I was one of a posse of journalists who were lucky enough to be flown down to the outsourced site of this zany reality stunt show–in Beunos Aires, Argentina.
What the heck, you ask, is a Canadian reality show doing in Argentina?? Turns out that several international versions of Wipeout are shot on the giant, outdoor obstacle course located about 40 minutes north of Buenos Aires. (The Americans stick to their own setup in California.) When I was on site last October, the U.K. version of the series was shooting simultaneously on a second course set up next to the one TVTropolis had booked. Russia also shoots here, as does France, Germany and, yes, South America.
|Working journalist reporting from the scene|
They come for the tropical, year-round shooting conditions. They come for the spirited (and affordable) Argentinian crew. They come for the cheap Malbec wine.
Twenty crazy Canucks compete each week. There were 260 in all over the 13 episodes, picked from 44,000 applicants from across Canada. The series is produced by Toronto’s Lone Eagle Entertainment.
The folks I watched all said running the colourful obstacle course was way harder than it looks on TV. I’m sure the guy from Vancouver I watched break a leg after a flying leap from a rope swing would certainly agree. Ouch! The dude was quickly fished out of the water and rushed to a nearby hospital by one of two ambulances that are always on site. His organs were then quickly harvested and sold on eBay. No, seriously, the dude is fine, really.
Jessica Phillips (far right with a participant), a former Deal or No Deal Canada model, is the on-site hostess for the series. There must be some way to get her on Top Chef Canada (premiering next week on Food Network) so she can do the rare Canadian reality show triple.
Phillips is as sunny and warm as the weather in Argentina and bonded easily with the players.
Like the American version of Wipeout, Canada has two smart-alecks in the booth: Jonathan Torrens (Trailer Park Boys) and Ennis Esmer (The Listener). Here’s a secret: they’re not actually on-site, but making with their quips standing in front of a blue screen in some studio back in Toronto. Losers!
Torrens and Esmer add a little Canadian spice to this deal with phrases like, “He Niagara Falls into the water.” At one point, a contestant from P.E.I. gets tagged with a dozen Anne of Green Gables jokes.
The co-hosts are good, but imagine how awesome it would have been if the Trailer Park Boys had been hired for this gig? There would have been drinking and drugs and plenty of kitties on site–good times. Who wouldn’t pay to see Bubbles run this course?
Even without those dudes, the silly fun of the competition shines through. Beyond the muddy, boxing glove to the chops opening round, there is plenty of athleticism required as the Canadians who took part soon realized. The sweeper arm round is a killer, with the rotating padded arm inching up the longer the leapers manage to stay on their perch. The Wipeout Zone featuring the final four is amazing to see live, especially all lit up at night. There should be bleachers set up for fans to watch, it is that entertaining.
I envied photographer Alex Urosevic (who shot the guy taking it in the chops, left, as well as the muddy shot up top). The ace Toronto Sun shooter got to spend six weeks on set covering these ding dongs and got to see a side of Argentina I wasn’t able to explore.
There are 13 episodes to Wipeout Canada this season, with future teams divided into East vs. West, Beauties vs. Geeks and other shenanigans. The Canadian stereotypes are so forced you’ll think you are watching election ads.
If this current federal election results in another minority government, the federal leaders should be forced to run the Wipeout Canada course to determine a winner. At least we’d get them all out of the country.
I wrote more about the series here in this feature for The Canadian Press. Wipeout Canada starts Sunday night at 8 on TVTropolis.