Show Discussion: Ninja Warrior UK

By | April 11, 2015

ninja_warrior_logoSaturdays, 7pm,

ITV’s Super Saturdays kick off with Ninja Warrior UK, the home grown version of the popular Japanese event show Sasuke (which in itself was a spin-off of a show called Muscle Ranking (known here and in the US as Unbeatable Banzuke) which already made it to the UK  as Under Pressure on Channel 5 way back in 2001).

We’re interested in seeing how it’s been formatted and if they’re going to end the series with a definitive winner (famously the Japanese show has only seen a Total Victor four times out of thirty tournaments so far). We also don’t know if there’s any prize.

38 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Ninja Warrior UK

  1. Alex

    Under Pressure was also done in Germany as Champions Day, hosed by Steven Gätjen, who hosted The Mole, and Fort Boyard back in the ‘Rednex seasons’ and is of course the current Schlag den Raab host.

    Not sure where I’m going with this link, but still.

  2. Scott John Harrison

    I enjoyed the first episode – I was worried that the top ten was going to be mostly people who failed – but it is just because they put more of the wins into the back-half of the show.

    I also spotted the lack of time…yep most of these people would time out on the Japanese course but hopefully the winner is the free runner or the one already built a Sasuke second stage grip bar in his work out room.

  3. Brig Bother Post author

    I thought that was a pretty entertaining way to spend an hour, I thought the editing was a bit funny at first but I was fine with it five minutes in.

    But I just can’t disassociate it from the original, and the reformatting does all sorts of things that don’t improve the show – I understand they’ve based it on the US version, but once again there is not a single version of an international show where the US is the best one to base it on and this is no exception.

    I don’t get having the Warped Wall to finish the course, how do you fail exactly? If they’d kept the time limits of the original, featuring massive fuck off warning klaxon when the time’s almost up, then yeah maybe you can get an exciting against-the-clock ending out of it, right now it’s a bit of a damp squib way to finish the course.

    It feels quite wrong to have people who didn’t finish the course go through to the next round.

    The Tower looks like it’s about five metres tall. who will scale that in the three minutes they will probably be allowed?

    Are we going to enjoy watching the same course for five weeks? Remember the original gets through everything in three hours.

    1. Scott

      With the warped wall – I think it was only said once and just in the commentary of one persons run – You have 3 attempts at it and that is it.

  4. Alex

    The format is odd: 5 ‘Stage 1’ heats, 2 ‘Stage 2’ semis, and a final consisting of Stage 2, Stage 3 and the tower. It seems odd drawing it out, then having a packed final like that. There might be the danger of it being slow, then the final episode being severely rushed.

    That said, the semifinals DO bring the time limit back, so there’s something.

  5. Tom F

    The top 10 rule sort-of gives them a mandate to change the course between heats (without making it unfair), my bet is that the penultimate obstacle is the one on rotation, because that curtain thing does not suit stage 1.

    As a programme, they’ve paced it very well. I kept watching.
    A few people said it’s not as good as sasuke, but sasuke has had 20+ series to get going.

    A lot of the problems with the competition structure, I think, are born out of the fact that 1- They’ve got to make 8 hours of television and 2- The Brits ain’t very good at this. For example, I think that’s why they’re forcing 50 qualifiers for stage 2, when it looks like if you did it normally, you’d get about 20 depending on the time limit set. Probably no non-drastic solution to that. (The drastic would be to do 2 tournaments per series so that you’ve got more footage of the good contestants.)

    It does seem weird that they’re using about 30% of their apparatus on 62.5% of the episodes. Does anyone know whether they have 3 or 4 stages? If it’s 4, I think they should mix in some stage 2 footage to these first 5 episodes; if it’s 3, I think they should have put more course into stage 1.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      My understanding is the heats are stage one, the semis are stage two, and the top 18 go through to the final with stage three and four.

      I get they have to make eight hours, but the changes they’ve made to facilitate that make the show less exciting and interesting. I don’t have the perfect solution, but that diesn’t stop it being true.

      1. Alex

        I’ve heard that the final is Stage 2 against the clock, then Stage 3, then Stage 4, any and all falls are instant elimination.

      2. Brig Bother Post author

        And of course the other way of looking at Sasuke took twenty goes to get going (which isn’t true) is that there’s 15+ years of production experience that ought to have been considered more.

  6. David B

    Let’s look at the positives – they’ve got the right presenters, the set looks good, I actually think the indoors thing helps with the crowd noise and thus the atmosphere is actually better than the Japanese show.

    But yeah – not having any stage 2 in the first hour of telly is pretty dull.

  7. Brig Bother Post author

    A thing that someone pointed out on DS, this week we have six finishers and four qualifiers who didn’t finish. There may be episodes where more than 10 people complete, and those over will go home. Why’s that good?

    “They do it on the US show” is not any sort of excuse. We are better at formats and light entertainment than they are. *Think*.

    I don’t know what the prize is for winning this, but the current reward for Total Victory in Japan is 4m yen, about £25k.

  8. Greg

    As pointed out in the commentary contestants only get 3 tries at the Warped Wall

      1. Alex McMillan

        Perhaps they should start a time limit once people get to the Warped Wall, rather than 3 strikes?

  9. Steve Williams

    I wonder what the primetime ITV audience make of Chris Kamara. I didn’t much care for this and I think it’s going to get a bit repetitive over the course of the series. On this one we saw someone fail in two seconds and someone complete it extremely quickly and is there much else that this format can offer up? In Total Wipeout there always seemed to be the opportunity to do the course differently and the potential for the records for fastest and slowest to be broken every week, but we seem to have seen all the extremes of this series in shown one.

  10. Scott John Harrison

    Watched the second week and the problem of more than 10 people finishing happened.

    I believe you had 13 people this week but I didn’t count.

    I am glad they mixed up the obstacles a bit this week – having the rings instead of the curtains and the rope swing/vertical net hang.

  11. Alex

    The semi final was a bit of a damp squib.

    – The course is literally a stage 1 course with three obstacles added on to the end. Final obstacle is a 7m climb in the style of the Spider Climb, but wider.
    – They said there’d be a time limit. There isn’t one.
    – People not making the Top 10 in the heats are running in the semi as ‘wildcards’ despite there being no mention of them beforehand.
    – They said the top 18 would get through, instead it’s the top 14?

    If it’s been pre-recorded, why would they claim one thing then do the other!?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Agreed on all counts (although fiddling the numbers I can deal with even if it looks like nobody knows what they’re going on about).

      I did feel a bit bored watching it, the Japanese course designers do a good job of making each stage *feel* different, it feels increasingly like an extreme PE lesson right now rather than an exciting obstacle course.

  12. Scott John Harrison

    I have this bad feeling that the finale will be an even longer first stage course again but ending with the climb. I am surprised by this semi final since they had so many different obstacles to choose from.

    1. Karen

      With the format they’ve gone with there’s really no other way of doing a final that’s just the tower, so yeah the final is just gonna be stage 1 + stage 2 + rope climb added to the spider climb. It definitely does not have the technique/agility/power feel to each stage that Sasuke has.

  13. Scott John Harrison

    The Final looks more like a Stage 2/3 from the preview…It has atleast the Salmon Ladder, The Spider-Walk and The Unstable Bridge – As well as an impressive looking Jump Hang to ring swing.

    1. Alex

      And just as I thought the time limit is wide enough to park a bus in.

  14. Alex

    Well played on the final actually being PROPER. But it felt really rushed. Just what I feared.

  15. Scott John Harrison

    Stage 2 was great – a very punishing time limit, Salmon walk to Unstable bridge then jumping down to the wall lift.

    I think the main problem with the UK formatting is that they are breaking it down to 8 episodes this would work so much better as a one week 2/3 hour TV event.

    The problem is I don’t think we have many one week only event shows.

  16. Alex

    I’m just gonna go ahead and copy-paste what I’ve already written elsewhere:

    Final was EXACTLY what they should have done.

    What gets me annoyed is the pacing. I feared it’d be 7 slow weeks then everything in the final. Credit where it’s due, that final episode was everything I wanted in a local NW and it should be commended as such. But, for this to be a staple long enough to remain onscreen until there’s a winner, here’s what I’d do:

    – Ditch the semi-finals. They add nothing and just prolong the staleness.
    – Keep the five qualifiers, but everyone who gets through gets to the next round, no top 10s. At the end of the 5, if there’s any spaces left over from the original 50, fill them up with the best failers. If more then 50 finish, just take that many through.
    – Replace the semi-finals with a 2 hour final. 50 people running that stage 1, with classic Sasuke rules.
    – Make the stage 2 90 seconds. That timer was really quite harsh, and it was jarring to go from a massive time limit to a tiny one. On that note, reduce the time limit to 150 seconds. Possibly even 120.
    – If there’s a premature fail, then just to shut Twitter up, £10,000 to the last one standing. Or split it amongst everyone who gets to the stage where the game ends.
    – Actually mention the prize that you get for winning? I’m gonna guess it’s £50,000? I know the course victory is the main prize and the money is second, but the brass tacks is that the course doesn’t have the status over here that it does in Japan. Even Sasuke #1 had Unbeatable Banzuke logos everywhere to give the challenge some depth. If you don’t mention what is at stake, the people won’t watch. Simple.

    1. Alex

      That would be reducing the time limit OF STAGE 1 to 150 seconds, there.

  17. Brig Bother Post author

    If you spend seven weeks playing to a ‘furthest fastest’ elimination cut rule, you cannot blame the audience if they take things to the logical expectation and have it end on a Top 1 and then surprise them after eight weeks with a Top 0.

    It just reiterates that the previous seven weeks have been reformatted pretty poorly really.

  18. Chris M. Dickson

    Watched one heat, one semi and one final, enjoyed all three (the “last man standing” title felt extremely appropriate in context) and felt no need to watch more. Looking forward to the next series, though.

    Definitely a good year so far!

  19. Brekkie

    Good to see this recommissioned. Needs a few tweaks – mainly adding a time limit to the heats and making it that only those who complete go through to the next round. I think they’d still have enough and the time limit would actually help some get further as it is hesitation which is the biggest killer on the course.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if it gets moved up to January either considering Stars in their Eyes and Get Your Act Together have both been axed.

    If they did axe the semi-finals they’d still want as many shows, but add in an extra heat and play the final out over two episodes (as they’d have at least twice as many starters in theory) and that’s the problem sorted.

    The invitable Celebrity Ninja Warrior will give them extra episodes too – indeed a celeb version would suit being played out over one extended show quite nicely.

  20. mark

    The current UK ninja warrior is a joke if you look at the Japanese one they compete in the rain snow wind ice night or day which is the true test the UK one is all done inside full light warm place it is a poor substitute not a real test never watch it’s a joke the American ninja is better they need to the UK one outside in the rain wind snow night day as it should b not the trash called ninja uk

    1. Callum J

      I completely disagree. If NWUK was any harder not many people would do well enough.

      I think having NWUK outside instead of a studio would be a bad move, as the studio audience is really part of the atmosphere.

      I also feel you may be taking it too seriously. It’s not supposed to be a proper test, it’s just a bit of fun.

      1. Nico W.

        Honestly, I have never seen the Japanese version, only the German and American one and parts of the British and French one. I hate the American one for being outside. It just feels like a very empty place without anyone bothering about it. And I wouldn’t like it if the conditions weren’t the same for every participant because the weather can change quickly. I’m really glad for the German version which seems to be made exactly the way the UK one is. It’s about adaptation here for me and they’ve done a great job.

  21. mark

    The UK ninja warrior is being ruined and messed about with it should have the obstacles like the original *lnot the crap now it’s so easy you watch the Japanese one that is Wat it’s all about very hard why don’t the UK one just do the same but as usual we destroyed it the material of wat the obstacles r made of r not the same they should a ninja is in any weather conditions night or day the UK one is just a lot of rubish


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