Friday, February 8, 2013

Sketched TV: King of the Nerds

Get out your rubix cubes and chess boards, we're reviewing King of the Nerds!
Your nerdy nerd hosts who are nerds. Nerds!
King of the Nerds is a new reality competition show in which nerdy guys and gals from all walks of life compete in nerd challenges to eventually win 100,000 dollars and be crowned king of the nerds!

I'm not linking to the trailer because it makes the show look unbearable like Comic Book Men) when it's really quite amazingly watchable! I've seen the first three episodes so far and I have to say I'm in love with it.  I feel as though a lot of fellow nerds, geeks, and dorks are writing the show off like it's some sort of Big Bang Theory style reality show that makes fun of nerds and nerd culture, but that couldn't be further from the the truth. King of the Nerds is deeply in love with nerd culture and wants to promote and celebrate the nerds who make it so wonderful.
Moogega went to college at 16 and is a planetary
protection engineer at NASA. Adorkable indeed.

You should be interested fromt the contestants alone. Usually with these kinds of competitions, you'l have some hip white guys(and maybe one girl if you're lucky) who look more hipster than nerd and are barely gamers, if anything. But these kids are hackers, professional gamers, cosplayers, neurologists, people who make roleplaying games! One of my favorties is a cute black girl named Moogega who has a PHD, works at NASA, and coined the term 'adorkable'. FREAKIN' NASA! Is it too much of a stretch that we could have a Bobak Ferdowsi guest appearance  Considering they've had George Takei and YaYa Han, I don't think so.

And when you meet the contestants, these are good people. These are kids you would totally geek out with, about a show like this no less, and become instant friends with. It's kind of a weird feeling that I don't know who to root for because I want them all to win, save for a couple of white guys who can be dicks sometimes. White guys, amirite? Speaking of which, I am delightfully surprised at the diversity in race, sex and body type that's represented in the game. And by the way, the lady nerds have been kinda kickin' the guy nerds asses. HINT HINT AMERICA.

Then there are the challenges, which are actually pretty on point for nerd culture. The first challenge ever involves nerds picking teams, the biggest nerd nightmare of all!  After there's only one left, the contestants are surprised to discover the one not to get picked is the winner of the challenge, because not getting picked by nerds is the nerdiest thing of all.  Later challenges involve chess games, cosplay compettitons, and remote-controled races. These are things that nerds excel at! And what I love best about them is that instead of just instantly throwing contestants into the challenge, whether it's a group challenge or a head-to-head duel, they always give the players adequate time(usually 2-5 hours) to do research, prepare and nerd-up. With the aforementioned team-picking challenge, they gave them all a couple fo hours to get to know each other and explain their various nerd strengths. I don't know a reality game show on TV that does that. Their house(named Nerdvana, because of course) has a radioshack section with tons of parts and components, which really is probably the best endorsement radioshack is going to get.
Virgil is kind of a dick. But he's a
master hacker, so that's expected.

Sure, the challenges are dressed up a bit extravagantly, like moving around giant-sized chess pieces and then dramatically killing them when said pieces are taken off the board, but that's expected of big spectacle reality TV shows. They're still playing chess, real chess, with advisors and maneuvers and everything. I also like that the eye candy for that challenge incudes a cute cat girl and a muscly Spartan guy. What other show has equal opportunity eye-candy? And there is a cosplay competition judged by YaYa Han! If you know YaYa Han, you know how awesome she is at making costumes and cosplaying as sexy characters, What? No of course that's not the main reason I first tuned in I uh...watched for...reasons...but still, a cosplay competition. No offense to the male cosplayers, but that's pretty well tailored to lady nerds, and it's amazing they wold do a challenge lady nerds would be interested in.

Curtis Armstrong is perfect as a host. He is 1000% into this, loving every second and giving his nerd-all. He half looks ready to torment these kids and half wants to be in the fray with them. At one challnege he goes full on Geisha, just becuase. Robert Caradine by contrast, looks like he's just there for the check. He's barely there, says maybe two words, and if you're lucky he'll smile at the contestants while Armstrong continues to ramble on like someone getting too much into his D&D character. I don't know if he really does not want to be there or if Armstrong is stealing all the best lines, but Armstrong is basically hosting alone. No disrespect to Caradine for his various roles over the years, but if he's that unhappy, I hope he can find a project he's excited about and they can replace him with someone that can match Armstrong's energy.

Ivan develops and creates
role-playing games. He's currently
my pick for winning.
As far as game design goes, I think it's an ingenous bit of planning the way they set up eliminating people. So far, there's two teams. The team that loses has to have two people go to a "nerd-off", a head-to-head challenge that will send one nerd packing. The losing team votes for one player, and the winning team votes for another. It usually leads to a battle between the perceived weakest and strongest links of a team, which is damn interesting. But more than that, the final outcome of who goes home isn't decided by the judges, or America, or by the other players, it's by their own nerd skills and knowledge  Even after it's voted, there's still a chance for either to go home, meaning it's on them to do their best. And more times than most, the most desperate underdog comes back the victor to upset the team that's shunned them. It's a great little dynamic to watch.

More than any of that, it's an overall loving accepting environment. Everyone wants to get along with everyone else. Even the nerds going home are made to feel winners. And that's how it should be, because all us nerds are in this together. We SHOULD be trying to work together in friendly competition instead of biting each other's heads off. A couple of times people have made dick moves that would be the norm on most other reality competitions(lookin' at you Survivor!) and they're always called on their douchebagery. It's the kind of environment involving love and acceptance of nerd culture that we need in this era.  You guys really need to start watching this to show it's better to love a nerd and be a nerd than to make fun of a nerd!

THE GOOD: very diverse cast of lovable characters, smart challenges pertaining to nerd culture, smart nerdy contestants, curtis armstrong has fun, interesting voting game dynamics, great guest stars.

THE BAD: Still some dick players, Caradine does not look like he's having fun, advertising is pretty awful.

THE VERDICT: $$$$$ See it! DVR it! On Demand it! Go to TBS's website if you have cable, because their viewer is honestly pretty great. You need to log in using your cable provider, but no commercials!

SHOWS LIKE IT: Survivor, Face Off, Who wants to be a superhero?

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: If you want to know what kind of show you're watching and what kind of contestants are playing, in the character bios, under the question "Edison or Tesla?" EVERY SINGLE PERSON PICKED TESLA.  Also, two people are there primarily because of their love for Batman, and both are girls. JUS' SAYIN' AMERICA.

3 comments:

  1. one the best reviews of the show. Agreed Caradine does seemed tuned out for most of the show. I must say these contestant are not your average nerds by any means. I wonder in which season they will start to pull in the common nerd. Oh, I think moogega will win, or be in the final two. they downplayed her role(s) in the program so much, too much even. To me it seems they are trying to build her into the shy contestant. That all of the sudden comes to life and Wins to reign as her high nerdiness. The way the program is being played out seems the basic reality concept in that regard.

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  2. Yeah, I'm sure they're manipulating the drama to make it look like the way they want to look, which is expected of reality TV. Moogega seems like a fair choice. She doesn't seem to be pissing anyone off and she's kind of flying under the radar.

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