The Hunger Games has been a pop culture obsession since the first book was released in 2008, and The CW is about to make the titular game as real as we'll (hopefully) ever see with the premiere of Capture, a high-tech game of tag that is one of the year's most engaging new reality shows.
Capture is an intense wilderness competition where 12 teams of two will enter "The Arena," a fenced-in enclosure in the middle of the wild, where they must live for one month and compete against each other for scarce resources and a $250,000 grand prize! I sat down with host Luke Tipple, who cut his teeth hosting shows for the Discovery Channel, Nat Geo and Animal Planet, to talk about becoming Capture's Game Master!
ETonline: This is your first stab at hosting a non-documentary reality show. Did you have to change your style at all?
Luke Tipple: Not really. The great thing is the producers let me be me. I have a fairly strict discipline within myself, especially with my underwater work. I work with sharks; a mistake will cost me my life. I'm very used to controlling teams of people underwater in very precarious scenarios -- everything has to be done by my rules because if someone gets hurt, I will accept that responsibility. I translated that to this show
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ETonline: The previews show lots of blood and hurt contestants. Obviously you don't want anyone to get hurt, but is it also important they do to reinforce how serious this competition is?
Tipple: Nobody wants anybody to actually get hurt, but we want them to be challenged physically and to get exhausted because they need to feel the gravity of the situation they're in. This is for $250,000, it shouldn't be easy. Beyond that, they're competing for the pride of being the best hunter or the best prey. It's a skill, but we wanted to show the real side to nature, which is not forgiving. This is a very challenging environment, so we did what we could to prevent injury as much as possible, but bad stuff happens outdoors. Thankfully the contestants adapt very quickly.
ETonline: As someone very skilled at surviving in the wilderness, did you find that the contestants repeatedly made the same mistake?
Tipple: Yeah, they don't place enough importance on food. They just continually blew it off -- I'd give them extra rations because their rations are appallingly small, it's really not enough to compete and make it through the competition. They would continually pass up the opportunity to get more food, something that would give them an edge in the competition, because they were too afraid of the Hunt Team finding them in a vulnerable position. And that's a mistake; if the guy in charge of the game is telling you to find a food source, you need to listen to that instruction and not think you know better. The game will not favor you if you don't take those opportunities. The teams who do listen get a distinct advantage.
ETonline: I was also amazed at how quickly the teams turn to sabotage. Were you?
Tipple: The food supply sabotage was completely out of left field. They are dirty, dirty people [laughs]. I was surprised it went to that level, that soon. I expected that type of behavior when we got to the sixth round, maybe -- but it's almost right away that people began trashing food.
ETonline: How important a role does sabotage play in the game?
Tipple: Sabotage becomes a huge, huge part of the game. We also give them the power to sabotage. They get to sabotage one another, which results in wearing 20 pound weight belts for that round, or the team gets tied together, or they have to wear a mask that blinds them. I like it because that means the game is never a set thing. Even the roles of hunter and prey are fluid. So I think every single episode is going to feel different, which is entertaining for the viewer because you never know whats coming next!
Capture premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on The CW.