Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Guilty Pleasure Confessional

No, I didn't watch the State of the Union last night, mainly because the man's voice sends me into a rage. I'll read it later this morning.

Besides, it was Monday night, and that means American Gladiators (!) in our house. While flipping around trying to avoid Chimpy on all the broadcast and most of the cable stations, we made the happy discovery that ESPN Classic is playing the original, old-skool late '80s American Gladiators every night at seven! The first season, with its average-Joe contenders in sweatpants getting absolutely flattened by the steroided-up Gladiators, was the best, but the rest of the run with everyone in spandex and big hair is still mighty fine entertainment.

And watching it now only reinforces my utter lack of gaydar back in those halcyon days of my youth; seeing it in my dotage, I suspect all the female Gladiators in the original probably could have competed under the name Lavender Menace. The current crop doesn't ping for me at all.

The event I miss most from the original is Atlasphere (people in big steel hamster balls trying to roll onto scoring pods), and the original Wall was way more challenging than the current version. Joust and Hang Tough have been livened up with a pool of water for the losers to plunge into rather than the pads of the original (maybe next season they'll add piranhas or electric eels to make it even more exciting). But the new Eliminator--the final, obstacle-course event--is completely brutal. It starts with a climb up a wall, a plunge into a pool to swim under fire, and a climb up a 30-ft cargo net. Then an inexplicably pointless and stupid barrel roll thing that most people fall off after one roll. But the next combination--an ill-lubed handbike followed by climbing a pyramid with three-foot steps--appears to suck the gas out of most of the competitors, leaving them in serious pain and unable to truck up the reverse treadmill to the finish line. They crash through the final wall of foam blocks and lie on the mat twitching. Surprisingly, only one person has smacked a forehead into the pipes carrying the gas for the fireball they have to swim under, although the obnoxious chiropractor last night came just short of jumping onto the damn flames.

Now the final eight are set, and I'm all a-twitter. Watching co-host Laila Ali almost makes up for having to listen to Hulk Hogan.

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