American Gladiators is unbelievable, brother

Crush from American GladiatorsThe newly revamped American Gladiators is the one show that every employee at work watches, and thus, it inevitably becomes a regular topic of discussion over lunch. The show is simply too awesome not to watch, though not always for the right reasons. It’s everything the original series was, which most of us were fascinated with as kids, and more. Sure, American Gladiators may not be as strenuous as, say, boxing, wrestling, or mixed martial arts, but it takes itself so seriously that it’s hard not to get caught up in the epic narrative.

Each contender has a tragic life story and/or proud wide-eyed children looking on from the stands, and the chance at winning the $100,000 is portrayed as their major chance of success in life. If contender X doesn’t win, he won’t be able to buy the house that his destitute always-supportive mother so desperately deserves! And the show isn’t so foam-padded that there isn’t any danger; we’re just five episodes into the season and two people have already sustained leg injuries in the Power Ball event bad enough to force them to drop out of the competition, spinning their tale of woe to the hosts and begrudgingly wishing their replacements luck even as they hobble around on crutches, wincing with each step.

And I haven’t even brought up the gladiators yet, each of which is a stereotype of a caricature of a stereotype. There’s the trash-talking black guy from the streets! The crazed tribal warrior from the Pacific islands! The tough, hulking Viking warrior! The finely chiseled Greek god! (Interrupt me if you’ve heard any of these before.) We’ve had a great time in the office simply ranking the female gladiators in order of attractiveness, with one ranking by a woman at the office being a particular bone of contention. Fury as #2? No way! All her attempted rationalizations — that Fury would look better without her topknot ponytail, and that the rest of the female gladiators are all wearing a lot more makeup — fall on deaf ears. At least we can all agree that Crush, pictured above, is the hottest (and her gladiator name helpfully suggests exactly what we should do about it).

The one deficient part of the show, however, is Hulk Hogan. He consistently, utterly, and terrifying fails in his duty as a host. The excitement is there, but the eloquence is not. His post-event commentary consists of random permutations of the words “unbelievable”, “dude”, and “brother”, as in “Dude, that was so unbelievable brother that I couldn’t believe it!” or “Brother, I couldn’t believe that! That was unbelievable dude!” The whole time he’s speaking I can’t help but thinking, over and over, “God dammit, learn a few more adjectives already. One isn’t enough.”

It’s painfully obvious that the writer’s strike is in full effect, because unlike his stint in the WWE, he has no one writing his lines for him now. He did well in the WWE, where the primary job qualification seemed to be how many ccs of steroids he could inject in a day, but now that he’s trying to host, well, the resultant lack of intelligence caused by massive steroid overdoses and repeated untreated concussions isn’t helping him any. Even the contenders seem to be picking up on his imbecility, repeatedly using the words “brother” and “dude” when speaking with him in the same manner that you might tailor your speech when speaking with a small child, sticking exclusively with words you know they are familiar with.

Hulk Hogan is such a bad host that he couldn’t even host a tapeworm properly. He’s dragging the show down with the staggering totality of his ineptitude, and I’m sure the studio executives all stand around in the editing room afterwards wincing at his performances, trying (and failing) to come up with the least terrible footage to put together into the broadcast. If you kneel down, face Hollywood, and strain your mind in just the right way, you can telepathically feel the urgency with which those studio executives are looking for a replacement. Here’s hoping they find one soon.

3 Responses to “American Gladiators is unbelievable, brother”

  1. Lee Kinkade Says:

    While reading your review, I asked my husband if he wanted to Tivo the new gladiators. He did not, oddly for the same reason you seem to like it, they are so serious and competitive, much more than in days gone by.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Just because they take it so seriously doesn’t mean the viewer has to. I treat it like a deadpan comedy. That they take it so seriously only makes it funnier to me.

  3. chris j Says:

    The show was actually pretty good. Its was both entertaining and gave you some one to pull for. It is diffently better then the “reality” shows wea re left to watch.