THANK THE SWEDES for Survivor. Our gratitude to Holland for giving us Big Brother. And, as reported in the August 14 New York Times, more international TV programming is headed our way: Chains of Love, whose subjects are literally shackled together, and Sweet Revenge, which promises hidden camera vengeance—both again courtesy of the Dutch.
That's not all, of course. Our networks are banking on the hope that any proven TV formula—no matter how foreign to our sensibilities—will attract hefty Nielsen shares once translated into English. And given our current viewing habits, they're probably right. Below we offer a guide to what's coming to the domestic market this fall, alphabetized by country of origin.
Algeria: Holy War! Death to the infidels! But first, identify the infidels. Earn a $5,000 bonus for each blasphemer, scoffer, or atheist you denounce. It's the Cops of the new millennium!
Bosnia: Find the Land Mine. Ouch! Competitors follow zig-zagging paths through sniper alleys, mortar paths, and uncharted land mine zones. Frantically searching for food, shelter, and potable water, these highly motivated and photogenic cast members will be only too glad to risk life and limb for your viewing excitement.
Botswana: Herd Cows. Subjects herd cows, with 24-hour camera coverage. It's live, unscripted, and totally spontaneous!
Canada: Watch the River Thaw. Hoo! Talk about excitement, eh? Who'll be the last competitor remaining after a winter spent waiting for the ice-locked St. Lawrence Seaway to melt open again? Our cameras will be there to bring you all the tension and drama, live as it unfolds.
France: Deconstruction. Watch as participants destroy texts and belittle authors for beaucoup francs! Their homes, cars, and lecture halls are fitted with tiny, constantly transmitted cameras. Each incomprehensible screed, tract, or learned exegesis earns cash! (Special bonus for sleeping with wife of rival academic to further discredit him.)
Great Britain: Soccer Hooligan. Young male cast members learn to follow the English Premier League and support the Tottenham Hotspurs for $100 per broken window and $1,000 per burned car. Who wouldn't start a riot for the $50,000 premium? Police surveillance cameras cover all of the action—including trial (second season) and incarceration (seasons 3-12).
Israel: Bring Down the Government. What's stopping you from establishing your own fringe political party? The Knesset has hundreds to our three. Time to begin organizing and start earning! $10,000 goes to each subject who successfully gains a parliamentary seat and blocks important legislation. C-SPAN provides live coverage.
Japan: Salaryman. How many hours are you prepared to work each week? 40? 80? 120? Participants vie to outdo one another at the office (with live cameras throughout), then engage in drunken karaoke bar binges before they're packed like sardines on the bullet train home each morning. Then, after a quick shower, it's back to work! Talk about action! Those willing to go without sleep for weeks at a time can earn millions of yen!
Mongolia: Churn Yak Butter. Contestants churn yak butter while viewers watch, enthralled. Special bonus sprint to bring wares to market—across 1,000 kilometers of barren, sun-scorched desert—before they curdle.
Palestinian Homeland (national status pending): Jihad. Lob cobblestones for freedom and cash prizes. What's a puny little rubber bullet worth in comparison to prime-time fame? TV cameras follow insurgent kaffiyeh-wearing cast members as they march, demonstrate, and ululate. First one martyred wins the prize!
Russia: Busting Heads with Prime Minister Putin. Root out corruption, crony capitalism, and self-styled media oligarchs in the former Soviet Union with ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin. It's like the best of Fox's World's Scariest Police Chases, with all the violence left in! (Bulletproof vests issued to all participants.)
Samoa: Marry Your Sister. Take a look—she's pretty hot. C'mon, why not marry her for a cool million? That's the premise of this zany, surefire ratings winner. As we watch, subjects have 30 days to woo and wed their sisters. First to the altar gets a trip to Disneyworld, plus consummation bonus.
Senegal: Resist Sand Dunes. Competitors spend fun-filled hours defending their grass huts against the inexorably advancing sands of the Sahara Desert. Satellite coverage will make this must-see TV across the globe! (Special note: Women go topless.)
Sweden: More Heat in the Sauna! Buxom, bikini-wearing women see who can stand the ever-escalating and potentially lethal temperatures in an isolated sauna surrounded by frozen tundra. Those who flee risk death by hypothermia outside; those who remain can earn cash, cash, cash!
Switzerland: Marry the Cheese! Contestants marry cheese.