I usually enjoy the offerings on The Comedy Network but watching a preview of the first two episodes of Extreme Wind-Ups, which premieres July 25th 2007, left me convinced this show was something that must have been tossed in as part of a package deal. In hockey terms Extreme Wind-Ups is a roll of tape and a used jock strap.
The thirteen episodes of Extreme Wind-Ups The Comedy Network will air purport to be a compilation of the best moments of an Italian prank show titled Scherzi a Parti that claims to be the best in Italian television. Well, having grown up in Montreal, I distinctly remember watching episodes of Tele Domenica on CFCF, the local CTV station, that were better than this and I do not understand a single word of Italian. This show even made me pine for the days of Angelina DiBello's sewing tips.
From what I can tell, each episode of Extreme Wind-Ups includes a prank pulled on a big (or once big in the case of Mickey Rourke) Hollywood star and other pranks pulled on Italian celebrities. Part of the reason the English version of Scherzi a Parti does not work is the viewer gets a best moments of the prank and not the whole thing, subtitled dialogue, a rather annoying voice-over guy who, this being an ITV production, has a British accent, reading a rather clumsy and very mean spirited text explaining what is going on.
Another reason this show does not work is aside from a couple of the people being pranked (episode two features Dustin Hoffman) most viewers will not have heard of any of these Italian celebrities (an expression as believable outside of that country as military strategist). In fact, I bet dollars to donuts the only people in North America who have heard of these celebrities work for the witness protection program.
The pranks themselves are no great shakes, not particularly funny, but sometimes elaborate. They, and the commentary by the British sounding guy, are sometimes pretty demeaning and mean. I have no idea who the female model treated like a piece of meat is but stringing up like a piece of ham, stamping her butt with a grade A label, and leaving her hang there for ten minutes in an empty room is cruel and tasteless, not funny.
Making fun of Dustin Hoffman's height by inviting him to a fake award ceremony where everyone else and everything is giant sized and the award is presented by Snow White was, in my mind, just stupid.
The one moment I enjoyed in Extreme Wind-Ups is when they pull a prank on a local politician and he surprises them by reacting heroically to the avalanche he supposedly caused. I enjoyed it because he showed he was a much better person than the morons who put Scherzi a Parti together and come up with the pranks.
What happens when you wind up something to the extreme? It doesn't work.