Monday 18 January 2010

The Ugly, The Bad and The E14

This week, E14 brings you a cavalcade of television shows that fall into that category I like to refer to as "Endurance Television". Generally, this is for one of two reasons. Either the potential winners are put through their paces in a series of gruelling events, or the viewers are forced to sit through an hour of some seriously lame television.

The Ugly: Gladiators

Not only does this show have the false claim that it was responsible for the phrase "Awooga!" which John Fashanu shamelessly ripped off from Craig Charles' Cyberzone, this show also boasted the false claim that it was in any way entertaining.

An adaptation of the US television show, unsurprisingly named American Gladiators, the decision was presumably made that English Gladiators would be a little less threatening to the ears of the contestants. It's definitely probable that the idea of terrifying the contestants entered into the minds of the producers of the show, simply based on the names of the Gladiators themselves. I mean, are more people going to be scared of a Gladiator named Mike, or a hulking brute of a man named Warrior? I rest my case.

The contestants were muppets as well. In true "underdog conquering adversity" fashion, they'd show videos of them going about their daily lives and then something that was designed to make them look deadly, particularly if they were about to face a Gladiator with a good record. I'd have LOVED to see the video if they'd been honest about their chances.

Interviewer: So how do you rate your chances against Saracen?
Contestant: Have you SEEN him? He's got more muscles in his eyes than I have in both arms!

As if all that wasn't damning enough, they decided that just one failure wasn't enough, and re-released Gladiators in 2008. Yet, they didn't go for all the classic Gladiators, instead just deciding that Wolf wasn't doing much. What about Shadow? True, he was busted for steroid abuse in 1994, but when a guy packs a 53" chest and makes Wesley Snipes look like a nancy, it's got to be worth giving him a call.

The Bad: Total Wipeout
Not to be confused with Wipeout starring Bob Monkhouse, which was a gameshow, or Wipeout, a racing game franchise on Playstation, Total Wipeout is another adaptation of a US television show that has been ported over to the increasingly Americanised British television audience. This show features a series of ridiculous games that involve the player landing in either water or mud depending on the game. All are designed to make the contender look like a complete douchebag and humiliate both them for watching and the viewer for at any point seeming engaged.

Now, why does this belong as "the bad" in our Neopolitan ice cream of mediocrity? Simple, it's not "the good" because this show carries a £10,000 prize for acting like a complete tool on TV, and I personally prefer people to actually EARN £10,000. Why is it not "the ugly" then? Well, simply because the names of the rounds themselves are quite E14 in themselves.

One of the rounds, for example, involves contestants trying to navigate an extra-large set of hanging spherical objects in order to cross a chasm. What, then, did the producers of the show decide to call this round, pitting contestants against these danglning engorged spheres? Simple. Big Balls. Add to this that the qualifying round includes the game Sucker Punch and the first round alone ticks E14 boxes.

Even one of the later rounds, named Dreadmill is somewhat suitable. Put it this way: It may look like a terrible pun at first glance, but I guarantee you that if you start a metal band and call yourself Dreadmill, Brad Harmer will buy your debut album. At the very least, he'd become a fan of you on Facebook.

Having said that, knowing Brad he probably started that band already.

The E14:Sasuke (Ninja Warrior)

So there we have it folks, the very worst that television has to offer and a show that sucks slightly less. "So Rob, what does Ninja Warrior do that's so different?" Well, I'll tell you. Ninja Warrior ticks so many E14 boxes that it is a contender for one of the most E14 shows ever devised.

So, point number 1, the show has "Ninja" in the name. Point 2 is the word "Warrior" directly after the Ninja. Point 3 is that in this case, "Warrior" is not a pseudonym for "Mike", and it's all uphill from there to be honest.

Let me give you an example of the way this show tests its athletes. From the beginning of the Second stage, bearing in mind this is just ONE of the episodes available and one set of challenges (there are dozens of variants):

From the beginning, the contestant slides down a zipline on a chain. When they reach the bottom, they then have to grab hold of another chain and kick off from the wall at a right angle, shooting across a chasm. When they reach the other side of the chasm they then have to climb a short wall. Once they reach the top of said wall, it gets interesting. They then have to do something called "The Spider Walk".

This involves traversing a 1.2m gap in the walls without touching the ground, by placing the hands and feet on opposing walls. I should mention that this doesn't mean hands on one wall and feet on another, I mean one of each on each wall. How bollocking awesome does that sound? Well, it's more awesome than it sounds to watch!

After they go up the wall, they then have to change direction and come back down, swinging underneath a horizontal pole when they get to the bottom on the other side. Now, you'd be forgiven for thinking that they'd suffered enough. No no, not the producers of this show. Then they hit "The Metal Spin". Chains (always E14, just ask any wrestling fan) are hung from a circular support like a chandelier. Contestants have to jump across to the chains and swing onto the other side's platform.

But wait, that's not all! Contestants THEN have to lift three metal walls of increasing weights, 30kg followed by 40kg and then 50kg immediately afterwards. How long does all of this supposedly take, in the eyes of the totally fair and reasonable producers?

Sixty-six seconds.

The scary thing is that I saw one guy do it in 55.
I couldn't find a video of this exact stage, but enjoy this selection of Ninja Warrior awesomeness, courtesy of Youtube. Bear in mind as you're watching this, some of these people sell insurance for a living.

In Europe, a group of American college athletes unknowingly board a train that will become one deadly ride.

After a night of wild partying and missing their train, the group of students is invited to board another which happens to be heading their way. Once on board they soon realise that this is no ordinary ride. As members begin to go missing, their would-be-saviours claim to have no idea what could have happened to them.

When they discover the shocking truth, they find that it is too late to escape their hellish ride and they must fight for their lives against the train crew and the other passengers.

Thanks to our friends at Lionsgate UK, we've got three copies of Train to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Monday 25th January (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win a copy of this awesome movie!

1 comment:

  1. Does anyone else on here remeber the aweful post-pub visual spectacular of Endurance UK?

    firstly it involved gross out challenges to the very cream of the british population, it was aimed at the post pub market (and as a 14 year old when this was being broadcast on satallite tv, this was visual heaven), and it had 2 guys dressed up (and rather stereotpyically) as japanese business men, who used to shout 'GOOOO HOOOOOOOOME' to any loser.

    it was horrific and both spectacular at the same time. perhaps even spectacularly horrific. still, if there were re-runs right now, id be watching the shit out of them. presumably all evidence of this show can now be found in a landfill site, somewhere near Romford.