Saturday, June 2, 2018

TV Show - Race to Escape

Official logo of the show

Release Year:
# of Episodes:
Episode Duration:
43 min
Room Duration:
60 min
# of Players:
2 teams of 3 players
Jimmy Pardo

Picture from the producer's website

So what is it?
  • Back in 2015, before I even played my first Escape Room, the phenomenon was already running in full force in some parts of North America. The Science Channel decided to capitalize on this new craze with a summertime reality game show titled "Race to Escape".
  • The show had this (fairly) novel idea of putting two teams against each other, in real time. Therefore, there are in fact two copies of each room, completely identical except for their background color. That way, viewers can easily tell the "blue" and "red" teams apart. The team that manages to escape first gets the cash prize.
  • Here's the kicker, though: that big prize might start off at $25,000, but as time advances it starts going down - $500 every minute past the 40-min-remaining mark.
  • Every episode follows a basic pattern: teams start off the room with blindfolds on, and some physical restraint. Once they free themselves, they should figure out how to obtain a first 4-digit code that must be entered in a big keypad near the exit door. If the code is right, the team receives a physical clue that should lead them to next 4-digit code. Entering 3 wrong codes in a row will lock the pad for 2 minutes. Overall, 5 codes will be entered before the door opens. Teams know how many codes their opponents have solved, but don't otherwise interact with each other.
  • If everybody in a team agrees, they can request a "Codebreaker" that should help them sidestep the current puzzles. Codebreakers are written in advance, take $5,000 off that team's prize money, and they can only be used on the first 4 codes, with players having to wait at least 3 minutes after the previous code was solved. Since players don't want to waste money, but can feel pressured by their opponents' progress, choosing when to use a Codebreaker becomes a strategic matter.
  • In a similar manner to the Escape! web series, the show is hosted by a comedian, who barely interacts with the players. In fact, he's mostly there to describe what's going on (and mock hapless players). Like I said about Janet Varney, Mr. Pardo doesn't quite seem to be in his element, though it's hard to say what he could really do better.
  • One angle that's unique to this show, though, is the recurring presence of pop-psycho explanations to try to explain why the players are making certain mistakes. In other word, the show tries to study and explain what makes us do dumb things while solving escape rooms. 😎
  • Overall, I loved every single episode, and so did my family. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes Escape Rooms, or anyone trying to understand what they are. (With one caveat: players often break down a lot more stuff than any room I've played. 😊)

  • The Explorer's Study
  • The Chinese Restaurant
  • Bar Fight
  • Schoolhouse Lock
  • The Auto Shop
  • Barbershop Breakout

Where can I watch it?
  • Yeah, that's the tricky part... 😶
  • The episodes are still available on the show's official page... provided you're getting the Science Channel through your US cable subscription. And let's be honest - if you're regular on this blog, you probably don't have one of those.
  • A simple YouTube search will probably turn up a good number of results. As you'll see, though, those episodes are of lower quality, with the image typically taking half the screen, people having helium voices, that sort of things.
  • The most tech-savvy amongst yourselves might know good sources of... not-quite-legal TV episodes. Let's just say that might work, too. 😝

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