A while back, the CW made a Hunger Games-like reality show. Not to be beaten, MTV made an actual Maze Runner tie-in competition called The Million Dollar Maze Runner. It blew the The Hunger Games' Subway sandwich out of the water.
Honest congratulations to Peter and Diane, the winners of this nonsense. They each got half a million dollars and a brand new car. People have done more ridiculous things for less. That in no way absolves the PR genius who looked at a movie based on a post-apocalyptic book, which is all about trapping people in a terrifying environment and experimenting on them, and thought "A reality competition! Synergistic genius!"
I watched this, and it's entirely possible that I'm the only one. I certainly hope that anyone else who did watched it by mistake. Here's how it went: Four teams of two (one man, one woman) started. There were three challenges, with one team eliminated at the end of each. Sounds simple, was actually stupidly complicated. Here are some select bits bad design:
1. It was filmed in an abandoned prison. Missing from the fictional maze is the inclusion of a creepy abandoned prison. This is not so in The Million Dollar Maze Runner, which built its maze in Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And then locked people in it. You know, like in the novel. SYNERGY!
This was the first shot of the show
2. Three stars from the movie showed up at the beginning and end of the competition, standing in front of obvious green screen, to pimp the film. Fine, whatever. But at the end, one of them goes "Wow, congratulations! That was amazing!" in such an obviously forced and unnatural way that you sort of fear for the acting in the film.
3. The second challenge's intense tie-in. Apparently, naming a competition after the movie and lifting the whole concept from it was not enough. The second competition required the teams to watch a clip from the movie, run through the maze, and then match quotes from the clip they just saw to the characters who said it. SYNERGY!
4. The challenges were needlessly baroque. In its favor was that Million Dollar Maze Runner only takes 23 minutes to watch. They have to pack three challenges into that time, and they choose some very complicated ones. For example, the second challenge involved:
a) Watching a clip from the movie and trying to memorize it.
b) Running through the abandoned prison maze to a certain section.
c) Putting together a puzzle that is missing a center tile.
d) Retrieving that center tile by unlocking a chest, which you do by matching quotes from the film to the one who spoke it.
e) Then, tilting the platform the puzzle is on so that you navigate a ball through the maze. Yes, the puzzle is also a maze.
f) Then running back out of the prison/maze before the doors shut behind you.
THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE CHALLENGES. Each one was like that.
5) This asshole managing to very tell you nothing more than what is literally on the screen while also being a complete dick to the teams.
And yet, somehow, The Million Dollar Maze Runner wasn't enough like its inspiration. Nothing chased them in the maze. It didn't shift with each challenge. And the one thing that they could have taken from the story that would have made this better was the part where the runners and gladers don't remember their pasts. This was a chance to get rid of the ubiquitous reality TV tragic-back-story-off. It was all the worst parts of a reality show and an ad executive-mandated tie-in.
You can watch the whole thing at MTV's website, if you are so inclined.