22 February 2011

TV Series: Top Shot

History Channel's Top Shot pits expert marksmen against each other in an elimination-style extended tournament. Prize: $100,000.
Colby Donaldson of "Survivor" season 2 hosts this program.

Features a variety of weapons in a variety of shooting challenges. Not just rifles and handguns, but even bows, crossbows, throwing knives, etc.

The contestants have a variety of backgrounds. Some are rifle marksmen, others handgun specialized, and even some with historical weapon expertise. Some are professional competition shooters, others are instructors, ex-Military, law enforcement, etc.

Initially split into teams, they are introduced to the weapon they will be using for the team challenge, given a little practice, then compete against each other. Winning team is safe, losing team has to eliminate someone.
The losing team votes two marksmen into an elimination round. The nominees are then introduced to the elimination round weapon, given a little practice, then compete against each other. Loser goes home.
Rinse, repeat.
Eventually the teams merge and it becomes individual competition where loser goes home and the rest advance.  The last couple episodes had some very interesting challenges.  A lot of times it is just amazing to see these folks actually achieve the challenge.

My impression with Colby Donaldson as a host - honestly almost anyone could host it. Colby is a bit too wooden, he lacks the charisma of, say, Jeff Probst, Phil Keoghan, or Anderson Cooper. I actually chuckle at Colby's input into the show because I know he's really trying to be a good host but he's really just adequate.  All in all, though, by season's end, might as well just let Colby keep this series. He did fine.
please note - the following paragraph was based on Colby hosting season 1 and it's only retained for original post historical purposes. As pointed out below as the seasons progressed Colby improved as host and belongs in that hosting role. It is clearly his show now and I recant the 'anyone could host it' comment.

I didn't expect to like this show, but then happened to catch an episode and got hooked.
I suppose this is a reality show. The teams live together in a house. As far as reality-show drama - it isn't really played up and doesn't seem as manufactured as other shows tend to be. Which is a plus. Still, it is a group of people with a variety of personalities, thus some personal conflict occurs. The show doesn't focus on those conflicts as the driver of the show, instead they are given a little less focus than the point of the show: Shooting things. In fact, by the time most folks were eliminated there was hardly any emphasis on the house and almost the whole show is the competitions. If this gets picked up for another season I hope they don't change that format.
That being said, drama does happen. Conflicts happen. Some people emerge as genuine assholes and/or douchebags, some as leaders, others as followers. Even hints at high school clique behavior complete with ganging up on perceived outsiders.  That's probably the least likable aspect of the show, but it is people being people. The longer they're in that house, the more their "public face" goes away and their true selves are revealed.

I just enjoy watching to see what the competitions will involve weapon and target-wise, and watch how the marksmen perform using weapons outside their comfort and professional-training zones. Yes - low-key as a reality program (bonus in my book) but interesting enough to keep me watching. A welcome surprise, and nice deviation from History Channel's normal fare of reality-type shows (I'm looking at you Loggers and Pawn Stars). And a hell of a lot better than Alien-anything shows they have. Holy crap why are there aliens on History channel? To show that, historically, insane people can still get on TV?

(original post 26 July 2010)

Season 1 I don't recall much about the season as a whole. There were some interpersonal conflicts, but I don't recall if it got anywhere as bad as Season 2 seemed to have. I do feel that the winner of Season 1 earned his place.

Season 2 Every bit as good as the first season.  Thank you History channel for bringing it back!  And I don't mind Colby hosting again. He's doing fine and looks a bit more at ease this season.  Through the course of the season some serious douchebaggery happens, to the point that in the end I didn't care who won. This season probably will remain somewhat suspect as to whether or not the winner of the season actually earned his way out of the semi-finals into the finals, which almost cheapens the outcome of the season.

As of 27 Apr 2011
Season 3 is already in the pipe and History is casting for Season 4. This show's going to be around a bit longer and I look forward to it.

Post Season 3:
This was probably the most clique-ish, antagonistic and least sportsmanlike season to date. Still looking forward to next season.

As of 1 March 2012
Still liking this series. Each season tries to bring new types of challenges so the competition bits don't grow old through familiarity. By this time Colby has relaxed into his hosting role, he now owns his place on the show.  Good job History Channel, Colby and production team.
Big change this season: winner gets a spot on the pro shooter circuit.

There's now a spin-off series hosted by Colby called "Top Guns". More of a "here are some guns, here's two guest experts, here's the history of the weapons, lets shoot stuff" series. Interesting enough, but I wish History channel had scheduled this series between runs of "Top Shot". Although not a competition reality show, its core is similar enough to "Top Shot" that I think they'd be better off not running both series during the same period.  Especially when there are overlaps in weapons used by both shows in the same week.

May 2012: Season 4 is over. Was a more genteel season than season 3. 

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