I LOVE TELEVISION 


Let’s establish one thing here and now: The new American Gladiators show is the greatest thing that has ever happened to humankind. Yes, even better than hand jobs. Perhaps it’s because this seemingly endless writers’ strike has turned the TV landscape into a bleak, colorless desert of abject ; misery … or perhaps it’s just because American Gladiators is a super-duper awesome example of people getting their heads beat in by ;steroid-addled goons with Nerf-tipped weapons. Regardless? I LOVE IT!!

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And my love doesn’t emanate from some retarded sense of nostalgia, either. I hated the original Gladiators, which debuted way back in 1989 – probably because the show seemed like just another WWE ripoff, and it conflicted with my “guzzling liquor and popping goofballs” time. But now? I’ve seen just enough crazy Japanese game-show competitions to really appreciate Gladiators and its cast of hilarious muscle-bound cartoon characters whaling on everyday fitness freaks.

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For those who have never experienced the glories of Gladiators, here’s how it works: 24 buffed-out civilians (12 men, 12 women), clad in spandex jumpers, compete in a series of ridiculous physical challenges against the show’s cast of “gladiators” – each of whom are built like brick poop-houses and given hilariously dumb names. My favorites are “Hellga,” a pig-tailed Aryan hottie with a body like a tank, and “Wolf,” a hairy hunk of meatloaf who is seemingly capable of only one response: “Ahhhh-ROOOOOOO!” (Think Teen Wolf, except with muscles and without Parkinson’s.)

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And the competitions? OMG! They’re a heart attack waiting to happen! In “Pyramid,” the contestants must climb a 30-foot squishy pyramid and try not to die when “Wolf” throws them down on their necks. “Ahhhh-ROOOOOO!” In “Joust,” the competitors balance on tiny platforms 50 feet above a water tank, while Wolf beats them to death with an oversized Q-Tip. “Ahhhh-ROOOOOO!” Then there’s “The Eliminator,” in which the contestants must climb a wall, dive into a pool, swim underneath flames, climb a 30-foot cargo net, hold on to a rolling log, destroy their shoulder sockets on the “hand bike,” traverse a balance beam, scale the aforementioned pyramid, fly down a zip line, climb a grueling reverse treadmill and then crash through a wall. (That’s where Wolf is waiting to stab them in the neck with a broken beer bottle. “Ahhhh-ROOOOOO!” Just kidding … but I wish I weren’t. “Ahhhh-ROOOOOO!”)

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At the end of each show, two of the contestants either go home or to the hospital, while the winning pair of contestants move on to the semifinals. After weeks of spinal-cord-injuring shows, only one competitor ultimately receives $100,000, a car and the chance to become an American Gladiator (or a quadriplegic … whichever comes first).

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The only problem with this awesome show? The brain-damaged commentary from hosts Hulk Hogan and boxer Laila Ali – but that’s nothing a little TiVo fast-forwarding can’t fix! So check out Gladiators at 8 p.m. Monday night on NBC, and don’t miss a second of the neck-snapping fun! (By the way, I wonder if “Wolf” is available for any freelance work? There’s a meter maid currently ticketing my car who needs a little “Ahhh-ROOOOOO!”)

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Ahhh-ROO… cough! COUGH! ;
; steve@portlandmercury.com; ; ;

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THIS WEEK ON THE BOOB TOOB

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THURSDAY, JAN. 17

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8 p.m. ABC UGLY BETTY

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Betty’s new perfume has some unexpected effects … sexified effects!

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10 p.m. VH1 CELEBRITY REHAB ; WITH DR. DREW

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Hilarity(?) ensues when the celebs go through detox and suffer painful withdrawals.

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FRIDAY, JAN. 18

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7 p.m. ABCFAM BRING IT ON MARATHON

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(Movie, 2000) The greatest cheerleader movie ever made and its sequel (Bring It On Again), back to back!

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SATURDAY, JAN. 19

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3 p.m. SPIKE PROS VS. JOES MARATHON

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Ordinary schlubs go up against the greatest (retired) sports figures … and still get their asses handed to them.

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7 p.m. SCIFI RESIDENT EVIL

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(Movie, 2002) Hotsy-totsy Milla Jovovich stars as a hotsy-totsy operative who battles not so hotsy-totsy zombies.

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SUNDAY, JAN. 20

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8 p.m. CBS THE AMAZING RACE

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Season finale! The final contestants have one last chance to insult foreign cultures.

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10 p.m. AMC BREAKING BAD

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Debut! Bryan Cranston (the dad from Malcolm in the Middle) stars as a dying chemistry teacher/meth dealer in this promising new series!

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MONDAY, JAN. 21

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8 p.m. NBC AMERICAN GLADIATORS

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A lawyer and a mortgage broker get the white-collar poop beat out of them by “Wolf.” Ahhh-ROOOOOO!

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9 p.m. FOX TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES

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John finds it tough fitting in at his first day at Murderous Robot High School.

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TUESDAY, JAN. 22

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8 p.m. FOX AMERICAN IDOL

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America laffs it up as more mentally handicapped hopefuls audition.

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11 p.m. BRAVO THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER

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Debut! A businesswoman locates girlfriends for millionaires. But they are NOT whores, OK?!

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WEDNESDAY, JAN. 23

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9 p.m. FOX THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

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Debut! Contestants hooked up to a lie detector answer embarrassing questions to win big bucks.

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