Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Gladiator Nostalgia

In September of 1989 America was treated to a spectacle of strength, speed, and competition that would last for the next 7 years. American Gladiators gave us red white and blue spandex clad warriors who would destroy all challengers that dared to get in their way. I remember watching these hulking figures with names like Nitro, Zap, Turbo, and Ice. It was exciting to see real competition and I don't think I'm alone in my fond memories which is why I am so excited that they brought the show back.

The new American Gladiators (check out the official NBC page for the show) just began and I can't tell you how happy I am. Ever since I heard it was coming back I have been excited and trying to get everyone I know to watch. I was a bit worried that they would try and make this new version flashy and silly and somehow take away from the competition but I have to say I am quite pleased. They changed the costumes, now the gladiators wear silver (I guess the red white and blue stars and stripes patriotism doesn't have the same appeal that it did in the 1980's - oh the days of American flag fashion). While they have added a few new events most of the great ones from the original show (assault, joust, hang tough, and of course the eliminator to name a few) are still part of the competition. The new gladiators seem like good choices though they somehow feel smaller than the old ones, though I guess leaner is a better way to say it. The women are sexy (I have to say Crush & Siren are my current faves) and cut and the men are forces to be reconed with like the 6'8" Justice who towers above everyone or Titan who seems to be as wide as he is tall. I think Hulk Hogan was the ideal choice to host the show. Seeing him reinforces the nostalgia of the original show - ah the heroes of my youth. Unfortunately they gave him a flop of a co-host in Laila Ali. I understand why they chose her in that she is an athletic icon and certainly not opposed to being part of competitive reality shows but this cannot make up for the fact of how poorly spoken she is. It's painful to hear her try and interview contestants. When competitors are falling over tired and completely out of breath and they still sound better than the person interviewing them there is a huge problem. It goes beyond fumbling over words to the point where she sounds relatively incompetant. You'd think after being interviewed every week while she was on Dancing With the Stars perhaps she would learn some sort of speaking skills but this doesn't seem to be the case and that indicates she probably won't get any better at it. My gosh there are plenty of female athletes out there that probably could do a better job and some with names just as big. What about Venus or Serena Williams? Both of them are strong, sexy, and from what I have heard in interviews well spoken. I guess it doesn't really matter though since her camera time is so limited. So aside from Laila I only have one other problem with the show so far. They have not figured out how to shoot it yet which is kind of funny since they could have referenced the 7 seasons of the original show to see how to get the best camera angles on the events. But none of these things take away from how fun this show is. The events still rock and true competition is always thrilling to watch.

Perhaps this is a good time to bring this show back. At a time where kids look up to spoiled talentless tarts who gain fame by having sex on camera in night vision and drugged out train wrecks who would be better off if they never left rehab, maybe it would nice to see kids look up to people who gain fame for being strong, athletic, healthy (or at least give the appearance of health) individuals - both the competitors and the gladiators. Standard athletes seem to have lost much of their appeal (not that women's athletics ever really got publicity or fan fare). Perhaps silver suited goliaths is the way to go, let kids work to get the the body and skills of a gladiator, let them want to compete.

Anyway I give American Gladiators my seal of approval. It seems that NBC gave it a home on Mondays at 8pm so check it out.