Monday, January 7, 2008

Sports, Part IV: American Gladiators

I didn’t want to drag down the integrity of this blog by complaining about something I saw on TV, but if this blog can be used as a forum to gripe about our favorite sports teams, then I guess I can’t hurt it all that much.

So as anyone who knows anything about anything knows, tonight was the NBC premiere of the new and improved American Gladiators. As a fan of the show growing up, I had high expectations. I can remember being in the first grade and contentedly eating a big bag of potato chips while I watched American Gladiators. As I settled into my seat at 9:00 tonight, I was overcome with a feeling of nostalgia. When I got out of it at then end of the show, I was left with one feeling – disappointment.

Reasons why I didn’t like American Gladiators:

1. Too much trash talk.

It seemed like part of the contestant contract was to say something edgy in the buildup to every event. How can you call out a gladiator when he weighs 80 pounds more than you? Oh yeah, I’m sure he was real intimidated. And they even miked up the gladiators so they could have trash talk solos. One solo that stands out as particularly bad was when gladiator “TOA” started talking trash in what sounded like jibberish. What’s the point of talking trash if they other guy can’t understand you? A little trash talk is part of the game, but too much is just unsportsmanlike

2. Where’s Nitro?

Nitro was the cornerstone of the old American gladiators, how come he doesn’t have a place in the remake? I would love to hear Nitro explaining the events with an insider perspective the same way Terry Bradshaw explains football at halftime. If Nitro is not in American Gladiators, then it’s not American Gladiators. And while I’m at it, the new gladiators leave a lot to be desired. Wolf? I watch Gladiators for the spectacle of pure, steroid infused American muscle, not to see some human-animal hybrid howl on a Hollywood set. And am I supposed to believe this guy refuses to cut his hair, but is perfectly okay with waxing the rest of his body? Another example of a failed gladiator is Helga. If there is going to be a Hellga gladiator, there might as well be a Nurse Ratched.

3. The Eliminator is too long.

There is a reason nobody watches marathons. The finish isn’t very dramatic when both contestants are so tired that they exhaustedly drag themselves over the finish line. And for that matter, races aren’t exciting when the winner wins by virtue of being the only one capable of completing the course.

4. Terrible camera editing.

I know it’s supposed to be an exciting show, and I know the producers anticipated a minimal viewer IQ, but a viewer would be hard pressed to find a camera shot lasting for longer than two seconds, and there were several two second intervals with four or more camera shots. For a prime time show, American Gladiators had some terrible camera work, with very bland camera angles.

Of course, I know it’s just a TV show. What’s more, there are many worse shows on TV. And there are even worse concerns that could be raised about the show itself (Is it appropriate in the wake of the Mitchell Report?) But what really matters is despite my concerns, will I watch the next episode when it airs tomorrow? No, I’ll be watching the National Championship Bowl like everyone else so that on the next day I can complain about what team really deserved the title of national champions.

1 comment:

Pete Abbate said...

Welcome, haha, and thanks for the shots in your first post.

As far as American Gladiators, I have never seen any version - it wasn't my cup of tea growing up and I don't find myself particularly interested now (perhaps because of the wake of the Mitchell Report).

You make good points - the camera editing isn't noticeable to the average viewer, in my opinion, unless it's really awful, and constantly changing camera shots are maddening. Also, using old heroes such as Nitro is so universally utilized in the world of sports, it's kind of shocking to me that he wouldn't be around for the remake.

I have a feeling that you wouldn't be watching the show instead of the national championship game even if you had enjoyed it. Regular shows simply cannot compete with once-a-year special events.

Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty