In 2009 a show came to us from Spike TV that was simply awesome in its simplicity despite being more of a fine bit of entertainment than the true, historical ‘what-if?” scenario that people thought it might be. The Deadliest Warrior lasted for three seasons before any and all credibility it had kind of went down the tubes, but it seems as though it might have been finding its niche when you really think about it since it had finally dropped the all-historical aspect of its two previous seasons and embraced the ideology that this was a fantasy match that could never happen and would never be entirely serious. The show featured warrior classes from different points in history and asked the question “Who would win in a battle to the death?” There was no middle ground here, no friendly, fair match that might have seen both warriors respecting each other and walking away. This was essentially another death match show that wanted to see how the fighting ability and weaponry from different eras could match up against each other.
The downfall of it however is that the warriors, who would have never met in real life, were only epitomized by their weapons and the overall reputation they earned in their own distinct time period. Plus, the battlefield of choice was rarely neutral and often favored one of the contestants. But it was still a very entertaining show as some people would even take friendly bets on who would win, particularly if it was a close match and didn’t heavily favor either side. The reason for being able to bring this show back would be simple and would perhaps remind people that it is all about entertainment: it’s amusing to theorize just how different eras stack up against each other. It could be a great show again if it would drop the pretense that the battles would be as cut and dried as they seemed. They did run thousands of simulated battles, but even that was kind of a downer since it used statistics to decide the battles, and as we know even hard data that led to statistical outcomes can be false. If they treated it like a show, a good bit of entertainment as it started out, then perhaps it could be an engaging program again.
Some of the matches didn’t seem quite accurate.
For instance, in episode 1 the show pitted a gladiator against an Apache warrior. It only takes a cursory search of the Apache to realize that they didn’t normally fight one on one when it came to he battlefield, and gladiators would have likely been more concerned with keeping their freedom than fighting when found out of the arena. The second episode, viking vs. samurai, is another great example since neither group ever really fought without having numbers on their side. It got a little more out of touch when the ninja and the Spartan went at it, as one can imagine that ninja might wait for the cover of night to kill a Spartan at their post or when they were asleep, and certainly wouldn’t announce their presence before striking. The modern matches were a little more on point, though they still irked people just a bit to see the outcomes. The spetsnaz vs the green berets in episode 6 didn’t make the show many friends, especially since Americans prefer to think that our military is superior to so many. At this point it almost seems as though the show would need a reboot rather than just a continuation so as to hammer out the details that are needed to make it work.
Bringing in specific individuals was not the best idea.
This happened in the first season as well but in the second season it brought together individuals that might have experienced very different outcomes in history simply by dint of the historical facts and legends that have been left behind. Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu could have just as easily been a common fight between the Turks and Chinese, while Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great could have pitted their respective warriors against one another as well. The show seemed to want to point out that these great individuals possessed something that their warriors did not, but in truth all they really had were titles that the common fighter was missing. Jesse James vs. Al Capone was kind of a wash since the time periods between them are so different that one could almost imagine that Capone should have been victorious largely because he would send a small army after the James gang and use everything from grenades to Tommy guns to whatever other ordnance could be found in his time period. In the Old West though Capone and his people would have been quite lost. So really, bringing specific people in was where the show really started to trip up just a bit.
In season 3 they really didn’t learn from the mistakes of the past two seasons.
The specific characters were brought in more and they even tried to force their system to evolve as they got rid of Max and brought on another computer tech as well as a battle expert and former Navy SEAL, Richard Machowicz, who was actually a lot of fun to watch. While you had to assume that even he was wondering just why the show didn’t stick to its original format he did his best to determine just how each warrior operated and how their tactics would help them win the day. The only problem with this was that at the end of it all, the group tactics never seemed to work and the end result was always the one on one match that eschewed anything and everything that might have mattered about the individual save for their weaponry and the desire to stay alive. By the time the last episode, vampires vs. zombies came around, the show was already in a downward spiral and ready to crash. It was a great show while it lasted and if the entertainment value and the factual data that was used in each battle was kept and a lot of the other stuff was dumped it might be a great show again.
By keeping the fictional element of it and going into detail about the ‘what-ifs’ while negating a few other things this show could work.