Top Shot ends great season with Iain’s win; will season two have more Survivor strategy?

Top Shot ended its first season Sunday night, and former British Special Forces and current construction company manager Iain Harrison won the $100,000, defeating Chris Cerino. J.J. Racaza came in third, and Peter Palma was the first eliminated during the finale. About 2.8 million viewers watched the finale, a series high, the network announced.

History’s surprisingly fun shooting competition ended on a high note, with three great challenges that let the final players compete head-to-head, including in a shooting version of the basketball game HORSE. The final challenge made the final two revisit previous weapons and targets, and Iain and Chris were about as close as possible, but Iain hit the final exploding target as Chris reloaded.

Besides the fun, exploding things filmed on high-speed cameras to give us amazing slow-motion shots of them (although sometimes I wondered if we were seeing the actual shot hit the actual target), the show was interesting to me for the way it echoed Survivor–and not just with Colby Donaldson’s Probstian hosting. Before the tribes–er, teams–merged, there was interesting strategizing; sometimes it seemed non-existent as they made odd choices about who to send to elimination, while other times contestants’ efforts to get their team to think strategically backfired.

The show has been renewed for a second season, and I expect that the next round will not just have more women (Colby lamented the lack of female competitors in my interview with him), but also a lot more strategy. Like other shows, though, it’s worth asking whether they’re better off eliminating their competition first, or staying strong so they can survive as a team. The reluctance to think strategically will be gone in season two, I think, unless that’s somehow connected to their polo shirts, which make the competition seem classier and above some of that other reality TV nonsense.

I don’t want it to become Survivor, but I was more invested in those moments, and felt passionately about certain competitors being eliminated; at the end, it didn’t really matter who won. (It is interesting that Chris and Iain were members of an alliance, basically, that got exposed and then one of their other members, Adam, went on a rampage about the “rat fink,” Caleb. That was the most dramatic non-shooting part of any episode.)

As to the second season, some viewers are encouraging producers to bring back Tara Poremba, who withdrew from the competition because her dad was dying of cancer. While he’d encouraged Tara to not return home until the competition ended, she left anyway, and he died during production.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

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.