“Fear Factor” returns to NBC tonight after five-year hiatus

By Tom Comi

It’s not often that a show returns after being off the air for five years, and there are many possibilities as to why NBC has decided to bring back back the award-winning Fear Factor.

One theory about the series that returns tonight (8pm ET) is that the show was running out of death-defying stunts for the contestants to perform and disgusting “food” for them to eat. Another theory was that there is a very small pool of brave/stupid people from which to choose those contestants every week.

What really can’t be disputed, though, is the lure of watching others do things most of us would never in our life think about doing. Whether it’s jumping from a building, being covered in bees or eating a cow’s intestine, Fear Factor gives us all a chance to watch — albeit with one hand usually over our eyes or our mouth — the bravest of the brave and the dumbest of the dumb.

Adding to the enticement is the return of host Joe Rogan (pictured), whose sense of humor goes a long way toward making this more of a mainstream show rather than something you’d see on a niche channel like Spike TV. His wit and taunting nature add another dimension that gives the viewer more of rooting interest. We oftentimes empathize with a contest he tries to comfort or pump up, and the best part is rooting against the cocky contestants he more often than not puts in their place.

According to NBC, the new Fear Factor will pit four teams of two competing against each another (this includes friends, spouses, family members and co-workers). Those who complete the stunts the fastest will move on, those who fail will be ousted. The last team standing at the end will walk away with a $50,000 prize.

That’s a nice chunk of change, but the real winners are those of us who get to kick back and watch these contestants risk their lives for our enjoyment. Happy holidays indeed.


Credit: Chris Haston/NBC