It's one of the least traditional formats out there, but Spike's Repo Games is still, at its heart, a game show. Real life repo men arrive at a debtor's home to repossess a vehicle - and then the game begins.
Game at a Glance
Hosts: Tom DeTone and Josh Lewis
Executive Producers: Sally Ann Salsano, Chris Dowling, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Kyle Simpson
Top Prize: All fees associated with paying off the vehicle in question
How Repo Games Works
The show starts off with either Tom DeTone or Josh Lewis in his branded Repo Games van, approaching the home of a debtor whose car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle is about to be repossessed. Both DeTone and Lewis are actually repo men, so this is the real deal.
The vehicle in question is hooked up to the tow truck, and the owner is then summoned outside. Quite often the owners are upset and angry, but this usually turns to a willingness to play the game in order to get a chance at keeping the vehicle.
The host explains that the debtor/contestant will be able to keep his or her vehicle and have it paid off if he or she can answer three out of five trivia questions correctly. The questions themselves are pop-culture based for the most part, and relatively simple. Usually in a five-question stack there are one or two tricky ones - not enough to truly stump most people.
As the questions are asked and answered, the vehicle on the tow truck is either raised (for a wrong answer) or lowered (for a right one).
If the contestant is able to correctly answer three of the five questions, the vehicle is completely paid off and left with him or her. If not, the vehicle is repossessed and towed away.
Season One Shooting
Repo Games made headlines during its first season when a shooting took place during filming. Oddly enough, it wasn't a debtor who came out with guns blazing.
After an episode was wrapping up filming and a couple in Las Vegas had successfully won their car back. Out of the blue Carlos Barron, a neighbor, came outside shooting and threatening to kill people. He ended up firing and shot a hole into the side of the Repo Games van, but fortunately no one was hurt. The reason Barron was so upset? The crew was apparently set up too close to his house and that made him uncomfortable.
Oddly enough, season two opened on March 28 2012 with a debtor running outside with his gun aimed at Tom DeTone, threatening to shoot him if he didn't get off the property. Fortunately that situation cooled off, though the "contestant" didn't end up winning his truck back.
Fun Game - If You Don't Take it Seriously
If you're looking for tough trivia and head-to-head competition a la Jeopardy!, then this likely isn't the game show for you. It's gritty and raw, and the trivia isn't the most challenging you'll ever come across.
Repo Games is still worth tuning in for, however. Watching real people compete to earn back something that already belongs to them but they are in danger of losing brings the show a down-to-earth feel that productions like this don't always have. These folks are surprised and playing out of desperation, which can be uncomfortable, but it feels good to see many of them win their cars back and enjoy some good fortune.
Both Tom DeTone and Josh Lewis are physically imposing, but they're upbeat and encouraging, trying to let the debtors have fun with the game even when their vehicles are on the line.
If you don't take your game shows too seriously, then give Repo Games a try. You might just find yourself enjoying it.
Watch Full Episodes Online
Want to check Repo Games out for yourself> You can find full episodes online at the Spike website. Be sure to also visit the weekly "Top 10 Fan Tweets" series for a good chuckle.