Floor Is Lava is now streaming on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
The only thing surprising with Floor Is Lava is just how long it’s taken for someone to actually turn this childhood favorite activity into a game show. After watching the first season, perhaps it’s for the best that it did take this long. Despite some nice ideas and a simple premise, Floor Is Lava is a show that loses what excitement it builds up with a plethora of replays, an annoying narrator, and some insufferable contestants making this a volcanic disappointment.
Split across 10 episodes and boasting five different obstacle courses, Floor Is Lava keeps the basic premise of the age-old game alive; the floor must be avoided at all costs. Of course, there’s no real molten lava here and instead, we’re graced with some colored water and neat smoke effects. Each room has several routes to the exit, which teams of three need to navigate, while the exit steps slowly sink over time as the clock ticks away.
These obstacle courses usually include a wall to traverse across, simple environmental puzzles, and, of course, some jumps too. The winners at the end walk away with $10,000. Compared to obstacle course shows like Takeshi’s Castle or Wipeout, Floor Is Lava is neither amusingly funny nor does it have much in the way of manic jumps and obstacles.
The show creators seem to know this too and whether it be a simple three-foot belly flop onto a nearby obstacle or a player slipping and grabbing a platform, these segments are repeated over and over and over again throughout the episode as if they’re some death-defying leap or feat of ingenuity. While I appreciate they’re sometimes played off as satirical, the joke loses its appeal when it’s repeated so often.
There are a few stand-out moments of humor and a couple of well-placed gags – such as the classical music quip in the first episode – but these are too infrequent to make this an enjoyably comedic watch.
The other issue with Floor Is Lava stems from its contestants. From shrieking and over the top shouting to ridiculous jokes and frat-like behavior, as you watch each of the episodes your reaction changes from one of willing the contestants across to safety to wishing they’d fall in the water and be done with it. There are some stand-out players but those groups are few and far between which is a real shame.
With a bigger budget, a larger obstacle course, and some tweaking, Floor Is Lava could be a simple and enjoyable game-show. There’s certainly potential to be had with this one, and there are a few amusing segments, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Compared to other obstacle course shows of its kind, Floor Is Lava is a disappointing effort.
I give Floor Is Lava a D+.