The Game Show That Could Have Killed Its Contestants

YouTube
YouTube

by Jenny Morrill

How far would you go to win $100,000? Would you allow yourself to be locked in a box and subjected to potentially fatal extremes of heat and cold? The contestants on the short-lived Fox game show The Chamber did.

The Chamber aired for just three episodes in January 2002, before being pulled (though three other episodes were shot, they were never broadcast). The premise of the show was simple: the longer you could withstand the conditions in "the Chamber" while correctly answering general knowledge questions, the more money you won. Any contestant who answered a total of 25 questions correctly won the grand prize of $100,000, although no contestant ever achieved this in a broadcast episode.

The show's problem was with its titular centerpiece, the Chamber itself: Essentially a torture chamber, contestants were strapped to a table inside the chamber and subjected to extreme temperatures, water jets, muscle contractors, and dropping oxygen levels.

YouTube

The contestants were in the Chamber for up to seven rounds, lasting one minute each. As the rounds progressed, the conditions in the Chamber worsened. In the three episodes that aired, only one player "survived" all seven levels.

The actual functions of the Chamber depended on which Chamber was being faced: the choice was between the Hot Chamber or the Cold Chamber, which was chosen at random for the contestant by a computer.

In the Hot Chamber, the contestant faced the following:

  • Heat beginning at 110°F (43°C) and increasing to 170°F (66°C).
  • Real flames surrounding the contestant, getting bigger as the game progressed.
  • Muscle contractors strapped to the limbs.
  • Simulated earthquake tremors (Richter scale 5.0 to begin, going up to 9.0).
  • The chair would begin to rotate back and forth (level two), then up and down, through 270 degrees, and finally it would spin in complete circles.
  • On the last show, foul odors were piped into the Chamber after the fourth round.
  • Wind gusts of 40 miles per hour (64.3 k/h) joined in at level two.
  • Falling oxygen levels throughout the game (90 percent down to 70 percent).
  • Air cannons blasting at up to 140 miles per hour.

If the Cold Chamber was chosen, this is what the contestant got:

  • Temperatures beginning at 30°F (-1 °C) and decreasing to -20°F (-29°C).Muscle contractors and simulated earthquake tremors (as in the Hot Chamber).
  • Water jets squirting the contestants, causing ice to form on their bodies.
  • Ice blasted at the contestant.
  • Wind gusts of 40 miles per hour (64.3 k/h) from level three onwards.
  • Falling oxygen levels (95 percent down to 70 percent).
  • Air cannons blasting at up to 140 mph (as in the Hot Chamber).

Clearly, precautions had to be taken to ensure the safety of the contestants, so they were also wired up to heart and blood pressure monitors. If at any point in the game they were deemed unfit to continue, the game was stopped. The player could also stop the game by shouting “Stop the Chamber!” or, well, by passing out (yes, really).

It didn't stop there. Had the show not been pulled, other Chambers would have been introduced. Rumored Chambers that fortunately never saw the light of day include the Water Chamber, the Electricity Chamber, and the Animal/Insect Chamber (just in case you needed to be any more creeped out by this show). 

This video below shows contestant Scott Brown (who lasted for all seven levels) in the Cold Chamber. Brown won $20,000 for his death-defying efforts.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, critical and audience reaction to the series was not overly positive. "While some Fox executives originally backed the show for bringing some needed daring to a program lineup that they said had become somewhat staid," wrote Bill Carter in The New York Times, "the lackluster ratings performance clearly made it difficult to justify continuing a show that was generating so much hostile reaction." Considering that the Cold Chamber could induce hypothermia and frostbite, and the Hot Chamber could have caused heatstroke and severe burns, it's probably for the best that the show never really caught on.

Party Like a Hobbit at Chicago’s Lord of the Rings Pop-Up Bar

Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Replay Lincoln Park

One does not simply walk into Mordor, but one does simply walk into The Lord of the Rings pop-up bar in Chicago—as long as you’re at least 21 years old, of course.

Replay Lincoln Park, known for elaborate themed pop-ups for Game of Thrones, South Park, and other entertainment franchises, has transformed its premises into a magical reproduction of Middle-earth aptly called “The One Pop-Up to Rule Them All,” open now through March 23.

Inside, you’ll be able to crouch under an outcropping of tangled tree roots while one of the dreaded Nazgûl lurks above you, high-five a grimacing Gollum, and snap photos with all your favorite Lord of the Rings characters.

nazgul at the lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Nazgûl like to party, too.
Replay Lincoln Park

You might want to skip elevenses to make sure you have plenty of room for a Hobbit-approved feast during your visit. The menu, catered by Zizi’s Cafe, features items like Fried Po-tay-toes, Lord of the Wings, Beef Lembas, and Pippen’s Popcorn.

ent replica at chicago's replay lincoln park pop-up bar
Say hello to a friendly Ent while you munch on "Pippen's Popcorn."
Replay Lincoln Park

According to Thrillist, there will be three different counters in the bar, each with its own specialty drinks. Head to The Prancing Pony for a second breakfast shot (maple whiskey, bacon, and orange juice), or take a trip to Minas Tirith to toss back a palantir shot, made of silver tequila and passion fruit purée. If you’re in the mood for a little dark magic, you can trek over to Mordor and try a “my precious” shot, a fusion of dark rum, orange liquor, and Cajun seasoning.

lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Eye of Sauron is watching you order another round of Mordor shots.
Replay Lincoln Park

For those of you who are happy to accompany your Tolkien-obsessed friends to the pop-up but aren’t exactly tickled at the sight of a moss-covered Ent replica yourselves, take heart in this added bonus: Replay Lincoln Park also boasts more than 60 free arcade games and pinball machines.

[h/t Thrillist]

K-Swiss Has Cooked Up an Entire Line of Breaking Bad Sneakers

Breaking Bad lives on in sneaker form.
Breaking Bad lives on in sneaker form.
K-Swiss

Breaking Bad has been off the air for nearly seven years, but there’s no sign that AMC’s breakthrough drama is showing any hints of slowing down. On the heels of their success with a limited-edition Breaking Bad sneaker in October 2019, K-Swiss has returned to the seedy underbelly of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with an entire line of shoes.

The company announced a joint venture with Sony Pictures Consumer Products for three new sneakers based on the popular drug-running series starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a chemistry teacher-turned-unlikely drug kingpin. All of the K-Swiss x Breaking Bad Classic 2000 varieties are based on the K-Swiss Classic 2000 low-top design and take inspiration from different elements of the show.

The Cooking shoe has a yellow color scheme that takes after the protective suits worn by Walter and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) during meth cooks. K-Swiss will make 1144 pairs available:

The K-Swiss x 'Breaking Bad' Classic 2000 Cooking sneaker is pictured
The K-Swiss x Breaking Bad Classic 2000 Cooking sneaker.
K-Swiss

The Cleaning shoe (1162 pairs) is patterned after the jumpers worn by the two during the cleaning of their elaborate underground lab built by drug lord Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito):

The K-Swiss x 'Breaking Bad' Classic 2000 Cleaning sneaker is pictured
The K-Swiss x Breaking Bad Classic 2000 Cleaning sneaker.
K-Swiss

The Recreational Vehicle design, with a stripe that looks like the exterior of White’s mobile meth laboratory, resembles the October 2019 shoe release. K-Swiss will make 1396 pairs available:

The K-Swiss x 'Breaking Bad' Classic 2000 Recreational Vehicle sneaker is pictured
The K-Swiss x Breaking Bad Classic 2000 Recreational Vehicle sneaker.
K-Swiss

The Cooking and Cleaning shoes have “Heisenberg,” Walter’s alias, written on the sole:

The K-Swiss x 'Breaking Bad' Classic 2000 Cooking sneaker sole with 'Heisenberg' printed on it is pictured
The K-Swiss x Breaking Bad Classic 2000 Cooking and Cleaning sneakers have 'Heisenberg' printed on the sole.
K-Swiss

All the sneakers come packaged in a Breaking Bad periodic table box. Men’s sizes retail for $80 to $90. No women’s sizes have been announced. You can find them in limited quantities online at KSwiss.com, FootLocker.com, Footaction.com, and ChampsSports.com beginning February 20.

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