The History Channel enters the "competition series" genre with a 10-week run of Top Shot. Sixteen shooters will compete for $100,000 and the title. The host is Colby Donaldson of Survivor fame. History comes into play as contestants compete using famous weapons to reproduce significant shots from history. Pre-series hype mentions use of a crossbow to shoot an apple and a handgun to re-enact the attempt on President Reagan.
Shooters are divided into two teams but compete among themselves as well as against the other team. After competition determines a losing team, two members of that team compete to see who gets eliminated. Voting is done by shooting at named targets. So a contestant who didn't participate in tonight's action could get eliminated. What happens if the voting shot misses?
The premiere episode challenges the teams with four legendary military weapons including one from Russia and the American M-14. Tonight's guest instructor is a former Navy SEAL with experience using each of the weapons. His explanation for versatility with firearms is an old SEAL expression, "One mind, any weapon."
Top Shot has several things going for it with the diverse backgrounds of the participants and the historical angle of the competition. Unfortunately, as the first episode reveals, it also has some of the same detractions as cooking, interior design, model, fashion designer, and dieter shows. Do the producers think that displays of self-pity, bickering, whining, and back-stabbing make good entertainment? Apparently that behavior is good for ratings but, personally, I get enough of it in real life. I don't need more of it when I'm interested in escape. Some people have no interest in a program that involves shooting competition, maybe they'd rather watch tennis or golf. I foundTop Shot to be very interesting when the competition was being explained and the shooting began.
Can technology save Top Shot? With this series, The History Channel introduces an ultra-high speed HD camera that yields such slow motion images that you can actually see the projectile hit the target. This show has great potential and although they probably have all ten episodes in the can, maybe it gets better.