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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Bunim-Murray: Here's five things we'd like to see on the next Challenge

After the season finale of Rivals, we gave a couple of suggestions about things to fix on the new season of the Challenge. We've updated that list for the upcoming 23rd season of the Challenge.

Tyler and Derrick in the Gulag on Cutthroat.
1. Bring New Blood. The most disappointing part of Battle of the Exes was the fact that Johnny (Key West) was able to pull an upset and win back-to-back Challenges. We always like to see new faces on the Challenge. If Rivals and Exes taught us anything, is that strategic casting goes a long way. New or old, the castmembers that are brought back should have pre-existing relationships that will guarantee conflict once the season starts. Try to avoid bringing back castmembers with pre-existing alliances.

2. Put the Veterans at a Disadvantage. From a casting perspective, it may be impossible to put new bodies in these spots. How many former castmembers are willing to give up a month out of their lives to go and film a series every few months? So, if we're being forced to see the same new faces again and again, use this to your advantage. Pit the Veterans directly against each other. Allowing one team to make the decision about who gets thrown in actually helps a lot. The decisions about who gets thrown in is less reliant upon the alliances. However, veterans still seem to be at an advantage because many of the group missions require group strategies. Make sure alliances don't count for much in the game.

3. Make Next Season an Individual Challenge. After the success of Rivals, it was probably difficult for producers to not use the two-person team format once again. However, Exes seemed to fall flat because some of the connections were stagnant. The most inspired pairing was CT (Paris) and Diem (Fresh Meat). Viewers, and I'm sure producers, hoped to see the pair re-kindle their romance. However, castmembers wised up. And on the reunion, the cast commented that they had relationships waiting for them at home. Thus, we saw many of the teams agree to work exclusively as partners, and to leave feelings checked at the door. Next season should have the castmembers working on their own to win the grand prize. The last time we saw this was in 2009 with The Duel II.

4. Epic Missions & Battles = Epic Seasons. Every Challenge will bring infighting and drama. However, the viewers enjoy it the most when the drama bleeds into the Challenge. The most epic battles are one-on-one and usually involve physical contact. Every mission, every one-on-one is an opportunity. Stop wasting these opportunities by repeating challenges or having lame missions.

5. Keep the Stakes High, but Keep the Rules Simple. This latest Challenge was a step in the right direction. It wasn't very hard to follow eliminations or strategy in Exes. But in keeping the rules simple, you have to make sure to also keep the stakes high. Don't let teams skate by on alliances or don't let teams fly under the radar. The best Challenge rules force teams to act. And the best Challenges are the ones where the game brings drama. Let the Challenge rule the competitors, don't let the competitors rule the Challenge.

What about you? What changes do you want to see next season? Who do you want to see on the Challenge next season?

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