Wipeout: details about new obstacles, set location

The third season of ABC’s Wipeout, the ridiculously fun stunt reality competition that I can’t get enough of, will be previewed tonight with a two-hour “blind date” episode that starts at 8 p.m. ET. (The actual season debuts in three weeks.) And throughout the spring, details have surfaced about its modified obstacle course.

In an Entertainment Weekly story earlier this year, executive producer Matt Kuntiz previewed changes, including to the big balls, which will now spin and move up and down. “With the second season people have seen the show, they have figured out some of the obstacles. This season what they think they see before they run across isn’t necessarily what they will encounter,” he said, noting that there’s something new called “the Door Knock, [in which] you have this incredible element of surprise with the power of this 800-pound hammer to throw them back 15 feet. You get super slow motion of their complete look of shock.”

A contestant who competed with his mother–apparently on a special family edition, which will have contestants going through the course as pairs–blogged about the experience, and if you can read the fluorescent writing, you’ll learn how cold the water is (“freezing”; “my whole body was numb and it was getting pretty hard to breath” [sic]). The blog post also has a picture of a new qualifier obstacle, described as spinning pitchforks that contestants have to jump through. The blogger apparently didn’t make it past the second round, but reveals that he and his mother left “with a grand total of $20!” because producers “give each contestant $10 for gas.”

Other photos posted elsewhere online show that the movitvator has been removed, although there’s now a hidden one that’s apparent if you compare the big balls platform with last year’s platform. (Think catapult.)

The Wipeout set, by the way, is located on Sable Ranch, a movie and TV production ranch in Santa Clarita, Calif. This this aerial view shows the positioning of all of the set pieces; it’s amazing how much of it looks like a construction site, but as with most TV and movie sets, only what the camera sees matters. (This Bing map view shows construction on the pools.) International versions of the show are shot in Argentina, where there are two identical courses to allow for multiple productions to use it at the same time.

For more behind-the-scenes photos and details, read a blog post about an autistic child’s visit to the set.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.