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Old 01-06-2019, 11:46 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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The Titan Games

So Dwayne Johnson, formerly of a persona named after a geological structure (and just MNSHO, I think it’s time we moved past that...the Attitude Era was a long time ago, folks), has become quite possibly the single most marketable personality on the planet, which means that he can pretty much write whatever ticket he wants. And while big budget action movies are fine and all, these days the true mark of megastardom is creating your own reality show. NBC, after seeing American Ninja Warrior become a runaway success, no doubt was quite eager to latch onto the potentially next big thing. And so, while wrestling fans wait to see if XFL Electric Boogaloo is even going to have enough damn players come game time, they have this to tide them over.

Since no one else seems to have caught the spirit, I’ve taken the liberty of doing a play-by-play of the premiere episode. Airs on Thursdays at 7:00; repeat on Saturday.

This will not be a regular thing for me like American Ninja Warrior Junior, so don’t be expecting it. I just want to give you all some idea of what it’s like, and then I’ll comment only if I see something noteworthy.

0:00 – We begin with a montage of contestants doing various training exercises while DJ expounds on why he made this show. “From the beginning, I wanted to redefine what an athletic competition could be. I wanted to create a platform for people who always had the ability but never had the chance to unlock their full potential.” Yeah, sure, such a pity American Gladiators had to get cancelled, right? The only thing possibly of note here is that Brehanna Daniels is NASCAR’S first ever black female tire changer. Question to all you NASCAR buffs...was this, like, actually a thing? I don’t recall even ESPN ever hyping this up, and they hype up everything.

0:03 – The man has arrived. He takes the stage to a...healthy reception. The announcer is Cari Champion, who does an adequate job tonight.

0:04 – Jumping right into the opening match, by which I mean obligatory trite boring profiles for the contestants. By day Emily Andzulis is a healer/masseuse, but by night, she does choreographed joint locks and beats the stuffing out of a heavy bag, which is about as far from what Champion calls it as it’s freaking possible to get. Ayonna Procter is a physical therapist, but she can also slowly dribble two basketballs at once. Cool.

0:06 – Shot of the announcers Liam McHugh and Alex “Golden Boy” Mendez. All things considered, they’re not bad at all. I’d take them over Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila any day. They eagerly announce the first contest, Herculean Pull. It takes place on the “Pyramid of Pain”, which is very plainly a trapezoid with flat sides. And already I have reservations...until the contest has been established, you generally want to avoid pretentious names so you don’t set unreasonable expectations and get off on the wrong foot. There’s a reason American Ninja Warrior took so long to implement things like “Time Bombs” and “En Garde”. There are two heavy wooden poles on each end, and one final pole which goes through the structure, and the object is to pull out every pole. Assuming that one contestant doesn’t completely run away with it, that’s going to turn the final pole into a tug-of-war, and from then on it becomes remaining strength against remaining strength. Even better, they can’t see each other since they’re on opposite ends.

Sounds fun. Let’s do this!

0:08 – Both women work hard, and the poles come out with so much force that it throws them to the ground. Andzulis is the first to the long pole and pulls hard unopposed, but she’s unable to keep her footing and has to drop to the ground. She’s no more than ten feet from victory when Proctor charges up and locks on. We have a battle, folks! Back and forth and back and forth, every inch a struggle...man, this is way more exciting than Survivor, isn’t it? Brief cutaway to DJ, who helpfully informs us that they are digging deep. Proctor is gradually gaining ground, and it looks like Andzulis is about to give way, but she evens it up. DJ says that it comes down to who wants it more, and it’s looking like it’s going to be a long night for us. And Proctor falls! But Andzulis is just about gassed and can’t capitalize! The battle continues!...and!...

It’s over. Proctor finally has nothing left, and the pole hits Andzulis’ marker, granting her the win. Wow, what a contest! I can almost guarantee the rest aren’t going to be anywhere near as good! DJ comforts the loser.

0:10 – Okay, so where does that...oh. Oh, crap. Proctor is done. No, not done for the evening, done period, gone, kaput, nice knowin’ ya. We get our first look of the tournament structure. It’s single elimination, four on the women’s side and for on the men’s. You lose, your Games is over. Are over. Whatever. No loser’s bracket, no second chance, no steal, you’re just plain finished. Seriously, DJ’s had years to work this out (by his own admission!), and this is the best he could come up with? There are reasons why a straight single elimination is a terrible format for a reality show, and “get to see half the field for like ten seconds” about six of them.

0:11 – Whole buncha pretense, and it’s off to commercial break #1.

0:15 – We’re back, and DJ is giving a pep talk to the contestants. Between this and the wanting it more stuff, you’d think he was angling for an NFL coaching job. Hey, he played football in college, it’s not that farfetched!

0:16 – Seriously, this is the first time I’m hearing this “blood, sweat, respect” stuff. Heck, I know all about “If you smell what The Rock is cooking”, and I don’t even follow wrestling.

Moving on. Mike Evans works really hard despite not being an athlete in high school! Given the general level of high school athletics, that’s not saying much. And he gets into the dead mother stuff and all my interest is gone. James Jean-Louis is “The Haitian Sensation” and also trains hard. He was arrested earlier in life; doesn’t say for what. Let’s hope it wasn’t securities fraud. That one’s just despicable.

0:19 – And...we’re doing a completely different contest, Hammering Ram. The object is to pound a circular steel plate with a hammer to knock out a locking bolt and free a battering ram suspended on a rope, swing said ram against a door to break it open, and finally grab the victory pull-chain or whatever they’re calling it.

More philosophical ramblings from DJ.

0:21 – And...it’s on? I didn’t see or hear any starting signal, but Jean-Louis is pounding away, so...yeah. Both men free the rams at nearly the same time...somehow. I couldn’t see how the rope was attached to the bolt whaddyacallum. But regardless, they’re taking big swings. It’s going to be a tight one. Jean-Louis is grunting hard, clearly exerting a lot of energy. And he breaks through first and is right on the pull-chain! Evans breaks through on his very next swing, dashes through, and realizes he was just a bit too slow. Dangit.

0:22 – Jean-Louis manhandles his son in celebration, and I’m praying real hard that he has enough grip strength left after his ordeal, as there’s nothing but cold hard concrete beneath them.

Aaaand, cue commercial break #2!

0:27 – Our first shot of Mount Olympus (), where all four prelim winners will meet for a shot at whatever they’re calling sectionals here. Will not speculate on what DJ’s Baby With Godzilla business is about.

Profile of Ben Afuvai, who was really chunky earlier in life. I think. I’m not good at judging body shapes. Anthony Fuhrman is a really, really muscular veteran. I’m reminded of how every killer, ripping physique in American Ninja Warrior stinks up the joint at some point. Hoping that doesn’t happen here.

0:30 – Next event, Uprising. Both contestants are attached to a heavy weight via a pulley, and they have to run as hard as they can to send the weight upwards through concrete platforms. First one to smash all four and reach the victory chain wins. Huh...I’m already dealing with enough injustice issues due to this single elimination nonsense, and now you’re telling me the contests are going to target completely different muscle groups and skills? It’s complete randomness? Was this what you took away from your time in the WWE, DJ?

Oh...it’s that spark cannon thing way, way in the back that announces the start of the contest. Got it.

0:31 – A complete laughter as Fuhrman smashes both the 1st and 2nd platforms on the first crack and the remaining two at the same time, while Afuvai barely manages one. The whole contest took 24 seconds start to finish. Geez...how would you like to be the guy who gets the call from DJ, and you’re all excited that you’re going to be on a nationally televised reality show, and the grand total time you spend competing is less than half a minute?? For a contest designer, DJ certainly is a great wrestler.

0:32 – Commercial break #3. Wooden poles don’t pay for themselves, you know!

0:36 – Just had to do that fake-confusing-a-movie-role-with-reality thing, did you?

Julie Dudley is a grandmother! A grandmother! A grandmother grandmother grandmother grandmother grandmother! Remember that fact, it’s going to be something of a theme with her! Tina Rivas is a metalworker, the only woman employed at her company, which is, in fact, weird, but honestly, so is reality TV. Six of one, champ.

0:40 – The contest...Hammering Ram. So apparently DJ tried to turn prelims into wild, berserk, flailing anarchy...and failed. Dang...honestly didn’t think he had it in him. Nothing to write home about here; Dudley easily outdoes her opponent in both aspects and wins in a walk. “Can your grandmother do that?” Well, no, but there’s only so much you can expect of a dead woman.

0:42 – Commercial break #4. If DJ is serious about giving 110% taking it one game at a time, he really needs to have somewhat less dead air.

0:46 – Showdown at Mount Olympus! Quickie runthrough accompanied by yet more DJ pretense, and then it’s time for James Jean-Louis and Anthony Fuhrman to take the stage. They talk about some stuff.

0:47 – God damn, if DJ talked half as much as he does, it’d be way too much, if “way too much” were “at least double what would normally be considered ‘way too much’”.

0:48 – FINALLY. Yeesh. The first task is 1000 lb Wall, where they have to knock over the wall in question. Both manage it easily.

Second up is Gates of Olympus, where they have the slightly Sisyphean task of pushing an increasing series of three gates up an incline. Jean-Louis takes a slight lead here, while Fuhrman looks like he’s already laboring a bit.

Third is Rolling Ascent, a series of six massive rollers, each slightly higher than the last. This is unexpected, the first task we’ve seen all day that requires agility more than raw power. Fuhrman...is struggling badly here. Jean-Louis, meanwhile, has no trouble, the rollers barely moving as he scampers over them.

He’s on to the fourth, The Cliffs, a vertical wall where competitors have to actually break through with their hands and feet, then use the holes to ascend. Not sure about this...a bit too Double Dare if you ask me. Shot of Fuhrman finally getting the hang of Rolling Ascent, and per usual, who even needs a split screen? Jean-Louis gets started on the wall. Slight mishap about halfway up as he nearly loses his footing, but he recovers.

Jean-Louis maintains the lead going into his fifth task, Torch Crank, where he has to turn a massive crank to pull a torch pillar vertical; a blast of fire indicates success and allows him to continue. Despite struggling a bit, h e manages it in a pretty good time.

He’s on to the sixth, The Descent. This is a downward slide interrupted at three points by vertical walls. Meanwhile, Fuhrman was making good progress with the crank but his progress slows to a crawl just a few feet from success. Jean-Louis, despite highly visible fatigue, completes the final wall while Fuhrman is still on the torch, and I get the feeling that his time’s about to run out.

Jean-Louis begins the seventh, Ball & Chain. He needs to drag a heavy ball via the long chain wrapped around it over to a “tomb” which marks the final task. (I assume there’s some prohibition against rolling the ball, which would seem to me a far more sensible option otherwise.) Fuhrman finally gets the torch vertical but takes a hard hit on the first wall and is slow getting up.

Jean-Louis, after a lot of grunting and sweating, makes it to the tomb, a concrete box with a breakable top. There’s a sledgehammer attached to the end of the chain, which he must now use to break into the tomb and search for the “relic”. (Nobody provided a name for this final task, so I’m just going to call it “Final Task”. I’m imaginative when I feel like it, dammit. ) Fuhrman is still stuck on the second wall by the time Jean-Louis breaks through. After a bit of feeling around he finds what he’s looking for...a metal wire logo. Somehow I don’t think “relic” is the proper word.

Nonetheless, all he has to do now is stick in the stand at the end and turn it 90 degrees, which he does. Flames and sparks go off, and this one’s in the books. For a little while it looked like it could be a great contest, but Fuhrman simply didn’t have the stamina.

0:53 – Postmatch interview. Damn, it feels weird hearing a guy talk about “second chances” on a show with a single elimination format with no reprieve whatsoever. DJ makes it official by putting a medal around his neck.

0:54 – Commercial break #5. We’re not even done with the first round of competition.

0:58 – C’mon! Which is it, “Titan” or “Titan Champion”? You gotta be consistent about these things!

0:59 – After a little more empty hot air...jeez, was this really one of WWE’s best talkers?...Emily Andzulis and Julie Dudley hit the mountain. Dudley briefly has the lead after the half-ton, but Andzulis has better form on the gates and takes the lead, and she never relinquishes it. Dudley gets dunked repeatedly on the rollers and is just a spectator after that. (Impressive strength by Andzulis on Ball & Chain!)

1:03 – Hey, uh, if you win this thing and none of your family members are present, what do you do? I mean, it’d be great if my sister was there for you to point the camera at, but she has commitments!

Ooh, she earned your respect, that’s totally something she should give a rip about!

All right, ad victor spolarum! We see a board with two rows of eight spaces each, one for the men and one for the women, with Emily Andzulis and James Jean-Louis’ pictures beneath the 1 spot. Once all eight Titans/Titan Champions have been crowned, they’re going to...compete...in an 8-way contest...somehow. Guess you’ll learn when I learn.

1:04 – We’re precisely halfway through the premiere episode and now are cutting to commercial break #6. My job has better pacing than this.

1:08 – Goddamn, I really, really, super-duper hope to hell that girl’s emotion was genuine...

1:09 – Thong La is an aerospace engineer who just happens to be totally buff! Geez, at this rate it’s going to be a absolute shocker the next time we see a tech geek who isn’t ripped. Quinn Rivera is from Cody, Wyoming, population 9,000! I wasn’t keeping track, but have we ever had a contestant on one of these shows who was from a big city? I think I saw someone from Miami on American Ninja Warrior once.

1:11 – Round 2, Contest 1. Anyway, this is Power Vault, and the initial object is to place the pole inside a ring set on the floor and use it to launch over to the next platform. (The platforms look like trapezoids, and at this point I just have to assume it’s just a weird fetish.) Rivera has slightly better form and takes a slim lead. On to the...cubes with numbers on them; they must tip them into the gap before proceeding to the next pole. (Lara Croft on a HALO, that’s your idea of a “video game”? For who, Jack Thompson? You were on several wrestling titles, you should know better!) La, running out of either stamina or confidence, completely loses his form on the latter platforms, and this one’s over as a contest. River plants the pole in the hole at the end, climbs to the pull-chain, and seals the deal.

1:15 – You guessed it, commercial break #7. If I wasn’t keep track, I would’ve completely lost track by now.

1:19 – Inopportune Freudian slip as DJ calls himself the “sexist man alive”. And...geez. Joking about setting up an obstacle in his backyard and making the announcers pay for it. Stop. Stop right now.

Marianne Sheehan...good FSM. Get help. Just get help. Please. Nikkie Neal was really competitive at an early age because she was the youngest of five. I...I just can’t relate to that. My sister was the globe-hopping achiever, I liked Lone Wolf, and we were both fine with that arrangement.

Next contest, Cyclone. A heavy ball is suspended from a chain attached to the ceiling, with a rope hanging from the bottom. The contestants must swing the ball around via the lower rope; the faster it moves, the wider it swings. When it swings wide enough, it will strike one of the pillars standing on the outside. First to knock down all five pillars wins. And of course, because he wasn’t coming across as pretentious enough DJ has to proclaim that this contest will not disappoint before it’s even begun. This guy is seriously starting to get on my nerves.

1:24 - Neal gets off to a fast start, dropping two pillars before Sheehan has even gotten a handle on the swings. Sheehan gets her first, but Neal gets her third, followed quickly by her fourth. Just one to go, but Neal seems to have lost her rhythm, missing the final pillar on two passes. Meanwhile, Sheehan slowly gets back in it with a third knockdown. A third miss on the money ball by Neal! WILL THERE BE...no, Sheehan is completely gassed at this point, and Neal finally finds the way. Wow, didn’t think she’d have that kind of energy after an effort like that!

1:26 – Commercial break #8. [insert stuff here]

1:29 – Oh...oh...oh my Yukari. They went there. They actually freaking went there. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the solution to how they were going to fit two full rounds into a two hour time slot...a freaking waiweewuwwawei. For those of you who don’t follow the American Ninja Warrior thread, that stands for “while we were away”, a completely ham-handed way to save time by showing an extremely condensed highlight reel of the competition. Which means that someone is going to leave the show after literally being on camera for a few seconds. That would be David Reid, a veteran who lost part of his left leg in Afghanistan. He and his opponent, Cole Wadsworth, competed on Cyclone. It was a total wipeout, as Reid didn’t get a single one to fall while Wadsworth just racked them up. His final swing was so powerful the ball actually went outside the pillar, and it was the rope that took it down.

Oh, bonus, screaming directly into the camera! You’re just taking the very best ideas from ANW, aren’t you?

1:31 – Charity Witt is a personal trainer by day, powerlifter by night. And has a medical condition of some kind. Whatevs. Mariah Counts is one of those multi-sport jocks, and she also sings and plays guitar. Fine, don’t want to think she’s some meathead or anything.

Last contest of the day, Heavy Metal. The contestants must place a pole on their shoulders with a chain attached on either end, then climb an uphill ramp. They further up they go, the more links will come off the ground and the more weight they’ll have to support. Once they reach the top, they must set the pole in a crank and pull up the entire chain length and the concrete block attached to it. Once the block hits a switch, the game is won.

1:35 – Something something burden something steep. Thanks for sharing, DJ.

Both women set a good pace in the early going, but at around the halfway mark, they begin to falter. The poles get repeatedly unbalanced and they look like they’re on the verge of falling. Witt gamely soldiers on and continues her inexorable pace, while Counts has pulled to nearly a halt. Witt is at the top while Counts still has a third of the way to go; by the time she’s locked in, Witt has already taken several turns. Witt has a big lead, but she’s expended a massive amount of energy and every inch is a struggle.

Finally, mercifully, Witt completes the last few notches and wins it. Man, that was intense!

1:38 – Commercial break #9, and I’m getting the sinking feeling it won’t be the last.

1:43 – Sheesh, I feel like I’ve walked up a ramp carrying hundreds of pounds...screw the idiotic trash talking and let’s just get this the hell over with...

1:44 – Neal is faster through the first two tasks but gets spun around by the rollers. Witt, after a couple false starts, nimbly leaps up the remaining distances, and she’s the first to the wall. She gets up first, but Witt beats her to the crank. We get to see both torches as the cranking duel commences. Neal gets the fire blast about three seconds ahead of her opponent. It’s was an incredibly tight race going up the mountain, but Witt is now visibly fatigued. Neal maintains the lead going to the ball. It’s taking her a while to pick up the sledgehammer and get a move on...and Witt grabs the chain and takes off! The last thing I was expecting here was a seesaw battle! Neal is wailing, and her pace has slowed. Witt has a chance to put this one away, but that final pull seems to have sapped her remaining stamina, and her swings are sloppy and off the mark. She fishes for the relic before she’s completely into the tomb, all the while Neal refuses to quit. Neal reaches the tomb! She’s swinging...and her blows are even sloppier than Witt’s. Witt finally has the relic in her hands, and that’s the nail in the coffin. Or tomb, if you prefer.

1:49 – You suffer the kind of condition she does, you use the word “heart” a lot. It’s okay. She earned her moment.

1:50 – Yep, commercial break #10, right on cue.

1:53 – Never before in my life have I felt more justified in using the expression “yada yada yada”. And I never even watched Seinfeld.

Oh, now we get a profile for Cole Wadsworth? Fine. He works on a farm. Right. Like all those American Ninja Warrior Junior competitors. Hey, I can’t be too surprised; all that food has to come from somewhere.

1:55 – Haaaahhh...such speed...such power...such energy...easily two of the best competitors in the competition. Two magnificent athletic displays. Truly a sight to behold. Which, of course, begs the question of why they had to meet IN THE GODDAM FREAKING PRELIMS, MEANING THAT WE LOSE ONE OF THE BEST COMPETITORS IN THE PRELIMS. Give me a break...tennis fans raise a firestorm every time the two best men meet in the semis; there would riots if it happened in the first round. Seriously, NBC, this crap is getting out of hand. I know it’s not easy trying to predict who’s going to shine and who’s going to stumble, but can you at least make an effort, dammit??

Wadsworth wins. Rivera loses. Yay.

==================================================

I'll give this show credit for one thing: The competition, and what these amateur athletes are capable of, is amazing. It’d be nice if we could have a whole lot more of it. That’s the main problem, there’s simply way too little action. And I’m not just talking about profiles (which honestly weren’t that annoying); it’s just far too meager a contest. One match with one or two tasks, one match with a bunch of tasks, and that’s it. I’ll keep watching for now, but I’m definitely not optimistic. DJ runs the show; if he sees the need for change, there will be change. Here’s hoping.
  #2  
Old 01-07-2019, 11:37 AM
Sir T-Cups Sir T-Cups is offline
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Me and Mrs. Cups got an advanced screening of these first two episodes at Universal a month or two ago and enjoyed the show well enough. My biggest complaint is there are too many voices happening at once (Honestly you can just ditch The Rock) and some of the events aren't really that fiar to the competition. There's no way in hell anyone can beat a bodybuilder in that "Break the barrier" run challenge, but at the same time there's no way in hell a bodybuilder is going to have the endurance to complete the full Mt. Olympus trial.

The ICYMI segment just tells me they're going to have a special second chance/losers bracket.
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  #3  
Old 01-07-2019, 02:38 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
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I like shows like this generally, and to be frank, I was bored. I think it was indeed too little action, in events that didn't make a whole lot of sense, broken up by too many talk-pieces. I'll stick with Ninja Warrior or Beastmaster.
  #4  
Old 01-14-2019, 10:19 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Sheesh, it’s been four days...is there really no interest in this?

Ah, whatever. Here’s the Youtube link. Quick recap this time.

Women’s prelim 1 - Christina Luna (money troubles!) vs. Melissa Alcantra (overweight!)
Lunar Impact – Both competitors climb up to a curved walk way 30’ above ground level then push against a heavy wall on a track. First to push the other over wins. (No time limit! )

This was by far the best contest of the night, and I continue to be a bit concerned that this show keeps leading with the haymaker. I can’t do this one justice, largely ‘cause I’m too bored. See it for yourself here. Alcantra comes back from the brink to win it.

Men’s prelim 1 – Bridger Buckley (bike accident!) vs. Robbie Strauss (baby lifting!)
Hammering Ram

Buckley frees the ram well before his opponent, but can’t get a good swing and fails to do any real damage to the door. DJ jokes repeated about “the next one’s it”, with depressingly predictable results. Strauss frees the ram but gets next to no velocity on the 350-pound ram. The contest has ground to a halt, so much so that DJ goes down to...yell encouragement. Buckley finally finds the way, breaks through, and blessedly ends this.

Women’s prelim 2 – Carla Miranda (250-pound deadlift!) vs. Nika Sedghi (dead granny!)
Tower Drop – A hollow plastic tower with numerous openings on the outside, six of which have poles lodged through them. Contestants must climb up and pull out each of the poles, in order, before proceeding to the “Golden Pole” at the top which has a 50 pound ball resting on it. The first one who removes that pole and frees the ball...is permitted to climb the rest of the way to the victory chain. (Sheesh, that hardly seems necessary. Getting stuck in a rut is a bad thing, especially for a fresh new show.)

Sedghi is simply a much better climber, reaching the money pole while Miranda still has two to go. Sedghi struggles with the big weight but eventually frees it. Pretty easy win.

Now...ohhhhhhhh. Craaaaaaaapppppp. Melissa Alcantra is hurting. The announcers put the best spin on this they can, but it’s plainly obvious that she’s in no shape to tackle Mount Olympus. Even if she could somehow force herself, it’d be no contest. Plenty of tension in the air as we go to commercial.

Back from commercial. It’s official: Alcantra left knee flared up badly after that terrible effort. Since this show doesn’t have alternates, that means that the invisible judges (so there are limits to DJ’s power) need to pick one of the two prelim losers to battle Sedghi for Last Eight Standing hon...

...damn, that was quick. Luna gets the nod. Can’t really argue with this decision, as she had a great match and looked stronger than Miranda, but I’d appreciate a little more explanation for these potentially huge decisions.

Men’s prelim 3 – Steven Hoppe (cancer survivor!) vs. Montez Blair (overachiever!)
Uprising – Correction, there are five levels, not four as I said previously. This time the third platform is twice as thick as the others.

Both of them have trouble with the third platform, and it soon becomes plainly obvious that that’s the real finish line here. Hoppe makes an incredible lunge with smashes it and the fourth, and the rest is just a formality.

Men’s final – Buckley vs. Hoppe
An energetic and very tight contest, both men taking leads but unable to pull away. Buckley is just a little faster with the hammer, and that enables him to win by a neck.

Women’s final – Sedghi vs. Luna
Alcantra can’t be a part of this, but at least the judges were kind enough to repeatedly interrupt the action with shots of her screaming directly into the camera. ( I don’t know how much more of this I can take, folks...) Sedghi wins this one running away.

Additional notes:
- Given that these are all complete unknowns, I really think each of the four competitors should wear a different color. When both reds or both blues win the opening contest, how do they decide who switches?
- DJ talks way too much. I know no one’s ever going to call him out on it, but it’s really one of the worst parts of the show, and I guarantee that it’s going to turn off viewers.

‘Kay, give it one more week and see if there’s anything left to discuss.
  #5  
Old 01-15-2019, 10:34 AM
typoink typoink is offline
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I really expected to like this show. It looked like American Ninja Warrior with a bit of American Gladiators and a dash of wrestling. And it sorta is, but...it doesn't work.

The announcers just aren't good enough. Dwayne Johnson straight-up shouldn't be involved; his usual charisma and bravado is completely wasted and he's basically just doing the "c'mon! Get it!" schtick of an annoying personal trainer.

The events aren't interesting enough. A lot of them don't look "hard" so much as "slow" and "how quickly can X do Y?" isn't as compelling as "CAN X do Y?"

The tone is all off. They should have leaned in to the goofiness more and done something sillier and more fun -- OR more over-the-top in a WWE sort of way. ANW throws a TON of competitors at the screen, but somehow makes them all more individually interesting than anybody on Titan Games.

Swing and miss.
  #6  
Old 01-18-2019, 04:02 PM
DKW DKW is offline
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Oh, heck, it's my vacation, I guess I can do one more...

Christopher Watts (dead sarge!) vs. Josh Ingraham (jock chef!)
Heavy Metal

Ingraham reaches the top a little faster, but Watts has much better from on the crank and gets a commanding victory.

Jasmin Guinn (sick granny!) vs. Ashley Huhn (spec ed teacher!)
Herculean Pull - This time all the poles go through the structure. There are a total of 4 silver poles; the competitor must remove two before going to the gold.

Both go for the same pole at the get-go. There's a brief struggle before Guinn surrenders and takes the one next to it. The go to the silvers on the other side and take the same pole again, but this time Guinn immediately gives it up. She's quicker on her feet and manages to get the first pull on the gold unopposed. She makes a tremendous pull but loses her footing and falls to the mat, and Huhn is back in it. Now Guinn has no choice but to fight. It's a stuggle...lots of loud grunting (which is far more tolerable than screaming any day)...and...no drama, Guinn is simply too strong. It takes a while, but her victory is never in doubt.

And now a waiweewuwwawei? After, like, four minutes of action? Really?

Erin Lavoie (Lumberjack Games!) vs. Jess Griffith (RN!)
Heavy Metal

Blah blah 10 pounds, blah blah refrigerator blah blah Griffith won.

Frank Sansonetti (firefighter!) vs. Maximus Okoye (Nigeria!)
Atlas Smash - Two 350 pound concrete balls hang by chains. The competitors must pound away at them with sledgehammers until they've broken off enough to lift them via a rope pulley to a marker.

Sansonetti immediately gets off on the wrong foot, falling on the platform and kicking the hammer off. Despite that setback, he's faster on the hammer and gets off a few nice chunks. Then he goes for the rope while most of the concrete is still on...and...that's some impressive power! Okoye finishes on on the first stone, but unfortunately he looks gassed, and Sansonetti has this in the bag as long as he avoids any further mistakes. He makes another big mistake, going for the rope while the ball is still too heavy. Back to work. He's much more thorough now, the ball looking not unlike an apple core when he's finally ready. Okoye still can't get anything going. Sansonetti goes for it again, and while it's a big struggle, he gets it. Really no contest after Okoye ran out of steam.

Okay, we're at the 42-minute mark when we get our first look at Mount Olympus. Plenty of time. Keep that in mind.

Men's final - Sansonetti vs. Watts
Watts kicks things off with a rather silly-looking jump, which of course fails to do a damn thing against the push wall. He finally manages it but looks to be struggling with the gates. Big powerhouse Sansonetti (who doesn't look at all drained after his recent Atlassian effort) has no trouble with either and takes a sizable lead. He on the first roller. He'off the first roller. He's on again. He's off again. Watts finishes the gates and gets right on the rollers...ohhhh. I hesistate to use the term "shid" (i.e. Show Him How It's Done, SHHID), but this looks a lot like it. Watts gets a good jump on each roller, getting his center of gravity past the midpoint and not getting rolled back. He looks lithe as he bounds up the hazards. Watts is on his way up the break wall while Sansonetti has conquered but one roller. He manages a second...and now he's fatigued, and this is where his ambitions rot and die, Watts completing the remainder of the course completely unopposed.

Man, this is something you never want to see. Of course there was always the possibility that someone would get hopelessly stymied at some point, but you hoped that anyone good enough to make it here would be able to avoid that fate. That's the problem with having ONE MATCH to decide who makes it to the big dance. That's just not enough! Even American Ninja Warrior Junior has two matches!

Let's just hope the women can give us a better contest.

Oh, FYI...Guinn in prematch comments: "In my senior year of basketball, I tore two ligaments and a tendon in my left foot....But it doesn't matter how far you fall, it's just about how far you get up." Keep that in mind.

Women's final - Guinn vs. Griffith
Both need several pushes to get that big wall over and hit the gates at the same time. Griffith is just a bit stronger and takes a slim lead. She scrambles up the rollers without any trouble; Guinn looks good but falls hard on the fourth roller. Griffith is on to the break wall. She's furious on the attack...too furious, as it turns out, as she falls two thirds of the way up. Didn't look like her technique was off, she just plain went too fast. She gets right back up; Guinn, who's setting a slow pace, can't get too comfortable. Guinn reaches for the top...

Oh. Crap. She goes right for the final push while her feet are still too far down, and her feet don't get firmly set and just plain slip out. She plummets all the way to the bottom...and stays there. Oh, geez, she's crying.

And with that, this one's over as a contest. Incredibly Guinn, down to one good leg, manages to get up and continue, but it's just window dressing at this point. Griffith in a walkover.

For these past three weeks, I've wondered just what it was that bothered me about this show. Granted, the host is pretty annoying most of the time, there's far too much dead space, the format is stupid, and there's too much screaming, but it isn't even a fifth as bad as The Voice, American Idol, America's Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, or for that matter American Ninja Warrior. Upon reflection, the main problem is that it just doesn't give me a reason to give a damn who wins. The contestants are completely interchangable ciphers. There's nothing I haven't seen a thousand times before; military this, tragic death that. And the fact that we see so little of each makes it completely impossible to develop rooting interests. It's the same problem with Hell's Kitchen; what the hell do I care which raging headcase gets the job, especially since (s)he will be lucky to last three months anyway? (Wasn't there one who failed a drug test and was fired without working a single day?)

It looks this this, much like ANW, is just going to need a few years to find its footing. I can see the makings of an excellent or at least entertaining reality show, but at minimum there needs to be less talk and more action.
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