Rube Goldberg reality show casting call

The Discovery Channel is casting for a reality show called "Super Rubes," in which the contestants will build elaborate Rube Goldberg machines.
Super Rubes is a weekly one-hour show that follows a band of talented creators as they design, build, and set off a massive Chain Reaction Machine in front of a cheering crowd. The point of a Chain Reaction Machine is to do something very simple, like turn on a light bulb, using as many steps as possible. This is an opportunity for engineers to let their creative hair down and have some fun building a giant Chain Reaction Machine. Our team will take on impossible challenges (i.e. "Can you crack an egg with a human hair?") in a race against the clock.


  1. Sounds interesting, reminds me of The Great Egg Race, anyone remember that? (UK show, early/mid-80s I guess). Teams had to build elaborate contraptions to carry out various egg related tasks.

  2. this reminds me of a kids show i saw while i was in japan a few years ago called Pythagora Switch (or Pitagora Suitchi which is just so damn catchy).
    it was actually probably one of the first things i looked up when i got back. the show itself is only about 15 minutes long, and the machines were all made using similar materials, but i could watch it for hours and hours. some of them took a while, and some were just seconds but some of the steps are just awesome! this show is also where you find the Algorithm March.

  3. @#2 I loved The Great Egg Race, the predecessor of shows like Scrapheap Challenge and even Mythbusters.

    The BBC at it’s height: decades ahead of the curve.

    So how is this Super Rubes going to be a reality show? I think I’m beginning to lose track of the identifying features of that genre, perhaps because it’s becoming ingrained as the default mode for all TV.

  4. #4, the main distinction between reality tv and other tv shows is that it’s unscripted.
    (which is handy for tv-networks during this writer strike)

  5. My guess to the reality part would be that they all live in a house together, or at least there is focus on their interpersonal relationships… preferably on how much they get on each others’ nerves. They will probably be judged by a panel of judges, and one will be eliminated each week.

    And if there’s no conflict, one will be edited in for maximum drama!

  6. As television producers exhausted all the combinations of “a bunch of people in a house/island/trip try to win money/love”, the term “reality show” has now come to mean “game show with recurring contestants”.

    I think it all started with American Idol, which was clearly a game show (in the same vein as the Gong Show or Star Search) but was called a reality show because you were stuck with one group of contestants for the season. Although by this logic, the BBC’s “My Word” was a reality show back in 1956.

  7. I think the manipulative/drama and “behind the scenes” aspect is part of what makes it a reality show. A reality show is, as Zan said, a game show with one group of contestants for the season, but it also includes the aspect of having the contestants living together and getting on each others’ nerves. Hence the element of human drama. A game show PLUS the drama of people living together.

    Although “reality show” has definitely become a catchphrase that could mean just about anything unscripted.

  8. I checked the casting call and was rather disappointed
    to find that it specifies that they’ll only consider people
    between the ages of 25 and 39 — thus excluding a lot
    of people, including (for example) the two leads
    of Discovery’s own “Mythbusters” show.

    This will also exclude most of us who participated
    in the annual Rube Goldberg contests that have been
    held at Purdue University for many years — and
    whose participants and machines have been covered
    by Newton’s Apple (PBS), the Tonight Show, David
    Letterman, Today Show, etc. That’s a pity — the
    ingenuity and engineering talent shown by competing
    students in recent years has been very impressive…and I’d like to think that a few of us who now belong in the “fossil” category might still have a trick or two left.

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