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TV Squad Ten: Most visceral shows

by Danny Gallagher, posted Aug 27th 2009 1:02PM
Michael C. Hall is Dexter Morgan on DexterA good show can keep you so entertained that you're willing to fight sleep to watch the rest of it. A great show physically keeps you awake.

It gets into your bloodstream and forces more adrenaline into your heart.

It turns the synapses in your brain into ferrets on espresso that dash back and forth between the lobes and fires your mind on all of its cylinders.

It is visual cocaine, which is much healthier than actual cocaine and doesn't require a frequent visitor punch card for an eyes, ears, nose and throat doctor.

These are the shows that assault all five of the senses or less depending on how good of a health plan you've got.

10. MXC a.k.a. Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
Nothing says fun like ordinary people risking their bones and bodies for untold cash and prizes. This gone but not forgotten remake of a classic Japanese game show upped the fun factor by adding all sorts of "oofs," "acks" and cracks to the falls and spills, turning what seemed to be a padded obstacle course into a danger room of Don Martin sound effects. You don't have to speak Japanese to understand the wincing hilarity of a shot to the beanbag.

9. American Idol
The show's producers may not make their ambitious note assassins run a muddy obstacle course or dodge medicine balls for a chance to be on their show (yet), but the auditions are a test in pain for both the judges in the studio and the people watching it. While some have quality talent, others are so bad that they feel like someone is taking a cheese grater to our eardrum. What's even worse is their level of badness is so high that they had to have been set up to fail by the evil producers coating you with a layer of shame dirt that takes more than 30 showers to rinse off of your id.



8. Fear Factor
Few shows could make viewers rewind their lunches faster than this grotesque-fest from the early 00s. It took Survivor's bug eating challenges and pumped them full of strength-enhancing substances the NFL hasn't even heard of yet. The show felt very guttural and uncomfortable to watch. Even host Joe Rogan admitted in his stand-up act he didn't believe the show would last past the first season. "Then four years later, I'm standing in front of a chick with a mouthful of animal #*$&s going, 'You can do it! You hang in there! Relax! Breathe!'"

7. Wipeout
I imagine the only person who could physically hurt themselves on this padded down obstacle course would be the real world equivalent of Samuel Jackson's villainous fragile frame from Unbreakable (if you didn't see it, I just saved you $10. Thank me later.). But it does have moments of audible ickiness when, say, a contestant gets bogged down in what appears to be industrial-strength stripper wrestling mud or accidentally falls gut first into the water, creating a belly flop slap that could make Fabio suck in his stomach. Then topping off this pain sundae is a heaping helping of John Henson's horrible jokes to make the cringing go down hard. Talk about a PUNCH line!



6. CSI
The show that singlehandedly saved science from becoming just another thing that separates cool people from dorks has its share of ear twisters, especially on the autopsy table. The ease at which the staff perform these disgusting tasks takes the action to another level of lunch launching that makes the show seem all the more real. Bodies are cut open and sliced with the ease of envelopes and strangers root around in chest cavities with a creepy calmness as if they are just reaching behind the couch for their keys.

5. UFC
Very few televised sports evoke the kind of wincing and face scrunching that mixed martial arts can. Maybe that's because the "Ultimate Fighter" considers getting your shoulder knocked out of the socket, skin and arena as "getting the wind knocked out of you." The bare-fisted, high-kicking pay-per-view sport may be the new guy on the block, but it's got a ravenous and growing fan base of guys who don't mind paying $49.95 to watch it and $399.95 to their dentist for the constant gnashing of their teeth. The only way such behavior could be worse is if these guys were beating the snot out of each other...for fun. Enter our next entry...

4. Jackass
MTV's cavalcade of Cro-Magnon cut-ups turned the childhood game of "Stop Hitting Yourself" into an Olympic sport. The show's random American idiots, led by the Panama Jack sunglasses-sporting Johnny Knoxville, were led through a series of brilliantly designed and untested trials with only one goal: inflict as much pain as you can in order to make the audience laugh as hard as they can. Jackass' mix of cruel hidden camera pranks and self-inflicted comedy made it OK to laugh at slapstick again and inspired a nation of mouth-breathers to create their own not-so-funniest home videos, making Jackass the chlorine that kept our gene pool its brightest.



3. The Sopranos
HBO's clever mob drama was bound to be stuffed with more bloody and cringe-worthy violence than the evening news. However, the writers and photographers always knew what to show you and what not to show you, leaving your imagination to fill in the gory details and part of the fun of watching a hit was wondering just how much they would show. The most surprising parts aren't the feelings you had from the violence, but the feelings you had for Tony Soprano who without his family would just be another murderous thug with a closet full of Bahama-mama shirts. Speaking of lovable psychopaths...

2. Dexter
Showtime's dark, funny and gripping series based on the books of Jeff Lindsay has done something no one thought was possible: make a serial killer huggable. In that sense, you don't mind the violence as much, even most of it is nail-bitingly horrid. Even the show's opening scene of Dexter going through his morning routine can grate your nerves with its horrific close-ups of Dexter slicing through a thick ham steak and gently sawing the stubble off his neck with a face razor. That last scene alone is so creepy with its dainty hair brushing sound, it can drive you to put down the razor and just grow a bread, no matter what sex you are.



1. Nip/Tuck
Who ever thought that a show about achieving the ultimate beauty could get so ugly? FX's plastic surgery saga featured more blood and gore than most of its harder-edged shows and subsequently, more wincing and eye-scrunching since these people are enduring hot knives in the hopes of becoming even hotter. If anything, it'll make you reconsider getting that 500th face lift, even if the next one is half-off.

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Joyce N.

I'd have DEXTER as number one and CSI as number 2.

American Idol? I thought you were joking.

August 27 2009 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jffm

Intense? Viseral?

24. "I'm gonna need a hack saw!!" Nuff said.

MI-5 (Spooks). How many shows start off an episode with a rookie operative getting her (yes, "her") face forced into a tank of hot cooking oil?

The X-Files. More Oh YEAH! moments than any show I've ever watched.

Miami Vice. In it's day. Lt. Castillo throwing hands with Viet Cong assassin in a dark alley. The death of Larry Zito. Classic.

Lost. Ben. Sayid. Vanishing islands. Ben.

Jack Ass? American Idol? No. Just, no.

August 27 2009 at 10:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Hewitt

Clearly this list could use some help. First off, if you think CSI is gross, watch the folks on Bones boil brains and rehydrate mummified bodies. While the CSIers may be blase, the folks on Bones are positively giddy at the thought.

Also, since you are including retired shows, How about the Shield? There was a show that was willing to go to any length to grab your attention.

August 27 2009 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anthony

lol is it april 1rst, this has to be the worst list ever, save for dexter and the sopranos , half the shows you listed r the type of show you watch while doing other stuff.

August 27 2009 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

Bleah. Either I'm the most passive TV viewer in history, or I am engaged by TV shows in a totally different way. I don't watch/enjoy one of these shows, technically. I don't start looking at American Idol until they have the final group set. I hate the audition nonsense/fake drama.

Visceral for me: Lost, Nurse Jackie, Supernatural... I'll probably be adding Glee to that list.

August 27 2009 at 3:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Alan

Ummm....24? That show is pretty much the definition of what you're going for here.

And I disagree that "more visceral" equals "a great show".

August 27 2009 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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