Let me start by saying this: I never saw the Fox version of Hole In The Wall, so I can't compare it to the version that premiered last night on Cartoon Network. By all accounts, the primetime version was awful, but I'm going to try to judge the kids version on its own merits, OK?
Here's my judgement: it's a disaster.
Teck Holmes, who screams most of what he says, plays host to two families (each composed of a parent and two of that parent's children). We don't learn these families' real last names; they are known throughout the show by team names. To use the premiere as an example, it's not the Jones family versus the Smith family; it's "The Good, The Bad, And The Stepdad" versus "Mama Trucker And The Mudflaps". These two families walk onstage in bizarre silver jumpsuits and color-coded helmets. They also trash talk each other a lot, which sounds dumb - but believe me, that's about the only thing you can do to pad out this game. The premise of this globally exported format: the host screams out "Let's see the HOLE IN THE WALL!". The audience counts down three seconds. A wall comes at you. There is a hole in it. If you get through the hole, you get points; if you don't, you fall into a pool.
In round one, all three members of each family try to get through the wall; they get ten points for each family member who succeeds. In round two, one member of each family puts on a blindfold helmet and must be directed on how to get through the wall by their teammates (cue the parents standing motionless while their kids are screaming instructions); they get ten points if they succeed. In round three only two members of each family face the wall; they again get ten points for each member who doesn't fall into the pool. In round four, two members of each family are spun around by the opposing family, so they are supposedly dizzy when the wall comes at them; they get twenty points for each family member who gets through. The family with the most points then gets a Hole In The Wall trophy (and nothing else) and plays the final Impossiwall (no, really) for a place on the Wall Of Fame (and nothing else) if all three family members get through.
If that format sounds flat out idiotic...it is, and that's not even the worst part. I could go on for a while here: no prizes, bland music, endless replays of each fall, an audience that appears to have been told to be as loud as possible...get the idea? Going back to my review of Downfall in June, this is what that show would have been if they hadn't come up with an entertaining game and a decent host to back up their gimmick. I suppose it fits in better on Cartoon Network that it would have in primetime, and an eight-year-old me probably would have thought it was fun...but I think the fact that, while this is a Japanese format, it's a five-minute segment on a variety show in Japan says a lot.
I'll have reviews of The Hub's new kids game shows (Family Game Night and Pictureka) next week.