Monday, February 11, 2008

American Gladiators

So I haven't really commented on the return of American Gladiators yet. While the new version is far from perfect, at the same time I haven't missed an episode, so they must be doing something right. And for a buff chick, Crush is quite the cutie.

As far as improvements go, I think that the addition of water in certain events has been pretty neat (although I do get a kick out of how, in The Wall, the competitors drop like a sack of potatoes into the water below, while the Gladiators are slowly repelled down to the bridge). The slingshot system and pyro when somebody hits the bull's eye in Assault is a cool effect as well. As far as new events go, I'm a fan of Earthquake, which is like an elevated, shakier version of Conquer (the second half of Divide and Conquer).

My biggest criticism with the revival is that there are entirely too many contestant interviews. Consider this: For Joust, Alex (the male blue contestant) was interviewed before the event, after the event, and then again backstage. That's three interviews with one competitor for a single event, not to mention the fact that his opponent got interviewed after he participated as well. I'm sure this is done to maximize the screentime of Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali (the "big names" of the show), but there has to be a more productive way of doing that. The way the show is structured now, there's only time for, what, four events?

Another gripe is that there doesn't appear to be any penalty for failing to complete any portion of the Eliminator. For example, every competitor seems to have an impossible time using the handbike. However, if he/she falls off, all they have to do is run across the mat and climb up the opposite side. With that in mind, I don't know why anybody wouldn't just jump off the platform, run across and climb up the other side. It sure seems a whole lot easier (and faster) than using the handbike. In the original series, at least there were a couple of Gladiators at the bottom to at act as obstacles.

Finally, I think the producers need to realize that your average Joe isn't all that charismatic (which is what makes the constant interviews all the more tedious), so having the contestants play "characters" is a mistake, not to mention unnecessary. For that matter, Wolf seems to be the only Gladiator who has any semblance of showmanship, so the trash talking, as a whole, should be minimized. Most people watch the show for its display of athleticism, not to see zany muscle-bound characters.

Nevertheless, it acts as the perfect lead-in to Raw, so I'm glad to see this show back. Speaking of which, how backwards is it that Hulk Hogan is on American Gladiators, while Mike Adamle appears on Raw? Fifteen years ago, the opposite was true.

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