Summer TV preview: ‘American Ninja Warrior’ gets physical

The show premieres Monday night.

There’s something rather interesting about watching giant obstacle courses — perhaps it’s the intensity of it, or the fact that these people train for years just for what is effectively a few minutes of glory.

This basic premise is what makes us excited for “American Ninja Warrior” on Monday night — though we worry that NBC’s mainstream version of the show may lose some of the greatness of the Japanese original.

The pros – Who doesn’t love a good physical competition? “Wipeout” does well in the summer because it’s fun TV that you don’t have to form a strong commitment to watch, and it’s exciting to watch people from various walks of life try to compete in things that are not just singing or dancing.

If you have watched the Japanese version (it airs with English narration on G4), then you already know that while there is some humor, it is also fast-paced and pretty serious. This is not a competition where there is automatically a winner — you have to rise to the occasion to defeat the course.

The cons – Is NBC trying to make the show too comedic? We know that the series is trying to broaden its appeal a little bit with some trailers focusing on some of the humor in people failing at various parts of the competition … but we don’t want it to lose its spirit in the process.

There’s also a little bit of the thrill in the unknown — we know that this is not the first U.S. version, but this part of the franchise is still a bit unknown to us.

The verdict – It may not be for everyone, but “Ninja Warrior” as a whole is a great alternative for NBC up against “The Bachelorette” — don’t expect to see anyone passing out roses here. It’s disciplined, intense, and captivating in a bizarre sort of way. We hope that it does well on network TV — given that it is on NBC, it will at least be given a few chances.

Are you planning to check out this show?

Photo: NBC

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