Host: Rich Eisen
: TNT, airs Sunday nights

Original Telecast: June 24, 2012

Just when you think every reality show concept has been done to death, along comes something refreshing like THE GREAT ESCAPE, TNT’s uber-successful attempt to get in the reality game.

With executive producer Ron Howard and Brian Grazer behind-the-scenes (alongside THE AMAZING RACE executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri), they’re off to a, well, great, start.

Mixing in elements of THE AMAZING RACE and FEAR FACTOR, the series is pretty simple in concept, but elaborate and expansive in execution.

Three teams of two are taken to some famous, hard to escape place, held prisoner and then with maps, clues and tools have to find a way to get out of there and win a $100,000 prize.

The first episode is “Escape from Alcatraz” where the teams are placed on the impenetrable Rock on San Francisco. There’s even guards that they have to elude and if they don’t, they’re sent back to the beginning to start over again.

The production value is quite high and the suspense and tension for the teams keep the show interesting. Whereas many reality shows try to toss in people you love to hate, since these contestants only last one episode apiece, the producers have wisely found people that are somewhat tolerable and who you want to root for.

There is some frustration with the first episode though. It feels like the guards captured the contestants way too many times. And the areas where the contestants are supposed to escape and get to feels a bit chaotic and confusing at times. Other questions pop up like, if a guard captures one team, can they not catch another team who are right in front of them?

The challenges are also a combination of physical and mental, so it makes sure no one has the upper hand.

The second episode available for review (but airing next week) is “Escape from the U.S.S. Hornet” which puts the contestants on a big warship. With a different location, the series is still quite addicting and many of the kinks of the first episode looks like they’ve been worked out.

Keeping things moving is host Rich Eisen who is a pro at keeping things interesting, explaining the rules and being there at the end to let the contestants know if they won or lost.

THE GREAT ESCAPE is going to live or fall based on how many cool locations they can find for people to escape from. You can probably name on one hand places that will get viewers excited to see featured on the show, but then what’s left? “Escape from the AMC 28 screen movie theater?” I’m sure the producers have figured this out ahead of time, but you never know.

Still, this is fun, summer entertainment and to find an interesting take on a well worn concept is very difficult to do in the reality game, but THE GREAT ESCAPE has succeeded so far – let’s hope this is the reality gold TNT is looking for.


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Article:TV Review of THE GREAT ESCAPE – Season 1 – “Escape from Alcatraz” – Series Premiere


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