I’ve invented a Top Shot drinking game. The program starts and I start drinking. During the commercials, I refill my glass and start drinking again. I keep drinking until the program ends and then I take Ambien. It’s a bit redundant neuro-chemically speaking, but, as the genie pronounces in John Popadiuk’s immortal Tales of the Arabian Nights pinball game, this amuses me. God knows something has to; Top Shot is to reality TV what Kim Kardasian is to literary criticism. I’m not saying Top Shot has more boring participants than an H&R Block block party, but Top Shot has more boring participants than an H&R Block block party. So yeah, I guess I am . . . [SPOILER ALERT]
Thankfully, we’re getting to the point where enough Top Shot competitors have been eliminated that we can start to remember the people who haven’t been eliminated. The most important of whom is Greg Littlejohn. But first a word about pirates . . .
As Johnny Depp proved, pirates who dress like Rolling Stones’ guitarists are sexier than a ten story underwear ad in Times Square (in a deeply metrosexual way). To capture the glamor, the History Channel had Top Shot contestants swing from platform to platform on a rope, brave shark-infested waters, land, stand and deliver. Only not so much.
Thanks to the show’s safety nazis, none of the Top Shot swingers flew through the gap with a cutlass in their mouth and a flintlock in their hand. They swung across unarmed, landed, loaded the flintlock and then fired. And the only pirate speak came from Colby, who let out a loud plaintive “argh” when Chee Kwan shot him by mistake. Just kidding.
Do you believe in boring shooting shows Miss Gabby Franco? Well you’re in one. Ms. Franco’s Venezuelan accent may preclude her from providing more than a couple of narrative sound bytes—to accompany what some might call “the action”—but the meringue dancer gets it done week after week.
I reckon Greg suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I was going to make the point last week but my write-up was delayed by my daughter’s shoelaces, which needed tying (or some other equally urgent matter). Viewers without short term memory loss (i.e. sober) will recall that last week’s Top Shot featured an admission from Greg that he missed dodging bullets in Iraq.
Greg said he’d still be playing hide and seek with the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents (or whatever we call the bad guys these days) if not for his kids, damn their little eyes. All that business about tying a bandana on the competitor he bested in the elimination challenge, mocked by Dylan as some sort of fegala thing? A band of brothers ritualistic PTSD deal. A coping mechanism for grief.
This week, Greg’s PTSD manifested itself in his inability to fire a Kentucky Flintlock. The Joker’s rictus-ridden smile consumed his over-sized features as he struggled to git ‘er done. Can you say trigger trauma? Editing the competitors’ comments to portray Littlejohn’s failure to fire the flintlock as a simple loss of nerve was more than cruel.
Or was it? Who knows what’s really real in any reality show, never mind one that messes with the time space continuum like The Hitchhiker’s Improbability Drive. Greg’s flinty hesitation seemed to run a good fifteen minutes (or two snifters of bourbon); in the real world it might have lasted a femtosecond. Well, not so easily, but you catch my drift.
Speaking of which, my mind is still drifting re: the personalities of the remaining contestants. There’s the old guy (Kyle), who doesn’t look like he’s getting any younger. And Iggy, who gets jiggy with homemade hip hop, whose dreams of Top Shot immortality went pop. Gabby’s still showing a lot of gums (not guns) and Dylan’s wearing massive earrings in both ears. Is that code for herbi-sexuality? Now that Michelle’s gone, none of us have the love bug.
Top Shot‘s firearms challenges continue to muddle pseudo-non-history with anodyne modern weapons. Shoot an HK through a rolling ship portal ’cause that’s a skill that pirates needed? WTF? Besides, ships don’t glide sideways. The rock and roll in all directions. And why was the prop made of fake iron, rivets and all? France’s La Gloire was the first ironclad. It was launched in 1859. Caribbean pirating died out in the 1830s.
I mention this because not because the historical anachronism verifies the History Channel’s motto (“History made every day”) but because Top Shot needs more human interest. Where’s the scene where Gabby Franco does the salsa to Iggy’s beatboxing while Colin Gallagher raps about the honeymoon he never got to take?
I think the one contestant to watch is . . . see what I did there? There really isn’t one to watch, save the Carolinian Brit Terry, whose humor is so humorous it’s almost funny. Still, you gotta laff mate. Or so they told me in the UK, where a TV program dedicated to a firearms competition would be about as politically correct as wondering why the program doesn’t have a single OFWG (Dan Zimmerman please).
Meanwhile, Top Shot’s down to 431 contestants. They’ve been isolated for 36 months. So the personality clash—as artificial as it undoubtably is—could get really interesting. Or not. We’ll have to see. Or not. Depending on my supply of Elijah Craig. Obviously.