New reality show on FOX. They’ve had a fairly dismal track record with these as of late (Masked Singer…shudder) but maybe a renewed emphasis on the competition aspect can turn things around. I’ve decided to cover the first two episodes in depth, and then I’ll keep this thread going if there’s interest.
Be warned that we’re going to be hearing a whole bunch of extremely badly misused words here, so much so that I can’t help but draw comparisons to this weirdo. Because of this, I’ve decided to keep a Homsar Tally of said badly misused words. Y’know, to see if it’s worse than American Ninja Warrior Junior or anything.
All right. May 20 premiere. The runtime is 58 minutes, so you know what that means…minute timestamps!
0 - “I’m J.J. Watt, and welcome to the fastest, craziest, and most intense game you’ve ever seen.” It’s a pretty tall order to outdo Battlebots, but good luck. An announcer gives the usual sales pitch while we see a few teaser snippets of the action. Okay, guys, full disclosure: It’s like flag football. The contestants wear vests with little strips of cloth, which the taggers…the athletes playing for the house, in other words…have to yank off. The announcers are a trio of brothers, so I’m not going to try to differentiate between them just yet.
1 - “Rocket”? “The Flow”? Oh, I see, it’s like American Gladiators, where the house players, known as “Taggers”, go by cheesy fake names so they can get real jobs once this goes belly-up. As an added bonus, this effectively prevents the announcers from saddling them with ridiculous nicknames which are sprouting like weeds on ANWJ. Big thumbs-up!
Wait…“big dose of crazy?” Uhhh, I don’t think that’s a desirable quality for a professional athlete. Or a reality show contestant. Or anyone I have to listen to for any length of time.
2 - The first time we hear The Catchphrase, “Don’t…get…caught.” It will not be the last.
Our first shot of the announcers. “To play Ultimate Tag, you need to be more than just fast, you need to be strategic and willing to sacrifice your body.” :dubious: Um…wouldn’t severely injuring yourself on purpose make it hard to keep playing? Score one for the Homsar Tally! “Lucky, we have a group of lunatics here who are extremely willing to sacrifice your body.” Make it two! Along with our first repetition of The Catchphrase.
Shot of our first contestants, Charlie White, Na’eem Walton, and Juvie Gonzales. Profiles! Charlie is on the national beach handball team! Na’eem has two daughters! Juvie just screamed directly into the camera, because I totally need that! :mad: Hey, at least they’re short.
4 - A look at our first game, Chase Tag. Big symmetrical arena with a whole bunch of stuff in it and the corners cut off. All three players enter at the same time, and one Tagger goes in, and play proceeds until he’s Tagged one of them. Then the second Tagger goes in and tags one of the remaining two. Then the third Tagger goes in and has a limited time to nail the remaining contestant. Erm…I’m already having misgivings over this one, but let’s see how it goes.
Brief cornarama intros of the Taggers, which are all royally stupid and not worth wasting keystrokes on. The ones for this contest are The Flow, Geek, and The Kid.
5 - Announcer reminds the contestants that they’re not a team, which is exactly what you need to relentlessly drill into athletes who have spent no time together and are wearing different-colored jerseys. :rolleyes: The Flow will be doing the honors for the opening round.
Game on! Na’eem goes one way; Charlie and Juvie go another. At the 8 second mark…I have no idea how they set these things, sorry…The Flow makes his grand entrance. He heads right to the corner where Charlie and Juvie are. Juvie makes a break! The Flow gives chase! He chases him to the opposite end! He’s still chasing! Chase, chase, chase! All of which time Charlie and Na’eem are completely off-screen and presumably doing the male athlete equivalent of filing their nails! Whole bunch 'o jumps, rolls, and slides later, The Flow ends it with a diving catch. The pursuit took 20 seconds. (Each tag is accompanied with the word TAG filling the whole damn screen, which I definitely think is a bit much.) The announcers declare “Superman! Superman!” HT 3 now!
Geez… :(:smack: This was EXACTLY what I was afraid of. Three contestants in the arena, one of whom can and must be eliminated, meaning that the order of finish depends entirely on who the Tagger decides to go after. If you can’t envision how this could lead to fixes or even outright corruption, you haven’t followed sports lately.
Geek’s turn. He goes after Na’eem for whatever reason. Charlie scoots out of sight, which turns out to be a pointless measure as the pursuit doesn’t last 5 seconds. It looks like Na’eem just quietly accepted his fate.
Now it’s Charlie all alone against the Kid, who enters at 1:12. If he can survive to the two minute mark, he earns a BWWAAAHHHH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!! I’m sorry, that’s just…48 seconds? The other contestants combined lasted for about an NBA shot clock, any you expect that other pathetic amateur to outmaneuver an athlete who was actually trained for this for that long? American Gladiators at least had a variety of contests, so there was a chance of finding the house player’s weakness and scoring the upset. Charlie ain’t beatin’ The Kid at his own game. And he doesn’t, succumbing to defeat at 1:27, not even close.
7 - Standard ANW-style postmatch bull session, whereupon the announcer laments that “The Kid got you at the last second.” Uggggghhh. :smack: [And HT 4.]
8 - Shot of the leaderboard which has Charlie-3 Na’eem-2 and Juvie-1, which the narrator explains to a level normally associated with Mojo Jojo.
Now we get out first look at our female contestants, Sarah Hurley, Jessica Adams, and Lisa Parker. Sarah’s into MMA! Jessica is super competitive in basketball! Lisa is a former track star! Hey, that might actually be helpful! Battling for the house’s honor are Flame, Beach Boy, and…Iron Giantess. Uhh. I don’t like five-syllable monikers in ANW and I don’t like them here. What’s wrong with just “Giantess”? Anyway, I’m calling her “IG” until I find a good reason not to.
All three contestants make a beeline for the same corner, which has a number of possible implications, but I’m going with “will make no freaking difference”. Flame trots in and stops to wave at the crowd, which I sincerely hope she had to do. She’s sizing up her targets, still bunched up. At the 0:28 she almost casually says “Let’s go, ladies” and makes her move. All three run for it…and Sarah, being the slowest, quickly becomes the first victim at the 0:34 mark. Sheesh, I know you’re just some hopeless weekend warrior, but that was pretty sad.
Beach Boy…yes, we have house men competing against female contestants here, which is both refreshingly egalitarian and a really bad idea…burst in, does a few perfunctory chest-taps, does a front flip, and gets to work. The announcers acknowledge the latter by saying he “secured the package” or whatever [HT 5]. Lisa runs past him on the right (0:58), so he has to decide whether to pursue or switch targets, which will of course decide the round right there. He chooses the latter, and Jessica can do nothing but seethe as the inevitable happens at 1:11.
So all Lisa needs to do is escape the HA HA HA HA HA HA HA dead at 1:41.
13 - Lisa says that she accidentally stepped on IG’s foot, whereupon the announcer says “Yeah, when I punch her it’s not intentional” :eek: [HT 6] and godDAMN, I don’t even want to know what cesspool he dragged that out of. And of course Sarah proclaims that if she met Flame in a fight she would have won. And if her aunt was here, you’d kick her testicles clear into orbit, am I right? :rolleyes: You know, it’s not a good sign when you’re a cipher on a reality show and I actively start rooting for you to lose. Lisa-3, Jessica-2, Sarah-1.
Off to commercial! It’s dynamic, traumatic, and downright dangerous! HT 7!
16 - After the second contest, the lowest-scoring contestants on the male and female side will be eliminated, thereby following in the proud Titan Games tradition of not waiting until the end of the episode to take a damn chainsaw to the roster. So, what bit of goldensnitchery do we have on tap to ensure that Juvie and Sarah have a prayer?
It’s Dodge Tag, which “can bring the toughest competitors to their knees”, which I think means there’s a high risk of ankle injury. All three contestants compete at once but have separate lanes to run. Two taggers, who must stay within certain zones, patrol all three lanes. The object is to run to the end and hit the button without being Tagged, each press being worth 1 point. They can make as many attempts as they want within the 2:00 time limit (replacing any lost strips) but must return to the start after each attempt. Guh…remember my previous concerns about potential match fixing? Throw unlimited scoring potential and the taggers having already seen the contestants in action. The Boss and La Flair do the honors for the men’s side.
17 - An extremely confusing melee with bodies flying in all directions and constant epilepsy-warning camera transitions where I have absolutely no freaking idea what’s going on at any time ever ensues.
19 - After some nonsense about scoring three touchdowns [HT 8]. The Boss calls the contestants the “boys”, which draws a chorus of ohhhs from the crowd for some weird reason. On to the scoreboard, and exit Mojo Jojo, enter Sesame Street. :smack: Juvie, with a paltry 2 points, is quietly knocked out.
21 - Women’s turn. IG steps up, accompanied by Atomic Ant, or “AA”, because why do you need four syllables, dangit.
23 - A whole bunch more incomprehensible action later, Sarah compares IG to King Kong, and add “doesn’t know any references from after the 30’s” to her ever-growing list of faults. She’s on the bottom with 4 points, and television audience everywhere rejoice to the fact that they’ll never have to listen to her again.
25 - Quickie preview of Dome Tag where “there’s nowhere to hide”, in stark contrast to the myriad of safe spots in the first two contests. :rolleyes:
29 - And here it is, a small jungle-gym style dome with a flat bottom suspended in midair. This is a one-on-one contest, one contestant and one Tagger. “WITH NO HARNESS”, which would be plenty terrifying were it not for the extremely thick mat immediately below. :rolleyes: The contestants face a total of three Taggers in turn, trying to last as long as possible before losing all three strips. An important note is that once a strip is removed, it stays off, meaning that defensive technique could come into play in the later rounds.
Charlie is up, the first round being against Caveman. They go in and out, around and around, but at the 0:36 mark Charlie just kind of loses a gear, and the left back strip is gone. The Boss is up next. She looks indecisive for a bit, but soon the chase is on. After a pretty good run, Charlie surrenders the front strip to an inside-to-out reach. The Kid is last, and Charlie hangs from the bottom of the dome…a questionable tactic given that the Taggers all have considerable upper-body training, and if you can’t pull yourself back up, you’re toast. All things considered Charlie doesn’t do too badly, but he still gives in to the inevitable at the 2:31 mark.
32 - Na’eem takes the dome along with adversary #1, Geek, and…unh. Bad. Very bad. Na’eem just kind of shuffles from side to side, allowing Geek to slide straight in and claim the first strip in just 7 seconds. “I think that was the fastest tag in the history of Ultimate Tag!” And in the very first episode, too! :smack::rolleyes::smack: Next is Banshee, who I will most definitely remember to mute the next time the camera is on her. :mad: (I hate this.) A little runaround on the upper layer later, Na’eem finds himself two down with just 30 seconds elapsed. It’s a good thing this announce crew doesn’t have a thing for soooo clooooose finishes, because there sure as hell isn’t going to be one here. Big Deal steps in to close it out. Na’eem does the same bottom-hang Charlie did in his third round…doesn’t go much of anywhere, and goes down at 1:25.
34 - Interviewer asks Na’eem if he had a plan coming in, whereupon he responds with the familiar Mike Tyson quote about everyone having a plan until they get hit. And…ah…geez, I’ve never gotten this one. What was Iron Mike getting at? That you should just wing it? That you should have a bunch of plans? That you should use dependable algorhythms? What??
35 - Scoreboard up, and I’m not even going to try to make sense of this anymore. Charlie ahead, Na’eem behind.
39 - “While we were away??” WHILE WE… :mad::mad::mad::mad: Dammit! :mad: For those of you who don’t watch ANW, this is a feature by which whoever’s in charge of programming decisions deliberately makes the contest too long to fit into the time slot, and then reduces and entire freaking event to a bunch of highlights. Ridiculous under any circumstances, but in a contest as fast-paced as this, it’s…it’s just…aaaaaaggh! :mad: This is no way to make a reality show! Anyway, the eviscerated event in question was Revenge Tag, which has the women running around a maze, and someone or other wins more points or something. The series premiere, dammit. :mad:
40 - And just like that we’re at the final contest…excuse me, the ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN, which is appropriate as I’d rather listen to Homestar Runner or a wagon full of pancakes than some of these people. (Jessica actually says “go hard or go home”, apparently in the belief that sports cliches do so add legitimacy to a contest. :rolleyes:) Oh, and the grand prize is $10,000, which seems pretty meager for the amount of work done.
Lessee…run around the loopy course, try to avoid the Taggers, hit the plunger…one at a time, contestant ahead on points gets a time advantage. It’s just like the final contest in American Gladiators, minus the head to head. Or the props. Or the variety of tasks. But there is an intriguing twist…no timer! In fact, neither contestant will know his or her time until completing the course! I know exactly why they did this, to ensure that everyone will run hard all the way and we’ll get the same amount of action regardless of how big a mismatch it is…and…I like this! Let’s do it! Defending the course are Spitfire and Banshee.
Lisa goes first. She lags badly on a ramp and meekly surrenders a strip to the pursuing Spitfire. Now she has to get past Banshee…pauses, stutter-steps, and goes right…which works! Finishes in 1:10, bumped up to 1:13 due to the point spread.
Now it’s just Jessica and the course…and a Tagger switch, which absolutely no one mentioned. Great production values, guys. :rolleyes: Flame is the pursuer. Jessica sets a good pace to start but slows down near the end of the floor, and Flame does her duty. The final section is guarded by AA, who quickly takes care of business as Jessica is on her last breath at this point. Final climb…and she loses a shoe. Consider the coffin nailed; even with no timer, anyone can see that she’s done for. (Lisa! You’ll find out when we find out, all right?) A bedraggled Jessica makes it official…1:43, and Lisa scores a blowout.
45 - No, there isn’t some greater prize at stake. Ten grand is all she gets.
49 - Prematch interviews! Na’eem mentions his daughters! Charlie is not going into cruise control, whatever that means! We hear The Catchphrase…wow, is it really just the third time tonight? I was kinda expecting much worse.
50 - Na’eem faces La Flair and Bulldog. Um…buddy, if you were shooting for “your worst nightmare”, I don’t think an animal which the University of Georgia regularly introduces little girls to was the best choice. Just sayin’. Na’eem runs with a sense of urgency…man, he’s determined! It’s almost a shame when La Flair does the inevitable just yards from safety. Bulldog has a simpler task, almost casually matching him step-for-step before reaching and getting. Na’eem, undaunted, powers the rest of the way up and finishes with an excellent 0:54, which becomes 0:59 after factoring points.
The Flow and Geek will be opposing Charlie…right after this last commercial break. :mad:
55 - Game on! For real this time! Charlie isn’t setting a fast pace, and a strategic front flip by Flow nets him the first strip. Charlie picks up the pace…leaping up a step to get past Geek! A pair of lunges miss the mark, and Charlie is making the final ascent! He’s up! The plunger is down! Final time, 0:42! The announcer notes that this was a wire-to-wire victory, which is something I think we’d better get used to.
Well, that was…a bunch of things. Same time next episode.