MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) was a television show which debuted on Spike TV, a channel marketed specifically toward men. The idea was that by targeting commercials to a demographic, advertisers would be able to make more effective ads and reap greater rewards for their advertising dollars.
The plan didn’t work as expected. Despite commissioning projects such as the “Stripperella” cartoon created by Stan Lee and voiced by Pamela Anderson, the most popular show on the channel was CSI, whose reruns were enjoyed by men and women alike.
Still, the channel was trying to determine what would appeal more to men than to women without pushing into the realm of pornography. Their greatest cult success was MXC.
The show was very cheap to produce, because all of the footage had previously been filmed. A Japanese game show, Takeshi’s Castle, ran in the mid to late 1980s and featured bizarre contests, during which an initial group of between 80 and 150 people would be whittled away. If contestants made it to the end, they would face off in a final battle against international movie star and, later, acclaimed director Takeshi Kitano (also known as Beat Takeshi).
It was an international success, often using local announcers to provide new commentary in lieu of Takeshi and his aides who produced commentary in the original showings. Craig Charles, perhaps best known as Dave Lister in the television series Red Dwarf, provided those duties in the UK.
Paramount, Spike’s owner, took the original footage from Takeshi’s Castle and added silly (often raunchy) commentary by a few voice-over actors, stepping up the usual international versions by creating false names for the contestants, a ludicrous “grudge match” like steelworkers vs. professional musicians, and slow-motion replays. The resultant mix of slapstick, continuous juvenile jokes and the genuine good-natured efforts of contestants to overcome ridiculous obstacles was a hit for Spike, when it needed one.
Unfortunately, the nature of the program held the seeds of its destruction. Because it was dependent entirely upon editing the footage from five seasons of Takeshi’s Castle, there was a limited amount of video available. After five seasons, MXC closed shop.
Question of the night: Which game show (past or present) would you most want to be a contestant on?