TL;DR – The second outing is a much more streamlined production, learning from the mistakes from the first season, but falls a bit in its casting.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
So at the start of the year a small little gem dropped on Netflix called Ultimate Beastmaster, a show clearly inspired by Ninja Warrior but with a big twist. This time around it was a multi-national competition with competitors and hosts from six different countries, with each country getting a different final cut. Some hailed it as the beginning for a new age of global television, I wouldn’t go that far, but it was a nifty concept. Well, it is the end of the year and Netflix has given us a little end of year surprise with Season 2 dropping much earlier than I expected it to. So today we are going to take a look at the highs and lows of Season 2 of Ultimate Beastmaster.
So for those who have not seen this or Season 1 (see review), Ultimate Beastmaster is a multi-stage competitive obstacle course, with each level getting progressively harder, and contestants were eliminated until there is only one left standing. Each of these levels is themed around the titular Beast, with the winner called the Beastmaster. In the last episode of the season, all the individual winners compete again against each other, with the final person standing being called the Ultimate Beastmaster. This season there are five new nations competing, joining the USA or ‘ussaa!’, is France, Italy, Spain, India and China.
There have been a number of improvements to the competition that both streamlined the competition but also upped the tension. The first of these is changing how the points are given out, now instead of getting them at the end of an obstacle, you get five points for each step you get. For example, you get five points for each Energy Coil you land on, rather than a bunch of points if you make it to the last Energy Coil at the end. This goes a long way to both separate the different runners and lessen the chance of ties but also to give points to those who got further along in the course even if they did not finish. The second is understanding that this is a streamed show, so you don’t have to waste time explaining the obstacles at the start of the show, only when you need to add context, like why one of the Indian contestants got kicked out in the first moments of the Grinder.
As well as this, I really liked how they went out of their way to bring all of the contestants in as an audience and cheer squad, which made it a more jovial event. Also, there were those moments that have you on the edge of your seat, like when a contestant ripped their elbow open and kept going even as the blood ran down their arm, or the moment when a contestant was ejected from the Sinking Digestive Track only to somehow manage to grab hold of one of the Stomach Churns and stay in the game. It was also fun to watch a new dynamic between all the hosts like the stoic Chinese host pontificating while his hosting partner dances to give their competitor good luck. Or the … I want to say friendly … rivalry between the French and Italian hosting teams, I say it is 70% good natured, 25% hexing each other, and 5% maybe a bit nasty.
While I did like a lot of the changes, not everything worked, the first of which was the course. I was a little disappointed that there were only really small changes to the course from Season 1, we’ve seen a lot of this before, and that lack of variety does hurt the binge-ability of the show. Also, and while this just might be me, but I did not care for one of the USA presenters. He spent the whole show complaining about contestant’s hairstyles, trying to get dates from the other hosts, getting really excited about the contestants who were pole dancers, all while the other host polite laughs with him and tries to get him to stop talking about his father’s gambling habits. As well as this, it did feel like some countries took contestant selection bit more seriously than others.
In the end, besides some small issues, I did really like this second season of Ultimate Beastmaster and would like to see more of this innovative series going forward. By the way, as they are shifting up the nations each time, next time if you want a real challenge to The Beast, well maybe invite Australia along, it will be fun.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Ultimate Beastmaster
Directed by – Patrick McManus
Created by – Dave Broome
Presented by – Tiki Barber, Chris Distefano, Francesco Facchinetti, Bianca Balti, Vidyut Jammwal, Sarah-Jane Dias, Bin Gu, Qinyi Du, Paula Vázquez, Saúl Craviotto, Gilles Marini & Sandy Heribert
Platform – Netflix