In a world crying out for peace, love and understanding, The CW has instead decided to play a game of deep-woods high-tech tag that’s way more “Hunger Games” than “Kumbaya” around the campfire.
Premiering Tuesday, July 30, the competitive reality series “Capture” sends 12 teams of two into the Arena, a fenced-in enclosure — totally wired for video and sound, and rigged with a variety of ways to sabotage the competitors — in a remote forested area of California.
The teams must live there for a month, trying to survive on meager rations while aiming to hunt one another down and affix magnetic hockey-puck-sized “talons” to their rivals (a more humane alternative to paintball guns, or bows and arrows).
Along the way, the Game Master (Australian outdoorsman and shark expert Luke Tipple) alters the environment to make things even more interesting.
This is all in pursuit of a $250,000 grand prize.
Tipple tells Zap2it that for him, there was “a fairly large learning curve in terms of how the show played out. Everything was pretty hush-hush, even for me. When I did get in there, and I learned I was going to be in control of the team and the environment in which they lived, it was suddenly very exciting to me.
“Obviously, we’ve got these people who don’t really know what they’re getting into. They’re thrust into a very extreme environment, very tough living condition. And added to that, quite a difficult competition aspect, which I don’t think anybody really anticipated.
“These teams are living in the outdoors. They’re living in metal bunks that are constructed within the compound, and they can’t leave the hunting grounds. It’s their home.”
As on another outdoor competition show, CBS’ “Survivor,” the competitors are supplied with a certain amount of food. But they’re not just sitting on a beach, expending energy by working around camp and participating in games. They’re out hunting their fellow humans and then being hunted themselves.
“They have to live on very small rations,” says Tipple, who is also the show’s host. “It’s meted out calorically for each contestant – a pound of rice a day. Everyone is on different rations, so they have equal energy for their body type. It’s very well calculated.
“And it’s not enough. The food is not enough for them to be competing the way that they are. They’re out there for four hours a day in hunt conditions, being pursued by a team that will go home if they don’t go and capture two teams.
“So high-tech tag is a good way to describe it, I guess. But really, they are in a fight for their lives every single day.”
In the 21st century, many people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors are not necessarily hunting, and even if they are, it’s usually done from a distance. And they’re definitely not used to being prey as well as predator.
“Really,” says Tipple, “what they’re doing is learning how to hunt. They’re getting into an environment where they have to have very close hand-on-person contact to be able to capture somebody.
“So we could say, ‘Hey, they have to have weapons and be 30 or 40 feet away to be able to capture somebody,’ but here they literally have to pit their strength against each other.
“You’ve got some teams who are very fast, and they think they have an advantage. But then you get them in the woods, which are quite dense, and there are big drop-offs and quite treacherous terrain. Suddenly that speed becomes less of an advantage over certain areas.
“Then you’ve got the teams who are super-sneaky, who are more stealthy and able to move through the woods with a little more knowledge. They might not be as fast, and immediately you write them off, but then you realize they actually do have a fighting chance out here.”
The Game Master and the technology in the Arena weren’t the only factors making things more difficult.
“We had everything from extreme heat to extreme cold,” says Tipple. “We had thunderstorms and lightning and very challenging conditions. It was icing up in the evenings. In the daytime, sometimes, it was so hot they really had to watch how much ground they traveled, because they didn’t want to get too exhausted and run out of water.
“Dehydration and hypothermia were real issues out there. Some of them lost 10, 15 pounds over the process of doing this.”
Apparently, along with the “Hunger Games” aspect, there was also a bit of “Lord of the Flies.”
“I knew it would happen,” says Tipple, “but just seeing how quickly it happened — within days, we saw people revert to a very primitive nature.
“They quickly turned very ruthless. These people became hunters. That’s what we were really taken aback by, just looking at them going, ‘Whoa, these people are turning ruthless. They’re animals.’ “