Spike TV

I was excited to see this show because I expected another example of stolid Japanese people behaving like absolute lunatics, a la “Iron Chef.” What I found instead was a hilarious comedy. Moreover, it was meant to be a hilarious comedy. The premise of the show is that viewers send in obscure bits of trivia and/or questions that will create new trivia when answered through experiments. The hosts and celebrity panel of the show evaluate the trivia on a scale of 1 to 100 for no apparent reason. The meat of the program is the four vignettes produced on each bit of trivia. For example, we learn that an ant can be dropped from any height without being killed. So the producers interview a professor who explains that ants reach terminal velocity after falling ten centimeters. Subsequently, a lucky ant is chosen to be dropped from 10 centimeters, then 10 meters, then 90 meters, all with some very funny commentary from the hosts and the panel, none of which I can remember.

This gets to the one thing I hated about the American production of the show, which is that all of the metric measurements are converted into feet and inches. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but the program often has these measurements on the screen, e.g. the ant is held at a height of 10 centimeters and a line appears with “10 cm” next to it. But the dubbed announcer reads the height as 4 inches, which is just a slap in the face. The producers are basically saying, “Well clearly, American audiences will be so hopelessly confused by use of the metric system that we must change the translation even though it conflicts with the text on the screen.” I don’t know what bothers me more, the open distain the American producers show toward their countrymen, or the fact that they’re right.

Anyway, other bits of trivia include that Mozart composed a piece called “Lick My Ass;” there are Taiwanese who make a living as paid grievers at funerals and that during a time in ancient Japan, the nobility hired people to take the blame for their farts. The latter lead to one of the funniest exchanges of the show. One host says, “that was a gas!” The other host dryly replies, “I was hoping no one would say that.” Honestly, I didn’t think the Japanese, or for that matter the people of any axis power, were capable of that kind of wit. But “Hey! Spring of Trivia” is full of wit, cleverness and even irony.

According to the good folk at Spike TV, this is the number one show in Japan, so score one for Japs for not only producing a high quality show, but actually watching it. I also saw 10 minutes of the number one show in the U.S., “CSI,” for the first time tonight and the house actually began to smell of sewage.

Posted: 11.20.04