FinaleWatch: 'American Gladiators'

Crush_2 This season of American Gladiators brought us some really swell new challenges, I'm a big fan of Tilt, Sideswipe, and Snapback. It also brought us some new gladiators, but, and I'm being honest here, none of them hold a candle to Crush. Ah Crush, what I wouldn't give to meet her in a dark alley somewhere. The season also brought some less than great stuff, Rocketball and Beast leading the charge there (Beast may be big and strong, but the whole Beast introduction was way too over the top, even for this show).

The final episode was a good one though. Just like last season it was a two-hour job, but unlike last season this was two one-hour episodes aired back-to-back, so there was far less filler than what we were treated to in the spring.

The first hour, which we're not going to spend a lot of time on, featured Randee against Mike on the men's side and Abbe against Annie for the women. I will say that the women were really impressive in Power Ball, they were making gladiators miss left and right. It was a little embarrassing for the gladiators. Abbe went into the Eliminator with three-and-a-half second lead. But, Abbe, in the lead, forgot to go up the teeter-totter. After Annie fell on the Travelator, Abbe did end up winning the Eliminator, but not fast enough to get into the finals. As for the men, both guys got 14 points prior to the Eliminator, meaning that they would start at the same time. It was a close battle throughout the Eliminator, the two went back and forth, but Mike managed to edge out Randy and secure a spot in the finals.

So, on to the finals...

I try to be impartial in these things, but I hate Tim, I just do. I think it has something to do with this ridiculous, really annoying peppiness (I do not like peppy). My dislike is made that much worse by the fact that heading into the finals he seemed absolutely unstoppable. He set records his first two times through the Eliminator, eclipsing everyone else's times. Even if he didn't break his own speed record tonight, I just didn't see how anyone could touch him there. Mike has proven himself to be a fast guy, but he was going to need a huge lead going into the Eliminator in order to win. The Tiffaney-Ally battle seemed like it should be much closer, their Eliminator times in the semis were off by a mere second.

The first event for the men was Gauntlet, and the recently revamped Gauntlet layout and scoring system is a big improvement over the old one. Plus, I was thrilled that the gladiators didn't do that ridiculous place switching thing tonight. It's always obvious when they're going to do that because the gladiators' equipment for the event is out of sequence until the front two gladiators switch places. And, for Mike, they didn't need that sort of trickery anyway, he couldn't get past the first two gladiators before time ran out. Speedy Tim however picked up five points.

Speedy increased his lead on Sideswipe (more on the event below), picking up seven points to Mike's five. Militia was great during the event, going after the contestants even when they were all the way against one edge of the row of platforms. Speedy then got ten points on Pyramid to Mike's five. Really though, the points should go to Titan, because Titan took out Toa allowing both contenders to get to the top. About halfway through the competition, Mike hadn't built up the lead he was going to need going into the Eliminator.

By the time we got to The Wall, the final event before the Eliminator, Tim had a 15 point lead... and a black eye. At least Tim had to take on Rocket, last year's champ, to get points on this event. If Tim didn't also get a head start, it might have been fair. Speedy easily made it to the top, getting 10 points, whereas Mike only got wet.

So, there it was, Tim had a 12.5 second head start for the Eliminator. Tim didn't set a new record time tonight on the event, but he did handily beat Mike (which he would have done even without the head start). Speedy, as I feared, was crowned the men's champ this season.

The women's first event tonight was the hugely amusing Sideswipe. It's everything that Hit and Run should be (and maybe they're using it instead of Hit and Run, because we haven't seen that event since early this season). Having the gladiators swing themselves to hit the contestants is so much better than throwing medicine balls at the contestants. Ally picked up a mere two points before getting pushed off into the water, while Tiffaney grabbed four.

Both Ally and Tiffaney did a good job on their next event, Hang Tough. Ally put up a valiant effort, holding on despite Phoenix's pulling at her for a long time before dropping into the water (it was a good job, but it didn't get points), whereas Tiffaney pushed Phoenix away and grabbed a big 10 points. Tiffaney didn't have the same sort of luck against Crush on Joust though. Crush stayed perfect (and I think you know what I mean by that), neither Tiffaney nor Ally scored against her.

The women's final event before the Eliminator was also The Wall and Tiffaney sported a 5 point lead going into it. Both women made it to the top, but Tiffaney got there just ahead of Ally, meaning that Tiffaney would have a five second lead for the Eliminator.

Tiffaney and Ally's battle in the Eliminator, unlike the Speedy and Mike one, was at least moderately exciting. Ally caught up and pulled ahead on the cargo net, but then fell off the hand bike. Tiffaney couldn't capitalize on the opportunity though, falling off herself after struggling mightily with it. From there, it was all Ally as she went on to become the new female champion.

Thus ended the second season of the new American Gladiators. I can't say that the competition was quite as strong as I would have liked, the contestants did seem better in season one, but the mix of events and gladiators was definitely improved in season two. Hopefully, if there is a season three, it'll combine the strength of contenders from season one with the improved event mix and gladiators of season two.

Odds and ends:

  • I'm trying to think about what I would like to see changed if there is a third season of this show. I really think that the right answer is changing the way points lead to a head start in the Eliminator. I tend to believe that one point should lead to a one second advantage rather than a half-second one. Make those events really count, right now they only sort of count. Also, I'd like to eliminate a few gladiators and make one more prevalent (I'm not going to name names though).
  • What do you think? What would you change given the chance? What would you leave the same?

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