Ode to FishCenterLive

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If you have to ask me, right this very second “what am I watching on television?” or probably something along the lines of “what internet series do you enjoy?” I really just have to point you to Twitch.TV/AdultSwim for it’s afternoon line-up of irrelevant fun.

At the start of the morning you get “Stupid Morning Bullshit” (formally Amateur Hour) in which Sally and Jonothan traverse the internet looking for strange youtube videos, snapchats they have received and answering calls while playing video games or taking quizzes. It’s a call-in show, for audience members to participate, but most of the time is really Sally and Jonothan having a fun time sharing stories and getting to know random people, like Domino’s Pizza managers. Depending on the day, you could be seeing a game show, a daytime news show, or something in between, which is always a fun watch.

Then after a while break (unless you just woke up), they have an afternoon event, “Crosswords” with Dave and Max. They grab the new york times crossword puzzle from the day and try and solve it, with the help of audience participation. Most of the time, they are able to solve the crossword (it takes 30 minutes) so the second half of the show becomes a weird call-in “shout-out” love show called “Tender Touches”, where people spread the love to people over the internet, to “Maxterminds” in which the host, Max Simonet probes Dave, and viewers at home with philsophical and theoretical questions while audio and video blend over causing an audiovisual mess… which is also the same to their new show “Mystic Shadows”, which reminds viewers of the Adult Swim Series “off the air”, only with all the video bending and audio changing done on the fly, as a live show.

Then you have great events throughout the week, such as “Tuesday Tea” in which they bring in somebody from Williams Street or Adult Swim games to keep audiences updated on not just what’s going on with the Cartoon Network block, but in their own personal lives. Viewers however, do not get a viewing of the people, but of the tea itself. Is it Tazo? Lipton? Tune in each week to find out!

Another series is Human Race Wars, which takes place in the company office as employees risk their lives racing around cubicles and wires while on hoverscooters in the hopes of winning the golden helmet and bragging rights. Viewers at home can predict the winner to win a small prize. This is also similar to “Daytime Fighting League”, hosted by Max and Dave as well, in which local professional wrestlers get in actual fights, with strange gimmicks in the hopes of winning, and the viewers at home, the chance on helping out the main event show – Fish Center.

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FishCenter aka FishCenterLive is a really abstract show – what started as just footage of a fish tank being streamed, grew into what might just be the best talk-show on the internet, and one of the greatest game shows ever created. In each episode, ten fish compete against each other (possibly against their will or willing knowledge) in games of “coin quest” in the hopes of winning points. There are 5 coins scattered across the tank for +1 point in round 1, 3 +1s and 2 -1s in Round 2, and 2 +5s and 3 +1s in Round 3. At a random time in the 60-90 second contest a “Badass Coin” might pop-in which adds a layer of suspense to the action, as it could be worth 25 points, or costing 10 points, it won’t be revealed until the fish swims across it.

However, this is not the only game in town, as in-between these events, callers can call-in to give their thoughts on the proceedings, which fish they feel deserves it (Mimosa? Long Donovan? Dottie?) or be able to play one of the twisted games created to help a fish of their choice win or lose bonus points. Games such as “Apple Bobbing for Bobs With Numbers” asks players to pick a number, and then guess which famous Bob is behind the bushel of apples. Another game, “Bumble Berry” plays like concentration where callers try and match up cards to earn points. Or “Guess That Choekemon” where playersare given a silhouette and must identify a pokemon, given a pun off beloved host and judge, Andrew Choe. Sometimes, as a consolation to losing or as a bonus for winning, the “200” is played, where if a player can correctly guess which box between 1 and 200 has the “200 points”, they can give it to a fish of their choice (this is almost a guarantee that that player will advance to the Final Round on Friday, more on that later).

At the end of the Friday show, the two highest fish (or eel, if Hamburger somehow made it) compete against each other in a game of skill and smarts – Fish Tank Choe. The fish go back and forth hoping to secure three in a row on a tic-tac-toe board, with whoever getting the most points the advantage of going first, and winning in case of a tie-breaker. That fish is crowned “King of the Tank” and earns all the glory and prizes that come with it. But, it’s a weekly show, played per season. So someone will be crowned at the end of Autumn, Winter, Summer and Spring a “Super King” that is the overall champion of the game.

It’s an hour-long absurdist game show, but what makes the show interesting is the heavy balance between chaotic and peaceful. At one moment, you have just the fish swimming, calmly, the next moment, you have Dave yelling at Andrew or Matt Harrigan over the scoring, or not being able to fish his lunch during the lunch-break. You have bizarre videos and crazy sketches such as “Great Moments in Fishcenter History” or actually having the hosting present behind the scenes of the series, or the tank itself.

The callers either play into the crazy game, by trying to be forced characters (which is largely frowned upon and met with disappointment) to just regular joes with amazing backgrounds just having a good time and just having to root for a fish. Other times, you will get people who are die-hard fish fanatics complaining about the scoring, or hating on a particular fish wanting them to get flushed. And on the rarest of times, you get people complaining about Adult Swim programming, which is met with silence. It’s not a “Tim and Eric” sketch, it’s really just a fun call-in game show, with the lowest of stakes, but the highest of laughs.

There is so much entertainment involved in Fishcenter, that something as simple as “making a game show out of a fish tank”, is actually so complex and so enjoyable that you can’t miss it. And if you do, there are replays over at FishCenterLive.com or in a 15-minute “best-of” on Adult Swim every day.

But if you ask me, you need to watch the full hour, it’s the pacing of the show that makes it work, the exact amount of yin and yang, the exact amount of chaos and peace that make this show work. People will call in and make whatever they want, if it means points to Eel Hamburger, Yo Hal Look At That Tang, or Ol Blue (but between you and me, Blue is kind of a jerk.)

I salute Fish Center, for showing that Twitch and the internet can be more than just “playing video games” and “broadcasting tournaments”, it can actually be more simpler than that, it can be just as competitive, but equally as entertaining, which is why I love the show, and keep swimming back for more. 15 points for Long Donovan Follows for the Long Donovan twitter.

 

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