Perhaps one of the few TV machination
s that can appeal to even a lower level
of the human psyche
than the WWF
The title is rather accurate, as these shows, and their various clones imitate the sense and spirit of the old Roman gladiators, aka, "Bread and Circuses" minus, obviously, the actual killing of contestents during a bout.
A typical American Gladiators match will go something like this:
The two gladiators, with names like Spyro and Gyro, will get introduced by an announcer who usually sounds like he's been pumped up on pep pills while the scantily clad female "assistant" struts around doing nothing. After this is dragged out for a few minutes the actual fighting begins.
Unfortunately, unlike, their Roman counterparts, these gladiators do not actually wield swords, maces, and morning stars trying to beat the snot out of one another. Instead, they usually pick up large, plastic staves or other similarly uninteresting blunt objects and play some bizzare "sport". An example would be having the two gladiators stand on a narrow, swinging pendulum, trying to knock one another off.
While these events may be slightly interesting in a, "Oooh, shiny" kind've way, it quickly loses appeal as the architects behind the whole thing run out of situations in which the gladiators can fight one another, with the illusion of looming danger without actually being in danger.