Nick Frost, star of Shaun of the Dean and the cult British comedy Spaced, fearlessly hosts this comedy survival series of seven thirty-minute episodes as he attempts to solve the following dangerous dilemmas:
Alligator Attack! Thugs With Baseball Bats! High Speed Chases! Minefields! Fires! Being Impaled! Lightning Strikes! Tidal Waves! Hostage Situations!
And more high-tension, high-risk situations that could strike out of nowhere!
eyelights: the concept.
eyesores: the execution.
‘Danger! 50,000 Volts!’ is a British edutainment series from 2002. Hosted by Nick Frost, it proposed to show its audiences survival techniques in a humourous and entertaining fashion. It ran for only one season, also generating a special, co-hosted by Nick Frost’s long-time partner in crime, Simon Pegg. Its subject? You guessed it: zombies!!!
I honestly knew nothing about the show when I picked it up. I was merely curious because of Frost, whom I’ve enjoyed in so-called “The Cornetto Trilogy” as well as in ‘Man Stroke Woman‘. What I’ve discovered is that it’s a lightweight show that depends largely on one’s appreciation of the host’s demeanour and humour – which is that of jolly slacker type.
The show was conceived as a series of half hour episodes covering a good half dozen topics each time. Some are explored on location with Frost as a participant, and others are done via amusing animated bits called “Too Dangerous to Film”. Each segment is relatively thin and ends with a quick recap of what was “learned”. Honestly, it feels like a kids’ show.
Thankfully, there were experts on hand to bolster the material somewhat. For each segment, a new so-called “expert” would discuss the issues with Frost and show him what to do and what not to do if stuck in these dangerous situations. The problem is that many of these guests had dubious qualifications, such “explorer”. It made me wonder which Cracker Jack box they got their certificate in.
The DVD version also includes a few special features, such as a series of small “Danger” icons on the screen during the episodes. When pressing “Enter” on the remote control, a factoid appears on the screen. Evidently, I found these only somewhat informative. There is also an audio commentary track for those who want to get even more Nick Frost into their diet. I didn’t bother; I’d had enough.
The main problem is just how little credibility Nick Frost has as a survival guide, given just how out of shape he is. Honestly, half the time I couldn’t believe that he could survive any of these incidents in a real situation. All I could think was that, of all things, he could benefit from an episode on surviving a heart attack or on how to prevent heart disease.
He also never appears especially sharp, and that really doesn’t help because you wonder just how factual the information is. You also can’t help but imagine him screwing it all up if he were by himself. Even when he’s asked to reenact what was taught, it’s done in a fashion that small children could probably pull it off – there’s truly no risk at all.
But you, dear reader, might find yourself in one of those predicaments, and you may need Nick Frost’s trusty survival guide. So here is a list of all the subjects that are covered along with the episode in which you can find the corresponding segment. If ever you find yourself in trouble, remember to look up this blog and then quickly access the episode you need.
TCE’s alphabetical survival guide to ‘Danger! 50,000 Volts!’
Alligator attack – Episode 1
Arachnid bite – Episode 7
Avalanche – Episode 6 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Bat-wielding thugs – Episode 2
Bear attack – Episode 2
Cave with rising water level – Episode 5
Childbirth in a car – Episode 5
Choking – Episode 7
Covert surveillance – Episode 6
Dehydration – Episode 2
Drowning car – Episode 3 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Elephant attack – Episode 8
Elevator crash – Episode 2 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Escaping a tracker dog – Episode 8
Floating in ice water – Episode 1
Forest fire – Episode 4 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Frostbite – Episode 2
Freezing cold woods – Episode 7
Gorilla attack – Episode 5
Heatstroke – Episode 4
Hippo attack – Episode 7
Hostage rescue – Episode 3
Impalement – Episode 1
Infected wound – Episode 6
Jumping from a bridge – Episode 6 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Kidnapping by car – Episode 4
Komodo dragon attack – Episode 3
Leaking ship – Episode 4
Lightning – Episode 1 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Loss of limb – Episode 3
Lost in forest in winter – Episode 3
Lost in woods at night – Episode 5
Minefields – Episode 1
Nuclear attack – Episode 8
Quicksand – Episode 4 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Shark attack – Episode 6
Snake bite – Episode 4
Stopping a car with dead brakes – Episode 8
Stopping a runaway train – Episode 8 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Tidal waves – Episode 7 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Tornado – Episode 2 (nota bene: Too Dangerous to Film)
Using a life raft – Episode 7
Vehicle stuck in sand – Episode 6
Volcanoes – Episode 5
Please note: we will not be held accountable for any mistakes in this listing, or if you are too slow to escape a Komodo Dragon. Get ‘Survival for Dummies’, dummy!
By the third episode, we could see some repetition in the subjects. That was annoying. But what was worse is when the series started to stray from survival tips to how-to guides. To me, there’s a world of difference between surviving an alligator attack… and doing covert surveillance. Or getting your vehicle stuck in the sand. It’s no wonder it lasted only eight episodes.
However, it should be noted that the formula was constantly being tweaked slightly. By the end, the onus on humour was greater, with a greater abundance of silly animation during the ‘Too Dangerous to Film’ segments. So, in many ways, they got progressively more entertaining (after a real low on Episode 2) even though they never truly became more informative or useful.
The Zombie Survival episode, obviously, takes this to the nth degree.
In the special features section of the DVD is a special episode called “Danger! 50,000 Zombies!’, which features Simon Pegg in the guise of expert Zombie Hunter Dr. Russell Fell. Armed with his wits, an impressive set of gnashers and an Aussie accent, Fell shows Frost how to survive a zombie infestation. He even brings along four “real” zombies to practice with.
This is by far the best episode of the whole series because it’s fully dedicated to just one subject, therefore we get a more comprehensive look at the risks and the ways by which to avoid harm. This is exactly what the other episodes needed, actually. Sprucing this one up were some scrolling text to support what was being said as well as a “Too Dangerous to Film” animated bit.
In the end, I’m glad that I watched ‘Danger! 50,000 Volts!’. It’s hardly the best thing that I’ve ever seen, but it was relatively entertaining – particularly when one adjusts expectations in light of its probable target audience. But is it something I’d recommend or watch again? You could do worse if in a pinch, but you might do better with a “…for Dummies” book than this.
Dates of viewings: March 29-April 28, 2014