The summer television season is upon us, and the networks are poised with their watered-down, budget-saving reality fare. And with barbecues beckoning, viewers' attention spans are especially short, dropping programming to the lowest common denominator. In other words, ABC's popular "Wipeout."
The game show entered its third season Tuesday night, kicking off with a special "Blind Date" edition, matching male and female strangers to navigate an obstacle course as a team. After several elimination rounds and bone-crunching face plants, one couple remained to claim the $100,000 grand prize.
Reminiscent of "American Gladiators" and zany Japanese game shows, "Wipeout" humiliates its saps of contestants with physical challenges and snarking from the commentators. Most of the course includes padded platforms in a pool, often filled with mud.
In Tuesday's special "Blind Date" episode, six couples were whittled to two, including one couple, Ariel and Scott, whom the commentators dubbed "Little Mermaid" and "Flounder." In the beginning of the episode, Ariel was asked to explain her type to the audience.
"I like cute, funny guys," she says coyly.
As a pink, heart-shaped door rotates open (slowly and wobbling), hirsute Scott appears, revealing himself to his blind date.
"You look like Jesus," Little Mermaid says.
"You look just right," Flounder grins.
And so on and so forth. Among their competitors were an Australian and Chinese-American -- both men received groin shots while navigating a wall dotted with attacking punching gloves. (The commentators quipped they were "nailed down under" and "in the wonton," respectively.)
In the "bruiseball" round, competitors leapt from platform to platform while hurdling over a giant revolving baseball bat, prompting some to proclaim they "reached third base."
No episode of "Wipeout" is complete, however, without its "magnificent balls," a stunt in which contestants jump from one large, rubber ball to the next, usually resulting in the stooge getting "ball busted," falling and bouncing between balls before wiping out in a vat of mud.
In the end, Ariel and Flounder lost to Jayson and Katelyn, even after being launched out of a catapult and rolling around in shaving cream.
The show's hosts ended the evening by wishing us "good night and big balls." For more big balls, catch "Wipeout" every Tuesday at 8 on ABC. New episodes resume June 22.