NBC’s once high-flying reboot of Fear Factor will make a humble exit as a regular series tonight with a rerun replacing an episode pulled by the network amidst controversy. The episode, Hee Haw! Hee Haw!, would’ve probably made it to air had it not been for NBC hosting a GOP presidential debate. The Fear Factor episode, originally slated for January 23, was pre-empted for the debate and moved to January 30. Then last Thursday, January 26, TMZ posted a story about a stunt in the episode described in the NBC synopsis as one where “the teams put themselves to the test eating the unimaginable.” According to TMZ, the unimaginable was donkey semen and urine. Controversy ensued, and late Friday night, NBC sent out a scheduling advisory listing another episode, which originally aired January 2, as replacing Hee Haw! NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt today addressed the controversy with a statement: “I reviewed the episode late last week and decided it was a segment we should not air.”
Tonight marks the last regularly scheduled episode of Fear Factor, which had been slated as a bridge between The Sing-Off and The Voice on Monday. NBC recently scheduled a special two-hour original Fear Factor on February 12 as counter-programming to the Grammy Awards on CBS. It will air as planned. Beyond that, the network has a couple of other Fear Factor originals whose fate is to be determined. From the get-go, Fear Factor clashed with Greenblatt’s mantra for rebuilding NBC with upscale shows. Greenblatt sounded almost apologetic at TCA when he was asked about Fear Factor‘s return to gross-out stunts, saying that is what viewers want. But for ratings-starved NBC, the reality show was a decent utility player. After a five-year break, Fear Factor relaunched last month with a strong 3.3/8 among adults 18-49 for its two-hour premiere. The reality series quickly dropped to the 2s in the demo but remained the highest-rated NBC series on Monday by a mile.