NBC has been putting a lot of marketing effort behind the new American Gladiators. I, for one, will pass. After only two episodes I decided that the American Gladiators were best left in the past. I've commented before that I couldn't stand the ultra annoying contestants. Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock said it best: "If reality TV has taught us anything, it's that you can't keep people with no shame down." How can you root for the blue contestant over the red one when all you want is for both of them to fall flat on their face? I suppose you can root for the gladiators, but... eh.
So rather than American Gladiators, I have turned my attention to a purer form of physical competition. On the G4 Channel there is a Japanese import called Ninja Warrior where each tournament (held semi-annually from what I can gather) 100 contestants attempt to conquer four obstacle courses. Usually 10-15 pass the first round, of those, 7-10 make it to the third round, and as many as three, although usually none make it to the fourth stage which has only been defeated twice in 17 tournaments, most recently by fisherman Makoto Nagano. The guy is amazing. Below is a clip (5:05) of him defeating the third and fourth stages. It's a grueling task, despite how easy he makes it look. As the tournament has gone on, competitors from all over the world have come to participate, including several Olympians, and virtually all of them have failed.
Look at it this way: if American Gladiators is Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Ninja Warrior is Jeopardy. One is flashy and built on gimmicks and hype. The other is tried and true and has an established foundation of consistency.
1 week ago