Self-described as “basically Crystal Maze meets Total Wipeout meets Takeshi’s Castle,” Netflix’s new gameshow, Floor is Lava, falls victim to the cardinal sin of gameshows: a boring formula.
Banking on childhood nostalgia of the game everyone collectively knows but no one knows who started, Floor is Lava is reminiscent and advertised as a Nickelodeon children’s show such as Double Dare, Brainsurge and Figure it Out, in which teams compete for a prize, with the promise that very few, if any, contestants will leave clean and dry.
Each episode consists of three teams of three attempting to balance, jump and tumble across the differently themed rooms, with obstacles both helping and hindering their progress. The team with the most players to reach the opposite end of the room is the winner and collects $10,000. Rinse and repeat.
Whereas Total Wipeout and Takeshi’s Castle revelled in the their ability to introduce new challenges in multiple rounds per episode, Floor is Lava has each team cross the same room, cutting the time that audiences need to watch to get the full combination of routes. The surprises are prematurely revealed by host Rutledge Wood explaining each possible pathway at the beginning the episode. After one team has gone through the set, the audience know what to expect and the only question is where the next person will fall. This does little to justify keeping the audiences’ attention for the 30 minute runtime.
Part of what helps a reality or game show succeed with audiences is the chemistry, or lack thereof, between the teammates. In Floor is Lava every team, be it families, co-workers or just pals, has the same supportive energy with Disney-level enthusiasm even to the point where the last person falls. This adds to the tonal confusion of the series, with full-grown adults completing for a cash prize, you’d assume it would be aimed at adult audiences, if not, why not have children compete and see themselves on screen?
On top of the cash prize, the winning team also get to meet host Rutledge Wood. The decision to cast Wood, formerly of Top Gear and NASCAR Trackside, as the host is confusing, as even with recent examples of the Bake Off and Nailed It show the host, especially if they are already a big name in media, can draw in just as much viewers as the premise or contestants. The correlation between car-enthusiasts and children’s imaginary games is not known to me at the time of publishing, but it is nonetheless, a choice.
Honestly, Community did it better and ‘Geothermal Escapism’ has more re-watch value.
Image via pxfuel.com