Total Blackout

One of the props used on "Total Blackout."


I leaned into the shadows and cupped my ear, hoping to find assurance.

It never came.

So when the doors opened, “Being Human” star Sam Huntington and I were ushered into the next room, in pitch-black darkness, and instructed to start feeling our way around to get out.

This is just the start of the eeriness of “Total Blackout,” a new game show (premiering 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday on Syfy) that preys upon contestants’ phobias of the unknown.

We dipped our hands in three tanks on our way to freedom and told to identify what we were touching as we progressed across the room.

This was a demonstration for “Total Blackout.” Huntington and I were the first contestants for a non-televised presentation.

On the actual show, contestants will be sent into a much larger room. The stakes will be higher.

The pair guessing the tanks’ contents in the shortest amount of time wins $ 5,000.

“There’s three tanks with objects in them, and all they have to do is identify what’s in the tanks. However, when the lights are shut off, (you go) ... crazy in your mind because you fear the worst, and that’s basically what the premise of the show is,” says producer Henrik Nielsen.

Our first tank feel was furry and light. If it weren’t for the handle at the end of it, we might have assumed it was a dead animal. It turned out to be a feather duster.

The second tank contained a liquid. At the bottom of the tank was something small, long and thin swimming around. I tried to grasp it, but it swam away before I could get hold of it.

Huntington couldn’t grab hold of it, either.

This couldn’t be good. Obviously we were grasping for something that was alive. Could it sting us? Could it bite?

Huntington quickly guessed correctly, though, that it was a tank full of harmless eels.

Then came what we knew would be the worst.

In the third tank, we felt something very much alive, cold, soft and wiggling every time we touched it.

This stumped us. It had no hands since it did not grab back or even put up a defense. It merely wiggled. My mind boggled at the idea of what this might be. I knew I didn’t want to touch it again.

Turns out that it was a human foot — still attached to a very-much-alive body).

After figuring that out, we were ready to bolt.

“Total Blackout” has been produced in 13 countries. Contestants are interviewed so producers can learn of their phobias.

The televised game will require contestants to use their other senses, too.

“They have to lick things and identify things just by mouth. And when you find out it’s a big toe that you’re licking, it’s fun for us, not nearly as fun for them. But it was clean,” Nielsen says.

So far no one has been harmed in the game.

Later, Nielsen told reporters of the tanks’ contents on his show: “We can’t guarantee (nobody is) going to be bitten, but we have nothing that’s dangerous that will hurt them.

“But anything that eats can bite. But we have wranglers.”

Other highlights for the week of April 22-28 (listings subject to change; check local listings):


“Fox’s 25th Anniversary Special” (8 p.m., Fox). The network marks a milestone and brings back some of its earliest stars — like Ashton Kutcher, Ed O’Neill, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Calista Flockhart — to pay tribute.

“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (10 p.m., Bravo). A fourth season begins, with the women tackling tabloid reports about their lives. (Example: Just why was Jacqueline absent from the most recent reunion special?)

“Veep” (10 p.m., HBO). Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in this single-camera comedy that follows the office politics of being the first female vice president of the United States.


“The L.A. Complex” (9 p.m., CW). This scripted drama follows the lives and careers of seven hopefuls living in the same Los Angeles complex as they pursue their dreams.


“Don’t Be Tardy For The Wedding” (9 p.m., Bravo). Atlanta Falcon Kroy Biermann and Kim Zolciak plan their wedding, with two different plans in mind. She wants big and expensive. Him? Not so much.

“The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet” (11 p.m., Lifetime). Demi Moore, of all people, produces this talk show hosted by the British TV personality/celebrity photographer. The gossip-filled program will feature such guests as Lady Gaga, Jane Fonda, Miley Cyrus and Olivia Wilde.


“Whale Wars: Viking Shores” (9 p.m., Animal Planet). In this reality series, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society faces off against the natives of the Faroe Islands, who hunt whales for their meat.


“Duke” (8 p.m., Hallmark Movie Channel). Steven Weber (“Wings”) stars in this movie about a homeless vet whose best friend is his faithful dog.

“Flipped Off” (10 p.m., A&E). “Survivor” villain Russell Hantz is profiled in this reality series about his work flipping houses in the Houston area.

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