American, everything said by any contestants besides Hawk and Dakides is still dubbed.
Three other special episodes aired, all from Season 2, including a special nighttime episode, a "Monsters vs. Mascots" episode, and a special winter episode.
Spike initially held a contest in 2005 or 2006 in which the winner was to have his name and the name of five of his friends used in an episode of MXC and would also receive a viewing party of that episode for up to 50 people at a place of his choice. However, this contest never fully materialized and was canceled for unknown reasons.
Most of the characters and contestants on MXC are voiced by the producers and series' writers: Victor Wilson, Christopher Darga, John Cervenka, and Mary Scheer who did all of the female voices.
- Vic Romano (Victor Wilson provides his dub voice), is the co-host and play-by-play commentator. In Takeshi's Castle, Vic's character is Count Takeshi himself, the main character of the show. In MXC, Vic is level-headed, has a dark past of alcohol abuse, failed marriages, and various addictions, and generally treats MXC as a serious competition. Vic was once also a professional baseball player who became addicted to "everything", including every type of drug, alcohol, and easy women. He once was an airline pilot during his stint of alcohol abuse, but states: "Luckily, nobody noticed." Notable catchphrases include "Right you are, Ken!", "Indeed!", and "Kenny!", which is usually followed by him smacking Kenny's head with a paper fan, in response to Kenny's commentary of the action. The character is played by Japanese actor and movie director Takeshi Kitano, who also created the original series from which MXC takes its footage, Takeshi's Castle.
- Kenny Blankenship (Chris Darga provides the dub voice) is Vic's co-host and color commentator. Blankenship is a high-school dropout whose uncle owns the network. Kenny's character is very unprofessional about hosting, far less serious about the job than Vic's character is. Despite his non-professional, simplistic stand-point, he claims to make ten times the amount that Vic does because of his uncle being one of the network bosses. Kenny has also been stated to own a condo complex from all the money that he earns from hosting and drives a Volkswagen Jetta. During hosting, Kenny usually spends his time commenting on the sexual appeal of the female competitors and how much he likes beer, pizza and seeing the majority of competitors wipe out. Kenny's character was originally played by Japanese politician and comedian Hideo Higashikokubaru.
- Captain Tenneal (John Cervenka provides the dub voice), whose name comes from the 1970s musical act Captain & Tennille, is the field marshal who conducts the contestants through each challenge with a sharp "Get it on!" Near the beginning of each MXC episode, he is seen addressing the contestants as a group, asking whether some broad assertion relating to one of the topics in the episode is true. After the contestants raise their hands to show agreement, the Captain usually declares "Well, you're wrong!", but on one occasion, the "Cops vs. Cons" episode of Season 1, he actually agreed with the contestants. He'll sometimes defend his opinion by saying, "Of course I'm right, I'm the Captain!" After further explanation and give-and-take with individual contestants, he bellows "Let's Go!" and leads the contestants forward to begin playing the games. Captain Tenneal is played by Hayato Tani.
- Guy LeDouche (pronounced "gee" as in "geezer"; John Cervenka provides the dub voice) is the MXC field reporter. He is portrayed wearing a pith helmet and his personality is that of a flamboyant, perverted man of suggested French descent who has a questionable sexual orientation, as he makes passes to many of the contestants he interviews, regardless of gender. Some situations, which usually involve some violence directed at Guy, he will respond with, "Guy like!" In addition to this, he is seen to have a romantic interest in Captain Tenneal, always calling him "Skipper". He has other family member interviewers who show the same behavior, such as "Lyndon" (which plays off wacky political figure Lyndon LaRouche), "Geek", "Giddy", "Gip", "Goon", "Gawp", and "Gawk", along with females named "Gay", "Grandmama", "Gab", "Gin", "Gidget", and "Gal", with an unrelated reporter named Al Frankincense. Guy is played by Junji Inagawa. The family (and Al) is voiced by John Cervenka (male) and Mary Scheer (female). Guy, and his family members, along with interviewing contestants, will also announce the games that will be played in each episode, and will sometimes explain one or more of the games' objectives.
The following are characters who have established a semi-consistent name. However, their names may change to fit in with a show's theme or style of game.
- Danny Glands (John Cervenka provides the dub voice) (a play on the name of long-time Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans) is an MXC staffer who works in many of the games. His primary responsibilities include asking questions in Finger It (later renamed Hand Job), knocking down contestants in Brass Balls, and launching the soccer balls in Dirty Balls. He was also known as Jimmy Junk, Sugar Ramos Phiss, Golden Shower Boy, Barry Sosa, and Spin. The original actor is early 1980s J-Pop star Michiru Jo; he is notably skinny, and his lack of appealing physique is often played for laughs, emphasized by his voice actor who adopts a nasal, nerdy tone.
- Skanki is a 16-foot (5 m) samurai who punishes contestants who fail to complete the Wall Bangers game.
- Chief Otto Parts (a parody of the Chief Auto Parts auto supply store chain) is an American Indian who taunts the contestants in Rotating Surfboard of Death.
- Em on Em (a spoof of rapper Eminem, as well as a play on the pornographic film term "m on m", or man on man) is an apparently gay set of twin rappers dressed in rainbow ponchos and bowler hats. The main games in which these characters participate include Tumbling Dominos of Doom and Irritable Bowl Syndrome. The characters are also known as "Babe and Ruth", "Bud and Pud", and "Jessie and Jackson" among others. They are played by identical twins Shoji and Shoichi Kinoshita. In one of the episodes, a contestant was said to have the name Marshall Mathers.
- The Babaganoosh Family is a family of contestants from the Middle East who appear in nearly every episode. The last name "Babaganoosh" became a popular running gag throughout the series. It comes from Chris Darga's Lebanese heritage, in which babaganoush is a popular entree.
- The Brown Spider taunts contestants in various games, including Wall Buggers and Dash to Death. Usually played by Brad Lesley (also known as Brad Leslie).
- Herbie the Steamy Pile is a strange, brown creature who taunts and sprays fallen contestants with a fire-extinguisher in Buck Off!
- The Zygote Brothers are identical characters that appear in the game Dash to Death. They attempt to distract the contestants and knock them into the water as they run through the obstacle course.
- Sporky is a character featured in the game Dash to Death. Hiding inside a jail cell near the "spinner" obstacle, Sporky taunts contestants as they pass by. If contestants fail in the area of the course around him, Sporky is usually credited with distracting the contestant into falling off the course.
- The Diddler is a character exclusive to the game Little Man in the Boat. If contestants don't go far enough on the course, The Diddler appears out of nowhere and pushes the contestant off and into the water.
In the show, the contestants' names are usually names of celebrities, network bosses, or family members and friends of the producers or voice actors. Several recurring names appear in the show; the most common family name is Babaganoosh, since the producers of MXC were given short deadlines for producing episodes, therefore giving them limited time to write the scripts. Babaganoosh comes from Darga as his family is from the Middle East, where Baba ghanoush is the name of a local eggplant dish.
During the production of the show, the network bosses stated that they did not want the producers to repeat games from episode to episode, but the producers ignored this, knowing 1) they didn't have the rights to enough episodes at the time to not repeat, and 2) some of the games (especially "Log Rollers" and "Sinkers or Floaters") proved to be interesting and funny every time. Some fan-favorite and recurring games included Log Drop, Wall Bangers, Dope on a Rope, Rotating Surfboard of Death, and Sinkers and Floaters, amongst many others. Due to the high viewership and popularity of MXC in the United States, several of the original Japanese actors whose acting careers were failing at the time MXC aired in the United States got massive career re-boots because of the U.S. fan base.
While the basic premise of MXC is that of a legitimate game show, its true premise is that of a comedy not intended to be taken literally. All original audio was stripped from each show for legal reasons, and all audio was added by producer-writers and an audio technician, leaving none of the original audio from Takeshi's Castle. The script is completely unrelated to the original Japanese dialogue; Both Abeyta and Strawther's original notes deliberately avoided any references to Japanese or Asian culture. The characters could be from Iowa. Some thought the only Japanese-related, albeit loosely, term used for the show was the name Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, which has a Japanese-like naming style. But Strawther noted that the title – pitched by Abeyta – was a spoof on network buying tendencies of the time – "Extreme sports were big and the term was being thrown around everywhere. We thought it was funny to use "Most Extreme." All the producers and writers admit that they had no knowledge of what the contestants or actors were originally saying during the filming of Takeshi's Castle. Nonetheless, the producer-writer's ability to match the original Japanese dialog and action to something completely unrelated in English was uncanny. MXC's early scripts spoofed pop culture, or mocked various celebrities, athletes, sports announcers, politicians, with the occasional sexual pun. In later seasons, with network encouragement, sexual puns and references took on a much larger role, to the dismay of some of the show's producers who felt the cheap jokes led to its demise earlier than necessary. Contestants are given seemingly incongruous but humorous names and occupations based on their team and physical appearance (e.g. Sal Bloomberg from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a meat handler team member in the Season 1 episode "Meat Handlers vs. Cartoon Voice Actors", aka "Network Boss"). In addition, the various challenges are all given humorous names, such as Sinkers & Floaters or Wall Bangers. Any water or mud used in a challenge is given humorous names from Kenny and Vic, notably "septic sludge", with Kenny usually following it with a more specific name (e.g. "runoff from a local chili cook off"). The footage for a single episode of MXC can come from multiple episodes of Takeshi's Castle, and occasionally the same footage, including challenges, will be used in multiple episodes with different character names and dialogue. Unlike international editions of Takeshi's Castle, the original text that appeared on screen is left as is, with the characters often playing off of it.
All four of the producer-performer-writers on the series are alumnae of the famous Groundlings comedy troupe in Hollywood: John Cervenka, Christopher Darga, Mary Scheer, and Victor Wilson. The creators/Exec Producers Paul Abeyta and Larry Strawther had worked together at Merv Griffin Productions in the late 1970s. Strawther had worked on the company's pilots for the re-boot of Jeopardy! and Dance Fever in 1978. When both shows sold Strawther went with Jeopardy! as its head writer and Abeyta came over to Griffin's talk show and became executive producer of Dance Fever. Kaikko worked for Dance Fever's distributor, 20th-Century Fox, and while overseeing that show he struck up a longtime friendship and business partnership with Abeyta. Strawther went on to write and produce network sitcoms, including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Night Court and My Sister Sam and some movies like Without a Clue, but between jobs he would work with Abeyta and Kaikko on specific projects that seemed fun to him.
Home video releasesEdit
|Season||Region 1 DVD|
|1||October 3, 2006|
|2||April 17, 2007|
|3 (Half 1)||November 6, 2007|
|3 (Half 2)||November 11, 2008|
|4||November 11, 2008|
The American gameshow Wipeout on ABC was accused of being "a blatant copycat" of shows such as Takeshi's Castle and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, and a copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by Tokyo Broadcasting System against ABC in late 2008, claiming the obstacle-course game show closely resembled several Japanese shows. It alleged Wipeout violated its copyrights to shows such as Takeshi's Castle and Ninja Warrior.
The Japanese network later sued Dutch entertainment giant Endemol, which produces Wipeout.
The companies settled the case on November 30, 2011, after meeting with a federal magistrate judge in Los Angeles. No settlement terms were filed with the court.
- DVD Audio Commentary for Season 1, Episode 7
- "Wall Bangers (Wall Buggers) 1 – Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC)". YouTube. 2010-12-26. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- "The Best of the Best of MXC – Dash to Death". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- "Buck Off 1 – Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC)". YouTube. 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC) – Top 25 Most Painful Eliminations of Season 3". YouTube. 2011-02-23. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- "Little Man in the Boat 1 – Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC)". YouTube. 2010-12-30. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- March 11th, 2012 (2012-03-11). "The Grammarphobia Blog: The spicy history of baba ganoush". Grammarphobia.com. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
- "MXC – Most Extreme Elimination Challenge Season One". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge – Season 2". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
- "Most Extreme Elimination Challenge DVD news: Release Date for MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge – Volumes 4 and 5". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
-  Archived December 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "ABC, Endemol Settle 'Wipeout' Copyright Lawsuit With Japanese Broadcaster". Hollywood Reporter. 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
- Cervenka served as producer for seasons one thru three, and season five.
- Goss and Jenkins served as producers during season four and five.
- James and Pleasants served as producers during season five.
- Madsen served as producer during season four.
- Mary Scheer serves as producer for the first three seasons, and supervising producer for seasons four and five.
- Victor Wilson serves as producer for seasons one and two and supervising producer for season three.