American Gladiators returns tonight on NBC

American Gladiators, a show that aired seven seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, returns tonight to NBC. The new series debuts tonight at 9 p.m. ET, but will air Mondays at 8 starting tomorrow night. Reality show stars Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali step in to host as a new group of 12 gladiators takes on everyday people in many of the same events, trying to win $100,000.

The new show seems to exist in the reality TV competition space, like Dancing with the Stars but with more adrenaline and a greater chance of injury. Ali tells USA TODAY that producers will focus “more on the background of the competitors, and it gives the show a certain quality and personality. These are just average people but very athletic. And they have a specific reason they want to win.”

NBC executive Craig Plestis tells the paper, “There’s nothing like it on TV right now. Of all the shows coming up, this is generating the most interest. This could have staying power.” It’s unsurprising to hear a network executive say something like that about his own series, but it seems to be true; perhaps because of the nostalgia factor, there seems to be quite a bit of interest in its return. I’m perhaps more excited about this debut than any other new reality series this spring. The improved production values–the sets look a lot less Double Dare (or Gladiators-for-kids show GUTS) than they used to–and the same level of over-the-top cheesiness should make for entertaining television.

American Gladiators [NBC]
New ‘Gladiators’ pumps up reality TV with personality [USA TODAY]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.