Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hugely Disappointing Finale of American Ninja Warrior

First the unfair elimination of Kacey Katanzaro, and now an incredibly boring and ultimately disappointing season finale with two decent runs and no champion on NBC/Esquire's American Ninja Warrior. Just like a competitor who has swung too far on the chains to have a chance to move on to the next challenge, I am thinking of calling it quits. The show is entertaining enough ... until it's not.

Last night's season finale of the toughest obstacle course competition in the world ended with only two competitors - Joe "the Weatherman" Moravsky and Elet Hall - even making it to Stage Three. Elet went out on the third challenge, the Hanging Boards, while Joe surpassed his last year's performance to ultimately run out of arm strength on the inverted climbing wall. Those two runs happened in the last fifteen minutes of a two-hour show in which 16 of 18 finalists never really got anywhere in Stage One - the hanging ropes that were poorly designed, not entertaining, and ultimately slowed down and tired out competitors to the point that they really had no chance to finish. And that new obstacle slowed down and tired out the show, which is coming "dangerously close to a point where the entertainment of the competition won't outweigh the ongoing lack of a champion."

ANW has lasted for six seasons without producing victory - and while that was cool and mysterious for a while, it's reaching a point of futility. Who wants to watch a show that can't be completed by athletes of exceptional skill at the top of their game? That ropes challenge didn't defeat them - it just stupidly interfered with their ability to shine. And why create new challenges when the old haven't been defeated? Americans love competition, but we also value success and achievement. And no other sports seeks to get harder and put the prize out of reach just for the heck of it. The Olympic games don't change the course - they just wait for people to complete it even faster. The NFL isn't wildly popular because they changed the rules - players have just gotten better. True, spectators enjoying watching people attempt the impossible - if only for the novelty. But that wears off, and we won't continue to watch without some hope.

NBC and Esquire and American Ninja Warrior offered us two hours of surprisingly mundane entertainment, yet kept us teased and interested based on hope of victory. It was never going to happen - and I can't say I will commit that time again. Additionally, the producers are wasting the time and insulting the talents and dedication of the contestants with a measly $500K for what is arguably the most impossible achievement in the world. If it's really that hard, then the prize money should be a cumulative pot, and they ought to be offering a couple million dollars by now. Goodness knows the ratings generate enough revenue to support that. And, while no one wants the course to get harder, the producers should address the issue of the challenges, so the goal is not simply watching someone fail or waiting to see how far they get before the inevitable failure happens.

If ANW creates a course where Kacey can legitimately compete, and epic contenders like Brian Arnold aren't ousted on a really boring challenge that never allows his talents and endurance to truly be test, then I may be back. But don't count on it.

I may just wait for a victor and then watch the re-run on YouTube.

Get it together ANW. We all deserve better.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with what you said.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this review! It sums up nicely mainly of the frustrations I have had as a long time viewer of this show.

For my part, I don't mind that the producers build in a little novelty by introducing new obstacles in qualifying rounds. But, I don't think that these sorts of changes should be allowed in the Finals course.

The course should stand unchanged until it is defeated... I am pretty sure this is how it worked in the Japanese version of Mt. Midoryiama.

Anonymous said...

totally agreed with you... how come they are making the final stages much harder than season 5, stage 2 was super hard and boring. they just do not want to give away the 500k... I will no longer watch this show next year.. is getting really boring.

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way. I was dismayed and a bit mad to see the finale of this current season. Even though there was a champion last season, it is obvious there will not be any other for a very long time. The producers are making sure of that by making impossible last stages. They are so greedy­čśá

For-realz said...

It might as well be called ninja warrior jr this year.not worth watching.