SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers from the season 7 finale of “Jet Lag: The Game,” now streaming on Nebula and YouTube.
The Season 7 finale of “Jet Lag: The Game” launched on YouTube on Wednesday, giving all non-Nebula subscribers access to the end of the latest edition of the Streamy-nominated online travel game show and the big reveal of the last winner.
In an interview with Diversity“Jet Lag” stars Sam Denby, Ben Doyle (the winner of the “tag across Europe” season 7) and Adam Chase have discontinued their series, which is produced by Denby’s Wendover Productions and airs new episodes first on indie streamer Nebula. focused on the creator community.
Denby, who was named Nebula’s chief content officer in August, and his team also discuss why they haven’t yet taken a project like “Jet Lag” to a larger streamer.
How far in advance do you plan new seasons – is there a big chart somewhere detailing the years of Jet Lag: The Game?
Sam Denby: We would totally have a big chart if we were all working in the same place. I think we’re going to have a crazy geek wall. But we work remotely. What we didn’t realize at first is how dependent we actually are on the weather when we shoot, more than anything in terms of the hours of the day. We like to have long days and it kind of just seems lame to shoot at night. So we like to shoot as much as possible in the summer, which is why last winter we went south of the equator to the southern hemisphere summer in New Zealand.
Adam Chase: Season 8, we already have the concept, we already have the guest and we’re shooting it in a few weeks. We’re very excited about both the concept and the guest, and we’re now boldly discussing the location and early thoughts on the game design for Season 9.
How does designing a new season of ‘Jet Lag’ now differ from previous seasons?
Ben Doyle: One of the biggest obstacles when we first started designing these games was that we all had very different ideas about what challenges would be interesting, what challenges would be strategically compelling, and what challenges would be acceptable. And I think there was a lot more back and forth between us and Sam about is this going to work or is this going to work? It’s a much faster process now.
Pursuit: We just have a much better feel for what challenges lead to good moments on the show because we’ve done a lot of challenges before. I’m really proud of our set of challenges that were in this season of tag, and I think a big reason why we were able to do good challenges this season is because we had done tag before and we had seen what challenges were good in tag and who weren’t.
Adam, your last disguise attempt failed to fool Ben and Sam in Season 7. Do you intend to continue trying disguises in future seasons, or have you already given up?
Pursuit: Look, I think whether a disguise works or not depends on the circumstances. I think this season I got into a situation where I was in a small town undercover, they have a trail on me, they know where I am, they’ll probably find me. And I realized at a certain point when I was in these small, not-so-crowded towns that this disguise probably wasn’t going to do anything. But God forbid I take it down again. I get messages a few times a month, however about a year ago I took off my disguise and got caught. So I told myself I’m moving on. I’ll be honest with you, I have ideas for disguises in the future, and I won’t say what they are, partly for audience tension, but partly because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Ben and Sam are on that call right there. And I’m not interested in giving them too much future strategy.
Denbigh: I think he’ll be wearing a full body Stormtrooper suit.
Pursuit: One thing Ben brought up once was that if you were to wear a full Spider-Man suit from head to toe, we’d be pretty sure it was you – but we can’t necessarily confirm that and we’d have to make physical contact with you to to tag you. So it can scare us, but what if we attack a stranger? And I think that was an interesting strategy.
Sam, you’ve tried hard to make the show’s Choo Choo Chew segment popular since it was introduced by your Jet Lag Season 6 co-star Scotty Allen. Did you keep trying to make it happen in Season 7 because you felt left out by the overwhelmingly Jet Lag snack show segment, The Snack Zone?
Denbigh: My partner Scotty came up with the name and I just wanted to support me because I thought it was an amazing name. I’m just trying to support the guests we bring. I think there is room for two in-game snacks in this world. And it’s a shame some people think there’s only room for one.
Pursuit: There’s really a lot of footage of Sam trying to make a show called “Choo Choo Chew: Derailed” this season. And you can notice that it doesn’t see the light of day once.
Denbigh: I grant the edit privileges on the first pass and this is the result. I cannot properly exercise my influence.
Pursuit: It was amazing. We had a meeting with some of our post-production team and they said that Sam mentioned at one point a snack show called ‘Choo Choo Chew: Derailed’, should we do a new intro sequence for that? And I was like, no, no, no, that won’t be necessary, we won’t introduce it. You’ll see a few times throughout the season, Sam will say something is going to be “Choo Choo Chew: Derailed” and instead we’ll see a game themed around “The Snack Zone,” which I really enjoyed.
Ben, there seemed to be more challenges in the earlier seasons that specifically involved getting you drunk. Why are there fewer of them lately; did you decide to remove them?
Doyle: Look, there’s the possibility that almost every season I’ll get drunk. Sometimes it just doesn’t show up because the cards are real, the show is real. To this day, I try as much as I can to refrain from drinking when I’m off the clock, when I’m not at work, to keep my tolerance very low. I am a professional athlete and my body is a temple. I maintain the physical condition I need to be in to do my job, which is to get very, very, very drunk and have Adam take care of me.
Pursuit: I will also add that in seasons where Ben will be alone when doing a challenge, we don’t get to get drunk. So, as in etiquette, there’s no card that says “get drunk” because we don’t think it’s necessarily safe for someone to get drunk by themselves and then get on trains and stuff like that. We make sure the only time Ben has a chance to get drunk is a season where a partner like me would be with him to look after him and make sure nothing bad happens.
Is there anywhere you’ve completely ruled out doing a “Jet Lag” season, either in terms of transportation or logistics, to be able to film?
Denbigh: Quite a lot actually. If anything, most of the world is kind of off, which is a bit of a shame. We’ve done vehicle-only seasons, but our takeaway from that is that we pretty much optimized that as much as we could, and it still didn’t turn out to be as much of a strategically exciting game as we’d hoped. So we really rely on places that have strong, often reliable or semi-reliable public transport, given that we’re going to Germany.
Pursuit: Massive attack in Germany!
Denbigh: But that means there are indeed quite a few places we can’t go just because they don’t have that kind of public transport. We also rely on going to places where we can run around without worrying too much about safety or whether we’ll be able to reliably find a hotel where we end up at the end of the day. So, unfortunately, that excludes a lot of really interesting geographic areas. I think we’re certainly thinking about how we might include some more off-the-beaten-track destinations in the future, but that probably requires games that are a little bit faster. So it’s a bit of a compromise.
Have you considered working with bigger streamers on “Jet Lag” or future Wendover Productions projects, or do you intend to stick with Nebula?
Denbigh: We’ve actually been getting more and more into doing things for other streamers, and we’ve gotten a lot closer to that. We went through a long process of developing a format/presentation with an executive producer we partnered with. And where it actually ended, we realized that it was no more attractive to us than the work we were doing now. Sure, there’s a certain prestige to doing something for Netflix, for example, but the way budgets work with the kind of show we could reasonably sell, we’re not really going to make any more money and we’re going to be forced to do something that’s a little creatively uninteresting to us. We’re not the biggest deal in the world, we’d come in and have to earn our money in a big streamer to get to the more visually interesting stuff. I think what’s really freeing about Nebula and the creation and production ecosystem we work in is that we have no limitations. We don’t have a development committee to answer to or anything like that. We have a lot of confidence in the people we work with in our ability to do exciting things, and that leads to a kind of “jet lag” that I think is very innovative.
I wouldn’t completely rule out doing things with major streamers, but I think as we got closer to doing it, we realized how good we have it right now. And I think we’re really just appreciating the way we work and our partners and all of that right now.
Pursuit: It’s interesting, friends will tell me all the time, oh, this would be great to sell to Netflix or whoever. I feel like people are looking at this as maybe a stepping stone to getting it on Netflix. I kind of think, yeah, I don’t know, I like doing it the way we do it now. I like to do it in Nebula and then put it on YouTube. We’re able to make the finances work, we’re able to make the show high quality, and we’re able to make it with a tremendous amount of creative freedom that we wouldn’t get anywhere else.
This interview has been edited and condensed.