Synopsis by Hal Erickson
First broadcast by Britain's Channel 4 in 2001, the weekly, half-hour Banzai was a spoof of those Japanese game-and-prank shows in which celebrities and civilians alike were subjected to the most embarrassing and dangerous stunts imaginable for the entertainment of the public. Enthusiastically narrated by a brace of Japanese-accented commentators (one of whom, Burt Kwouk, gained fame as Kato in Peter Sellers' Pink Panther comedies), the series featured such regulars as "Mr. Banzai," the manic, silver-tongued host who whisked the viewers from one outrageous segment to another; "Mr. Shake Hands Man," who crashed celebrity bashes and shook hands with the rich and famous, refusing to let go until the shake-ee tried to wrest free on his or her own; and "Lady One Question," who lived up to her billing by shoving a microphone in the face of her victim, asking a single question, then standing in stony silence and staring at the victim long, long after the question had been answered. As for the stunts seen on the series, there were every bit as wacky as their names ("Interesting Penalty Shoot-out Conundrum," etc.) A huge international hit, Banzai was picked up for American consumption by the FOX network beginning July 13, 2003.