American Gladiators is an American competition TV show that aired on NBC and Citytv in Canada. Hosted by Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali, the show matches amateur athletes against each other and the show's own "gladiators" in contests of strength, agility, and endurance. It is a remake of the original series of the same name which ran from 1989–1996, with elements of the UK version of the 1990s. The show is refereed by Al Kaplon, a former American League umpire, who can also be seen as the referee in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Play-by-play narration is handled by Van Earl Wright.
Season 1 was taped at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. Beginning with Season 2, the show moved to the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It is produced by Reveille Productions and MGM Television.
American Gladiators premiered on Sunday, January 6, 2008; an average of 12 million people watched the two-hour premiere. All other Season 1 episodes aired Mondays at 8:00 ET/PT, except for the finale, which aired Sunday February 17, 2008 at 7:00 ET/PT. Season 2 premiered May 12, 2008, on NBC, with a two-hour episode. The two-hour Season 2 finale aired on August 4, 2008 at 8:00 ET/PT. While the final two-hour episode of Season 1 was devoted entirely to the finals, the Season 2 finale consisted of the third semifinal round followed by the finals.
New episodes and new cast members were planned for a 3rd season in the summer of 2009, however, NBC canceled those plans in March. It may return at a later date on another network. It is currently being televised on WGN America and MTV2.
In August 2008, Season 1 of American Gladiators began airing on WKAQ-TV, Telemundo Puerto Rico every Sunday at 8 PM. In September 2008, Season 1 of American Gladiators began airing on Sky1 in the United Kingdom on Tuesday Afternoons. In April 2009, Season 2 of American Gladiators will begin broadcasting on Sky1 on Saturday Evenings. In Australia American Gladiators started airing on Seven's new free-to-air digital channel 7Two on Wednesdays at 7:30 PM from Nov. 4, 2009.
Season 1 of the revival featured 24 contenders (12 male, 12 female), while Season 2 had 40 contenders (20 male, 20 female). Men and women compete in separate tournaments, with two men and two women competing in each episode. In each episode, contenders take part in several events against the Gladiators, trying to earn as many points as possible before the final event, the Eliminator. Each point separating the contenders translates into a half-second advantage for the leader (or a half-second handicap for the trailing contender). For Season 1, preliminary round matches consisted of four events plus the Eliminator; semifinals and finals matches were extended to five events plus the Eliminator (by comparison, the original series had either six or seven events plus the Eliminator). The first two preliminary matches of Season 2 had four events plus the Eliminator. All other rounds had six events plus the Eliminator. For 90-minute episodes, all the events were shown in their entirety, but for 60-minute episodes, two events for each gender were shown only in brief "recap" segments; those events can be viewed in their entirety on the NBC website.
In Season 1, the four male contenders and the four female contenders who won their respective preliminary matches with the fastest Eliminator times advanced to the semifinals; the winners of the two semifinals matches competed in the finals. In Season 2, the top six contenders of each gender advanced to the semifinals; after three semifinal matches, the two winning contenders of each gender with the fastest Eliminator times advanced to the finals.
The grand prize in Season 1 was $100,000, a 2008 Toyota Sequoia, and the right to become a Gladiator for Season 2. The cash prize and car remained the same in Season 2, but there was no explicit mention of the contenders becoming Gladiators.
After discussions with MGM, NBC confirmed in August 2007 that a revival would be produced by Reveille Productions and MGM Television for a mid-season debut. Shortly thereafter, NBC announced a casting call on its website. The first ad for the revival aired during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 22, 2007. Although some analysts believe that the show was revived in response to talks of an upcoming WGA strike, which was ongoing at the time of AG's premier, evidence of this is inconclusive.
In Season 1, the four men and four women who had the fastest winning times in the Eliminator moved on to the semifinals. Matchups were determined by seeding based on the preliminary Eliminator results.
In Season 2, the six men and six women with the fastest winning times in the Eliminator advanced to the semifinals, where matchups were determined by seeding based on the preliminary Eliminator results. After three semifinal rounds, the two men and two women with the fastest winning Eliminator times in the semifinals advanced to the finals. All results are from the NBC official American Gladiators website.
|Season||Male Champion||Female Champion|
|1||Evan Dollard||Monica Carlson|
|2||Tim Oliphant||Ally Davidson|
Season 2 featured a number of "theme" episodes. These episodes were not stand-alone episodes.
Episode 2: Both competitions featured cops who work together: Melvin Davis and David Moore work in the Chicago Police Department, while Abbe Dorn and Vicki Ferrari are partners working in Denver.
Episode 4: This episode was dedicated to the movie The Incredible Hulk. Special Hulk themed elements to the show included: green lighting in the rafters and the pool; the use of green scoring balls in Powerball (one contender used solid green balls, the other used green and black balls); Gauntlet power pads being replaced by "Hulk Hands"; and Titan competing in Joust covered in green body paint.
Episode 5: Twin sisters Clinessa Burch and Lillian Thomassen competed against one another.
Episode 6: Two married couples—Jeff and Ally Davidson, and Aaron Simpson (fighter) and Kendra Sirignano—competed (individually).
Episode 7: All four contestants had lost 50 or more pounds prior to competing on the show.
Episode 8: The female competition was called "The Battle of the Ages" as it pitted the youngest contender of the season, Annie Castellano, age 20, against the oldest contender ever on the show, Yoko Ohigashi, age 52.