The Bengals got whacked Saturday by the 49ers-reminisent of those two Super Bowl debacles. The Panthers score was 3-0 when I got bored, so I started flipping channels. Like Jerry Seinfeld once said, "Men don't care what's on TV. They only care what else is on TV." So I found this show called Ninja Warrior on the obscure G4 channel. This is reality programming at its best and on a shoestring. Nothing but metal scaffolding, fake zoo display rock, plastic greenery and huge pits of muddy water. You can have Survivor, give me Shingo Yamamoto the gas station attendant.
This show combines the best of the old American Gladiators shows with the Gong Show. Instead of Chuck Barris, you've got a screaming Japanese narrator dropping snarky riffs on what is at times the strangest cast of contestants. There's an American doing overdub narration between events, but it's the Japanese narrator and the subtitles that are the most entertaining. Here's a typical line: "The super soldier climbs up to the balance bridge...and decides to attack the obstacle with his crotch." The poor guy tripped on a balance board and ended up straddling the thing briefly, before he fell into the watery abysss.
Contestants include serious athletes, Japanese celebs and everyday hosers. The cast of recurring characters includes a guy who looks like an octopus who apparently shows everybody his dead octopus in a bucket right before his run. There is also an exotic male dancer who strips down to a loincloth, and a lady wrestler who dresses like Conan the Barbarian's French maid sex-slave. Kinda liked that last one.