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"Awwwww, you don't like my snakes and spikes? Well, TRY THIS!"—--Steve Valentine
Estate of Panic was a Game Show that had a very brief run on SyFy in 2008, and aired alongside Cha$e, a "live-action video game" show. It was hosted by Steve Valentine and came from the minds of the same folks who brought us Fear Factor. Each week, seven contestants were brought to a "spooky mansion" supposedly out in the middle of nowhere (the show was filmed in Argentina) where Valentine would literally give away his money in a set of three rooms (chosen by him) in his mansion. However, there was a huge catch - these rooms were anything but normal; while the players searched for the money, things would happen in the room and/or various creatures would appear to distract and frighten the contestants. Examples included a basement that quickly flooded up to near ceiling level with water, a garden laced with electrical wires, a study that would close in and shrink on the occupants, and other nasty surprises.
The contestants were expected to quickly dash in, grab as much cash as they could find and when they felt they had enough, rush out the nearest exit. Of course, not all of them would make it out... the last one remaining in the room would be "locked in" and thus eliminated from the contest. Those that did make it out would have their money totaled and the one with the least amount of cash was also eliminated. The process would be repeated in the next two rooms which by the third room, the one who grabbed the most money would be given an advantage (usually a tool to make the obstacles easier). Eventually only one contestant remained and would be escorted to the estate's Vault. Here they could add to their winnings by grabbing any cash they found inside; however to even have a chance at this money they would have to get out of the restraints Valentine put them in (i.e., chaining their leg to the floor, hanging them from the air by a harness, or tying them down to a chair) and get out of the vault before the locking mechanism kicked in.
If the last contestant could do all this, they would win the cash as well as the money the other contestants collected plus whatever money they found in the Vault. If they got locked in, they lost everything. However, a contestant could "panic" in the Vault and yell for Valentine to help him or her, at which point he or she would lose half of the night's winnings and forfeit any money found in the Vault. In any instance, Valentine would tell the contestant to "Get out of his house" which the contestant would gladly do. And thus ended the game.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Losers left with nothing (and it was made to appear that they never really got to leave...) The winner might, too, if he fails in the Vault.
- Bonus Space: Objects or pieces of an object hidden in certain rooms could net someone an additional grand.
- Bonus Round: Subverted in the Vault, where a contestant can double their winnings provided they can get out of a restraint and out the Vault itself. However, if you fail in the Vault, you lose either half or all of your winnings depending on whether you hit the Panic button or were locked in.
- Covered in Gunge: The sewer, kitchen, and trophy room.
- Game Show Host: Steve Valentine. And you thought Inquizition had a scary host...
Reality TV Tropes in use:
- Confession Cam
- Eliminated From the Race: Two per round - the last out, and the one with the least amount of money.
- Elimination Catchphrase: "You're going with Rupert."
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends
- Manipulative Editing: On any given episode, you can hear sound bites of some of the contestants' interjections five or six times over the course of the show.
- One show in particular had a 10 second long or so sound bite of a contestant from another episode screaming repeatedly.
- Another used a sound bite of a contestant saying "I'm freaking the flip out" twice, and one of the two occurrences had the word "flip" bleeped out.
- Reality TV Show Mansion: Subverted.
- Ancient Tomb: One of the rooms, which quickly filled with sand as a "curse from the gods" for pillaging it.
- Ashes to Crashes: A contestant, having brought back a $1,000 urn from the Attic, told Steve he accidentally spilled some of the ashes on the floor, to which Steve replied that they were his uncle.
- Blackout Basement: The meat locker (complete with decoy objects hidden with the cash in the carcasses); the electric wire room.
- Catch Phrase: "Get in, get the money, deal with any unpleasantness, and get out." To the winner, "Get out of my house."
- Cold Cash: The "freezing room", which included a deep freeze containing ice cream bars with money in them.
- Creepy Basement: The flooding basement in the premiere, and later the crawl space.
- Creepy Doll: Steve's childhood room is loaded with them.
- Deadpan Snarker/The Mean Brit: Steve Valentine.
- Death Trap: A good number of the rooms were based on these.
- Don't Try This At Home: The electric wire rooms, especially.
- Drowning Pit: Played with in the basement (water) and the trophy room (mud).
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Valentine formerly played Nigel Townsend in Crossing Jordan. Lampshaded when a contestant named Jordan is eliminated on one of the episodes and Steve replies "I guess we'll be... 'Crossing Jordan' off the list."
- It May Help You on Your Quest: The item given to the most successful person in the second round. On the first episode it was a screwdriver, but it was useless unless the player figured out to use it on the A/C vents. Later items, such as gloves, were more straightforward.
- The Jeeves: Subverted in Rupert, who collects the contestants' money and escorts the losers to their doom.
- Lockdown: All the doors in each room start out locked for a set period of time to prevent contestants from leaving too early.
- Locked in a Freezer: Every room, especially the Vault, and played literally with the Freezing Room.
- Malevolent Architecture: Pretty much the whole premise; otherwise it'd just be Finders Keepers for adults.
- Opening Narration: "In a remote land... there is a legend about this grand estate... with tales of incredible riches hidden within... but the house doesn't want to give it up."
- Pipe Maze: Used and recycled for the sewer, storm drains and giant gopher holes.
- Product Placement: An Xbox 360 carton is present in Steve's childhood bedroom, and the walls in the room have its green circle motif.
- Ransacked Room: You won't find any money in there otherwise.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Want the cash? You'll have to grope around in the crawlspace full of snakes (and worse) to find it.
- Rewarding Vandalism: You can bet that any and all statues, wine bottles, and anything else breakable are jam packed with cash regardless of location.
- Screaming Woman: One in particular whose strategy in the crawl space seemed to be to stand by the door and scream bloody murder until it opened.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: The male contestant who got tangled up in the live wires in the electrical room.
- Stock Sound Effects: Every single door creaks.
- The Walls Are Closing In: The trash compactor, the study (along with a Descending Ceiling), and coupled with Spikes of Doom in the wine cellar.
- Trapped in Containment: The last one to leave each room.
- Trash the Set: Pretty much the only way to find the big bills.
- Win to Exit: The show's winner is the only one seen actually leaving the house. Three of the losers are trapped in the rooms, and the other three are whisked away by Rupert.
- The Wonka: Steve. Has an uncanny resemblance to Depp's Wonka, actually.
- You All Meet in An Inn, or in this case the estate's foyer. The game itself plays with Closed Circle.