Oh, I'll admit it, I'll admit it happily: yes, I sat there for two hours last night and watched American Gladiators. What's more, I liked it. Well, mostly liked it anyway.
Sure, I was a fan of the original Gladiators back in the day, and yes I was once a Hulkamaniac, but those days are behind me. Now I'm just a TV-aholic, not that I'm seeking help (or believe I even have a problem, take that. First Step).
Seriously though, I sat there last night as contestants and gladiators pummeled one another, thinking to myself, "man, if only they didn't go to commercial every other second this could be really fun." The male gladiators were ridiculous, repeatedly taking part in over-the-top antics before giving up tons of ground to the contestants. The women gladiators were far more businesslike, they went in, pounded the contestants, and walked away. It may not have made for as good entertainment, but as far as the sport aspects go it was a big improvement.
My main disappointment though wasn't the ridiculous male gladiators, nor the seemingly never-ending commercial breaks, it was the lack of hard hits and the inability to tell what was really going on. During Powerball the quick-cuts and camera close-ups were so prevalent that one couldn’t really get a sense of what they were seeing. I know it's terribly en vogue to have quick close-ups for action, whether it's a movie, TV show, or sporting event, but does nobody care that too many of these shots make it nearly impossible to decipher what's actually taking place? I'm sure that there were some great hits and slams during Powerball, but frankly I didn't see any of them because the camera was so busy cutting from one shot to the next.
I'm not even going to touch on the announcer's lack of sensitivity for the contestant that got injured during Powerball. Suffice to say that showing a couple of replays of the injury is fine, but showing the replay with commentary about taking "a look at that bomb Stealth [the gladiator] dropped on Jessie [the contestant]" and following up the replay with "that's gonna leave a mark," shows a complete lack of appropriateness I thought for a moment I was watching the XFL.
Speaking of low blows, I also watched Cashmere Mafia last night. Don't ask me why, I know I'm not the target audience, I just couldn't help myself. I had the feeling, throughout the episode, that I'd seen this before, many, many times (it's like Sex and the City, from the producer of Sex and the City, with powerful successful women having sex in the city, just like Sex and the City). It wasn't new, it wasn't different, and it wasn't even reformulated in a vaguely interesting way. The women were practically all interchangeable with one another to the point where I thought one of the wives had snuck out with her husband for a quickie at a hotel, rather than understanding that the husband was cheating on the wife.
Okay, so the woman that the husband was cheating with had a slightly different shade of brown hair, I figured that maybe she'd gone to the salon and gussied herself up a bit. I actually had to open IMDb's page for the show to help myself figure it all out.
I hope that maybe, just maybe, it'll get better in future weeks, and, if it doesn't, it's still one of a limited number of options for scripted series, so I'll probably keep TiVoing it anyway.