It’s a strange human tradition that as a race we tend to start the new year feeling as bad as we possibly can. So it was a few years back when I awoke (did I even sleep? It was a bad time.) to a ferocious comedown/hangover situation. I was in Taupo Bay, one of the prettier spots on earth, but the surrounds meant nothing by comparison to the pain I was suffering.
There were two saving graces. Firstly, I was not alone in my misery – most of my best friends were equally dispirited – and secondly Sky had the good sense to screen a show named Man vs. Beast from, who else, but the fine people at Fox.
It’s difficult to describe just how fantastic this show is. The premise is simple, a series of events are set up, like tug of war, hotdog eating, confidence course and so on, but the competitors are Olympians, Navy SEALS and… BEASTS!!!!
Beasts like bears, orangutans, elephants and zebras competing against men like famed professional eater Takeru Kobayashi and Shawn Crawford, a silver medalist at the 200m in Beijing. The action is outrageous, showing that beasts (BEASTS!) have incredible skills we rarely acknowledge, and that humans who think they’re pretty hot shit take losing to animals pretty poorly.
Apparently there were sequels, and a 6-part British version (presented by John Fashanu – the 22nd shittest footballer of all time, according to The Times) was canned in post after animal rights dudes kicked up a stink. The British animal rights movement really is the most fun-hating group of assholes on the planet. I’m a vegetarian, but would gladly feast on their scrawny carcasses for shutting this down. The show would’ve really worked; the Brits really know how to mess around at the bottom of the food chain, and would drag all kinds of desperate nobodies out of the woodwork. Plus the UK has amazing animals, you know, stoats, squirrels, badgers and voles. It’d be amazingly rubbish.
Anyway, the show is a televisual masterclass Here’s a few more clips to while away your pre-xmas hours.
Sumo Wrestler vs Female Orangutan
Small Japanese Man vs Large Grizzly Bear
Elephant vs 40 Dwarves
The latter is doubtless the most visually arresting, but somehow turns your stomach a bit. The animals may or may not be aware that they’re in a competition (how would we know?) but where did Fox find those dwarves? Does anyone think it’s impossible that they’ve got a farm somewhere in the Arizona desert for just such a one-off reality special?