Thursday, April 26, 2012

Top Shot Analysis: S4 E11 "Have Machine Gun Will Travel"

After I made several complaints about lackluster challenges last week, Top Shot bounced back, kind of. It is an episode that I sure left a lot of viewers with conflicted feelings, so call me Dr. Swietlik as I sort through the issues at hand.

The Challenges
I won't spend too much time talking about the individual challenge. I think we can all agree it was pretty good. A good weapon on a good course with a good twist. Not to mention it forced contestants to work on ammo conservation as well as hitting moving targets. I also liked that this challenge had grouped exploding targets; I could be wrong, but that might be a Top Shot first.

So let's talk elimination. How important is memory in a shooting challenge? Colby mentioned during his live tweet of this episode that the individual challenge wanted to discourage contestants from spraying and praying, and I believe a similar idea was at work here. By making the contestants focus on specific targets they had to make their shots count, especially if they didn't want any deductions on their scores.

(Quick thought, is it feasible to think that they could have shot all 30 targets in the time alotted? Because then they would have had the same score and it would have come down to who used fewer bullets.)

Like I said I'm conflicted about this challenge. I like the rope part, I'm always a fan of some good rope climbing, but memorization seemed a little gimmicky, even for this show. It was like someone just took a bunch of different ideas for a challenge and threw them in a blender.

The one thing I really liked about this challenge was the shaving cream target. How the hell has it taken four seasons for someone to think of that? I mean that was maybe my favorite part of the night because not only was the camera work cool, but you could see shaving cream on all the other targets too.

Now one of the reason's for this challenge (and other seemingly lackluster ones this season) may be the tight production schedule of the show. We have to remember that Season 3 and Season 4 were filmed back to back. This could put a pretty big strain not only on the budget of the show, but on the creative team that designs the challenges. So, if there is a Season 5, the challenge engineers will have had a nice long break to recharge their creative juices.

The Contestants
Did you ever think it would come to this? Because I certainly didn't. Greg Littlejohn has made it into the final four of the competition. I'm going to be very upset if he ends up winning this thing, and right now, I would put him and Chris Cheng in the final two.

Augie Malekovich finally got to shine a little in this episode. Augie has had some great moments this season, but none that have had any real impact on the game. That was, until this episode. His showed there was some unresolved tension between him and the rest of the red team. This is how the game should be played, especially at this stage of the competition. It's important to shake things up to keep the contestants on guard. Malekovich becoming a wild card  is a great new strategy to implement at this stage of the game.

Think of it this way, anyone who is too out of control in the beginning of the season paints a target on their back. There needs to be a certain amount of line towing in those early stages to establish some camaraderie. However at this point, where the bottom three performers are already picked out, the wild card can shoot whoever they want without feeling guilty about it.

Plus it's always fun to see someone do something on this show just for the hell of it.

That's really all I have this week. Kyle's gone, I'm happy. Now if we could just solve this Littlejohn problem...

What did you think of the challenges? And who do you think will take it all in next week's finale?

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