Survivor and its successors have built a cottage industry that mixes a social game with physical and mental challenges. The Great Escape asks the question, would this type a show be worth watching if you strip away the social aspect of these competition show. The Great Escape pits three teams of two against each other as they try to escape iconic places (the first two episodes involve Alcatraz and The USS Hornet) while solves puzzles with their minds or brute strength, with the first to do so taking home a $100,000 prize.
The Great Escape reminds me a lot of the final episode of The Challenge if instead of holding the final challenge outside involving a couple mile hike, but confined to a solitary structure. Of course the two member team is right out of The Amazing Race with less interesting racers (the show were created by the same people and it is hard to wonder if the contestants for The Great Escape were picked from The Amazing Race reject pile). You get your friends, siblings, father-daughter teams but the only memorable contestant in the first two episodes is a douchebag with a bandana.
One aspect that separates The Great Escape with the shows that came before it besides its local is that the contestants are not alone. There are “guards” loitering around to keep the contestants from their prisons. If they get caught they have to drop all the items they have obtained but their map and go back to the starting room and escape all over again (but they do not have to repeat the puzzle). My first thought when the guards were introduced was it will be lame if no one gets caught. By the end of the first episode, I wished there were actually less guards.
Even though there are only four tasks to complete, The Great Escape is a hard competition to complete. With the contest starting at midnight, the winner of tonight’s episode won just as the sun was rising over the San Francisco Bay as the winning team was crossing the finish line putting the total time it took to complete the escape at about six to eight hours (depending on the time of year they filmed it). Next week, the sun was well already out by the time the first team got to the flight deck.
Giving its rotating contestants and lack of a social aspect that make other competition shows, The Great Escape is not appointment television every week, and it is also a little disappointing that host Rich Eisen does not bring his trademark deadpan from his time on Sportcenter. Bu the show is a good diversion if you are flipping around channels Sunday night or have nothing better to do after Falling Skies. And given its special locations, you are going to be treated to at least one grand, picturesque moment every week. Plus the show is definitely better than Pirate Master.
The Great Escape airs Sundays at 10:00 on TNT.