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Japanese Television
MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
Japanese Television DVD Review

"What are these people running FROM? They're not. They're running TO... the world's toughest competition in town!" MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) is a masterpiece of outrageous buffoonery and the crown jewel of Spike TV. Now, the second season of this instant cult classic is out on DVD thanks to Magnolia Home Entertainment.

This pop culture phenomenon has taken the country by storm while winning acclaim from such prestigious authorities as the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, USA and MTV. College campuses have reconstructed the obstacle courses and events in a fannish effort to duplicate the show. (Kids! Don't try this at home.)

MXC is a game show that pits two colorfully-chosen groups against each other in a series of equally ridiculous, but dangerous obstacle courses. And if the painful-looking mishaps aren't enough, you're pummeled by the show's resident creature, a large but loveable mascot known as "Skanky".

Hosts Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano comment on the action overseen by Captain Tenneal and field reporter Guy LeDouche. Armed with an endless supply of politically incorrect, hilarious one-liners, their play-by-play commentary must be heard to be believed. Furthermore, all of them have "personal issues" that color their perspective. (Vic isn't far from his AA sponsor. Kenny is always checking out the girls. Guy leers at everything.)

But the pun-filled, double-entendre dialogue is misleading. It was added to the footage decades after the show was first telecast in Japan. Originally, it was a popular show from the 1980s called Takeshi's Castle. Takeshi Kitano (the famous comedian/actor/director recently lauded for the movie, Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman) commented on the action as contestants braved obstacles and challenges. The winners took on Count Takeshi himself as they attack his stronghold for fun and prizes. (They literally "have fun storming the castle".)

But, when executive producers Paul Abeyta, Peter Kaikko and Larry Strawther took hold of the show, the entire soundtrack was disposed of and the characters were given all new personalities. In place of Count Takeshi sits Vic Romano. He's a disgraced sports anchorman who carries on the urbane style of (for God sakes, Google these guys) Johnny Carson, Jack Paar, Steve Allen and other talk-show hosts of yesteryear. In place of able-bodied councilor, Sonomanma Higashi sits Kenny Blankenship. He's a young foul-mouth in the spirit of Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, and the in-your-face talk-show hosts of today.

Vic Wilson provides the voice and personality of Vic Romano. Christopher Darga does the same for Kenny Blankenship. Together with Jay Cervenka (who gives voice to Capt. Tenneal and Guy LeDouche) and Mary Sheer (who speaks for the women on the show), they provide the side-splitting dialogue that is often compared to Woody Allen's "What's Up Tiger Lily".

This two-disc DVD set includes extras like a behind-the-scenes look at how an episode of MXC gets made (it looks like a closet). It also features a complete episode of the original Takeshi's Castle so you can see that this thing was pretty darn wacky to begin with. As Vic and Kenny regularly shout, "DON'T! GET! ELIMINATED!!!"

Reviewed by Laurence Sufrin, July 2007

MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

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