‘American Ninja Warrior’ premiere review: Worthy of Mt. Midoriyama

Ninjas, indeed.

As we put in our summer TV preview article on “American Ninja Warrior” earlier this week, we are diehard fans of the Japanese version of the classic competition show. So when NBC announced that they were actually going to pick up the more competitive portions of the G4 competition, it was something to get excited about. (We know that this is not the first year that the competition has been held in America, but we have not seen previous installments.)

So did NBC succeed here? By and large, you have to be happy with it. As terrible as some of their advertising is that makes the show appear as though it is comical, it captures the essence and intensity of “Ninja Warrior” perfectly. The episode focused on the second stage of the competition, and this truly tested the physical abilities of every person who hit the course — there were nine grueling stages, and while simple in presentation they were difficult to execute.

We wonder, though, what newcomers to the franchise were thinking when they saw so many physical specimens try to take on what was effectively a challenging obstacle course. Is this a serious version of “Wipeout”? It’s more that “Wipeout” is a silly version of this — while everyone is reduced to a caricature on the ABC series, “Ninja Warrior” is inspirational and also shows off the dedication that the competitors bring to the table.

The only real complaint we have about the competition in America is how they reward contestants who do not even complete the stages — as a pre-specified amount of competitors automatically advance to the next round. In Japan, the only contestants who advance are those who actually complete the stage.

Were you watching the show for the first time Monday night, and if so what did you think?

Photo: NBC

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