Wipeout Wipeout

Baby, it's cold outside! The bumps-and-bruises game show Wipeout mixes some flakes with the falls when it debuts a new, season-appropriate obstacle course. "We created a winter wonderland," says exec producer Matt Kunitz, the mad genius behind the show. "It's all the fun we've had with Wipeout, but with a whole new feel and look." And, brrr, will it give contestants a chill, thanks to wintry set pieces like the Snow Blower and Mogul Madness. The latter, says Kunitz, is "basically an obstacle course in the sky," with the players sailing over a tank of water on a zip line while wearing skis. "They go through our version of moguls, which is anything that can smack them hard into the tank."

While the fourth season is premiering after Christmas and New Year's, there are still some seasonal elements to the course. An unpredictable gingerbread house and a task involving flying pigs — called Holiday Hams — both vex the contestants. As do those red, round hallmarks of Wipeout, the infamous Big Balls. "This season, we created a moving walkway like at the airport, called the Snow-tivator, which leads right up to the balls," says Kunitz, who admits that producers regularly give bad advice to the contestants, all in the name of good TV. "We tell people the best way to win is through speed and momentum. It's not really true, but it makes for good wipeouts," he chuckles. "If we're still laughing after someone hits the Big Balls, we know we're doing something right."

Wipeout premieres tonight at 8/7c on ABC.

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