We're well into the year 2012 at this point and -- let's face it -- beyond "Angry Birds" and the new Batman movies, the 21st century has been pretty disappointing. From the continued gutting of NASA's budget, the depressing lack of effective laser weaponry, and Jennifer Aniston's persistent romantic woes, the 2000s so far look a lot like the previous few decades, except there are fewer cruise ship-themed sitcoms or Sasquatch movies.
So we can't have teleportation, I accept that. But if we aren't going to see real scientific progress toward lifting humanity out of degradation and brutality, then at least give me the opposite. Six incarnations of the Real Housewives franchise and 37 flavors of Gatorade are a good start, but if we're ever going to live up to our dystopian potential as a fallen civilization, we need to push the envelope in an extreme envelope pushing fashion. In short, we need some blood sports, stat.
This isn't bloodlust talking...well, not much, anyway. But as far back as my childhood, I was led by popular entertainment to believe we'd be watching people swimming with crocodiles and wagering precious Quatloos on some Fox version of Triskelion. Sadly, most of these have failed to come to pass.
Death Race 2000 - Come on, they put the year right there in the title. If that's not setting yourself up for disappointment, I don't know what it. I bet you could still convince Stallone to do it, though.
Rollerball - True, we haven't quite reached the 2018 in which the movie is set, and the idea of a multinationals running the world isn't very far-fetched, but aside from its rise in popularity among women with tattoos, there's little to suggest roller derby will be replacing the NFL in popularity any time soon.
Escape from New York - Not a game show, technically, but all you'd need to do is hide a bunch of cameras in Manhattan and let the magic happen. And I'd point out that we were supposed to have a massive maximum security prison in New York City 15 years ago.
The 10th Victim - In the "near future," wars are avoided by pitting ten people against each other in something called the "Big Hunt." I'm not sure when this was supposed to take place, but the movie came out in 1965, so I'm using it.
The Running Man - Could still happen. Stephen King's (as Richard Bachman) tale of global economic collapse and subsequent government crackdown doesn't take place until 2025. So luckily there's still plenty of time to develop a game where the entire country helps hunt the on-the-run contestant. It also bears mentioning that the movie adaptation starring Arnold Schwarzenegger shares little with the book beyond the title and main characters' names (and it takes place in 2017...that's how close we are to Dweezil Zappa and Mick Fleetwood leading the revolution).
The Condemned - I'm honestly surprised something like this hasn't happened yet. It isn't like the average person cares what happens to someone once they get sent up, so why would making them fight each other be that big a stretch? Maybe I'm reading too many Houston Chronicle comment threads.
The Laff-A-Lympics - "But Pete, nobody ever died in the Laff-A-Lympics." Right, because the Really Rottens won in '78 *without* killing Yakky Doodle. Open your eyes, people!
But since Stephen King and Kurt Russell have failed me, all that's left is to modify existing game shows to make them more lethal. It's actually easy when you think about it.
Dancing with the Stars: Get rid of the judges and just make this an endurance test, like in that dance contest episode of Happy Days. Only instead of the winner getting to keep his hair, he/she will be the one who doesn't collapse from heart failure or a stroke.
Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Those who fail to beat their schoolchildren opponents must teach a fifth grade class for a year.
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The Amazing Race - Losing teams are forced into slavery to the ruler of whatever country they're currently in.
Jeopardy - The winner is allowed to feast on the losers' brains with host Alex Trebek (as I understand it he currently dines on them alone).
Survivor - I'd leave this one largely unchanged, except for one thing: giant spiders.
I also have plans for Wipeout involving a mash-up with the Saw franchise, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.