Kingdom is an emotional family drama that centres on an MMA gym run by a father and two sons, one of which is Nick Jonas. Yep, he of the squeaky clean, chart-bothering Jonas Brothers. The dad, Alvey Kulina, is played by Frank Grillo, a screen veteran that’s been in some heavyweight films. There’s definitely some eye-covering, wincing fighting in it, and enough ripped bodies and bad boys to keep a hen party happy.
It wasn’t technically a comedy, or a drama, but a game show. However, we’ve got fond memories of the UK version, and you know what? There was comedy and drama in it, and let’s be honest, the Joe Public contestants were always going to be underdogs against titans such as Wolf, Jet, Ace and Saracen. Even though it travelled to the US, they’ll always be ours. GLADIATORS READY!
Eastbound & Down
One sporting individual who probably see himself as a ‘gladiator’ in a baseball diamond is the utterly obnoxious, bulletproof ego that is Kenny Powers (a career-best Danny McBride). Failed, shamed and teaching P.E. at his old middle school, this is genius comedy but with some flashes of pathos that’s quickly batted away for a cheap laugh. With Will Ferrell on production duties you know it’s going to be a home run.
Even though it lasted just one season, Lights Out was centred on former heavyweight boxing champion Patrick "Lights" Leary (see what they did there?) and was an impressive slice of downtrodden drama as we watch “Lights” (Holt McCallany) deal with life outside of the ring. Catherine McCormack was in fine female support and the dad was played by the born grizzly Stacy Keach.
Pete Versus Life
One actor who’s nowhere near retiring (we hope, like his dad) is Rafe Spall, star of Pete Versus Life. Pete was pretty luckless and we get to see all his social faux-pas in glorious detail, with the fantastic addition of commentary being added by two sports announcers in a US broadcaster/UK footy pundit style. It only ran for two series but was packed with ideas and gags from beginning to end.
One show which had a very healthy run was The League. Seven seasons, all available now on Netflix. It’s about a group of friends in a fantasy (American) football league. It’s semi-improvised, there’s real chemistry and a ton of very racy (for American) sex and scatological jokes. There’s running jokes, and each character is flawed but, united by their pursuit of a crap cup awarded at the end of each football/show season.
Reem mate. Bang on. Sky 1 did the treble with this one: excitement as Harchester United climbed to the Champions League, drama with a body count that kept rising in a Hollyoaks style as each season (10!) wore on, and some WAG style raciness. What wasn’t to like.
MTV doesn’t just do music videos. One hit that still stands thanks to its timeless Claymation (you won’t be seeing Wallace and Gromit cuteness here) is Celebrity Deathmatch. Taking its cue from the glam soap opera that is WWF with maybe a nod to Mortal Kombat, Celebrity Deathmatch pitted celebs and sports stars against each other like Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield. Fear not! It was apparently recommissioned last year. We’d love to see Daryl from The Walking Dead pitted against the Arrow. Just putting it out there.
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