I stopped in the middle of my live blog because I got sleepy, but I watched the whole thing and, while it's not perfect, the new American Gladiators is still fun. I wonder if some fans of the old show are being a little bit harsh. I mean, there's comparisons to Ninja Warrior, and sure, maybe Ninja Warrior is "better", but this is f_ckin' American Gladiators! Everything else is derivative!
American Gladiators has two goals and both were accomplished:
- To watch reasonably athletic people get absolutely smoked by caricatures of professional wrestlers
- To look at the sets for the various events and think, I wish I had that in my backyard
Case in point: the opening scenes from Knocked Up, where Ben and his stoner friends are playing Joust. We all identify with that. Why do you think NERF has basically given up on making foam footballs and basketballs? Because everybody just wants to buy the guns and play a home version of Assault. Anybody who watched American Gladiators made their own versions of the games to play against their friends.
The Gladiators are great, though their names don't really resonate just yet. I know them as Wolf (the one I remember), Islander, Pretty Boy, and the other dudes... One who's named Militia. Of the women, I could identify Crush (cause she's attractive) and Hellga (because the whole idea of an Eastern European "Heidi" from Hell is really good). Wolf is nuts. Islander Gladiator doing the haka was a nice touch. Pretty Boy Gladiator plays the Mr. Perfect part perfectly.
I'm muscular and gorgeous and I'm about to throw you down this here gigantic pile of pillows. LE SWOON.
Likewise, the contestants were actually pretty good. I found myself rooting for Chad from San Diego, though he was hopelessly outclassed. I also rooted for the LADWiG (Little Asian Dude With Glasses). I found myself rooting against the dude who showed up late for his first Gladiators trial 14 years ago. Mostly because he talked a lot of trash and played a little dirty in the first event. I enjoyed all of the female competitors. They seemed very driven, though the replacement girl in the first competition should absolutely have not been able to make that comeback however much I enjoyed it. Personally, I don't think you should be able to pass out in the middle of the event, wake up, and finish the comeback 10 minutes later.
All in all, it could be better... Just from what I remember:
People shouldn't suck so bad at the Eliminator. What makes Ninja Warriors great is that there's a mix between people who are chumps and people who've built replicas of all of the obstacles in their parents' backyards so that they can do them perfectly. I want to see contestants who are absolutely obsessive. All the videos that the contestants sent in made for an interesting mix of characters, but many of the videos seemed the suggest that they should be chosen because they're nice people. I don't want nice people. I want gladiators. While there was a sadistic pleasure in watching almost all of the contestants perform so terribly at the Eliminator, I also want to see more contestants like the firefighter. People who can cruise through the Eliminator. Later in the season, I guess.
Get some proper rules down. I know that the injuries gave the whole thing a little bit of a "real sports" feel, but to stick a replacement in after you lose your very first contestant was just ridiculous. Also, though the events aren't tough to figure out, it might make sense to have some detailed rules available somewhere. Like, why was 14-Years-Late reprimanded for grabbing the Gladiator by the head and throwing him? You're not allowed to do that?
Pick a Hulk Hogan and stick with it. When the Hulkster does his out-of-character interviews, he can come across as very thoughtful and deliberate. When the Hulkster stays completely in character, he can work a crowd into a frenzy with minimal direction. Unfortunately, we got some sort of weird mix, where he was apparently told to be like the Hulkster, but not so wild, but definitely be like the Hulkamania Hulk Hogan. And we ended up with Hulk Hogan, with scripted lines, doing the "Hulkster voice", but not getting anybody riled up for anything. That was sad.
Laila Ali was pretty much terrible. I don't know if there's much hope for her except that the scripted lines somehow made Hulk Hogan terrible, so maybe there's something to be uncovered there.
Get rid of the personal stories. Unless they somehow demonstrate that these people are insane. I don't want to see nice people. I know nice people. They wouldn't make very good American Gladiators. I want the crazies.
In conclusion, I'm sure I'll have more notes after next week's episode. I'm looking forward to the latter rounds when the competitors will be more competitive. Until then, I guess I'll look forward to more people passing out while trying to climb that final Eliminator ramp.