Entertainment

Spartan is in your face action that’s oddly relaxing: Schneller

Team competition includes psycho obstacles, falling globs of sweat and bleating announcers.

Hosts Kelvin Washington, left, and Apolo Ohno are WHIPPED UP for Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.

NBC

Hosts Kelvin Washington, left, and Apolo Ohno are WHIPPED UP for Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge.

The Show: Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge, Season 2, Episode 5 (NBC/Global)

The Moment: THE SHOUTING

Six teams of five run a demanding, mile-long obstacle course (based on the worldwide Spartan Races), vying for $250,000 US, while hosts, including former Olympian Apolo Ohno, HOLLER COMMENTARY.

“That’s Samantha Jack of team Showtime (Broadway dancers) on the Barrel Roll (a giant steel roller),” someone shouts. “SHE’S ONLY BEEN SOBER SIX MONTHS.”

Cut to Samantha talking to camera: “Waking up after a grand mal seizure from drinking was a wake-up call,” she says.

Back to the action: “Team Comeback Kids are tackling the Mud Humps (humps made of mud),” another announcer announces. “They all share personal struggles ranging from divorce to addiction. ONE OVERCAME AN EATING DISORDER.”

“And now team Strike a Pose (fitness models) begins the Human Ladder (climbing a wall by climbing each other),” someone shouts. “THEY’RE PARTICULARLY SENSITIVE TO BEING UNDERESTIMATED BECAUSE OF THEIR LOOKS.”

I flipped on my TV during a tired Monday evening, and this show … came at me. The psycho obstacles, the falling globs of sweat, the bleating announcers (“LEADS CAN DISAPPEAR QUICKLY AT THE SPEAR THROW”) — it was like walking into a wind tunnel. The force of it pinned me to the sofa.

Weirdly, though, after five minutes, it all became strangely relaxing. The racers’ straining glutes and six-second bios, the barking hosts (“TIME TO SPARTAN UP”) – what these human-shaped mammals were doing was so unattainable, so WHIPPED UP, that I felt snug and safe, like I was riding my sofa through the eye of a hurricane. I ate a stack of cookies and fell sound asleep.

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