Banzai (TV series)

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Banzai
Banzai Title.jpg
Format Comedy
Created by Gary Monaghan
Liam Moody
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 24 (inc. 1 special)
Production
Producer(s) Radar
Running time 30mins (inc. adverts)
Broadcast
Original channel E4
Picture format 16:9
Original run 18 January 2001 (2001-01-18) – 15 May 2003 (2003-05-15)

Banzai was a British comedy gambling gameshow spoofing Japanese gameshows and general television style. It was produced by Radar, part of RDF Media. Each segment of the show was a silly or bizarre contest. Members of the viewing audience were encouraged to bet with each other on the outcome of each segment.

Format[edit]

The show plays off like a betting show. In each segment, a bizarre challenge is presented with a choice of outcomes. Viewers are given a short amount of time to 'place their bets' before the challenge starts.

Betting contests on the show included grannies playing chicken with motorized wheelchairs, amputee football, egg eating, blindfolded gas pumping, and the length of time it would take an object to hit the ground after being dropped from a roof. The show also sometimes intentionally skirted the bounds of what some would consider appropriate television content; as in contests to guess which person in a lineup has the longest penis, or the biggest breast implants, or how long it would take a madagascar hissing cockroach to microwave. The voiceovers (especially those by Burt Kwouk) were English deliberately spoken with a heavily exaggerated Asian accent ("prace your bets - no bet, no get"!). Many minor celebrities took part in the stunts, and the occasional more major celebrity like Rutger Hauer. Usually the celebrity would be ridiculed in the segment. Actor Peter Davison, for example, who formerly played The Doctor on Doctor Who, was asked which other Doctor Who actor (from Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee and Sylvester McCoy) he would most like to have sex with.

Virtually every segment featured background music, taken from the 1980s UK charts, with some from the 1970s.

Characters[edit]

The show's MC, Mr Banzai, played by opera singer Masashi Fujimoto, did not speak except for saying and singing the word "Banzai" in different ways. Mr Banzai acted as referee for many of the contests, directing participants to begin by solemnly clapping his hands and emitting a kiai.

Other regular contributors included Mr. Shake-Hands Man who tried to maintain a handshake with people for as long as possible. He was later replaced when he became too well-known with Mr. Shake-Hands Man 2 (played by Japanese-American actor Tadao Tomomatsu), who did the same thing, although his role was mainly with celebrities. There was also Lady One Question played by non-professional Shizuka Hata, who posed as a celebrity reporter, asked a single interview question and then stared silently at the interviewee. In both of these segments, viewers were invited to bet on how long it took the celebrity to put a stop to the ruse. Often appearing between segments was Mr Cheeky Chappie (Jit Loi Chong), wiggling his spectacles and grinning.

Voiceovers were provided by Burt Kwouk and Eiji Kusuhara.

Broadcast history[edit]

Banzai first aired in the United Kingdom on the digital channel E4. It was repeated a few months later on E4's parent channel, Channel 4. It has been repeated on 3 other channels in the UK: Challenge, Dave and 4Music. It was later picked up for broadcast in Canada by CityTV, which broadcast the original uncut episodes. It was broadcast in the USA for a short time only, and in a different format where the segments were cut up and interspersed with a movie. Then in 2003, Fox picked up the series in the United States (and Americanized it by editing content and saying that some of the people were from the United States instead of parts of the UK), airing its first episode on 13 July. After six episodes, however, pressure from Asian American groups led Fox to drop the show. In early 2004, the show found a new American home on Comedy Central. Re-runs moved once again on 6 March 2006 to G4's late night block, Midnight Spank. The recently opened Philippine cable channel Jack TV also runs Banzai in a primetime weekend slot. Philippine channel RPN also runs the series every Thursday night at 7:30pm. It also airs in Australia on Fox8 and Channel V. In early 2002, it was also broadcast in Italy on MTV Italy on Friday nights with Italian dubbing.

Banzai is sometimes mistaken for a Japanese-produced show, such as on Comcast's interactive guide. It is, in reality, a British show.

Mr Shake-Hands Man[edit]

Among the people Mr. Shake-Hands Man (sometimes known as Shakey-Hands Man or Mr Shakey-Hand Man), has shaken hands with are:

He also shook the hand of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen. One of the last handshakes was with Joan Collins and it did not last very long as she forced his hand off hers with her other hand.

Mr Shake-Hands Man 2 had a slightly different tactic to the original Mr Shake-Hands Man. Mr Shake-Hands Man 2 would pose as a Japanese reporter and often translate dialogue into Japanese to make conversations (and handshakes) last a little longer.

Controversy[edit]

In 2001, two years before Fox aired its first episode of Banzai, USA Network aired clips of the Channel 4 edition of the show as part of their Banzai Movie Friday. Asian American groups objected to the clips.

When Fox picked up the show, the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans protested outside a presentation of the show in Hollywood. Group co-founder Guy Aoki told BBC News, "It's just all the backward images of Asian-American people. This is like an Asian minstrel show. Can you imagine the black version of Banzai?".[1] When sponsors were alerted to the content of the show, many dropped their sponsorship, and as a result, Fox canceled Banzai.

The show also caused controversy in 2002 when they attempted to record a sketch during the funeral of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The film crew were reportedly trying to measure the speed of the funeral procession with a speed gun to allow viewers to bet on the speed. The police however stopped this before the procession could pass.[2]

Transmissions[edit]

Original series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1
18 January 2001
22 February 2001
8
2
13 November 2001
2 January 2002
8
3
27 March 2003
15 May 2003
8

Specials[edit]

Date Entitle
24 December 2001
Christmas Special

Merchandise[edit]

Book[edit]

Book Year published Publisher Cover photo Notes Ref
Banzai Book of Betting
11 October 2002
Channel 4 Books
Mr Banzai (Masashi Fujimoto) in a fighting stance, with Banzai logo.
Paperback [3]

VHS[edit]

Release name
Release date
Classifaction
Publisher
Format
Language Subtitles Notes
Ref
Super Banzai Video Show 4 November 2002 15 Universal Pictures PAL English None Released in the United Kingdom. [4]

DVD[edit]

Title Episodes Region 1 Region 2 Region 4 Notes
Super Banzai Video Show best bits from first and second series and also unseen bets. - 4 November 2002[5] - One Disc

DVD betting game[edit]

RDF, the license-holder of "Banzai", has also worked in conjunction with Screenlife, the makers of the popular Scene It? DVD games, to make possible the creation of a DVD board game for the show (Banzai.com). Game creators Gary McGrew and Nick Saad can be seen as animated figures in the "How to Play" section of the DVD. The game DVD is packed with lots of the best clips from the actual show and uses plastic sushi pieces as the main betting and winning device. Players must use chopsticks to transfer four types of wacky sushi characters (King Fu Carl - the world's last starfish assassin, Lois - the Louisiana Squirrel Roll, Chum and Tako's Tentacle) into the main community betting bowl. Whoever transfers the most for that round gets to put down a numbered or lettered betting card in conjunction with the "Banzai" clip in the hopes of getting it right and winning all the sushi in the community bowl. The player with the most sushi wins the game. The "underground" appeal of the show and the game has also contributed to drinking game rules.

The show's MC, Mr Banzai, also starred in the making of the DVD as the man who jumped out and shouted "DVD!" and did a number of comical things on the DVD.

There was another DVD called Super Banzai Video Show, which was similar but players just played with the DVD player and the remote. Mr Banzai shocks viewers by jumping in front of the copyright warning at the beginning of the disc. Players are then asked to guess which letter is the Super-Banzai DVD button, A, B or C. If viewers select C, they see about 30 seconds of Tony Hart standing staring at them without saying anything. The correct button is B. Banzai - DVD Betting Game was released 16 September 2011[6]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Banzai soundtrack was released by 4Music 18 June 2001 on CD [7]

Original Tracklist
No. Title Length
1. "Theme from Enter the Dragon — Lalo Schifrin"    
2. "I Saw the Light — Todd Rundgren"    
3. "Oh Lori — Alessi"    
4. "Avenues and Alleyways — Tony Christie"    
5. "Stay on these Roads — A-Ha"    
6. "Adding N to X — Add N to X"    
7. "Kites — Simon Dupree & The Big Sound"    
8. "When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman — Dr Hook"    
9. "Egyptian Reggae — Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers"    
10. "Holiday Rap — MC Miker G & DJ Sven"    
11. "Sleepy Shores — Cyril Stapleton & his Orchestra"    
12. "Seasons in the Sun — Terry Jacks"    
13. "Spanish Stroll — Mink de Ville"    
14. "Chanson D’Amour — Manhattan Transfer"    
15. "The Look of Love — Dusty Springfield"    
16. "Music - John Miles"    
17. "Dancing Lonely Night — The Jaguars"    

References[edit]

  1. ^ "'Banzai' sparks protests in US - US TV News". Digital Spy. 2003-07-18. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  2. ^ "TV stunt show films royal funeral". BBC. 10 April 2002. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "Banzai: Amazon.co.uk: Channel 4: Books". Amazon.co.uk. 2002-10-11. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Super Banzai Video Show [VHS]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Super Banzai Video Show [DVD]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Banzai - DVD Betting Game". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Banzai [Soundtrack]". amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 

External links[edit]