After some intensive reviewing and discussion, our panelists have decided on the five official nominees for the Hulu Award for Best Sports Programming.
Hulu Review readers and the general public can still cast their votes in the comments section of this post. The total audience vote is equal to the vote of one panel member.
American Gladiators is a show that needs no introduction in 2008, when it unexpectedly stormed the primetime ratings in the midst of the writer's strike. Whether you watch it to see Titan flexing his grotesque thighs, or to see hosts Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali proclaim their eternal love for the contestants, this is a show that combines cheese with hard-nosed, genuine competition.
Firsthand was unknown by most of our panelists going into the process, but it won over lots of new fans by dint of it's thoughtful approach to presenting various forms of extreme sports. Whether the focus is on dirt bikes or surfboards, the show goes behind the scenes of the actual sport to highlight the characters and communities that make any competition worthwhile.
Everyone knows about NHL, the biggest hockey organization on the planet, but what impressed our panelists most was the comprehensive coverage that Hulu offers. With full games, player profiles, commentary, and weekly highlights, there's enough here for the NHL superfan to watch until his eyeballs are bleeding and his girlfriend has gotten the puck out of there.
This is one of the most successful Japanese game show crossovers in history (and is destined to outlast "Hole in the Wall" by about a decade). The premise is simple, even familiar-- athletes (and some goofballs who have no shot whatsoever) attempt to navigate an extremely difficult obstacle course in order to advance. The special flavor comes from the notion that those who beat the entire course will be an actual ninja. No pirates allowed, please! The course is addictive enough, but the high-energy announcer who delights in every competitor's achievements (or lack thereof) is the icing on the proverbial cake.
A Shot at Glory is a platform to tell the inspirational back stories that have, in a way, eclipsed the events themselves. The spotlights on olympians give context and weight to the competitions, and so tell us who to root for and why. This show wowed our panelists with the high production values and the efficacy with which it brings humanity to competitors. With 2008 being a big year for the Olympics, the choice is a timely one.