On the one hand, I yield to no one in my delight at spending a full hour watching everyday, ordinary people get humiliated and fall into mud. On the other hand, "Wipeout," which premiered Tuesday night, comes closer than almost any other show to justifying the comment made decades ago by former FCC commissioner Newton Minow in which he described TV as "a vast wasteland."
Think of it. Here is a show in which two dozen contestants in various stages of fitness compete in what the show's announcer calls "the most breathtaking obstacle course ever assembled." It is a medley of large balls, automated boxing gloves, easily tipped rafts, spinning devices and other contrivances, all designed to get people to lose their balance and fall into mud or, sometimes, water.
It's a safe bet that 5-year-old children would love to climb, jump and run all over this stuff. However, it's also a safe bet that their little inquisitive minds would be bored senseless if they had to sit and watch it not just once but over and over again in slow motion.
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