This started on NBC last night, a new show hosted and produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson where everyday athletes battle it out in order to become… Titans.
Basically it’s American Gladiators writ large, and without the Gladiators. Events are really impressive in terms of staging and sheer physicality – there’s been some money spent on this and it shows. I don’t know how many games there are in total, not including Mount Olympus six games were shown off last night, four games played once and two played twice. Each testing a slightly different muscle set. Some wouldn’t look out of place on something like World’s Strongest Man (something like Heavy Metal – drag a yoke across the shoulders with heavy chains on each end up hill getting heavier the higher you go, use the yoke as a crank to lift a concrete block when you get to the top, or Hammering Ram – use a sledgehammer to knock a pin in to release a 350lb battering ram, then bash a large wooden door in) albeit with an added agility requirement.
Contestants are paired off and each compete in just one event, the winner faces somebody else in the awe-inspiring Mount Olympus, the winners of which (of which there will be eight male and eight female) get declared Titans and get to come back at the end of the series for one last Titanic struggle to become ultimate champion. It seems to be a “double episode” every week, so they go through the process twice.
It’s a shame then that it feels like so much of it feels like it’s given over to each contestant’s “inspiring” backstory, over the course of the two hours you’ll see up to 16 video pieces (for whatever reason, one game was just a highlights package in the second of last night’s tournaments). If you add to that the 20% of the show given over to Dwayne Johnson being just a great guy, that means we have a frustrating situation where the key centrepieces, the events, begin to feel a bit like unwelcome guests at their own party. If you’d consider that American Glads used to get through 12-14 played games in an hour show, this struggles to six in. One of them last night took just 22 seconds, for a build up of several minutes.
This is a bit of a shame really.