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Do You Have It?
September 22

Monday, September 15 brought the premiere of a classic game show. Classic, anyway, if you're in your mid-twenties and watched Nickelodeon back in the day when game shows were bigger than life, exciting and made for kids. If you fit that bill, or maybe even if you don't, you might remember GUTS.  A long-lasting staple of Nickelodeon, it offered the chance of a lifetime for three kids: they were able to live out sports fantasies on a grand stage, culminating in a 30-foot climb up a prefabricated rock face to see who would emerge victorious.

Nickelodeon has brought back the show, making some changes. Some are OK, some aren't so hot. Two families of four relatives compete over the half hour, and the winners move up in an eleven-game tournament ending with the Aggro Bowl, to determine the winners. The format has changed, and that's a good thing. Under the old rules, every episode would end with scores of 400-200 or even on 300.

In the first event, each second is worth a point, just like a decathlon. In the second event, successes are worth 10 points each. These points translate into a head start up the Aggro Crag for the leaders. The team whose representative presses the final button at the top of the peak wins and moves on to the next round.

The first two events carry over that larger-than-life feeling from the original, but the whole thing falls apart when we get to the Aggro Crag. One team member takes off from the base, navigating switchbacks, sharp ledges, and the various hazards created by the property guys (various bits of glitter, confetti, plastic balls, and strobe lights.) Upon reaching their final button, another teammate is released to start climbing a sheer rock face with hand grips, with the final button at the top of the mountain. It is not quite aggro, for sure. And then there's the whole thing about limiting the head start to seven seconds, making any lead bigger than 70 points wasted.

With no segue, I bring the discussion to the presenters. Ben Lyons is affable enough, but gives the vibe of a B-squad Mike O'Malley, except decidedly less amped up. The referee, Australia's Asha Kuerten, has a delightful accent but doesn't look like a referee. She doesn't really have anything to do except be there and be adorable. (Which isn't bad, but even Mo ran down the penalties and stuff.)

If you haven't seen the new version of GUTS, you're not missing a whole lot. Maybe the one-hour final will be different, but the family edition, much like that of The Amazing Race, gives the vibe of being less than the original. And that's too bad.

At the sound of Mo's whistle, send Travis Eberle an e-mail at