TV review by
Will Wade, Common Sense Media
Cha$e TV Poster Image
Entertaining hybrid of video games and reality TV.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The format of the show makes people into human "prey," running in fear from a group of robot-like Hunters in exchange for money. Though it's clear from the start that the Runners are in no real danger -- and the show exaggerates the fact that it's all a highly contrived game -- it's hard to ignore the fact that the participants are just 21st-century gladiators, willing to pretend to risk their lives for the chance to win some cash.


Though there's almost no actual violence, the chase format creates a pervasive sense of menace as the Hunters stalk the Runners. This tension in ramped up throughout the show as more and more Hunters are gradually released, and the runners' fear is palpable. But to eliminate a Runner, all the Hunters need do is tag one, and the actual event is pretty anticlimactic.


Some words are bleeped.


The Hunters seem very much like the Terminator. This isn't lost on the Runners, who sometimes say their pursuers are comparable to the well-known robotic assassins from the Terminator film series.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this game/reality show makes people the prey; they earn money for every minute they manage to elude a band of Hunters. The Hunters -- actors who present themselves as single-minded, robotic assassins -- create a sense of intimidation and danger as they pursue the contestants, and though there's little to no actual violence, the mood is very menacing. And while this is clearly a game show, it's pretty hard not to also see it as a modern gladiator sport, with participants pretending to risk their lives in exchange for money.

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What's the story?

CHA$E bills itself as "the first live-action video game," a fair enough description for this strange hybrid of reality TV and game show. Ten contestants, called Runners, are set loose in a large but contained area -- like a harbor complex or a theme park. Soon after, a group of Hunters are set loose to catch them. The players earn money for every minute they elude capture; host Trey Farley periodically turns up the heat by releasing more Hunters and sending the Runners off on missions that could yield them useful tools -- but also put them at risk of encountering Hunters.

Is it any good?

This basic format makes Cha$e seem like a game of tag with financial incentives, but there's a little more to the concept. The Hunters aren't just standard-issue athletes paid to take on -- or take out -- average-Joe contestants. They also play the part of silent, relentless, robotic pursuers determined to find their prey. They dress like the Men in Black, eyes hidden behind sleek sunglasses, but they keep on coming like the Terminator, and the camera often shows their perspective, complete with an automated scan of the street as they seek out the Runners. Further playing on the video game theme, the Runners get a few useful defensive tools -- such as a deflector, which can make a Hunter turn around and walk in the opposite direction, or invisibility glasses, which supposedly make them undetectable to the Hunters (which makes for somewhat absurd sequences when the pursuers, keeping up the pretense, walk right past their quarry, inches away and clearly visible to all).

Its unusual concept gives Cha$e a twist that's lacking in other game shows based on physical competition, such as American Gladiators, and it actually looks kind of fun for the participants. But it's also a bit unnerving to see what's presented as a group of contestants willing to risk their lives for the chance to win a cash prize. It may be just a game, but this game is designed to mimic a modern-day blood sport, an idea that might not sit will with viewers who don't think life should be toyed with.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about game shows. What would you be willing to do for the chance to win some money? Are you willing to be embarrassed? Endure unpleasant situations? Eat disgusting food? Do you think reality shows and game shows are becoming more and more likely to thrust participants into humiliating or dangerous situations? Do you think this show, which acts as if the participants are putting their life on the line, is pushing the limit? What kind of show, if anything, would cross the line?

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