Floor Is Lava is long, and repetitive, and tedious.

Floor Is Lava

Dept. of Childhood Nostalgia


It’s just too long. It’s just too long and repetitive. It’s just too long, and repetitive, and gets old far too quickly. It’s just too long, and repetitive, and gets old far too quickly, and I was so, so bored. It’s just too long, and repetitive, and gets old far too quickly, and I was so, so bored, and disappointed.

Wow, that was an annoying paragraph to read. Now imagine what it was like watching Floor Is Lava.

The concept behind the show is a familiar one. Find something that people around the world are familiar with, drag it kicking and screaming from their childhood memories, superimpose it onto an existing televisual format, and hope for the best. In this particular case, it’s taking those old school Nickelodeon game shows for kids (remember Finders Keepers, and Double Dare, and Legends of the Hidden Temple?) and merging it with the likes of Wipeout and American Ninja Warrior.

I think that's the same orange liquid that leaks out of the packaging of your Indian takeaway.

I was excited when I first saw the trailer to Netflix’s latest extreme game show contest. Hell, I wanted to be on it. I mean, it’s probably the only sport out there to which I can claim to be an expert player. A world champion even. (What? You think you’re better than me? Can you make a six foot jump from the dining table to the living room sofa without being decapitated by the ceiling fan? I didn’t think so!)

And why am I this good? It’s because I invented the game.

Okay. Fine. I didn’t really invent it. I did, however, come up with it, all by myself, and in complete isolation. (But so did every child who has ever played a side scrolling platformer like Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Bros.) In my house, I was usually trying to avoid falling into lava, or acid, or shark infested waters, or the Great Pit of Carkoon. Much like you were in your house.

All of us have our own version of the game. So much so that this show should have been a no-brainer. It taps into childhood nostalgia. It has near universal appeal. And it caters to our insatiable need to watch fully grown human adults fall face first into a variety of oversized objects.

God knows it shouldn’t feel this tedious.

Will they fall in? Will they make it to the stairs before it sinks into the lava? Who knows? Who cares?

So how do you play Floor Is Lava? All you have to do is climb, jump, and swing your way from one side of a room to another without every touching the floor. Why? Because the FLOOR IS LAVA! (It isn’t actually. This is, after all, an American production and not a Japanese one. Here, the floor is covered with gallons of a neon orange liquid that looks more like the leftover goo you find on your white marble countertop after an Indian takeaway.)

In every episode, three teams of three compete to get across the finish line in as short a time as possible. The winning team will take home a cash prize of $10,000 and a lava lamp (which is about as inventive as the show actually gets).

I lost count as to the number of times host, Rutledge Wood, says “Floor Is Lava” in every episode. Needless to say it gets annoying. Fast.

The problems with Floor Is Lava are the same ones that plague a lot of shows in this era of streaming content. This is a show that was made using the same outdated techniques that were invented for network television. This is a concept that is unfortunately let down by an incredibly lazy production.

For starters, when designing a show for Netflix, surely there is no need to spell out its concept in mind-numbing detail at the start of every episode. I can see why that’s necessary for network television, where episodes are released weekly, and people may come to the show at different points during its run. But what kind of sick degenerate intentionally starts watching a show from the fifth episode? And if you absolutely must reintroduce the concept at the beginning of every episode, why not just do it in as succinct a manner as possible. (You know, like I did three paragraphs ago.)

The editing here is also completely uninspired. After outlining the entire obstacle course in the first five minutes, the series then proceeds to re-explain it to us whenever a new team takes their turn. That’s an additional three times per episode. The producers seem to be under the impression that if we’re dumb enough to enjoy this, then we’re definitely going to need this amount of handholding throughout.

There are no split screens that show us how each team fared across the same obstacle. They waste far too much time speaking to each individual team. And the whole thing just feels bloated with its 30 minute runtime. Maybe this would have worked better as 10 minute shorts on Quibi.

From the lounge chairs, you jump to the dresser, push down the mirror, and then...

I think the show’s pacing problems could be overlooked if the game itself was more exciting. But there are no twists here. There are no stakes. You get exactly what it says on the tin. And once you’ve seen one team do it, you’ve pretty much seen it all.

Floor Is Lava is usually the kind of humiliating, bonkers, mindless nonsense that I gravitate towards. But it is, unfortunately, not crazy enough, or tight enough, or interesting enough. You’ll have a lot more fun actually playing this one at home.

Floor is Lava
Netflix, Season 1, 10 episodes
Showrunners: Megan McGrath and Irad Eyal
Director: Brian Smith
Host: Rutledge Wood

Floor is Lava is now streaming on Netflix.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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