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Series / Estate of Panic

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"Awwwww, you don't like my snakes and spikes? Well, TRY THIS!"
Steve Valentine

Estate of Panic was a Game Show that had a very brief run on Sci-Fi Channel in 2008, and aired alongside Cha$e, a "live-action video game" show. It was hosted by Steve Valentine and came from the minds of the same folks who brought us Fear Factor. Each week, seven contestants were brought to a "spooky mansion" supposedly out in the middle of nowhere (the show was filmed in Argentina) where Valentine would literally give away his money in a set of three rooms (chosen by him) in his estate. However, there was a huge catch - these rooms were anything but normal; while the players searched for the money, things would happen in the room and/or various creatures would appear to distract and frighten the contestants. Examples included a basement that quickly flooded up to near ceiling level with water, a garden laced with electrical wires, a study that would close in and shrink on the occupants, and other nasty surprises.

The contestants were expected to quickly dash in, grab as much cash as they could find and when they felt they had enough, rush out the nearest exit. Of course, not all of them would make it out... the last one remaining in the room would be "locked in" and thus eliminated from the contest. Those that did make it out would have their money totaled and the one with the least amount of cash was also eliminated. The process would be repeated in the next two rooms which by the third room, the one who grabbed the most money would be given an advantage (usually a tool to make the obstacles easier). Eventually only one contestant remained and would be escorted to the estate's Vault. Here they could add to their winnings by grabbing any cash they found inside; however to even have a chance at this money they would have to get out of the restraints Valentine put them in (e.g., chaining their leg to the floor, hanging them from the air by a harness, or tying them down to a chair) and get out of the vault before the locking mechanism kicked in.

If the last contestant could do all this, they would win the cash as well as the money the other contestants collected plus whatever money they found in the Vault. If they got locked in, they lost everything. However, a contestant could "panic" in the Vault and yell for Valentine to help him or her, at which point he or she would lose half of the night's winnings and forfeit any money found in the Vault. In any instance, Valentine would tell the contestant to "Get out of his house" which the contestant would gladly do. And thus ended the game.

Spiritual predecessor to Exit, a much more recent Syfy offering.

This show provides examples of:

  • All or Nothing: Losers left with nothing (and it was made to appear that they never really got to ''leave''...) The winner might, too, if he fails in the Vault.
  • Ancient Tomb: One of the rooms, which quickly filled with sand as a "curse from the gods" for pillaging it.
  • Ashes to Crashes: A contestant, having brought back a $1,000 urn from the Attic, told Steve he accidentally spilled some of the ashes on the floor, to which Steve replied that they were his uncle.
  • Blackout Basement: The meat locker (complete with decoy objects hidden with the cash in the carcasses); the electric wire room.
  • Bonus Round: Subverted in the Vault, where a contestant can add to his or her winnings provided he or she can get out of a restraint and out the Vault itself. However, failure in the Vault resulted in the contestant losing either half or all of his or her winnings depending on whether he or she hit the Panic button or got locked in.
  • Bonus Space: Objects or pieces of an object hidden in certain rooms could net someone an additional grand.
  • Catchphrase: "Get in, get the money, deal with any unpleasantness, and get out." To the winner, "Get out of my house."
  • Cold Cash: The "freezing room", which included a deep freeze containing ice cream bars with money in them.
  • Covered in Gunge: The sewer, kitchen, trash compactor and trophy room. Every room in the Ukraine, especially since buckets of whatever the contestants are digging or wading through are repeatedly dumped onto the contestants from above.
  • Creepy Basement: The flooding basement in the premiere, and later the crawl space.
  • Creepy Doll: Steve's childhood room is loaded with them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Steve Valentine.
  • Death Trap: A good number of the rooms were based on these.
  • Don't Try This at Home: The electric wire rooms, especially.
  • Drowning Pit: Played with in the basement (water) and the trophy room (mud).
  • Eliminated from the Race: Two per round - the last out, and the one with the least amount of money.
  • Elimination Catchphrase: "You're going with Rupert."
  • Foreign Remake: At least two:
    • Jogo Duro (Hard Game) in Brazil, which is set in an abandoned factory. Eight players compete instead of seven, with the two remaining contestants playing one final round in the flooding basement instead of the Vault; the player who recovers the least amount of cash receives only the amount recovered in that room, while the winner receives the total amount recovered all night.
    • Замок страху (Castle of Fear) in the Ukraine, which is set in a large castle in Moscow; many of the episodes have a disturbing amount of animal cruelty. Played similarly to the US version except that the seven contestants are all from the same family. If the sole survivor escapes the Vault, the prize money is split amongst the family; if not, the family wins nothing (and there is no Panic Button in this version).
  • Game Show Host: Steve Valentine. And you thought Inquizition had a scary host...
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: The item given to the most successful person in the second round. On the first episode it was a screwdriver, but it was useless unless the player figured out to use it on the A/C vents. Later items, such as gloves, were more straightforward.
  • The Jeeves: Subverted in Rupert, who collects the contestants' money and escorts the losers to their doom.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the kitchen in the second episode, a female contestant became helplessly stuck in the non-Newtonian floor on her hands and knees. One male contestant eventually stopped to try to pull her out, even though he was nearly the last one left in the room as a result; he only left after the female contestant told him to save himself and leave her in the room. Meanwhile, another male contestant saw what was going on, but ran straight past both contestants and escaped the room while they struggled. The first male contestant not only collected the most money from the kitchen (thus earning the special advantage in the next round) but also went on to win the game, while the second male contestant was the last one remaining in the next round and was therefore trapped (in the estate's sewer system, no less).
  • Lock Down: All the doors in each room start out locked for a set period of time to prevent contestants from leaving too early, then lock and unlock at varying intervals to add an extra challenge.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Every room, especially the Vault, and played literally with the Freezing Room.
  • Malevolent Architecture: Pretty much the whole premise; otherwise it'd just be Finders Keepers for adults.
  • Manipulative Editing:
    • On any given episode, you can hear sound bites of some of the contestants' interjections five or six times over the course of the show.
    • One show in particular had a 10 second long or so sound bite of a contestant from another episode screaming repeatedly.
    • Another used a sound bite of a contestant saying "I'm freaking the flip out" twice, and one of the two occurrences had the word "flip" bleeped out.
  • Old, Dark House: The Estate, naturally.
  • Opening Narration: "In a remote land... there is a legend about this grand estate... with tales of incredible riches hidden within... but the house doesn't want to give it up."
  • Pipe Maze: Used and recycled for the sewer, storm drains and giant gopher holes.
  • Product Placement: An Xbox 360 carton is present in Steve's childhood bedroom, and the walls in the room have its green circle motif.
  • Ransacked Room: You won't find any money in there otherwise.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Want the cash? You'll have to grope around in the crawlspace full of snakes (and worse) to find it.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: You can bet that any and all statues, wine bottles, and anything else breakable are jam packed with cash regardless of location.
  • Screaming Woman: One in particular whose strategy in the crawl space seemed to be to stand by the door and scream bloody murder until it opened.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: The male contestant who got tangled up in the live wires in the electrical room.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Every single door creaks.
  • Trapped in Containment: The last one to leave each room.
    • In the Ukraine, certain rooms have trap doors that close behind you and will not let you out for the remainder of the round, effectively eliminating you right then and there and forcing you to find a way to get the money to your other family members to build up the bank.
  • Trash the Set: Pretty much the only way to find the big bills.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: The trash compactor, the study (along with a Descending Ceiling), and coupled with Spikes of Doom in the wine cellar.
  • Win to Exit: The show's winner is the only one seen actually leaving the house. Three of the losers are trapped in the rooms, and the other three are whisked away by Rupert.
  • The Wonka: Steve Valentine.
  • You All Meet in an Inn, or in this case the estate's foyer. The game itself plays with Closed Circle.