Monday, December 10, 2007

If the strike goes on long enough, I'm guessing...Mondays at 8:00 PM.

While I haven't read it much in recent years, I always thought Judge Dredd was a bit ahead of its time. After all, Dredd fought a clone dinosaur in 1978 (Satanus, in the classic "The Cursed Earth") well before Jurassic Park was published in 1990. Yesterday, I found the 'spirit trap' accessory that had came with the first Judge Death, and realized Dredd had been trapping ghosts years before Ghostbusters. And the issue we're looking at today even had a reprint of "Diary of a Mad Citizen," a personal favorite that I always thought the movie Falling Down swiped a bit from. Maybe. (It reminded me of that, certainly.)

So, with the writers' strike in full effect (good luck, guys, and if you come back and 24 isn't awesome, I'll be ever so pissed) and networks resorting to psychological warfare (that lie detector show from Fox) or the much ballyhooed return of American Gladiators, I could totally see the theft of the idea of this little Dredd story: "Block-Out" Written by John Wagner, art by John Byrne.
Only about a million times more entertaining than watching models open suitcases. Just saying.
Put simply, the game of Block-Out would be akin to the old College Bowl-style of quiz programs, except with football players that get to hit the contestants during the game, instead of on their way home afterwards. It does seem like a game that both rewards and punishes book smarts, yeah; but that just makes it more appealing for American TV.
The only way this game could be more American would be with cheerleaders, gambling, and point-shaving.
Three teams play, with their panelists arranged high above a checkerboard style playing field. The gamemaster asks a team a question (instead of having them buzz in, although if answered incorrectly, the next team can steal it) and each correct answer, within a set time, gets a move on the board. The board pieces are either 'Pigs,' defenders; or 'Wallys,' who try to reach the center of the ring. From the ring, the Wally gets a shot at a jump at the panelists, using a variety of probably unsafe methods. If he makes it, the Wally can eliminate one panelist, by throwing them off. (Jet-packing "Netmen" are there to catch falling players, but that doesn't seem all that safe either...)
Is it wrong to think Americans would love this?
Drokk, that looks like fun. And if you thought something like Jeopardy was a lot of pressure, imagine answering questions while sweating the idea of getting bounced off a fifty-foot drop if you miss too many. Add the tactical gameplay of the board, and the excitement of the jumps, and you've got a surefire ratings smash. Once you get past, um, liability issues. Lots and lots of liability issues. Picture the stunts on Fear Factor, only with no safety handlers and the crowd booing you.
Yeah, you don't need me to tell you that won't end well.
Since this is a Dredd story (even without any Dredd scans), most of it revolves around crime, in this case crowd control. Admittedly, even that's more fun than it sounds. The teams are based out of the city-sized Blocks, and the rivalry is pretty fierce, owing to a large population with nothing better to do. Imagine if New York, Dallas, and Detroit played each other at the same time; and all their fans lived close enough to come fight at the stadium.

I don't think he did a ton of Dredd stories, but Byrne is in fine form here. Nothing wrong there.

Anyway, I do prefer my scripted entertainment, but if the writers hold out long enough, the networks might as well steal this: it's not like America's come up with a game show they didn't steal from Europe in the last decade or so...From Judge Dredd's Crime File #1, Eagle Comics circa 1985.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd watch.