Monday, January 7, 2008

American Gladiators, hell's-freaking-yeah

I think it's safe to say one of God's greatest gifts to all mankind, if you ignore Jesus, unconditional forgiveness and all that jazz, has got to be American Gladiators. Coming in at a close second is Hulk Hogan.

This being the case, I have to ask, why aren't you watching the new American Gladiators!?

For those who didn't know, many television shows have suffered thanks to the ongoing Screenwriters Guild strike. Without writers to build these shows, many have had to resort to reruns or cutting seasons short in order to make up for the lack of new content. The U.S. being the TV-oriented culture it is, the upiddy-ups have had to come up with some creative tactics to keep couch potatoes planted firmly in their seats. One answer to the problem is reality TV and, it just so happens, American Gladiators fits the bill perfectly.

Debuting this week on NBC, this new iteration of the legendary program picks up right where the original left off some 13 years ago. Thankfully, hosts Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali keep the jibba-jabba to a minimum and let the action do most of the talking. The cheesy interviews, though appropriate for this particular show, are mercifully kept nice and short.

With a new cast of behemoth Gladiators to trounce many-a Joe and Jill Average, revamped versions of old competitions like Joust and The Eliminator, and several new and creative events thrown into the mix, the 2008 version of AG feels like a breath of fresh air blended smoothly with plenty of nostalgia.

The biggest difference I've noticed is the physical demands of the new show. Maybe I just don't recall the old days as well as I'd like to think, but if memory serves correct, these guys hit a hell of a lot harder and throw far more caution to the wind than in AG Classic. Several events now have competitors wearing little neck braces "just in case." Also, The Eliminator now lives up to its name. IF competitors cross the finish line, they usually look two steps from death's door when they do so. I'm all for this. If there's anything I hate worse than a reality television show, it's a "reality" television show that is anything but. This actually feels like a genuine competition.

The new show won't win everyone over but, for me, this is shaping up to be a lot of fun. As a bonus for those who, like me, don't like watching all that much TV, there are only eight episodes total. Not including last night's two-hour premiere and tonight's new episode, that only leaves five week's of commitment to being in front of the flickering box at 8 p.m. on Mondays. If nothing else, it's a guilty pleasure distraction that effortlessly put a smile on my face. As such, I think I'll be joining Titan, Hellga and the rest of the gang for the next month of mayhem.


The Jeff said...

I hate you so much right now.

So much.

Was this whole thing sarcasm, or did you honestly just tell me, with a straight face, that NBC resurrecting American Gladiators was creative!? Regurgitating shit from 15 years ago is creative? REALLY? Actually creating a new competition, wouldn't that be more creative?

Banking on fuzzy memories and misplaced nostalgia to try and grab some cheap ratings and ad buys, that is creative?

Fuck you, Static Echo. Fuck. You.

-Ryan Winslett said...

I think someone is still upset they missed out on the season premiere of The Wire. Therein lies the root of the problem, actually.
Quality programming such as TW is entering its final season due to poor viewership while cheeseball (though fun in this particular case) schlock like AG rakes in the viewers. Not fair. I still want my Firefly, dammit.

I called the "tactics" creative because I never saw a revamp of AG coming. When the people who provide the real creativity are on strike, you have to fill those time slots with SOMETHING. I'm thankful it's something like AG rather than reruns of Ghost Whisperer or another survivor ripoff.

I still say AG is everything it should be. I'll write NBC an e-mail and see if they can't fit an overarching murder investigation through the rest of the episodes. I'll write up the script for em free of charge.

The Jeff said...

They should import some of those hilarious Japanese game shows, re-do those like they did Hell's Kitchen and such.

That wouldn't be especially creative, but at least the product they were giving would be new to us, if not necessarily new.