Thursday, April 19, 2012

Top Shot Analysis: S4 E10 "SWAT Throwdown"

Here are some fun facts about 1995:

  • Busiest hurricane season on record
  • Denver International Airport opened
  • Mississippi becomes the last state to ratify the 13th amendment (seriously)
  • Salt Lake City selected to host the 2002 Winter Olympics
  • The final original Calvin and Hobbes comic strip is published
  • And most importantly, this was the last time Augie Malekovich had done any rappelling before this week's challenge.
Now, I have, already, unfortunately, admitted in the recap that I did not pay as close attention to this episode as I may have liked, but I persevere.

The Challenges
I think we are coming to an unfortunate realization as we head towards the conclusion of this season. The challenges this season have been a little lame. They don't look so bad on their own, and the shotgun episode will remain one of my all time favorites, but compared to previous seasons there just isn't as much imagination at play.

Take for instance the second team challenge, the traditional obstacle course. The contestants run under some barbed wire, then get into a ditch and start shooting. This is a steep decline from Season 1 which involved four different shooting stations with two different rifles going through four different sets of obstacles. Part of this could be blamed on the physically demanding Season 2, which took out a couple of contestants simply because their bodies couldn't handle it.

But think of what else has been missing from this season that has been a staple in season's past. There has been no challenges involving a zipline, an element involved in some form or another in each of the three previous seasons. There was also no carnival style shootout with a revolver and no upside down shooting.

Now is some of that gimmicky? Yes, certainly, but that's why I like the show, because it really does test these contestants under a wide range of conditions. (Even if they are not always practical)

Getting back to this week. The rappelling challenge was fine, but hyped up more than I think it deserved to be. My real issue was with the elimination challenge. First of all the Mossberg "Chainsaw" Shotgun is my least favorite weapon because it fails to live up to its own name. A chainsaw shotgun sounds like something out of a zombie video game, and I would expect it to be awesome. However, the only reason this thing is called "Chainsaw" is because of its handle on the barrel, which could possibly be the worst reason for naming something ever.

Also I want to compare this challenge to Season 3's similarly SWAT inspired episode which featured the Cornershot in the elimination challenge. I bring this up to illustrate how uninspired this challenge was. If I want to see contestants shooting at doors, I want to see them blowing them down, not nicking the side to enter the room. This challenge was so simplistic, open the door shoot the targets, repeat two times. While the Season 3 challenge just had shooters utilizing the Cornershot at a variety of stations, the fact they had to orient themselves at each one by using the camera added a great dimension of tension that this challenge seemed to lack.

The Contestants
No big blow ups this week on the contestant front, drama was kept to a minimum now that Greg Littlejohn seems to be the only real ego left in the house, here are just a few snippets then:

Already hit on Malekovich's 1995 comment, so I'll skip that.

Chee Kwan Hat Watch: No hat this week as I mentioned in my recap, but he did get to wear a helmet, so that was fun.

Last week I mentioned how I was delighted that Kyle Sumpter was kept at bay for ten whole minutes before getting any screen time. Guess who didn't even need to wait ten seconds before having their voice heard this week?

Chris Cheng is pretty much this season's Dustin Ellerman, there I said it.

Finally, the one thing I did want to comment on a little was Kwan being sent home by Gary Shank. Tony and I were watching this and we both were rooting for Kwan to win. Nothing against Shank, but the show just has not done a good job familiarizing him with the audience. He and Augie are still a bit of a mystery to me. I still like Shank, and think he's certainly proved he has some serious skills; however, what I am trying to say is that while I did not want see either men leave -

[Quick break, why is it, whenever they have an even number of shooters, and an even number of contestants, that they never seem to try and distribute the vote evenly? I just don't get why they didn't put two bullets in each person's target, then go to a shoot off. This is really my roundabout way of saying I wish Littlejohn had gone home.]

- but I would have been less sad to see Shank go than I was to see Kwan go.

Final fun fact, while I was writing this post History Channel started following me on Twitter, which is either A) Good or B) Bad. If I get sued I'll let you know, unless they issue a cease and desist, in which case I won't. I'll take it as an endorsement(ish) for now.

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