I decided to give “Hurl!”, the new game show on the G4 cable channel, a couple of viewings since it premiered a couple of weeks back. Not because it needed some seasoning, or that its quality would improve. Nope –there’s absolutely nothing that you could do to make this stinker any better. It has absolutely no social value; it is barely watchable; but it isn’t the most appalling thing on TV this summer. I’ll get to those shows a little later.
Hurl!, if you can believe the concept, is essentially a game in which five guys get together and compete in a speed-eating contest. They don’t know what they will be scarfing down, and thus far, it has been a 7-lb vat of cream of spinach soup, bowls of macaroni and cheese and tuna casserole, “organic” pumpkin pies (as opposed to what?) and the other day, stacks of chicken pot pies.
That’s not all. The fastest eaters have to then get into some kind of contraption –a steel-caged ball, a Flamethrower carnival ride, etc., and are spun around physically. The one who can get through without throwing up wins the enormous grand prize of $1000, or the Iron Stomach award. Of course if others start spewing chunks of tuna before you do, then you win too. And thus far, there have been some lunkheads that have tried all sorts of maneuvers to not only shovel food into their mouths, but also to try to psyche out their opponents.
Providing commentary and snappy graphics of this descent into TV hell are the executive producers of the show, Tom Crehan and Dale Roy Robinson. The show is filmed outside at night, in the LA area, and there is a small crowd of supporters, mostly some honeys, there to egg on (pun intended) the guys. And not too far away is a green-suited army of what look like a HAZ-MAT crew, ready to extinguish the toxic waste the very second it projectiles itself out of the guys’ mouths or nostrils.
I am making this sound grosser than it is, well, because it really must be. You see, you’d think with all this buildup (another pun intended) about how gross all this is, and the fact that the goal is to not spew, the viewers can’t actually see the goo. There are flashing “hurl warnings” on screen with dopey sirens and instant replay, but when that chunky stuff starts rolling out of their mouths, guess what? It’s covered up! Yes! Apparently we can’t take this, but we can endure “Chuck”, the Iron Stomach winner in episode 1 with the impossibly blue eyes, who accidentally couldn’t keep a nasty spinach leaf from regurgitating out of his mouth. But when another competitor goes to town with a furious retch, we see a graphic of Chinese take-out boxes, designed to grade how violent that smelly flow was, from 1 box (mild) to 5 boxes (near death).
So, the show that advertises the hurling and clearly wants to have its players eventually have a proverbial money shot (no pun intended), doesn’t deliver the goods. Come on! This is basic cable. We would pay for this, right? The kids aren’t watching this, right? Just who is G4 protecting? I actually didn’t know TV could censor the blowing of chunks, except for the fact that, like those wacky TV shows in Japan that caused epileptic attacks, this one could cause a mass throwing up among the nationwide 12-year old boys that are its main audience.
So does this qualify as the “Most Appalling TV show”, as Entertainment Weekly asked its online readers this week? Of course not. It’s barely watchable only because the second it’s over you are going to click the “Delete” button on your TiVo. This isn’t the kind of show you’d actually share with someone. Also, if you look real closely –and you share a predilection for this—you can make out some first-phase and final-phase vomit slobbers underneath the take-out food boxes on the screen, so it’s all good.
As for what could currently be considered as appalling moments on TV, let me list a few: model mother Dina Lohan thinking she knows best how to sell her 14-year old daughter Alli as a hip hop singer on “Living Lohan”; the intelligent musings of Denise Richards, from E!’s “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated”; the catty put-downs of celebrities by paparazzi staff members on TMZ; Billy Bush. All of these are far more objectionable than a simple vomit launch any way you look at it, or smell it.