American Gladiators: 2008

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This may be the one good thing that has resulted from the still unresolved writers strike. That is, American Gladiators has been put back on the air (again) and I have fallen in love with it, seriously.

If you saw this show in passing you would mostly likely think, “great, another stupid Wrestle Mania meets Fear Factor, ‘fill an hour’ TV show.” The thing is, you’d be wrong.

When I watch American Gladiators I’m not watching it for the novelty of it, I’m watching it because I honestly enjoy it. It obviously isn’t the News Hour of NBC prime time, but it’s also not a bucket of manure. Simply put, you’re entertained by the show, not by the snide comments you and your friends are making while you watch, like is so often the case with “these” kinds of shows.

Maybe I was conditioned to like this American Gladiators, because I watched so much Guts and Global Guts on Nickelodeon when I was growing up, but I think, if anything, that’s a testament to how good this show is: it’s the big kid version of Guts.

In addition to the fact that the show is entertaining (what else do you need?), the athleticism of the contenders and gladiators is truly impressive (note: the gladiators are repeatedly subjected to ‘roid screenings). I am constantly yelling “what?!” and “no way!” and, well, you get the idea, in disbelief. Plus, everyone is really nice to each other, I mean after The Wolf pummels a guy he usually helps him up, gives him a smile, and tells him something along the lines of “good job.”

At first, American Gladiators will come off as over the top and it is, but almost artfully so. The drama, action, special effects, etc. come together perfectly. It may not be the result of intentional and superb direction, but it works.

The one criticism I have can easily be turned into a compliment: at times it is more than obvious that there is a writer’s strike going down. In fact, a friend of mine and I are keeping a log of all the one-liner, none writer approved gems. Example, “justice was served… facially!”

I feel a need to address the fact that American Gladiators is a “remake” and that there are “hardcore” fans out there that watched the late ’80s, early 90’s American Gladiators when it was first on air and think this “new” Gladiators isn’t as cool. To quote a fellow I met recently, “yeah I watched American Gladiators, when it was cool,” referring the 80s-90s run. These people are cheating themselves by criticizing and refusing to watch this “new” American Gladiators.

First, it’s honestly better than the “original.”It is parallel to the original in almost every way, except all of the obstacles, etc. benefit from 21st century technologies, making them a lot more bad ass, the gladiators are bigger, there’s lots of falling into water, and the hosts are Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali. Second, stop trying to be so fucking hip. It’s awesome… so awesome. Honestly, they’re basically the same show – one was just filmed a decade and a half ago and the other wasn’t.

You can watch every episode on NBC. Do it. It’s on Monday nights, check your local listings. A second season has been secured.

Bellow is an American Gladiators‘ promo. I thought it was pretty damn epic.

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