Remote Roulette

The fun new TV game that everyone is playing.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show

Hey, gang! Do you need fresh ideas for rainy-day fun? Are you—in common with Burt Malkiel and John Cage —intrigued by random walks and chance operations? Do your employers expect you to write a TV review in a week when the most dynamic new program is the reality show Dance Your Ass Off? If so, can you not bear to contemplate the following sentence? “The dance score and the weight loss are combined for an overall score, which determines who is sent home each week.”

If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then you are me, and last night you invented a new pastime.


Recommended ages: Old-enough-to-dismantle-a-V-Chip & up.

Time required: Prime time.

Difficulty: Stupid easy.

Setting up:

  1. Order in sashimi deluxe and also two pieces ikura. Soup, please.
  2. Turn on the television, go to the on-screen guide, and sort out how many consecutive basic-cable channels you receive.
  3. Turn on the computer, enter the number of channels into a random integer generator, and ask for, whatever, 12 numbers or so.


  • 94 The cable guide identified this channel as “Specials” and said that the program on in the 9 p.m. hour would be “Pay-Per-View Previews.” False promises can be so cruel. It was in fact America’s Auction Network, where, by chance, it was coin and currency night. There’s only so long that a non-numismatist can watch a tight shot of gloved fingertips handling a Morgan dollar.
  • 81 IFC. RoboCop! Director Paul Verhoeven was clearly looking through rose-colored glasses when peering at the future of Detroit, but the film otherwise holds up well as a story of crime and vengeance—at least the stretch between Leeza Gibbons’ cameo and the initial firing of the Cobra Assault Cannon.
  • 126 mun2. Pronounced “mundos,” comprende? Telemundo’s hip younger sister was airing a telenovela titled Sin Senos no hay Paraíso. This translates as Without Breasts There Is No Paradise. I’m leaving that one alone. The title refers to the misguided beliefs of Catalina, a hooker with a heart full of gold who is paying for a chest full of saline so as to snare a husband with bank accounts full of cocaine profits.
  • 7 WABC. I Survived a Japanese Game Show. The winning team sucked down sake on a bullet train. The losing team commits seppuku. Next, the winning team walked into an undistinguished sushi restaurant, wondering how a meal at such a shabby place could constitute a prize. Their wonderment formed a powerful cliffhanger going into the break.
  • Catalina, in a hospital bed, heard out an offer to work undercover for Colombia’s DEA.
  • Cliffhanger resolved on Channel 7: The restaurant has a monkey in a chef’s robe!
  • 112 The Military Channel. Digging Up the Trenches. Third Battle of Ypres, anyone? I’d rather watch poppies grow.
  • The same soldiers who had rescued Catalina in an earlier episode were about to take out some FARC guerillas. Is there something wrong with my random integer generator?
  • 32 ShopNBC was pushing wristwatches so ugly that it was almost worth buying one as a conversation piece. Apparently, some watches had faces more legible than others: “If you wanna look at your watch and you just wanna inhale the time, go with the brown.”
  • 138 Nicktoons. Steve Oedekerk is a writer and producer whose range extends from the fun-dumb comedy of Bruce Almighty to the razor-sharp satire of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. He is also the creator of Back at the Barnyard, a kids’ show relying heavily and bizarrely on references to Jackie Gleason catchphrases and Will Ferrell’s Harry Caray routine.
  • 134  CCTV-9—China Central Television, a 24-hour news channel controlled by a repressive government, was broadcasting updates on negotiations in Gaza and concerning nuclear reactors in Iran.
  • 10 CNN—Cable News Network, a 24-hour news channel controlled by the shareholders of Time Warner, was broadcasting updates from Neverland Ranch. Jeffrey Toobin was back in the studio talking probate law.

Ding-ding-ding!Juxtaposition jackpot!!!You win a cookie. Now go to bed.