Question: Just a little rant I feel I need to share. Though I know it has gone down in ratings, American Gladiators is not a bad show. I certainly understand people putting down many of the crazy reality shows and game shows you don't even need a brain or be physically active to play. But American Gladiators is different: There's competition, and it shows you how in shape some of these people of all different ages are. This show is cheesy, but it's good, clean fun, especially for the kids. There's such a variety of contestants — like the man with the prosthetic leg, that was unbelievable! You were rooting for him to make it to the end, and it felt good. It's featured regular people, best friends, married people, a deaf man and now, people who have lost weight. It can be very inspiring. Watching them do some of these challenges is fun and incredible. I could never do any of them, I'm sure. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy shows like Lost, 24, Burn Notice and The Closer, but given all the meaningless shows these days, I think American Gladiators is getting a bad rap. Thanks for listening.
Answer: I'm no fan of this show, in part because of the larger statement it makes about NBC's current programming philosophy — everything old is new again, especially if it's junky and loud — but to be fair, American Gladiators is nowhere near as mean-spirited as hateful trash like Fox's Moment of Truth (which happily appears to be fading without its American Idol tie-ins) or as utterly silly as ABC's new hit Wipeout, which also rewards physical prowess, at least in the final round. Gladiators is elaborately staged and generally harmless entertainment, but personally, I could do without so many of the sob stories the contestants bring to the party, although I'm sure I've missed some inspiring ones. I can understand why you're defensive about it, but the show did have an unexpectedly successful run during the writers' strike, and maybe there will be a home for it again somewhere other than network prime time.