Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top Shot Recap: S4 E1 "Sweating Bullets"

[Note: Recaps will let you know what happened in each episode, come back tomorrow for my analysis where I will break down my thoughts on the challenges and the contestants.]

Season 4 of Top Shot got off to a exciting if slightly predictable start last night. After the initial obligatory montage explaining the stakes of the game and the "Oh hey look how diverse our contestants are!" rollcall, Colby brought us right into the action.

The season's first twist came in the form of this season's prize. Instead of playing for the title of "Top Shot" and the $100,000 prize, the contestants would also win a shooting contract sponsored by who else, but Bass Pro Shops.

But the surprises didn't end there. This season brought in two extra contestants to compete, but while some may have thought we were in store for two teams of nine this season, what we got was another opening challenge surprise.

In season two, the two marksmen closest to the bulls-eye were selected as red and blue team captains. In season three, two contestants faced off head to head, the losers ended up on one team, the winners on the other.

This season Top Shot brought a fun twist. The contestants shot a M14 rifle at a metal target 200 yards away. The sixteen contestants closest to the center would be in the competition, the two contestants furthest from center were sent packing immediately. The two contestants who fired their first and last shots were Mr. Prep himself, Forrest McCord, the youngest contest, who in my initial contestant post, suspected might  have trouble in the competition, and Craig Buckland the 47 year old chemist.

The contestants who made it into the competition were ranked based on their distance from the center. The odd numbers were assigned to the blue team and the even numbers were assigned red. The ranking system kept it interesting because the teams were in flux until the last shooter was settled.

Back at the house Dylan Fletcher, who looks like Guy Fieri's brother, and who I will from here on out refer to as Fauxeri, proposed a toast to all the contestants before team allegiance and challenge performance inevitably raises tensions in the house.

The first team challenge involved the Ruger Vaquero revolver. (In these early episodes Top Shot likes to give the contestants something they can pick up and shoot instead of wasting time with the experts.) The contestants would shoot at eight rows of progressively smaller targets. Each contestant was assigned to a specific row with six targets that the contestant would need to make a perfect run on. If they missed they had to give up their turn and wait until they went through the rotation again.

There was serious skill in this competition, but as it often does in Top Shot, it came down to who cracked and who performed under pressure. For the blue team, the biggest crack, was in their biggest teammate, Greg Littlejohn.

While the teams were tied up with one row apiece, Littlejohn couldn't best Chris Cheng from the Red Team.

At the house for the traditional post challenge pity fest, I mean team meeting, Littlejohn owned up to his mistakes, but pounced on Frank Melloni for his poor performance as well.

On their first trip to the nomination range, the Blue Team voted Littlejohn (four votes) and Melloni (3 votes) into the elimination challenge, with Terry Vaughan forced to sit on the bench by Colby since his vote was unnecessary.

Littlejohn and Melloni practiced with expert Garry James, shooting the M1 carbine from the sitting position. Melloni looked good in practice, speaking confidently about his comfort level with the rifle. Littlejohn had never shot the weapon before and his practice session showed it.

At the challenge though it was a different story. The shooter had to practice from the sitting position because they would be emulating a WWII sidecar gunman. (After the reveal Fauxeri foolishly claimed he didn't care if he could be eliminated, he wanted into the challenge) Melloni, just the challenge to enter the competition had to go first. He hit 6 our of 10 targets. Littlejohn did the same in his run, but in Top Shot, the tie always goes to the marksmen who did it with the fewest bullets. Mellloni spent his entire clip. Littlejohn only fired 10 bullets.

In the end it was the experienced marksmen who won over the self-taught amateur.

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