Effort contestants on the new American Gladiators said they'd give: 100 percent, 110 percent, 200 percent. Animals they compared themselves to: mongoose, spider monkey. Number of times points became larger, as in "she denied Christie five big points": six.
Along with the Spice Girls reunion, NBC's revival of this Saturday-morning show popular in the early 1990s can be viewed as another attempt at instant '90s nostalgia. But viewing American Gladiators as a parody of over-the-top American sports coverage makes an already fun show even better.
The show is fairly similar to the original. There's no Atlasphere--where contestants roll around in giant metal balls--but almost every other major former event is reincarnated. And the final event is still the Eliminator, with contestants going through an obstacle course involving a pool of fire, a 30-foot cargo net and a conveyor belt.
In some ways, the new American Gladiators is simply preparing us for the Olympics this summer, also on NBC. Every contestant has a back-story: The New York firefighter, the ex-Marine, the guy who waited 13 years to try out, the woman doing it for her kids. Host Hulk Hogan is so committed to these pointless back-stories he ends up asking questions that all begin like, "Chad, you're a skateboarder from California ... "
Hogan gets most of the show's best lines, talking like he's doing an interview in a wrestling ring. "I can see the eye of the tiger," he tells one contestant, "and I can tell you got a big heart." Every performance in every event is the best thing Hulk Hogan has ever seen.
As an average game show American Gladiators is a solid addition to the Monday-night lineup. But viewed as a parody of American sports--it's even on right before the American game show parody Howie Mandel Opens Briefcases for One Hour--it becomes a must-watch.
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