Is Celebrity Apprentice missing that life-and death edge? Craving more insect buffets when you watch The Voice? Your wishes may soon be granted – NBC is bringing thrill-seeking reality game show Fear Factor back to primetime.
NBC’s non-scripted head honcho Paul Teledgy gave the continuously high ratings for Fear Factor reruns on cable channel Chiller as the primary justification for the series’ return. The executive cited the show’s sense of spectacle and brand recognition as major bonuses in the decision.
Fear Factor was based on a Dutch show called Now or Never-land. When NBC imported the format to the States in 2001, it enlisted comedian Joe Rogan as the host – fresh off the end of the station’s sitcom NewsRadio. The show’s three-act format became a quick hit with audiences for its “extreme” stunts and cringe-inducing scenes.
Each Fear Factor episode was split up into three parts: a physical challenge, a gross-out challenge and an action stunt. By far the most visible aspect of the show was the second section – in the first season, the show asked contestants to lay in vats of snakes, rats and roaches, eat live insects or raw buffalo testicles, or find a hidden object in a vat of blood. The contestant or team that did the best won a $50,000 grand prize.
The success of Fear Factor spawned an international franchise with equivalent shows in over thirty countries. Producers tried to hold audiences’ attention by one-upping themselves. When that ran out, they ran the gamut of reality gimmicks, with family teams, celebrities, and exotic locations. Fear Factor lasted six seasons, closing out in 2006.
Telegdy notes that the series may be toned down somewhat upon its return – not a bad idea, considering it earned the ire of animal rights activists for many episodes.
While the format may fit well in today’s talent (or lack there of) and personality-driven reality scene (see American Idol and Jersey Shore), fans of the original show will likely have one question: will Joe Rogan return to his hosting duties? The outspoken comic was easily the most visible part of Fear Factor, and it’s hard to imagine the show without his in-your-face flair. There’s no news on whether or not Rogan will return.
There’s also no news on when Fear Factor itself will air, but given the fast turn-around for reality shows, expect a relaunch sooner rather than later.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelCrider