Master of Champions

7/17/06: Post 1.001

First and foremost I need to thank Tim Crescenti. I’ve been meaning to start writing for years now, and keep finding reasons to put it off. Tim is the man who finally got me off of my ass and on to the keyboard.

Tim is the man who looked out across the cultural landscape of America and thought to himself, “What this country needs right now is another reality talent show with B-list hosts, judges well beyond their competitive prime, and contestants competing against each other in rediculously contrived exhibitions of skills for an invented title. But I really don’t want to have to think the whole show up, instead I think I’ll just import something from Japan…” Tim is, in part, responsible for Master of Champions, the ABC summer program that sounds like a video game, looks like a cross between the X-games and American Idol, and has — in the words of Oksana Baiul — completely blown my mind.

Master of Champions is the summer-lineup equivalent of cotton candy: it never sounds good in any other context, but once you’re at the carnival what’s three bucks? As the first few over-hyped introductions melt in your brain, the buzz of the competition yet to come gets to you, and the sugary-goodness-induced coma soon leaves your eyes vacant and your fingers powerless on the remote. By the time Oksana gave her first feedback to a would be Master of Champions, my brain was so numb I was ready to crown her my new queen.

Oksana is beautiful in her complete disregard for what anyone might think of her, and her ability to completely speak her mind — or whatever is left of it. For every performance, in her own words, completely blows her mind. After watching a guy on a unicycle hop, drop and spin his way all over the stage, she offered up this pearl, “What you are able to do with that unicycle is just mind blowing. My mind was completely blown, into little bits all over the stage. I tried to think of something else, but found I had no mind left. You had blown it. The only way you could blow my mind more was if you were a fan, one of those electric ones with the blades and possibly more than two speeds, and you were set on ‘HI’ and aimed right at my mind.”

Constantly, repeatedly, again and again; my mind, too, was also blown. The competitors rock, even as the competitions are over the top contrived silly. I’ve been waiting since That’s Incredible for a show this cheesariffic. Only on ABC could you find a girl shooting an arrow through an apple with her feet while doing a handstand being judged against an arial unicyclist and a drift-racing cheese grater by three judges whose combined lack of qualification somehow transcends all credulity.

Don’t set your Tivo and don’t mark your calendar. Master of Champions don’t play that. Master of Champions will happen organically some night, while you’re stumbling around the televised landscape, trying to find the perfect mental snack for summer consumption. And if you’re like me you’ll sit bolt upright and declare, “Thank you, Tim, for blowing my mind so wide open that I have no choice but to start to write…”

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