“With the most physically demanding challenges yet and more surprising twists than ever before, the competition series Top Shot is back for a third season. This time, an all-new arsenal of history-inspired challenges awaits 16 fearless contestants as they vie for a $100,000 prize package and the right to claim the title of “Top Shot.”
The 14 marksmen and two markswomen were carefully selected from thousands of applicants to participate in this season. The contestants include a national revolver champion, two homeland security agents, a former Navy SEAL, two cops, a nurse and several firearms instructors. Two of the competitors are self-taught.
The shooters will have to display mastery of weapons from all eras of human history, from primitive rocks to sophisticated firearms. Contestants will employ some of the biggest munitions ever featured on the series, including the Gatling gun, the Hotchkiss mountain gun and the CornerShot. In addition, they must endure grueling physical tests to stay in the game. High-speed, high-definition cameras capture the skillful execution of each test in extreme slow motion.”
–Yay! Kiss…Purr~ Moment
My family and I have enjoyed rooting for our favorite shots all three seasons of Top Shot. The moment I knew this season was different was when Mike had the opportunity to come back and then won a spot back into the competition. Then as the individual part of the competition whittled down the competitors to the final four I realized I’d be happy if any of them won. Of course I had my vote and that was part of the fun…
—Pro and Cons: A Review
This is a great reality show competition. We originally started watching to learn about the different weapons and how the trainers go about training each. As the seasons progressed we found a great balance between team work and skill contrasted to the popular voting for the individual elimination challenges. The host, Colby Donaldson, was not previously know to us. He became a real mark for the show. He’d bring up contentious material and topics and bring it out in the open. You have to admire that. You could tell he was an honest and upfront guy, just the kind of man you’d want to host a shooting competition. (On a side note, I could listen to this guy’s voice all day.)
The best mark of the show though is how the producers learned from season to season and worked to keep, what could become boring, fresh. They learned not to allow competitors to watch while others before them ran the course if watching would benefit them. They kept the choosing of teams different every season, not disdaining to chose the teams themselves again. The elimination competitions got better and more challenging, some of the best ones this year. Also this season they chose competitors that knew each other and would make excellent motivators.
The first season we found ourselves rooting for the underdog and when we might have left the show behind stuck in there to support Kelly. I firmly believe if Kelly had not gone first in that particular individual challenge then he would not have gone home in fifth place. In fact, he could have won the whole thing, especially done well in the choose your weapon, range, target challenge. I think the competitors can only take a show so far, the meat of the show has to work too. I really enjoyed the throwing knife and modern slingshot episode. The trainers really rocked here and I felt like I learned how to do both. And so the trainers became a big part of why we enjoyed the show.
The second season started in such a fascinating way. I had high hopes for this season because the competitors got the choose their own groups. The fact that a golf instructor (Jay Lim) had an open, facile way to choose his team and Chris Reed had a sneaky, clique way really brought the teams out on equal ground. The pact became obvious as they worked to protect Chris Reed. He really lucked out when he should have been put up for elimination and others did almost equally as bad as he. Then it became a popular vote and of course he was protected. It really became fascinating that history repeated itself and Jay became the one the house wanted out but who managed to cling in there for as long as possible.
It’s enthralling how competition causes the best and the worst sides of human nature to rise to the surface. Prejudices and bonds form for logical and illogical reasons. The red team in Season One, especially Mike Seeklander who paid the price, misjudged picking on Kelly and would not face facts that they were totally wrong. The blue team that season really banked on red team’s bad judgement and didn’t even really get tested. George and Chris became extremely close during Season Two in the course of their pact. Because of that closeness, in a moment of rashness, George threw the game. Who would of believed George Reinas would do that watching him over the course of the season? Not I.
As for Season 3, they ratcheted it up a notch. Probably the best mark of this season is the honesty and fair play from the competitors. In my opinion, the best bunch yet. I enjoyed their competition between the “loser” red team and the “winner” blue team. How the blue team drilled and the red team made fun then secretly drilled themselves later. The elimination challenges were some of the best yet. From the first episode with the stage coaches to the cannonball run challenge just one episode later. Also this season the team challenges were more than which group ran around fast. Team members went up one on one with each other to win points in shoot outs. The only off moments were really the ones created by Jake, and in the end he became such a learning experience.
Whether you love guns and collect them, shooting in your spare time or are just a competition enthusiast or maybe you’re a writer like me, this is a great show to watch. The best especially when human nature comes out to play.
This is not the kind of show I normally review. As a writer, I enjoy watching specific reality shows as a way to see human interaction or subject matter to which I might not otherwise be exposed. On the flip side, viewers have to be judicious about what rises naturally and what is pushed for by producers needing/desiring conflict.
One of the competitors, Jake Zweig, a former Navy SEAL, got into major rows with the others in the Top Shot house. He ended up walking off the show instead of going up in another elimination challenge to try to win a spot back in the competition. As a consequence, his main rival, Mike Hughes, got a chance to return. Now I believe Jake was egged on in his conflicts between him and the house by questions the producers posed in his personal interviews. (This isn’t to say a deliberate egging or not deliberate egging by the producers, just that he was motivated by their actions.)
As a former Navy SEAL, Jake should have had a team mentality and a desire to go out against the best. Due to the pressure he felt to win and a tendency toward bravado, in my opinion, he went against his true nature. Now any time he felt defensive and taken advantage of he went into the next challenge doing very well. Like Kelly, from season one, he could have went into the few elimination challenges left and won until at which point the teams dissolved and the individual challenges started. Now he might have been taken out then and there but he could have easily edged out a few of the others… Also he had to know Mike would be brought back. The host stated it’s in the rules. It seemed to me Jake got to a breaking point. Where the conflict between his true self and who the show poked and prodded him into being finally became too much. (This is the point of the show really – to see who can handle the pressures and still come out on top. This doesn’t always mean it’s the best shot.) I feel like Jake couldn’t be at odds with the group and still compete. So he bowed out, salving his pride and returning to the status quo. This goes to show you character will tell.
A character can act against character and not be contrived if one supports the change in action properly. In life everyone is at the vagaries of outside pressures, not just characters. As a writer though consistency in characters is so important. Jake really is a massive learning experience. Have you ever heard or read some one say: that wasn’t in character. Sure you have, maybe you said it yourself. Think about the outside pressures. Did the writer support the out of character behavior with the right pressures? Were the pressures contrived or stereotypical? Did that cause the out of character behavior to fail? As human beings we don’t always follow our programming, but something causes us to deviate much like how a deer in the road causes us to swerve our car.
A person with the right pressure brought to bear on them will bring alternate, less utilized coping mechanisms to deal with it. Many times these mechanisms are not nice to look at or be, but can be so informative for a writer and in our own lives.
Each and every person has committed some action for which they feel shame. If you don’t have a moment like this then you are either a youngster or delusional. Period. I don’t really want to talk about those though, I want to talk about what causes these moments. In most cases, like I believe with Jake and his bravado, they are coping mechanisms to deal with stress.
My coping mechanism most times is to get very polite (yes, ma’am or sir) and very quiet. I recede into myself and create a blank wall from which to stall until the threat goes away. Which invariably they do (people tend to wander). These mechanisms tend to do you a disservice, they cause actions from which you rarely can return and really only regret. Almost worse than a negative trait, they lull you into a false sense of security that this is just who you are and you can’t escape being this way. It’s a false security.
With life or like me with my characters, we must see these coping mechanisms for what they are: a weakness. And we must put ourselves (and our characters) through the paces of strengthening such tender places within ourselves or fall prey to their pull. I know if I’m ever on a realty show (which I think will NEVER happen even if offered) I don’t want to come out the other side another Jake who couldn’t handle the pressure.
(On a side note: I’m not a gun enthusiast. I don’t even think I’ve ever touched one let alone shot one. I do believe in our right to bear arms. I also believe as a country we can not allow terrorists and other factions to wage war on us without fear of consequences. The real question though: how should those consequences bear out?)
Each season of Top Shot has it’s strengths and weaknesses. This season the strengths lay in the competitors’ fair play and honesty. The best man won: Dustin Ellermann, a Christian Camp Director, self taught, he is the poster child for this season’s Top Shot. If you haven’t seen the show then catch Season Four or watch reruns, they really are worth the effort.
Do you have “out of character” stories about yourself, a family member or friend? Was there a reason they swerved out of their normal pattern of action? How did you feel about what they did?