Anyone watching American Ninja Warrior?

This year, American Ninja Warrior is taking place in America. They are running some episodes on NBC during primetime.

I haven’t been watching the prelim runs on G4 on Sundays, just the primetime runs. In general, I like the show. The premise is exciting - try to run the most daunting obstacle course in human history*. The challenges are physically demanding, and stringing them together is a combination of balance, strength, endurance, and judgment.

However, I’m finding the pacing of the show to be dreadful. It is actively annoying. Okay, I enjoy seeing video of some of the stunts the contestants get up to in their own time. Some of those are mindbogglingly crazy. Like hanging by fingertips from a bridge going over traffic, or jumping across gables on a 5 story building, or doing handstands on tops of buildings, bridges, etc. Things where oops = plummet to a distant impact with hard and/or sharp objects.

I can even stand hearing some of the personal sob stories or whatever. Guy who lives in his parent’s living room, guy who lives in his car, youth minister who used to be homeless, guy who’s brother is in Afghanistan, blah blah blah.

What gets me is the blend of who we see and why is inexplicable. They will show one guy, give us a two minute personal history, then show his run through the course and failure on obstacle 4. Aww. Commercial break. “While you were away, we had three more people make their attempts, two of which went out on the Warped Wall, and one of whom made it all the way through. Congrats to Nobody McIgnoresville.”

Now this is not running live. Right? So they didn’t really run three different contestants (at approx 2 - 4 mins each) during one commercial break. Rather, all this was filmed and then edited for our viewing pleasure. Witness that they are running the 6 Regional finals to select contestants to send to the big show, and most episodes are running at 1 hour long, but at least 1 was 2 hours long.

So why do certain people merit all the special attention, while others get glossed over with barely their name mentioned, and maybe a shot of them doing one task, or waving from the top of the tower?

That is the primary complaint. Secondary is the requisite repetiveness that is the nature of TV competition shows in the modern world. “We have to get the attention of all the channel changers who just popped in and don’t know what is going on.” So those of us following along have to hear 47 times that this is the regional finals leading up to the big show in Las Vegas, for the first time.

Couple other minor observations.

One: they are running 6 regions of the US. They have set up the course in different cities for the regionals. But oddly, they have filmed in California, Dallas, and IIRC Ft. Lauderdale. They ran two different regionals in Dallas, and two different regionals in Ft. Lauderdale. They made all the northeasters (Maine, Connecticut, etc) go to Florida for their tryout, made all the folks from the Middle states (Colorado, etc) go to Dallas. I guess they were filming this early enough in the year that the weather was a might cold up north, so they wanted to film the prelims in warmer climes. But they did something strange - they didn’t run the two episodes filmed in Dallas back to back, but spread them out. So it was California, then Dallas, then Florida, then back to Dallas, then back to Florida. Did they actually move the set ups between those shows? Or, more likely, they filmed all in one location before relocating, but just are airing the programs out of order? Odd.

Two: the prelim courses are not consistent between all regions. Sometimes they get one set of obstacles, sometimes they get a different set. Some of them are the same - notably the Quad Steps, the Warped Wall, the Cargo Net. Some of them are swapped out, including the typically third obstacle with some sort of balance beam (rotating balance beam, paddle steps, bungee cord steps), and the big hanging task. They have to climb the Salmon Ladder, then hang by their arms through some task that involves climbing or swinging. One is the Lamp Ladder (globes on posts suspended from above and an incline up, must grip the rounded globes to translate), another some swinging wheels (round wheels at various heights, must grab onehanded at one end, swing across, and grab the next wheel which is mounted at a different height; if you miss, you swing back, and perhaps can’t get enough momentum to get to it a second time). Etc.

In theory, this doesn’t seem precisely fair, but thinking about it it is fair. The challenge is that you will get a series of obstacles and you must cross the obstacles you are presented. They mix and match obstacles across the regions, but each region faces a consistent set. Ultimately, the challenge is to face whatever you are given, so the changeup is an inherent part of the course overall, where there are several stages with different courses.

Anyone else watching? Like it? Hate it? Anyone watching G4? Are they showing more? Do the decisions of who to show make more sense based upon the stuff in the prelim runs on Sunday?

  • A little hyperbole. I’m sure there have been obstacle course that failure = instant death.

I have watched a bunch on G4. I watched most of the Japanese seasons they put on there too. I like the show but usually don’t seek it out. I don’t like a couple of the additions to the American version. Too many Up Close and Personals. The original series does do that but not as much. And the thing I always found fascinating about the Japanese version was the grand prize. There is none. And in 27 or so seasons I think only three completed all the stages. That is a hell of a lot of work for no payoff. This version has a $500,000 prize. I’m not sure if there is no guarantee of a winner or if they will make sure someone comes out on top. There is already a big difference in the way they do it. No time limit. The original had time limits on stages 1,2 and 4. The American version you move forward with the best time but you can’t time out.

How about taking the top twenty contestants of ANW and sticking them on Wipeout?

Totally different vibe to the two shows. Wipeout is about watching people fail, Ninja Warrior (and its offshoots) is about watching people succeed.

It’s a little more complicated than that. There have been very, very few contestants who ultimately succeeded on NW. Those that do have really earned it. On Wipeout people get hit in the face and fall in mud; ha ha. It’s genuinely impressive that people are able to complete some of the Ninja Warrior obstacles.

I’ve been watching it sporadically, but it’s pretty repetitive. I’d rather just watch the finals.

Those dudes are amazing athletes, though. The salmon ladder challenge is particularly daunting.

Who knew there were so many parkour instructors out there?

I’d like to see a similar female version.

Needs more octopus.

I didn’t see the preliminary rounds. Did they have any contestants who were clearly out of their element? On the Japanese shows, I like both the lighthearted round 1 and the more serious later rounds. That is a good mix.

I guess I’ve only seen the G4 prelims. I love it; but have to agree with the sentiments above… I couldn’t watch it if not for the fact that I DVR’d it. I watch it for the athleticism; I don’t particularly care a lot about the back stories. It seems like everyone of those guys has a hard luck story to tell. :rolleyes:

“There is no prize for your victory, but we have three different supervillains who are interested in your services…”

I watch it. I’ve been watching it on G4 since a few seasons before they even had Americans competing on it. I first stumbled across it and went “holy crap! this is awesome!” and ended up watching like 6 episodes in a row.

Yes, it’s completely repetitive. I still have it on DVR to watch.

Loved the original, not so sold on the American version. I’ve been DVR’ing it, but I invariably delete the regionals without watching them. I’m waiting until they get to Vegas, then I’ll tune in again.

I really hope that they preserve the spirit of the original - I loved that most times, no one won. I really hope that the American producers don’t think that they have to have a winner in order to get people to tune in.

In college I got all my friends hooked on the original show, and the first season of ANW where just 2-3 guys would go compete. I’ve watched almost every season, but Comcast and Dish are terrible and G4 isn’t carried on DirecTV so I gave it up. It’s nice to see Matt hosting since I loved him on Clean House, but this version of the show I could do without. I really only like when they’re competing in Japan.

I loved the original Japanese version. Another big difference in format is that the Japanese version spent a lot of time in the early rounds on ‘joke’ contestants like minor celebrities, fashion models, etc that had no hope of succeeding but were fun to see fail out miserably.

They also ran an all-female format for a few seasons that was very good. The obstacles were tweaked to be more balance and agility instead of the dominance of upper-body strength obstacles.

They make a point that there have only been three men to ever complete the challenge, so it is a big deal. As far as the prize goes, it sounds like if there are two people to complete the challenge, the prize will go to the best time. Not sure what they will do if no one completes it. Say, all contestants wipe out in round 2 (like last year).

You are correct about the time limit thing. This version they are doing two things different for the regionals. First, there are no time limits. Second, you don’t have to complete the stage to advance. They are taking the top 15 competitors from each region. The day 1 round has 6 elements and picks the top 30 contestants. Day 2 adds 4 elements and has those 30 whittle down to 15. The top contestants is either by the fastest to complete the course, or if fewer than 15 complete the course, then they go by who completed the farthest obstacle in the least time. So, example, guy 1 makes it to the salmon ladder but doesn’t complete the salmon ladder in 3:15. Guy 2 makes it to the salmon ladder but doesn’t complete the salmon ladder in 4:25. Guy 3 completes the salmon ladder but falls on the next obstacle at 3:35. Ranking is Guy 3 (went further), Guy 1, Guy 2.

I assume this is done to ensure there is a full slate of competitors for the Finals rounds in Vegas - they want 15 x 6 = 90 competitors. Assume they will show in waves, so Vegas will take several weeks?

I guess I can see the desire, but I have a hard time accepting someone not completing the regional course and advancing on time getting an equal shot on the Las Vegas course. We’ll see how it plays out.

As has been mentioned, those two shows have totally different intents. Wipeout is taking average people and making them wipeout. ANW is taking extreme athletes and pushing them to succeed, but watching most of them not make it. I’m not sure the ANW crew would do much better on Wipeout, because Wipeout is designed to make people crash. Like the obstacle that punches them in the face while they try to climb past. Or the round bouncy balance balls while they are slimy.

Normally, there is a Women of Ninja Warrior version. Also, there have been comments and snippets of women competing. I don’t know if they were trying this course, or running a parallel Women’s version that will be aired after the Men’s completes.

I didn’t watch the G4 episodes, but I don’t think there were any clearly humorous attempts. There were likely some folks who weren’t as up to the challenge as they expected.

I’m a few episodes behind, but yeah, we’ve been watching. It doesn’t compare to Ninja Warrior, but it’s not bad. Some very impressive performances so far.

More once I’ve caught up.

Wow, great timing! I was intending to start a thread on this for days, but never got around to it for some reason. Nb. the original show is Sasuke; the all-female one is Kunoichi.

It’s great. For the past month it’s been the only show of any kind that I look forward to watching. (I still watch Hell’s Kitchen, but even I think it’s gotten a bit stale lately.)

I think the best part about it is it encapsulates what’s good about sports. You have dedicated athletes with terrific attitudes playing hard and putting on a show for the crowd. When they succeed, they shout for joy and give hugs; when they fail, they still find a way to smile. There’s none of the endless shaky officiating and corruption and favoritism and drug abuse and strikes and lockouts and stupid rules crap that plagues other sports. And they’re doing it for the love of the game. (Oh, sure, there’s a nice half-mil, but no one seriously thinks anyone’s going to win it. I mean, c’mon.)

I could not find a single instances of heckling, trash talk, or similar verbal sewage that plagues even golf now. We’ve had competitors dressed as Cossacks, superheroes, and wizards, with nary a stray jab from anyone (or if there were any, they were completely cut out of the showing). I think that since this is such a populist event, where literally anyone can give it a try, there’s a very strong sense of put up or shut up, and any worthless cretin who yells from sidelines because he’s too cowardly to put his own butt on the line simply isn’t welcome here. Of course, because the course is so difficult (according to one message board, the first obstacle alone, Quad Steps, takes out a great majority of the hopefuls), I can imagine the competitors having very little tolerance for said worthless cretins. If you know me at all, you know that I find this a very good thing, and a lesson frankly a great many sports fans need to learn.

Most remarkable, IMO, women compete on the exact same course as everyone else. Some of them, quite frankly, blew me away…vastly better than I woulda done, that’s for sure! And to date, I have not witnessed the tiniest shred of sexist garbage; again, if it exists, the show sees no obligation to celebrate it. (The announcers do like to harp on the fact that no woman has ever completed the course, but given how difficult even the first obstacle is, I hardly find that an earth-shattering revelation.) I’ve never seen this level of egalitarianism anywhere; they’re competitors, no more, no less. One episode saw a husband and wife duo where the husband went out one obstacle earlier, and nobody thought this was an especially big deal. Meanwhile, Danica Patrick wins ONE lousy stinkin’ race, and the whole world turns upside-down.

I’m truly impressed by the level of dedication, especially by the more hardcore participants. Granted, most of them are gymnasts, parkour instructors, stuntmen, etc., and that helps. But the bottom line is that there’s simply no equivalent of a Salmon Ladder or Jump Hang or Warped Wall in our established sports. There’s no substitute for the real thing, which they often have to build from scratch in their own homes. And then there’s practice…lots and lots of practice. All for a once-a-year event where one little misstep can render all that preparation meaningless. I was especially moved by the one who made it as far as the Ultimate Cliffhanger (the Stage 3 obstacle which has been the nemesis thus far), worked tirelessly so that he could conquer it the next time he face it, entered this season in high hopes…and then came crashing down on the Bungee Bridge.

The commentary I found a little annoying, but I guess you gotta take what you can get here. I think they get a little too overexcited and need to cut back on the corny jokes. Actually, the thing I found the most jarring was during the cargo climb, they keep talking at a normal cadence despite the fact that the action usually skips ahead at least twice (since this is always the longest obstacle of the regional final).

My issue with “while you were away” isn’t simply that we’re missing runs. There are hundreds of entrants in each region; they gotta make cuts somewhere. But given that G4 dedicates so much time to this, why do we need so many reruns? Four hours per region would be plenty enough to get everything in, and they could split it up throughout a week so it didn’t get monotonous. Don’t particularly mind the profiles, so long as they don’t go overboard or take up too much time.

I don’t have a problem with the top 15 making it even if they didn’t finish the course. This is a different contest with different rules, and they gotta have a big enough field to keep things interesting. Don’t worry, the 2nd round will take out the underachievers posthaste. I would be extremely surprised if the $500,000 grand prize was awarded automatically without even having to finish the final stage…that would make it an absolute joke.

Yeah, the obstacles aren’t consistent throughout the regions; I think that was just to prevent it from getting monotonous. Honestly, I think they balance each out well enough that I don’t see any grounds for crying “unfairness”. The only gimme I could see (well, as gimmeish as anything ever gets on ANW) is the Bridge of Blades. Everything else requires a certain technique and is merciless. BTW, the knob-walking thing is Lamp Grasper; the uneven wheels one is Cycle Road.

How the hell is this anything like Wipeout? I’ve watched Wipeout. The whole point of it is lots of hapless human bodies repeatedly flung, smacked, squashed, flipped, slid, skidded, and pulverized. It’s a goofy, corny, jokey, screwy, ridiculous, outrageous exercise and never pretends to be anything else. It’s as if someone built an entire series around the “Failure is the Only Option” entry at TVTropes (yes, I still go there!). I could imagine some of the weaker ANW contestants giving it a go, if only to get more face time.

Next episode is Monday on NBC. It’s billed the “final”, which I guess is the equivalent of Stage 3.

I’ve checked in on it, b/c my sister recommended it.
If the Salmon Run isn’t the hardest thing ever? My mind will be blown. They’re all hard, but that one makes me go…‘what???’

Technique is a large part of it. I watched some old seasons on G4 and when the Salmon Ladder first showed up, I don’t remember anybody getting past it. Now that everybody has seen how it’s done (and some of them have built their own versions to train on), it’s not as unconquerable as it once was.

I think the hardest (on the Japanese course, at least) would be the Cliff Hanger; a small ledge that you have to traverse with your hands. And when too many people started making it across, they just made it harder.

Any obstacle (Salmon Ladder, BTW) where the athlete has to travel straight up with no respite looks intimidating, but honestly, anyone who makes it that far has the muscle for it. The main challenge is that it’s so unusual; there’s no equivalent in any other sport or hobby. The the only way to get good on a Salmon Ladder is to practice on a Salmon Ladder. Even then, it’s tricky as hell, and knowing how to fix a mistake on the fly is a vital ability.

And trust me, It Gets Worse (how did humanity ever get by before TVTropes? :slight_smile: ). Wait’ll you see the Ultimate Cliffhanger. If that doesn’t make grown men cry, it comes pretty damn close.

I’ve watched it for the first time this season. I was disappointed when Kamerion Wimbley, NFL defensive end, was disqualified for having the 16th fastest time to complete the course.

I don’t think the salmon ladder would be the hardest to complete. I think either the lamppost crossing obstacle (where you grab onto orbs and cross them like monkey bars) or the obstacle when they slide the rings across the uneven tracks would be the hardest that I’ve seen.

I discovered ANW just after I competed in the Tough Mudder in April and have watched the NBC episodes since (no G4). My wife and I are currently training for a Spartan Race this weekend, so most of 2012 I’ve been all about obstacle courses. I would love love love to try this course. I’m not sure I could complete it, but I really want to try it. I’ve never heard of this show or the Japanese version before a couple months ago.