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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.

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  1. Take it away Ralph. Please . . .

    I’d like to help you, man, but I have a whole bottle of Evan Williams sitting on the counter and its a’callin’ my name. With a Kaintucky accent.

  2. Some bastard drank all my Woodford, so now I’m down to the Booker’s. If this show gets any more interesting, I’ll be opening up the Platte Valley corn whiskey I keep around for disinfecting HiPower hammer bites.

  3. Wow, Robert, I’m not sure you should be writing these anymore. I’m afraid you’re going to hurt yourself. I’m picturing you starting an IV of Thunderbird before next week’s episode.

  4. Ahhhhhh, booze and Ambien. What a ride for me. I swore off the Ambien part (certainly not the booze, Pilsner Urquell and Saison Dupont are far too delicious) after I ended up trimming bushes in the back yard with a khukuri at three in the morning. Stark effin’ naked to boot. I barely remembered doing it (pieces of shrubbery on me and in my bed the next morning were a clue) and thankfully I didn’t chop off anything important.

    As for the show, maybe if I followed Robert’s recipe I may have been able to watch it but I made it through about half of the premier episode before I felt like I was watching an MTV reality show. It’s a shame really because they have some really cool weapons but………

  5. I don’t watch TV except for sports when I have nothing better to do. Most of the time I have something better to do. I do like guns. I read this site, The Truth About GUNS, because I like reading about guns.
    Now, I know a TV show called Top Shot should probably have something about guns, but it doesn’t interest me as much as say a review of a GUN. I’d rather be messing with GUNS right now but it is early morning and I need to get to work.
    I work so I can mess with GUNS, buy GUNS, shoot GUNS, reload ammo for GUNS, hunt with GUNS, etc.
    Maybe you get my drift. I could give a royal rat’s ass about some silly TV show. I am interested in GUNS. I thought you were, too.

  6. Contestant Gabby Franco just called. She’s having trouble posting a comment. Until our man Malanshak can sort out her electronic issues, I’m posting it here for her.

    I’ll be interviewing Gabby in Florida next week, so watch out for that. Gabby doesn’t think Top Shot is boring; it’s just more family-friendly than other reality shows. Please click over to her website so that I have some Google stat cred going into my so-not-a-date. Much obliged.

    Gabby’s text follows below:

    “Well, let me help you a bit here… Ummm… Maybe not, I think you are a lost case LOL.

    I just want to say to THE PEOPLE who watch Top Shot as a competition “THANK YOU”, ’cause it is easy to negatively critize when you probably haven’t accomplished much in live. In Life somethimes you win, somethimes you loose, but what matters is the journey and I think mine has been excellent! Am I showing a lot of gums? Haha, yes, Thank God I am a such happy and thankful person that I do, and still shoot my targets accurately, and for the second time on the elimination challenge, One Shot – One Bullseye!

    What ever I do, my intention is making my family, friends, Shooting community, Latinos, WOMEN, even kids proud by Been good shooter, good athlete, respectful woman, and not the typical girl you see these days on TV (they don’t respect themself for the most part) and that’s me Gabby Franco!

    Anyway, have a good day ;)”

    • Classy response to a sour grapes blog post. You’ve got some funny lines in your post, but sheesh! Get over the bitterness! Maybe drunk-posting isn’t for you…

  7. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why anyone who actually knows something about firearms bothers watching the “gun reality” shows.

    Really. I’ve tried watching them. Without fail, I can’t handle more than about 10 minutes of any of them before I get up, wander off and do something constructive with my life.

    • Ditto. All I learn is that aside from my learned group of shooting buddies there are a lot of tools out there that are hell bent on making gun folk look like podunk, trash-talking, uneducated hicks.

      P.S. I too drink when it is on, Robert. Guinness and Strongbow seem to dull me for the mental bum hammering to come.

  8. Robert, Robert, Robert, what a colossal waste of Elijah Craig – at least 18yr i hope. you are suppose to sip that when smoking a good cigar (know you can’t do that in the house, while watching TV) or sitting with some good huntin’ buddies bs’ing about some thing or another. if all you are doing is deadening the little brain cells, then please drink Jack or some other low shelf drink……i can’t even call them bourbon……to make the boredom go away. if i hear you put ANYTHING other than 2 ice cubes in that Elijah, then ALL respect for you has be lost………what little there was…..arrrrgh!

  9. Well here I go again… I wrote the show and asked about a show with older shooters over 65 like myself. We cannot run around and jump off telephone poles or sprint a 100 yard dash, but it might just be fun to watch your older peers who have been shooting 50 or more years and still enjoying the competition. I don’t know if the personality clashes will be there as in the younger competitors, we may be passed having something to prove.
    Just shooting and watching us as we handle the stress and winning would be fun for or audience of younger peers. You never know maybe it might just be incentive for people to see the fun of firearms doesn’t stop just because you get passed a certain age.
    I promise not to bring my spaghetti sauce if chosen for a show like that…I wouldn’t want to have too much of an advantage. Yes…. it works for shooting also.

  10. Robert, I think you need to take a break from watching the show. I actually enjoyed last nights episode. Flintlock pistols taking everyone out of their comfort zone. And watching Littlejohn freeze up was comforting to me as an amature competitor that I can do better than this allegedly highly trained guy. I still think that Gabby as an Olympian, has an advantage. It takes a lot of competition and stress to make it to the Olympics, and she is showing so far that she is up for any challenge.

    • I think the show is interesting at times, however I am startled by the show’s flagrant disregard for safety and the 4 rules. I only caught the last 15 minutes of the show last night and was still able to see several violations. How ’bout the challenge with the USP? While the instructor was talking to the contestant, the contestant was holding the loaded pistol, aimed skyward, with his finger ON the trigger. During the competition at the end, when the round ended the first guy (don’t remember name) just drops the gun into the tray, aimed to the side. I am a noob and have only recently joined the ranks of handgun ownership, but even I was able to spot these things. What kind of safety practices are they using on the show? How long until we get to see a blooper reel with negligent discharges??

  11. Greg Littlejohn’s turn with the flintlock was amazing. If that isn’t great television, I don’t know what is.

    The show is great if you play it back with a DVR and skip some of the useless dialogue.

    • My first and prevailing thought through that freeze was that it would make a great “Deal with it” image.

  12. And why was the prop made of fake iron, rivets and all?

    Well, I suspect that making it out of foot thick oak would have cost more than the scene was worth, and fake iron with rivets is evidently more “nautical” than plywood. Shooting real iron at point blank would also likely pose more than a couple safety concerns, if you care about that sort of thing.

    I’m starting to enjoy the show more than I thought I would. I don’t really care about the longbeared technical inaccuracies, as I suspect is the case with the vast majority of the 1.5-2M viewers of the show. I’ll take out of the box HKs through silly set pieces so long as there’s a good smattering of belt fed machine guns and grenade launchers– which is really what the earlier seasons were missing, for my palate anyway.

    Franco is actually one of the more interesting competitors this time around. Every other female on the show to date has either been eye candy or elimination fodder– but this girl can shoot, which is refreshing.

  13. As a former Marine, I almost puked when a newly discharged Marine, with no upper body strength, not once but twice, swung and crashed into the wall. How did he ever pass the obstacle course in boot camp.

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