Monday, January 7, 2008

American Gladiators 2.0

Last night was the two-hour premiere of the all-new, retooled American Gladiators on NBC. Given the writers' strike, it seems the Peacock Network has little choice but to fill the void with reality programming, and AG is sure... well, not exactly real but TV-close. Call it on a par with American Idol for authenticity.

The original was a guilty pleasure. Over-the-top posturing by the Glads themselves, the narratives of the various competitors (from scrappy underdog to self-assured amateur athlete to blow-dried pretty boys 'n' girls), the sportscast-like style of Mike Adamle and Larry Csonka--what's not to love?

Not sure if the new, 2008 version will achieve that place in my TV schedule, though not for an abundance of competition in that time slot. The new show features revised competitions, updating several old events (a lot of the ones where contestants are knocked off will leave them in the water, like in The Wall and Joust) while offering some interesting new ones (like the tilting-platform Earthquake and the ball-swingin' Hit and Run). The smash-cut style of filming is exactly the same, with Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali providing plenty of rough charm as the hosts.

My major complaint (so far) is the sound quality. Who is mixing this show? The sound levels are terrible--you can barely hear Hulk, Laila or the contestants unless the insanely stoked mob falls near-silent (which doesn't happen much). Given that they don't identify the Glads with subtitles until halfway through the first show (another big mistake), the muddy sound makes the show overall less enjoyable.

We'll have to see if the new folks--Mayhem, Venom, Siren, Wolf, Toa, Fury, Stealth, et al--win a place in my heart. So far... well, we'll see.


Gyuss Baaltar said...

As long as Crush is on the show, I'll be watching. Hot damn!

Drew said...

I liked last night's installment and figure I'll watch for awhile.
As for the female Glads, Siren and Venom are my faves so far.