Funded as a stretch goal as part of the Penny Arcade Sells Out Kickstarter, the duo of Mike and Jerry are bringing the interwebs a reality show in which they seek the next big web cartoonist. Strip Search follows the mold of other reality shows in that these 12 strangers have all been selected to live in house and compete in a series of challenges for a one year with their comic fully integrated at Penny Arcade and $15,000 cash. What distinguishes Strip Search from your standard run of the mill reality show competition is the unique twist that Mike and Jerry will have for contestants (ping pong!) and the fact that all of the individuals competing are real, talented human beings. For access to the show and info on all of the cartoonists click here.
Six male and six female artists made the cut out of the over 1,000 applications that were submitted. They were brought to Seattle, blindfolded, and transported to their house where they are cut off from the outside world. After watching the first episode, the Penny Arcade fold rounded up an impressive group of artists. One familiar face, Lexxy, from the first season of PATv may have a target on her back as she has been through the Penny Arcade gauntlet before. Other artists have established web comics, some hope to branch into web comics, and one is even an artist for Dreamworks. Definitely an impressive group of artists that should lead to some very tight competitions.
The first two episodes are pretty tame, but very endearing. You get to know the 12 individuals who are competing and there doesn't seem to be a bad one in the bunch. I am sure that will change as the series progresses, but it is all fun and games to this point. Casual swearing and social awkwardness seem to be the theme for the 12 hopefuls and I am just fine with that.
Episode 2 focuses on an ice breaker game that shows the viewer the level of talent that the show has landed. In a game called fax machine (a cross between telephone and pictionary), we not only get to see the quick cartoonist skills these artists posses, but are provided an insight into their creative mind. Through this simple game, it is clear that all 12 of the artists on the show have a legitimate shot of winning.
The real competition will pick up with episode 3 which launches on Friday (new episodes on Tuesdays and Fridays) as the contestants face their first challenge and elimination.
One thing I loved about the Penny Arcade reality show is that it gave us fans a peek behind the curtain and showed that the Penny Arcade is a labor of love and is created thoughtfully through a group of passionate individuals. Strip Search is a natural evolution in that they are inviting members from outside of their family into their world.
From the graphics to the chip tune soundtrack, the production quality bar has been raised from the first 3 seasons of PATv. This show feels like it could air on TBS following King of the Nerds. What really makes this show stand out is how real it feels. In a world of reality tv in which contestants are participating to get their 15 minutes, it is clear that these 12 individuals are passionate about what they do and want to make the difficult task in securing a career as a cartoonist.
For the latest episodes and biographies on all of the artists, visit the Strip Search website here.
Objective Quality: 8/10
Bonuses: +1 for potential booby traps in the house, +1 for being able to swear on the web
Penalties: -1 for a host that should be more enthusiastic
Web TV Coefficient: 9/10 - Very high quality/standout in its category
[See explanation of our non-inflated scores here.]