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Touted as the first international competition show of its kind, "Ultimate Beastmaster" will feature six country-specific versions, with local languages, competitors and hosts from each country: the U.S., Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Germany and Japan. All 10 episodes will launch at the same time worldwide on Netflix. The series will feature 108 competitors, 18 from each country, with each hourlong episode featuring 12 contestants - two from each locale. The athletes will run a demanding new obstacle course known as "The Beast," and each episode will crown a "Beastmaster," with the nine individual winners competing against each other in the final episode of the season for the chance to become the Ultimate Beastmaster.
I'm not joking around when I call myself a die-hard fan of the "extreme obstacle course" genre that has exploded in the past few years. But how does Ultimate Beastmaster, Netflix's newcomer compare to other long-running shows like Sasuke, S and American Ninja Warrior?
In a word: well! The show is visually stunning and awesome in design thanks to the work of ATS, the company responsible for the construction of other obstacle course shows like American Ninja Warrior. The Beast is large and impressive enough to leave a lasting impression, with obstacles that range from creative and memorable to bland and boring, although the course composition in itself is highly derivative of the tried and tested "Ninja Warrior" formula: four stages, each more difficult than the last, with a finale involving scaling a tower and an increased emphasis on upper body as the show goes on.
So what unique elements does Ultimate Beastmaster bring to the table? Simply put, its emphasis on international competition helps the show immensely. The six different languages and sets of show presenters gives the show worldwide appeal, and watching all six nationalities react to both their representatives and those of other nationalities adds a unique dimension found almost nowhere else. Even if the American announcers are relatively low in quality (at least in my opinion), they are more than compensated for by the charisma of the other countries, which caught me off-guard when watching the show.
In conclusion, Ultimate Beastmaster is a fairly by-the-books Extreme Obstacle Course programme format-wise, but juiced up immensely by a Hollywood budget and stunning visual presentation. Even if it lacks the ingenuity, competitor pool and history of shows in the "Ninja Warrior" franchise, the international focus helps it to stand out and fill a niche in the genre. If you have a Netflix membership, I wholeheartedly recommend giving Ultimate Beastmaster a try!
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