Dinner served in a toilet, then a rousing joust

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There are certain bits of fun-dampening motherly advice -- don't run with scissors, don't play with pointed sticks, that kind of thing -- whose wisdom isn't appreciated by boys until they grow up to become decidedly less-invincible men.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/04/2012 (4006 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

There are certain bits of fun-dampening motherly advice — don’t run with scissors, don’t play with pointed sticks, that kind of thing — whose wisdom isn’t appreciated by boys until they grow up to become decidedly less-invincible men.

Scissors really can be dangerous if you’re clumsy enough to trip and fall onto them. And yes, a pointed stick could poke your eye out. Mom was right, and there’s nothing wussy about admitting it.

There are some guys, however — like the steel-clad combatants on the ridiculous but oddly engaging new History series Full Metal Jousting — who seem determined to keep running and pointing and poking until every one of their mothers’ worries is proven to be 100 per cent well founded.

The pointed sticks they’re playing with are three-metre-long wooden lances, and the sharp-object running in which they’re engaged is astride full-speed-galloping horses.

In short, these men are idiots. And not the kind who are blissfully unaware of the danger they’re facing; no, these fiercely competitive numbskulls are fully aware that their actions are going to result in injury, but they’re carrying on anyway in pursuit of a cash prize and manly bragging rights.

Full Metal Jousting, which premieres tonight at 9 on History Television, is a reality/competition series that employs the blueprint used by such team-combat formats as The Contender and The Ultimate Fighter to turn a medieval bloodsport into a modern-day TV spectacle.

A dozen male contestants — with backgrounds that include rodeo riding, polo playing, movie stunt work, special-forces military service and medieval-festival mock jousting — are split into two teams, given a scant few days of training, fitted with suits of armour and then sent into a series of one-on-one jousts in which increasing points are given for striking the opponent with a wooden lance, hitting him hard enough to break the lance, or knocking the other guy completely off his heavily protected mount.

There is, of course, the requisite amount of testosterone-driven taunting and trash-talking in the inevitable reality-TV dormitory-living arrangement, but the focus of Full Metal Jousting is squarely on the training and competition.

It’s all pretty stupid, but if you’re into watching guys willingly subjecting themselves to the inevitable result of medium-speed collisions, you might find it moderately entertaining.

What’s kind of interesting about this is that as silly and pointless as it is, given all the other junk-picking/pawn-shopping/relic-restoring/dangerous-driving/far-north-flying fare in its schedule, Full Metal Jousting might actually be as close as History gets to having anything genuinely historical in prime time these days.

— — —

Tasty toilets, fine-dining dogs: If there’s one thing Bob Blumer has always done, it’s give his food-fuelled TV series titles that accurately reflect what he’s doing.

The Surreal Gourmet put a truly out-there spin on the traditional cooking show; Glutton for Punishment really did test how much the Montreal-born host was willing to endure in order to succeed in a culinary challenge.

And his latest effort, World’s Weirdest Restaurants (which premieres tonight at 8 on Food Network), delivers on its titular promise by taking viewers to eateries so bizarre that it’s a wonder they even exist.

Take, for instance, the confoundingly popular Modern Toilet restaurant in Taipei, where everything from seats and tables to dishes and beverage containers follows a lavatory-decor theme. Sure, the curried chicken looks appetizing, but it’s suddenly less so when you’re eating it out of the bowl of a miniature commode.

Oh, and the joint is packed. Blumer says the food is actually quite good.

Then there’s the German restaurant ‘s Baggers, in which the classic Bavarian cuisine is delivered to table on a rollercoaster-like steel-rail system, the Japanese tavern Kayabuki, where dishes are carried to tables by monkeys, or Dick’s Last Resort, the southern-U.S. diner where burgers are the most popular fare but the house specialty is the servers’ rudeness.

The show is fun, and Blumer, as always, is an affable and well-informed host — though it must be said that his wide-eyed, “I-can’t-believe-this” reaction starts to feel a bit forced and repetitive after a few kooky-cookery encounters.

After you’ve spooned browned beef out of a toilet bowl and into your mouth, nothing should seem all that weird.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

TV REVIEW

Full Metal Jousting

Hosted by Shane Adams

Tonight at 9

History Television

2 1/2 stars out of 5

World’s Weirdest Restaurants

Hosted by Bob Blumer

Tonight at 8

Food Network

3 stars out of 5

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Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

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