Warriors of the World.
Check out my brief spate of Twittering through the premiere episode here: http://twitter.com/sapo_group
Savage killing machines from bygone eras tearing into each other for your amusement. No, I’m not talking about Jurassic Fight Club (although I will in a moment), I’m talking about Deadliest Warrior a show in a similarly opened vein that instead of examining fossil records and performing 35 minutes of forensics and speculation, fills its time slot with fairly graphic weapons simulations, heavily recycled footage of warriors doing their thing, and friendly banter.
This last item makes Warrior more interesting than Jurassic, for while both of the shows have essentially the same theme: ‘Here’s What We Think Might Have Happened in This Confrontation Based on Science’, Warrior does it more compellingly, as opposed to Jurassic’s heavy reliance on a highly enthusiastic, but somewhat uninteresting Dinosaur George.
By making it into a competition between the teams trying to prove their fighter’s worth, the show’s clunky weapons simulation scenes become a lot more interesting. You suddenly have a stake in one of the teams being able to convince the judges that they deserve the ‘edge’, because ultimately, that’s what the computer is going to use to determine the outcome of the 1000 simulated fights that decide who wins. It’s like American Idol, but with more stabbing. While nothing’s been mentioned yet, I’m hoping that there will be some sort of bracket system, where each week’s winner goes on to face the winners of other weeks, ultimately culminating in a big crazy season finale to determine who truly is the Deadliest Warrior, ala Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker Planet.
On its inaugural night, Deadliest Warrior featured a Roman Gladiator facing off against an Apache Warrior, a matchup of a stealthy and merciless guerilla fighter versus a brawny bruiser known for taking and giving out punishment.
Both teams tried to sway the judges by bringing up their warriors ‘mindsets; the Gladiator team insisted that their combatant would not back down and simply batter his opponent to bits, and that the Apache would prefer to hit and run, but would not be able to in the arena; whereas the Apache team maintained that the Gladiator would be too slow and bulky, and his armor would restrict him from even seeing the swifter Apache approaching.
Both weapon sets turned out to be terrifyingly effective- even an innocuous sling bullet proved perfectly capable of staving in a human skull, but the Apache team had an ace in the hole that the Gladiator could not counter effectively enough- the bow and arrow. (Notice how laid back Alan Tafoya is as he demonstrates the bow’s effectiveness- as if he already knows that he’s won.)
Being able to reliably kill his opponent at a range of just under 50 feet without suffering harm led the Apache to win two-thirds of the simulated combats, at least according to the judges, and this will likely prove to be the downfall of most, if not all, of the fighters in the weeks to come. The judges took this aspect of an otherwise fairly well-balanced matchup, and let it tip the scales violently in favor of the Apache.
In a strict hand-to-hand contest, the Gladiator would have won, in my book, although the crafty Apache could have likely gotten around his shield and cut up his super-exposed chest a bit, much to the pleasure of the crowd. As it was already noted in the messageboard on SpikeTV’s site, the Gladiator’s cestus had shockingly little effect on the Apache’s face, despite its cow-maiming properties proven in the lab. The Gladiator should have won at that point, but it seems that the writers left that sequence in to make it more visually interesting. The full episode is online here- you can decide for yourself: http://www.spike.com/full-episode/apache-vs-gladiator/31444
Next week’s confrontation is Ninja vs. Spartan:
This looks like another bad matchup of stealth versus strength. Take away the anime-style powers that real ninjas never had, and it seems to get worse. Perhaps the ninja will surprise us, but the Spartan seems to have more armor and a bigger shield than the Gladiator did, and I’m betting that the Spartan team will play up the shield-wall tactic.
Other fights for this season include Taliban vs. IRA, Yakuza vs. Mafia, Green Beret vs. Spetznaz, Maori vs. Shaolin Monks, and a few fights that I’m actually interested in:
Viking vs. Samurai’ This can’t end well for anyone. But it’ll probably be fun to watch. Either the Samurai knocks the Viking down with the one sword stroke that they are famous for, or the Viking goes berserk and lays into him with an axe.
Pirate vs. Knight’ Does the pirate have a pistol? If so, based solely on the severe advantage that the bow gave the Apache, the Pirate wins. I’m rooting for the Knight, though.
William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu’ This sounds ridiculous, and not necessarily in a bad way. However, since Wallace is known for shooting lightning bolts from his arse, I think that Zulu will not have much of a chance in this matchup.
On the whole, Deadliest Warrior is an entertaining bit of late-night TV. Probably not worth staying up for, but if you can DVR it, it’s a good way to spend an afternoon.