Photo Courtesy of CBS

Tonight’s Million Dollar Mile, the premiere episode featuring top OCR and parkour athletes, cashed out at $25,000.  Nikki managed two obstacles and the wall without getting caught by Emma.  Before the show, I asked Nikki a question and had no idea about her person or cause.  So I felt good about her win and why she worked so hard to earn it.

As for the rest of the show, here’s my take:

TECHNICAL

Most of the obstacles were very good–they showed difficulty, viewability, and variety.  They challenged grip, upper body, core, balance, speed, and guts.  Some of these obstacles were very high off the ground, others submerged in water, others spinning or unstable.  The contenders chose what order to do the obstacles.  What I liked most about the obstacles was mandatory completion.  Any failure meant a re-start.

I give this portion of the show 5 for 5 stars.

PRODUCTION

The backstory for Defenders and Contenders was kept short in order to focus on the competition.  As I said, I really appreciated Nikki’s post-race story because of the pre-show interview.  No matter how much adversity or struggle they have to overcome, athletes of all ages and abilities can come back and compete.  Unfortunately, Tim’s preparation did not include cold weather and water which led him to cramp up after just one obstacle.  The camera time on the course was good and in my opinion, can always be more.  Just show me the race.

I give this portion of the show 4 for 5 stars.

COMMENTARY

Tim Tebow led the show and he looked and felt out of his element.  Maybe I’m just too close to OCR and the athletes,  but he just didn’t feel personal, like he didn’t care about the Defenders or the Contenders.  Instead, he played to the audience to keep them excited and to keep the pace of the show moving.  The two color commentators were completely unnecessary.

I agree with most of the feedback I saw on social media that the commentary needs some work so I give this portion of the show just 2 for 5 stars.

DEFENDERS

I know most of the contenders either by reputation or personal interaction.  So I, along with most of social media in the know, could tell that the deck was heavily stacked in favor of the Defenders.  Tonight we saw Robert Killian, Faye Stenning, Isaiah Vidal, and Emma Chapman.  The races hardly got started before these thoroughbreds were finished.  I saw the looks on their faces that they had plenty of gas left, wanted some stronger competition, and for the most part, enjoyed the experience on the show.

Men's elite #1 Isaiah Vidal

Steve and I with Spartan Pro Robert Killian

Faye Stenning

like on Broken Skull Ranch Challenge, I would like to see the opportunity for everyone, Defender and Contender, to finish the entire course instead of getting tapped out.  I want to see the struggle all the way.  While the ticking clock is a great tension-building device for the viewers to stay interested as the gap closes between racers, I think a TMX-like format would be better.  Finish the course.  Race side-by-side.  Winner takes all.

How else would we know if TMX champion Emma Chapman can be bested by an unknown?

I give CBS 5 stars for 5 on their brilliant selection of Defenders.

CONTENDERS

I know a lot of AG-level competitors out there who would love a shot at this course, going up against the Elites.  Instead, we got four regular competitors off the street.  This is a message to the OCR community wannabes.  If you want to get on the show, it’s not about your desire or ability.  It’s all about your story.  This is TV.  So hopefully next week the caliber of contender will move way up because although the stories were great, the gap between Defender and Contender ability was infinite.  Some people on social media complained about this.  Give the underdog a chance.  I’m in the camp where the underdog gets a lesson in what it takes besides heart to be world class.  You can be world class and have a great story.  While I’m happy for the Contenders to walk away with some cash for about ten minutes of work on one or two obstacles way short of a mile, keep this in mind:

TMX is a one-mile course loaded with ten obstacles that the winners completed in well under twenty minutes.

Some of the Contenders told me they came into this show not knowing what to expect.  If the show makes it to season two, hopefully future Contenders will do their homework.  Know the competition.  Train like crazy.  Come out of nowhere like Rebecca Hammond (another Defender) and start to dominate.

I’d like to see some Contenders who make those Defenders work hard.  I want to see it down to the wire through the entire course, not the zip line and a sprint just 40% of the way through.  For that shortfall, I give the Contenders 3 of 5 stars.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT

The rope climb at the end of the course was ridiculous.  We already know from American Ninja Warrior’s Mt. Midoriyama that competitors must climb a 75-foot rope at the end of the course – unassisted.  Isaac Caldeiro’s Season 7 epic climb is still firmly etched in my mind.  Based on that, I’m convinced that viewers will continue to watch Million Dollar Mile even though nobody wins the million, perhaps for years.  But they’ll only watch if the competition, the course, and the credibility is real.

Zero for 5 stars on that final rope climb MDM.  Let’s make it real.

See Isaac Caldeiro for rope climbing tips