You’ll remember that last year, Penny Arcade launched a massive Kickstarter campaign to remove ads from their site and fund a bunch of new side projects that removing those ads allowed time for. It didn’t quite go according to plan, but the biggest product to come out of their half-million dollar haul was a new reality show called Strip Search in place of a fourth season of Penny Arcade TV. (I had a feeling they’d run out of material for their own show in good time.) The show is here, so what do we make of the first two episodes, which I’ve included below?
For Strip Search, Penny Arcade and Bionic Trousers (yes, that’s the name of the production company) took twelve artists – six women and six men – to a large secluded house somewhere, presumably, on the Washington coastline. Over the next few weeks, these contestants will be eliminated one by one and the winner will get a nice cash award as well as a year embedded with the Penny Arcade guys. At least one of these contestants – Lexxy- was actually considered for hire in an early episode of Penny Arcade TV, so drama is sure to kick up. Or not. As it turns out, a sizable portion of the contestants don’t really seem to care if they win or lose. I’m not sure how the crowd was picked, but it seems a large portion was decided by talent. Unlike other reality shows, there doesn’t seem to be a primal urge to survive, people are just happy to get the exposure. Perhaps we’ll see more fangs get drawn as the series progresses. In ‘Fax Machine’, contestants sit in a circle and play a game of ‘fax machine’, in which a scene is described and the next person in line must illustrate that phrase, and so forth. It looks like a generic team-building exercise, but it leads to amusing results.
The episodes are only 12 minutes each, which means we’re going to spend a lot of time waiting for resolution. Based on these first two episodes, it seems they would be better paced if they were combined into a single weekly episode, rather than two “half”-episodes. Again, a waiting game. Strip Search is easily the best-looking production that the Penny Arcade guys have put money toward. Their talking head interviews don’t seem to have enough headroom in a few shots, leading to a few awkward compositions during interviews. The editing seems a little laborious at times as the opening sequence involves a repetitive sequence of pans past our contestants while in the ‘Artists Assemble’ episode, each artist will introduce themselves to the camera, then again to the group. Series multi-hyphenate and host Graham Stark comes off as a pretty serious dude.
I have high hopes for the show, I just don’t know if they needed to make the portions so small. New episodes debut on Tuesdays and Fridays going forward and you know we’ll be there to cover it.