THE SERIES "Floor Is Lava"
WHEN | WHERE Now streaming on Netflix
WHAT IT'S ABOUT It would be hard to conceive of a simpler game show than Netflix's "Floor Is Lava," in which contestants aim to leap, stumble and flop across obstacle courses from a starting point to a finish line without landing in the pit of "lava" bubbling below.
Fall into the lava, which is really elaborately crafted proprietary slime that does burst and erupt in convincing fashion, and you're out of the game and out of sight, disappearing below the surface like Han Solo descending into carbonite.
Each episode consists of three teams of three competing to get across the course in the fastest possible time, while losing the fewest number of people. The prize at the end is $10,000 and a lava lamp.
The courses, which are pretty difficult and involve a lot of precarious jumping from one slippery object to the next, have themes such as a planetarium, a kitchen and a study.
MY SAY You'll have a "blast" watching this show if you "lava" the thought of contenders — such as a squad of teachers, or flight attendants, or sisters and their best pal — making one painful leap after another as they desperately scramble for that sweet prize money.
They'll fling themselves onto couches and off rotating beds; leap from planets and make hard landings on giant rocks; climb across the gurgling expanse on monkey bars lining the inside of an overturned canoe. They'll do it all with nary a piece of protective equipment, in a show of bravery and commitment to craft that will have your eyes well with teary admiration.
The host/announcer is Rutledge Wood, best known for "Top Gear" and for being a significant figure in NASCAR media. He's mostly here to remind us that the floor is comprised of lava, just in case you might have momentarily forgotten, and to offer inane bits of commentary about the tactics and strategies of our hardy contestants.
Netflix claims this show is among its hottest current offerings, which makes sense given the nostalgia factor (who among us did not play a version of this game as a child?) and the eternal truth that pratfalls are funny and entertaining.
Ultimately, there's no real point in applying much critical thought to a show called "Floor Is Lava." It delivers exactly what it promises, no more and no less. If you're a reality game show person, Netflix is here for you.
But there are only so many replays one can take of people smacking their heads after a bad fall or desperately clinging to a bobbing faux storage chest before slipping into the angry abyss. The endless regurgitating of every comic stumble shows that the producers could not generate enough interesting material to sustain even 30 minute episodes.
Some of the courses are more cleverly designed and imposing than others and it would have been nice had they been conceived in a way that required more than just the slightest iota of intellectual thought as well as physical dexterity.
A viewing of six of the 10 episodes offered in the first season of this epic reveals that the concept wears thin quickly. The floor is lava, don't fall in it, we get it.
BOTTOM LINE This show delivers exactly what it promises — the floor is, indeed, lava — and nothing else.