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ABC Orders a Cold-Weather Wipeout

Those big red balls of ABC's obstacle-course game show Wipeout will soon be coated with ice: The network today is expected to announce plans for a winter edition of its summer stalwart. Scheduled to debut in January for an eight-episode run, the new "Winter Wonderland" edition of Wipeout will boast cold-weather games such as the Wipeout Ski Lift, the Polar Bear Run, and the Spanker Sleds. (The "Hypothermia Hullabaloo" challenge was apparently ruled out, possibly after test runs ended poorly.) ABC is considering the new batch of episodes to be a part of the Endemol USA–produced show's fourth season, which will now expand to 24 episodes (the remaining sixteen hours are slated to air next summer). Wipeout has been the savior of ABC's summer the past three years, giving the network a pulse during the off-season. It aired twice a week during its most recent run, helping ABC launch its modest scripted hit Rookie Blue on Thursdays. A winter edition of Wipeout should be particularly helpful to ABC early next year, when the network will be dealing with both the loss of Lost and the usual January to February ratings slump that comes between cycles of Dancing With the Stars.

Photo: Jeff Samaripa/ABC