Pondering the Return of ‘American Gladiators’

I don’t know about you, but I had a morbid fascination with American Gladiators as a kid. There was something about the over-muscled gladiators, the athletically minded contestants, and feats of agility and the studio-lit environment that was just really interesting to me. It’s one of those shows that, if I came across a rerun, I would probably watch just to remember a time when a show like this could be produced.

And, oddly, it appears that my assumptions as to the concept’s dated qualities were wrong: Ben Silverman and NBC appear to think that American Gladiators is the perfect franchise to return to primetime at midseason. And while I know that Silverman is known for his production company Revellie and its focus on reality programming, I still think that this is just a really odd situation.

NBC already has one dated reality concept on its schedule: The Singing Bee, which plays out like an old-style game show as opposed to the standards established post-Millionaire, if you will allow me to start using such terms to indicate periods of reality programming. And now, they’re heading back into their mines of syndicated television for what I view as a rather odd choice.

MGM, who owns the property, says that they are trying to basically milk their old properties instead of making new ones. This kind of irks me, to be honest: should we not be trying to find new horizons, instead of heading back to old ones.

And, more importantly, isn’t American Gladiators really too dated? It comes from the era where muscle-bound wrestlers and bodybuilding actually had a level of mainstream consciousness: I remember wrestlers and bodybuilders on Family Feud, even. However, times have changed, and I don’t think that “Nitro” or “Turbo” will become household names in this more modern era.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who enjoys the reruns, as ESPN Classic ratings have apparently been fairly strong. However, I think that taking the show into primetime is an entirely different scenario. The Variety article lists Fear Factor as an example of why they need the raise the bar with stunts, but I’d like to remind Silverman and NBC that…you canceled Fear Factor. It stopped getting ratings. It feel by the wayside, even with its gross-out eating segments.

And I liked Fear Factor’s stunts, and maybe American Gladiators could be more of the same. I just shake my head at the fact that, instead of making a new drama or comedy series, NBC is spending resources to unnecessarily resurrect this property. Silverman is certainly a smart guy, but it just seems like he’s shut off the side of his brain that made The Office a hit and got stuck in “The Biggest Loser” mode.

And that’s not good for my future opinion of his network. But, let’s allow nostalgia to take over for a moment, as here’s my favourite part of the show, The Eliminator, via the joys of YouTube.


Filed under American Gladiators, NBC, Reality TV, Television

2 responses to “Pondering the Return of ‘American Gladiators’

  1. If NBC picks up a new American Gladiators, I’m sure they won’t be able to resist tweaking it just a bit:


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