Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top Shot Analysis: S4 E5 "Swing into Action"

The fifth episode of the fourth season offered a lot of good (lack of bandanas) and a few things that weren't so great (an episode title lacking alliteration, I would have gone with "Flintlock Frenzy"). 

Let's dive right in shall we? I have jobs to apply for (p.s. if anyone wants to hire me, I graduate in May, resume available upon request).

The Challenges
I have to hand it to Colby on that misdirect for the team challenge. I can only imagine what the contestants were thinking the challenge would be like after he gave them all that Revolutionary War background. 

The Kentucky flintlock also featured one of the most complicated loading mechanisms ever seen on Top Shot. The surprising thing about the team challenge was that while the practice led me to believe that once again the challenge would all come down to how well team's could load the weapon, that didn't turn out to be the case. 

The first obstacle was the challenge itself. It was painful to see Chee Kwan hit that platform time after time, I couldn't help but think this guy had a deprived childhood. 

Top Shot is supposed to be fun and this challenge certainly fulfilled that aspect of the show, at least at the beginning. The fun quickly faded from both teams, first as Kwan failed to cross to the other platform, and then when Littlejohn couldn't take his shot. 

I think that disappointed me most though, was the lack of dropped ball jokes that were made. There was such a rich opportunity for humor here that either the contestants didn't take advantage of, or the producers decided to edit out. Either way it is a shame. 

The elimination challenge was also a little disappointing. I know Top Shot likes to contrast old and modern, but seeing two pistol elimination challenges in a row was a little boring. However, Top Shot makes up for that in how they form the challenges. I was excited to see that it would be up to Trefren and Keyes to keep pace with the moving window to shoot their targets. 

I have to admit that I wasn't too upset to see Keyes go, I had a feeling that he had kind of been coasting on his team's success the past couple of weeks. That is why it is almost better for teams not to get on a winning streak. Sure, that team may end up with more members, but they also hang onto the weak members of their team. As we saw this week, this can lead to the critical shooters being forced to sit out and puts pressure on the weaker ones to deliver. 

The Contestants
I'm going to abandon the contestant formula this week and speak solely about the teams. No character really stuck out, and there really isn't any point in harping on Littlejohn again.

Top Team: Red

Despite their failures in the team challenge, red is still proving to be the team that knows how to play this game, and how to play it well. I give big props to Gary Shank for his coaching ability in this challenge. His calm and steady instruction kept his team on point throughout the challenge, and with a weapon that had so many steps to go through before actually firing it, his instruction proved vital to keeping this contest close. He possesses a special talent of giving instruction without letting frustration seep into his tone. In addition red team had all three of their biggest failures step up to the plate for elimination. It had to be a tough choice for red team in who to send this week, and while I'm a big fan of Trefren (who I think Kwan accurately described as the "heart" of the read team), I think it was the right choice to send him this week.

Not-So-Top Team: Blue

While blue team won this challenge, they are far from being the cohesive whole they need to be to make it to the individual stage of this contest. Let's disregard Littlejohn's freeze up for the moment and look at the other four members of the blue team. While red team had Gary Shank shouting every loading instruction to every member of his team who picked up the flintlock, blue team never picked up  this strategy. The only thing they thought to do was to try and keep themselves calm by telling Littlejohn to keep calm. It took Littlejohn picking up and setting down the pistol three times to reset himself before Augie finally asked him if he had fully-cocked the pistol. Blue team is going to have to amp their support of each other if they are going to make it through the next challenge. 

What do you think? How did the teams stack up to you? Hit the comments and let me know.

No post tomorrow as I'm off to visit the exotic locale of Sheboygan, Wis. I'll be back Friday with a surprise post.

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