Tuesday, August 5, 2008

American Gladiators: 5 Ways to Save This Show from Swallowing It's Own Head

The American Gladiators finale aired Monday Night with a bit of a whimper. While it was great to see the 'Runaway Bride' and the Really, Really Fast Tim Guy win the whole thing, the entire thing felt almost anticlimatic, after a bloated, long season that felt confusing and glittery.

Let's face it, we watch American Gladiators for the cheese. Because it's fun, and we like seeing big guys take on the little guys. We like rooting for the underdog and we've grown attached to the Gladiators (witness my completely blind devotion to Crush).

I love my Gladiators. It's the one show my family can get together and watch. My sister roots for the Gladiators, my grandmother roots for the competitors, and my mother lusts quite obviously over Militia. But there is a limit, and there is only so much fat we can stand before we want to toss away the steak.

Because I don't want to see my gladiators (namely Crush) go away, I've got a couple suggestions (okay, five) for the producers that might tighten up the show, and actually instill some emotion.

A general note? Take a page from the original. It's a classic for a reason. And it's currently airing on ESPN Classic. What American Gladiators was in it's earlier incarnation was a clean, quick sports show that featured sane, viable athletes who were pitted against longtime veteran gladiators who took their job seriously but also were allowed to be themselves. And you know... then there was Malibu.

  1. Less filler, more events: why on earth do we have to sit through a ten minute recap of what happened the week before, and endless interviews of contestants blathering on spewing cringe inducing crap, and then watch a thirty second recap of the two events that weren't aired? What is the point? Don't we watch for the events? I mean, really, to watch some 5'2" girl on top of the joust scream that she's going to dunk Crush in the water just makes me roll my eyes when three seconds later, Crush pounds her to a pulp. It's not cute. It's annoying. And you know what happens to all those interviews? We have tivo. We fastfoward them. I'm just saying. There's no point.
  2. Enough with the 'theme contestants': Let's discuss the contestants. I'm sure it's truly awe inspiring to have a 52 year old lady get on the show and get her ass kicked by crush, but does she really have a chance in hell of winning? Or how about the really inspiring guy with one leg who could only make it up the travelator when they actually stopped it? Yes, yes, it was super inspiring and all that, but really? Did either of those contestants have a chance in hell of taking the big prize? No. Taking a 'theme' each week (cops! the biggest loser! old versus young! twins!) and running with 'stories' instead of actual contenders made for weak contestants with over inflated egos. It wasn't interesting.
  3. Get into the Gladiators! (and cut some): Okay, so I get that last season, there were many, many injuries (Siren, Stealth, Hellga, Militia) and the result was some gladiators having to work harder than others, but did we REALLY need eight more this season? There was so many that they didn't even BOTHER with the promo titles. And what was with the cheesy 'characters'. Like poor Steel, who is NOT a mute, but apparently isn't allowed to speak. Or Panther who... has curly black hair? I don't get it! We expected Rocket and Jet, as first season champions, but honestly, the only truly great Gladiator we got out of the newbies was Phoenix, because she was just awesome and kick ass all around. Having gladiators with specialties just results in us never seeing them, and honestly? If we're going to be stuck with stupid themed contestants, maybe we should focus on the Gladiators as well. Show a little behind the scenes action. SHOW Wolf singing Happy Birthday to Crush. It gives us moments of real depth in all that over inflated sugar rush. We need that. Dentists agree.
  4. Rehaul the Eliminator (and some events): We get it. The eliminator is super dooper tough. It's the hardest thing ever. And only those with proportional armstrength and super fast legs and stamina can make it through. Blah blah blah. You know what? We get all that. Drench them and everything gets harder, but honestly, it makes the previous events meaningless. It doesn't matter what the head start is because the little, lean guy is always going to be faster. Even the contestants have figured it out. And let's cut out skytrack. The old skytrak was awesome. Yours? Sucks. As does your hit and run. Just saying. It's silly. And why on earth do we need so much rocket ball?
  5. Cut the awesome Hulk (and the canned announcer): The Hulk may be an awesome athlete, but as an announcer he knows like, three words: Awesome, Mania, and 'Let's Hear It' for the Awesome anythingMania. He's wince inducing. And so is the canned announcer, who speaks like a bad cartoon. How about tossing them both and pairing up Laila with a real life commentator who can actually DO interviews and play by plays?

Was I judgy? Perhaps, but it's only because I love you show. I want you to get better. Because spandex makes everything better.

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