A binge of old Challenge seasons has reexposed me to many old Challenge seasons and some of the greatest formats on the show. Some seasons have great formate, but they only worked under certain conditions. Other seasons have awful formats, and they’ve always been awful.
It seems we have a lot of people sitting behind keyboards screaming for Fresh Meat 3, The Duel 3, or Finaler Reckoning (JK on the last one, no one asked for that). Some of them could work well, but other formats have no place in today’s climate.
I am going to assess whether on not old formats could be incorporated into a modern game, and trying to defend my opinion. I cannot modify the format, but I do give myself permission to operate within the realities of the 2020 Challenge landscape.
- Episodes are 90 minutes, not 30.
- They cast plays for $1,000,000
- It’s not going to be Real World vs. Road Rules
Wouldn’t Work: Battle of the Sexes
Nether Sexes format could withstand the transition to 2020, but I am focusing on the original from 2003. Competitions are tougher, and fans would be quick to call out imbalances. We have evidence of this during the Final Reckoning elimination. We’ll also never see a score board again, as it could give competitors safety for the entire season. Production wants to force drama and the illusion of fairness, but Battle of the Sexes would do neither.
Would Work: The Gauntlet 2
I hate to admit it, but The Gauntlet 2 could work. We keep seeing groups of newbies come from CBS, The UK, and anywhere else production sees fit. This could stack a rookie team, and and there are enough veterans willing to compete.
As much as I disliked the team captain twist, it would give people reason to actually try during daily missions. This was an issue on Total Madness and War of the Worlds 2. When dethroning a captain equates to more elimination appearances, people will want to win and avoid the inevitable risk.
Wouldn’t Work: Fresh Meat
I know a lot of fans want another Fresh Meat, but I can’t see MTV bringing random people onto the show. The original Fresh Meat was developed because so many people declined The Gauntlet 2, but now the flood gates are open. MTV will cast from all over the place, and they’re not going to pull a bunch of bartenders onto the show. For this reason, Bloodlines wouldn’t work either.
Sorry to all the fans and Spartan Racers.
Would Work: Cutthroat
Fans want a three-team season, and Cutthroat is as much of a cult-classic as The Challenge has to offer. Random people can make returns, because their appearance is not contingent upon prior relationships. Daily challenges matter because they keep you safe, and the format really is Cutthroat. Remember, on team only had one girl remaining in the final.
I don’t think we’ll ever three completely random teams again, but if they kept the random team format, old school fans would love it.
Wouldn’t Work: The Duel
The Duel 1 was great, but it only worked because the cast was so fresh. Five people were newbies while eleven were rookies (first or second season). This made the dodgeball style fun, because relationships weren’t that strong and predictable. This is why the format was a snooze on Duel 2.
The quasi-individual can be great, but the uniqueness of The Duel won’t work in a time where people have been on Challenges together for two decades.
Would Work: Free Agents
Free Agents was the quasi-individual season done right. The best competitors were safe, the rest work at risk, but the bottom performers were doubly at risk. By today’s standard this might be boring, but it was interesting when it debuted in 2014. After the seasons we’ve seen recently, fans might even appreciate a season that rewards people based on individual merits. The longer episodes and bigger prizes would certainly raise the stakes and make The Draw a little more dicy.
Wouldn’t Work: The Ruins
Really, this means we’ll never see a full Champs vs. Challengers again. We might see a season like Invasion again, and that could work, but does anyone really want that?
At this point, there’s so few champions in the mix that we’re lucky to see 5 of them on a 30-person season. MTV would really need to dig deep if they wanted 14 champions, and Champs vs. Stars proves that production would rather have Challenge stars than true champs. Beyond that, many of the true champs have aged and have bigger commitments than MTV. Rachel Robinson might say she’s return if the conditions were right, but she’s busy and its unlikely the conditions will be right.
Would Work: Battle of the Exes 2
It’s been a while since we saw the Exes format, but this is always a buzzworthy title. Since Exes 2, we have seen MTV bring in people from the UK shows like Ex on the Beach. Then Ex on the Beach debuted on MTV and Are You the One gave us eight seasons. It seems natural to have all of these storylines join under one roof, but MTV has opted for other directions.
Exes 2 worked well, and I liked the Ex-ile twist. It was a Redemption House at is fairest, and the season is competitive enough to fit into today’s climate. Of course, we know MTV would probably instate the one-person-take all twist, but even with the format unchanged it would be a good show.
Wouldn’t Work: Battle of the Seasons 2012
There’s no way production could collect Real World seasons to come back, and now we’re in a world where production casts all over the place. There’s no excitement bringing people from The UK onto The Challenge (at least not for American viewers), and the casting pool is so wide that big names would get cut with this format.
Yes, the original season cut a lot of big vets. This isn’t something production would allow today, so I don’t expect Seasons 3 2.
Would Work: Ventettas
This format means nothing. It’s a buzzworthy title with no substance. A messy format, not clear direction, and random mercenaries. Production stans.