TL;DR – Another iteration and they have refined the formula even more and it works really well … also Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
There are many reasons people watch Beastmaster, for some, it is the athleticism, for other, it is the face plants into the water, and for some, it is the unique format of the multi-country multi-format show that only Netflix could pull off. This is the third iteration of the series and this time the format has been changed up, and we have new contestants, new obstacles, new countries, new hosts, and still one angry beast.
So to set the scene, for those who have yet to see a season, Ultimate Beastmaster is an athletic elimination show in the vein of Sasuke (Ninja Warrior). Contestants run through three more progressively difficult stages set within the body of the mythical Beast. The obstacles test the contestant’s balance, grip strength, speed, strength, and sheer perseverance. You get points for each part of the obstacle you complete and the contestants with the highest points (or fastest if a tie) progress to the next stage. All while this is happening hosts from every country give us commentary, while also cursing the other teams, invading each other’s booths, and reacting to every big hit.
Back in Season Two (see review) we noticed that they had started to improve the show given the experiences with how people binge shows on Netflix, and with Season Three they have made more improvements. The first big change is that there are more countries than ever. In previous seasons we have had six countries, in Season Three we have nine teams including the returning United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, France, Italy, and newcomers the United Kingdom and Australia. Also this season we have a changeup to how the show progresses, this time we have a tournament-style competition. Each episode one contestant from each team takes a run at the course and only two will be left standing. Then after three episodes, we have a semi-final where, six contestants go in and only three remain, then repeat until we get the grand final. This change up really helps the flow of the season, because you are not seeing the same episode one after another, and another, until the final. Another new addition is the super-charger which give a whole ton of points, but it is on a countdown timer and if you are too slow you miss out. This encourages contestants to be quick instead of cautious, which can lead to disaster.
While there is a changeup as to how the show works, none of that would matter if not for the contestants and for the hosts. I think it must be a part of the contestant entry conditions that they must have some sort of tragic backstory, and usually, I find myself tuning out at this point because in Australia when this happens we would get reminded of it over and over again. However, here they know how to hit you in the feels, and the changeup to the way the season works means that we get more time to know the contestants that we had in previous seasons. It is also clear that all the contestants gave 100% with some only being withdrawn because their bodies could not go a step further. With the hosts, I was surprised that even though Australia is in the show, I still got the American commentary, only to find 3/4 of the way through the season that there was an Australian version, it had just not pushed through on Netflix. This did mean that I got to see the show from two different perspectives, which was a fun experience. Indeed, I had been wondering why Nick Cummins was being so reserved, only to switch over to the Australian feed to see him cut wild, I think it was because they were not sure how to subtitle him. Because there were a number of returning hosts there was some rapport already there which helped hit the ground running.
While the new format really helped the show with the flow of the season there were some things that didn’t quite work. I don’t think it was optimal to have the hosts from the three English speaking countries to be next to each other, as it limited the interaction. As well as this, the change to the final level in the grand final just felt a bit anticlimactic, running one at a time rather than each other is just not as impactful. Now, none of this takes anything away from the winner, who was amazing, but it just didn’t have the same impact as it could have.
In the end, do we recommend Season 3 of Ultimate Beastmaster? Yes, yes we do. If you are a fan of an athletic contest and seeing people go to their very extremes, then you will love this show. It still is the most experimental show that Netflix is producing in their place as the only real international streaming service and as I said last season, bring on the Aussies as they will make it one hell of a show, and I was right. The question is, where can they go from here, and I am really interested to see what that is.
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
Hosted by – Dannii Minogue, Nick Cummins, Tiki Barber, CM Punk, Rafinha Bastos, Anderson Silva, Micky Beisenherz, Jeannine Michaelsen, Luis Ernesto Franco, Ines Sainz, Seo Kyung Suk, Park Kyeong Rim, Gilles Marini, Sandy Heribert, Francesco Facchinetti, Bianca Balti, Kate Abdo & Stuart Bennett