International King of Sports
If we wanted to find the best all-round athelete, what would we do? The decathalon? That's fine for track and field which are the most basic of events but there's more to sport than running, jumping and throwing isn't there? The heptathon? That's just the decathalon but seven tenths as good. The modern pentathalon? Well, shooting, swimming, fencing, show jumping and running are all quite interesting and diverse disciplines but you can't get through it all in 24 minutes. And no, we can't count Superstars for one reason or another.
What we need is someone to make up a load of sports and trials to test all round physical ability. That was Dermot O Leary's Born to Win. International King of Sports is a whole lot sillier and much more fun.
Each week, four competitors battle it out in Cheltenham over five rounds aiming to reach the final and earn the accolade International King of Sports in front of an estimated audience of 500 billion people. They are joined by hosts Helen Chamberlain (off of Soccer AM on SKY which is quite good), Mark Robson (International King of Sports of 1988) whilst Alan Parry commentates.
Each event is introduced with a comedy Norwegian/Dutch/Icelandic/Pakistani voiceover (we can't work out which and it's comedy because of his chocie of words). A no means complete list of events follow:
And there are more. First place in each event scores four points, second three and so on.
As you may have noticed many of these sports are traditional sports turned upside down or given a big twist. This gives them at least a sense of sporting substance and in testing speed, strength and reactions they aren't quite as silly as you'd possibly think. This is both the shows strength and weakness. Events like the 10G Slalom, Tennis Thwack and particularly Individual Fall Down and International Skids are interesting, entertaining and fun to watch. Many of the other events feel a bit lazily contrived by comparison (usually the traditional event + a special condition events).
Happily this is all wrapped up in just about the right kind and level of irony. Cheltenham is a funny name and place to hold sports of this calibre. Mick Robson isn't really International King of Sports 1988. It's not really being watched by 500 billion people and whilst the events are unusual and the interviews and reactions are given in implied seriousness the hosts tones to camera imply a concealed smile (although the illusion is broken slightly in series two when Chamberlain introduces the show each week with "what happens when you get 24 of the world's top athletes together and ask them to compete in sports we've completely made up?").
In summary then, we think television is a slightly better place for this show's existance but, entertaining as it currently stands, needs a bit more work before it can 'be' truly great.