Show Discussion: Ultimate Beastmaster

MORTAL KOMBAT!

From Friday 24th February variously worldwide,
Netflix

Now this is quite exciting and no mistake, Netflix enters the obstacle course reality competition genre (Christ) with the Sylvester Stallone produced Ultimate Beastmaster, apparently filmed on the old [Total] Wipeout ranch in California.

In each episode 18 contestants, hailing from the US, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Germany and Japan compete to complete the ultimate obstacle course, the Beast. The winners of the nine preliminary episodes will compete in the final for the honour of being the Ultimate Beastmaster. Edit: We misinterpreted this, each episode has 12 contestants, there are 18 contestants from each country across the series.

Each of the six participating countries have their own set of hosts and commentators, for us in the UK we will presumably have ex-Millionaire host and American football player Terry Crews and FOX Sports broadcaster Charissa Thompson but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if there were options for watching the other streams, or at least foreign dubbing.

We hope this leads to Netflix trying its hand at reality competitions (cough The Genius cough), or at the very least it will be interesting to see what they might buy-in for international audiences if this is successful.

Because of the nature of the broadcast, you must be prepared for spoilers if you enter the comments, non Beastmaster chat should probably go in the post previous.

34 Comments

  1. Alex S says:

    This was filmed on the old Wipeout lot although it’s in California, not Texas.

  2. Wrong Guess! says:

    Only caught the first episode so far, but from what I’ve seen I really enjoy it.

    The scale is immense, with the amount of obstacles pretty large and varied. I like the points system and how it’s not your standard go home as soon as you fail mechanic.

    The American commentators aren’t the best, but it might just be first episode jitters.

    I’ll definitely be watching the rest.

  3. Danny Kerner says:

    Okay from first episode viewing I like it. Unlike Ninja Warrior (Sasuke) you are guaranteed to see all four stages (levels) the winner of each of the 8 heats are given $10,000 Equivalent in their currency and head to the final for the chance of $50,000 Equivalent in their currency.

    One correction that needs to be made is that its 12 competitors and not 18 as advertised in this topic description

    • Danny Kerner says:

      Edit: it is 18 competitors per country but 12 competitors per heat and also 9 heats not 8.

      There are a few variations of the course but in the end all 4 levels are pretty much the same so will feel after a while stale. I suggest you leave a gap after an episode or two otherwise you may get bored

  4. Clive of Legend says:

    First episode good fun, and certainly enlivened by the South Korean commentators having the time of their lives.

    Only real negatives are that Terry Crews is still not really presenter material, and it’s always going to be in the shadow of the true greatest obstacle course game show of all time, the sadly-departed Viking.

  5. Brig Bother says:

    Episode one down, I like this.

    I think the set and course design is absolutely phenomenal. Phenomenal.

    But with that it needs better camera angles and directing, there’s so much to take in visually at points it’s not always immediately clear what the nature of the obstacle is, and the pre-level graphics not much use whatsoever. I also think that there’s a surprising lack of urgency in running the courses compared to Ninja Warrior. I think few people are going to choose to tap out early in level three to the point of being a Pointless Choice. I think The Tower is a good final, but the final High Voltage element a bit of a lousy way to end, especially if it’s always going to end on two people trying to get on the first shelf and it being decided on whoever was lucky enough to have their feet up when the clock goes. Terry and Charrissa were fine but not spectacular. Certainly less fun than other commentators by the looks of things.

    Criticism over, I really like how they’ve tried to theme the course as making your way through the Beast’s body and made obstacles, which were largely original and fun, fit the theme. I think the show was well paced across the 55 minutes. I think the scoring system largely makes sense (although I ponder how they determine the order for each round, certainly in Level 3 where there is a ‘strategic decision’ to be made). I think they’ve done a great job of integrating the different country’s presentation teams in what could have come across as something quite naff – sadly it looks like UK Netflix is limited to the US version of the show with only the English audio available.

    Would probably agree that you probably aren’t going to want to watch all ten eps in one sitting. It sounds from the episode descriptions that a few of the obstacles have some twists later on, which is all to the good.

    The format if you want to know:

    Level 1 features all 12 contestants try to tackle a course of six obstacles for 10 points each. Along the way are two challenging to reach ‘Point Thrusters’ – large switches – worth an additional 10 points if successfully thrown. Falling into ‘the blood of the beast’ is a fail and your run ends there. Ties broken by time.

    Top eight scores progress to Level 2 where each success and thruster is worth 20 points.

    Top five cumulative scores go to level three where each success is worth 30 points. However towards the end of the course contestants have the option to take a branching path with three bonus obstacles, each of those is worth a whopping 40 points, but any failure loses 40 points. The commentary implies you have the option of tapping out after completing a bonus obstacle.

    The players with the top two cumulative scores go through to Level 4. Their scores are wiped and they must try to ascend a tower, touching green Energy Taps along the way, each one worth 10 points. After six minutes, whoever has the most points, or is higher up the tower in case of a tie, wins $10k and comes back for the end of series final.

    • Cheesebiscuits says:

      Six minutes is a long time, how high is this tower or how hard is it to climb up?

      • Brig Bother says:

        80ft, divided into four sections of varying difficulty – typical style climbing wall, awkwardly angled fingerholds, chimney climb, finally two narrow shelves to pull yourself up with. First ep they both get to the top section, second ep they barely make it out of the second bit.

        It’s edited so you don’t see all six minutes.

    • Andrew, the Yank says:

      Re: the run order in each round, as pertains to the scoring system, this is another of my bigger issues. There’s no transparency about this, which seriously undermines the strategy aspect they seem to be going for with the point thrusters (what a dumb name) and the bonus obstacles in round 3. It’s another detail that loses some of the credibility of the competition for me.

  6. Alex S says:

    It feels to me like the points system should be dropped from the final round, just make it a straight race to the top/whoever is highest at the end of the time. It does feel like that top part of the tower is going to be where the outcome is decided, which feels a bit anticlimactic.

  7. Max T says:

    The points part of the scoring is honestly one of the most enjoyable parts about this or me. It causes the people who just scrape by in the previous rounds to actually risk it and go for the ‘thrusters’ (still makes me laugh.

    • Brig Bother says:

      Yes I think it also works quite well.

      Although I also suspect that if the scores didn’t increase throughout the show and every scoring opportunity was a flat ten points the final two in each case would probably still be the final two.

  8. BigBen says:

    A couple of observations – I was questioning the wisdom of releasing all 10 episodes at once, rather than one per week as other Netflix series have done, but I now understand it completely when I see that they make the second episode much more watchable than an average second episode of a show like this by dispensing with introducing the course again – a great decision as far as I’m concerned – especially if it doesn’t change between episodes.

    • Brig Bother says:

      Yes agree wholeheartedly, interesting that the second episode knocks a whole five minutes off, although glancing through the episode list I note subsequent episodes are a bit longer.

      Also interesting what not having to hit a specific running time and the specifics of the broadcast format can add to a show.

      • Brig Bother says:

        Episode three literally makes this point – ‘if you don’t know the rules, go back a few episodes’.

        Don’t like obstacles where you fail after a certain amount of tries. It’s very clear where you’ve failed most obstacles – two feet in the water, an obvious visual wipeout. It’s why I don’t like the way they do the warped wall in NWUK.

  9. Andrew, the Yank says:

    I’m trying to figure out what it is about this show that’s not quite resonating with me, because I am all about this type of thing – I’m a longtime Sasuke fan, etc. But there are just enough minor details that annoy me that it detracts from my overall enjoyment.

    It took me until episode four to realize how much the fake audience sounds subconsciously ruined some of the reality of the competition.

    • Andrew, the Yank says:

      This is not to say I don’t enjoy a lot of aspects of the show, as well, but I think it could be better.

      I feel the competitor pool could be stronger, although that’s not entirely the show’s fault – for example, American Ninja Warrior competitors are locked up in exclusivity contracts with NBC.

      Possibly my biggest issue is the last stage, which I think gives too much of an advantage to rock climbers.

      • Brig Bother says:

        Inclined to agree with your analysis re: level 4 – I think Grid Lock is probably too hard as it turns out, or at least too geared to a certain skill – and audience sweetening, I can’t say I’ve watched enough international Ninja Warrior to know who I’m missing.

  10. Thomas Sales says:

    Well! Interestingly enough, next week’s episode of Who Dares Wins has been put back to 8pm, near enough when it used to air.

  11. Brig Bother says:

    Five episodes in and I’m losing interest a bit, really think the course could do with some more variations, a bit more interesting than “sometimes we don’t do this obstacle”. Even if it’s just adding an extra element to existing obstacles.

  12. Chris Lambert says:

    Watched the first ep and found it all a bit dreary. The show doesn’t really make you care about the contestants in the way that American Ninja Warrior does*, and for some reason that show’s over-the-top lunacy works better for me than this one’s more grounded approach (wacky biased commentator antics aside). And it really looked chintzy in stage 3 when contestants are basically falling onto the ground instead of a water hazard or another structure.

    *-in some cases, I actively hated players before they got started, which I don’t think should be the goal in this type of show. It’s not Survivor.

    Terry and Charissa aren’t adding much value at all. I’m considering switching over to the Mexican version even though I don’t speak any Spanish. (Those appear to be the only versions I can access in the US without doing anything naughty.)

  13. Leo says:

    I have seen all episodes now and i have the sense of the game being slightly rigged. In one stage 4 you clearly see one guy being pulled up past grid lock. I shook it off as odd but then in the final episode felipe jumps onto the bungy beds and hits the ground but he is still allowed to continue. I find it really troublesome that they are so inconsistent regarding whether pr not someone touched the ground. I also find it really strange that there are no audience to be seen in any of the episodes. It was fun to watch but i doubt the credibility of this program

    • Misohungry says:

      Agreed. The absence of a live audience, coupled with the non-stop, crowd cheering audio track, felt really strange and disconcerting. I also noticed Felipe’s feet touching the ground at the bungy beds, and thought it was odd he was allowed to continue. There were also other contestants whose feet touched the ground, or stood on scaffolding that didn’t seem legal.

    • Brig Bother says:

      Yes I thought Felipe on the bungee beds in the final was a bit odd.

    • Nicolas says:

      So Leo, I’m brazilian and also thought Felipe touched the ground on that part, but researching on Google I found out (on reddit) that one of the Netflix employees said they reviewed that scene from all different angles and his foot didn’t touched the ground (but It was very very close). Here’s the link to the discussion:

      https://www.reddit.com/r/netflix/comments/5w6rti/ultimate_beastmaster_picking_the_winner_us/

  14. Nico W. says:

    I just watched the finale. It was slightly improved, but I’m glad I didn’t watch all the episodes. Anyway it’s worth watching with skipping a bit in between.

    Spoiler Space

    The tie-break was pretty much the way it should have been done anyway in my opinion. And I thimk 25 grand is a small ampunt for that show to give away as the grand prize. I like the idea of giving a bonus for completing the entire course, but 50k should have been the normal jackpot.

    • Brig Bother says:

      Yeah, finished watching this last night, prize was a bit of a swizz especially having advertised it at $50k all season.

      I got gradually more bored of it as it went along, and the idea they’ve filmed the second series already fills me with a slight dread, but it’s otherwise a very well made show.

  15. Wrong Guess! says:

    I guess I’m in the minority of really enjoying the whole series. I found the pace really solid over the course of the series and was glad every contestant was a proper athlete and wasn’t there for laughs like some of the lot in Ninja Warrior UK.

Leave a Reply