Written by General Jabbo
When American Gladiators debuted in 1989, it took advantage of the popularity of professional wrestling sweeping America at the time. Little did anyone know that American Gladiators would spark a phenomenon of its own, going on for seven seasons and spawning a spin-off in 2008. Every episode of season one is collected in the new DVD, American Gladiators (The Original Series) — The Battle Begins.
The premise of Gladiators was simple: each week, two teams — one male and one female — competed in a series of athletic competitions not unlike those seen more recently on Most Extreme Elimination Challenge against a group of Gladiators, with the winners in the final round taking home a $35,000 prize. The muscular, athletic Gladiators were the real stars of the show, however. With their flamboyant costumes and colorful names such as Blaze, Lace, Laser and Zap, the American Gladiators created an illusion of super athletes — people to root against as average Joes tried to compete against them.
The DVD includes a recap episode with hosts Mike Adamle and football great Joe Theismann, as well as all of the actual episodes. The second half of season one featured only Adamle as host and also introduced an event called The Wall, where contestants had to scale a rock climber’s wall while a Gladiator chased after him or her. The enclosed booklet features biographies of all of the Gladiators, as well as an interview with alumni champion Cheryl Ann Silich. Also included are DVD commentaries from Gladiators Dan “Nitro” Clark, Raye “Zap” Hollitt, and Jim “Laser” Starr as well as an interview with contestant and The Lost Boys actor Billy Wirth.
American Gladiators (The Original Series) — The Battle Begins is a fine collection, allowing fans of the show the opportunity to relive the excitement of season one. The bonus features, while not in abundance, offer some insight to the popularity of the show.