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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What Pissed Me Off Today #8 New American Gladiators

Now I was a huge fan of the old American Gladiators, and I've been really excited ever since I heard they were bringing the show back. I even posted a promo for it on this blog, at one point. To get ready for the premiere I've been recording episodes of the original, which play on ESPN Classic, and watching them. I set the DVR to record the entire series a week before the premiere, but when the night finally came last night I was incredibly disappointed.

If you have not yet seen the New American Gladiators please watch this promo before reading any farther.

That promo could be the last fond memory you ever have of the series.

It's time for the "Things That Went Terribly Wrong" list:

1. The first thing you'll notice is that they got rid of the old theme music. What the heck were they thinking, that music was awesome. Granted I can understand wanting to update the music to make it a little more modern, so I expected a remix of some sort, but what we got was totally forgettable rather then unforgettable like the original. The original theme music, judge for yourself if you watch next Monday.

2. The second thing you'll notice is that American Gladiators is now held in a dark
ominous environment. It just doesn't feel like American Gladiators anymore. The old show used to focus on the competition, and rising to overcome incredible obsticales. This show feels fake, and almost like a dark/comical graphic novel of sort.

3. Granted they had a couple gladiators back in the day that sort of sucked. Anyone remember Malibu or Blaze? From what I've been able to see of the new gladiators some have potential, while others should try finding work in the WWE. Titan looks like a Gladiator, and seems to be a all round athlete. Wolf is certainly has personality, and goes all out. Toa & Justice just act like bad 1980’s WWF wrestlers. Too over the top, and ridicules. The women strike me as not being as buff as originals like Zap & Ice. Some may be nice to look at, but I haven’t taken to any as gladiators yet. Helga may be strong, but she fell out of the ugly tree & hit ever branch on the way down. What makes it worse is that she doesn’t seem quick on her feet at all which should be a requirement of being a gladiator.

4. Poor sportsmanship. One of the things I usually liked about American Gladiators is that the competitors showed A LOT of respect to the gladiators as athletes before, during & after the show. The gladiators usually showed the competitors respect as well, even though they hyped themselves up a lot as part of the show. In the first couple episodes of the new American Gladiators it’s just the opposite. The competitors were calling out the gladiators before they even did anything. Poor sportsmanship is enough in itself to stop me from watching the show. People should act like mature adults, and treat people with respect if they’re going to be on a show called American Gladiators. Not just because I liked the old show, and that’s the way it used to be done, but because it shows you & other Americans in a bad light. They really need to do a better job in screening the competitors and finding people you want to cheer for, and not people who run their mouths. I’ll cheer for about anyone who’s carries themselves with dignity, and gives it their all. However some loud mouth disrespecting people, and being a poor sport I could care less about.

5. They pussified some of the old events when they brought them back. For instance Powerball now has a padded boarder around the course. The show is called American Gladiators, not American Sissies. If they didn’t need padded walls 15 years ago why do they need them now? The best part of Powerball was watching the competitors get thrown or slammed out of bounds. Hang Tough also seems a bit smaller then the old course. The gladiator & competitor seem to be on top of each other in just a couple seconds.

6. Is it just me or is the Eliminator now just dull & poorly designed. You start off by climbing a simple wall with a rope, then you dive into a pool to swim under water for about a dozen feet I guess. They seem to make a big deal about the fire above, but I bet we never see anyone get burned so what’s the big deal about having it? I sort of like the idea of getting the competitors soaked with water, especially the girls in those tight outfits. Next you have this 30 foot cargo net to climb. Not only is it boring, but it makes the competitors so tired they usually can’t complete the Barrel Roll (stole from Ninja Warrior AKA Sasuke) or Hand Bike. You’ve still got the zip line, and you get to revisit the Pyramid because they make the competitors climb it again without any gladiators. At least put a couple gladiators on the darn thing if you’re going to have something so dull in the Eliminator which is supposed to be the most exciting part of the show. They don’t even have gladiators to enforce penalties for falling off the Log or Hand Bike. Now if you’re tired, it’s much faster just to grab the log or bike and fall instantly, run across the bottom, and climb up some scaffolding to complete the obstacle. Asinine.

The big finish is the Treadmill, a classic obstacle. Of course they had to rename it for no reason, but I forget what the new name is. If you remember the treadmill used to at the start of the Eliminator, and it was cranked up fast because the competitors were still fresh. They did move it to the end at some point, and slowed it down because they competitors were obviously spent by that time. Even though they slowed it down, often they wouldn’t make it up from being so tired. So they had some rule in which if you made 2 legit attempts to get up the treadmill, they would let you walk up the side if you couldn’t make it. I always hated that rule back in the day, so I was glad they came up with a solution. Now the treadmill is slowed down even more then ever, and there’s a rope hanging about halfway down the treadmill. So now competitors can dive for the rope, and drag themselves up if they’re to tired to run up. GREAT IDEA, however everyone is so tired by the time they get to the Treadmill it’s like watching a couple of drunk sloth’s trying to walk up a hill. The Eliminator now takes 2-3 times as long to complete because of poor design, and it’s much more boring.

If they were going to keep the same obstacles the Treadmill should have been the first thing on the course followed by the Hand Bike. Shorten the cargo net, put some gladiators on the pyramid (although I‘d take that part out completely), have penalties for not completing obstacles, get rid of the pointless fire, and find a good way to wrap up the Eliminator like the barriers in the original or even a rope swing.

7. The editing & camera work sucks. They cut from 1 camera to another every 1.5 seconds, and it’s frustrating as hell. They force you to look at what they want you to look at and that’s it. Pull back and give us a long shot once in awhile in which we can see the entire field of play. Comparing old footage to new, there’s at least twice as many cuts. Another problem with the camera is during the Eliminator. The old Eliminator was designed in which you could see the entire thing if you pulled back on the camera, or even see the course in thirds. It allowed you to watch the leader, while at the same time see if the guy in 2nd is gaining ground or not. If a competitor gets a big lead now you can’t really watch both at the same time the way the course is designed.

8. On air staff:
a. Laila Ali could maybe be a good “color guy” like Larry Csonka or Dan ‘Nitro’ Clark was for Mike Adamle. However they already have Hulk Hogan who is bigger the life, and if given the choice of the 2 color commentators I like the Hulkster.
b. Where the heck is Mike Adamle? OK maybe he’s busy or retired I don’t know, but you need someone who can narrate the action and keep things moving without putting you to sleep. Whoever the announcer is now has no personality.

I'm getting tired now so I'll stop trashing the show for tonight. I'll try to find some good things to post about the show for my next post. It'll probably be easier to find more bad things, but I'll give it a shot. Until then why don't you watch some highlights of the OLD American Gladiators.

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