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Reality Shows Getting Too Dangerous?

Reality TV isn't just popular in the U.S. -- it has a massive following overseas. And critics on both sides of the pond are questioning whether the genre is becoming too dangerous, a debate stoked by a terrible accident that happened live on a German reality show.

On "The Early Show" Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reported the horrifying accident has now been seen by millions on the Internet. The daredevil feat was broadcast live on German TV from Dusseldorf, before a studio audience that included contestant Samuel Koch's mother.

His goal was to launch himself over a succession of cars, one bigger than the next.

But on his fourth try, with his father behind the wheel, something went terribly wrong.

Koch launched into his somersault. But it appears his head struck the car, causing him to possibly lose consciousness in mid-air. He landed without any attempt to brace himself.

Cameras panned off the terrible accident as a stunned audience looked on. Koch was later rushed to a nearby hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, said, "In a very real sense, it's the possibility that that kind of thing is going to happen that gives shows like this all their voltage in the first place."

In a push to pull in ratings, reality shows seem to be upping the ante, Miller observes. As contestants jump, flip, shoot and eat their way through dangerous situations, the question is -- how far is too far?

A contestant on an episode of the popular NBC show "Dog Eat Dog" a claims he suffered brain damage after remaining submerged in water for an extended period. The episode never made air.

Thompson said, "Every time you hear a story like this, the next time you watch a daredevil kind of show, you realize that something can go wrong, and that adds an element of excitement to the genre in general."

Samuel Koch's accident unfolded live in front of eight million people.

"So," said Miller, "the question is -- will producers be forced to rethink risky stunts for the sake of ratings -- or will it only increase audience hunger for more?"

To see the German TV stunt-gone-terribly-wrong, click on the video below:

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