Fun event here in Indianapolis this week: the NBC reality series American Ninja Warrior is filming an episode on Monument Circle in the very heart of downtown. They’re filming the initial challenges in the wee hours of Wednesday night/Thursday morning from a crowd of thirty competitors, and it’s my understanding semifinalists will continue competing Thursday night/Friday morning. If you’re a local night owl who has no use for crowing roosters or morning-drive DJs, this event was made just for you.
I don’t watch the show. I was just trying to take my weekly walk to the comic shop at lunchtime and their sets were in my way. But I captured a few images for the fans out there.
I knew they were setting up, but wasn’t sure how much was blocked off. Most of the set takes up the entire space in front of Christ Church Cathedral and the Chase Tower. Sidewalk access was limited so that I had to walk 270 degrees around the Circle to get from Meridian Street to Market Street. I can use the exercise, but I lamented the unplanned minutes spent.
It’s kind of fun seeing behind the scenes and get closer looks at all the equipment that their key grips, best boys, and other assorted end-credits specialists have to lug around with them from city to city in the making of big productions like this.
Meanwhile on Monument Circle today, a few dozen Donald Trump fans were in line at Hilbert Circle Theatre, waiting patiently to attend a 4:30 taping of a Fox News town hall in which Greta Van Susteren would be conducting a Q&A with the Presidential candidate before he moved on to an evening rally at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
From a distance it just looked like someone bought out the entire utility shelving section at Lowe’s and assembled all of them at once. I’m sure this all makes more sense in context once they add Hollywood lighting and sweaty athletes climbing and falling all over this formidable obstacle course.
For all I know, additional assembly may be yet to come. Maybe between now and filming tonight, they’ll be adding attachments and special features like strobe lights, air sirens, buzzsaws, and sharks with laser beams attached to their heads.
Full disclosure: American Ninja Warrior never gained a foothold in my house because my wife and my son were huge fans of the original Ninja Warrior, the pre-Americanized version, when it used to air on G4. It was one of their biggest bonding rituals, as they’d take over the TV for a few hours and watch mobs of guys and a select few women try their luck at those near-impossible gauntlets and each get KO’d in mere seconds. The show never slowed down for much filler, so every half-hour episode saw a couple dozen proud men humbled and/or injured with little time spent on regrets. The two of them would cheer recurring contestants like the gas station attendant, the poor guy who always brought a toy octopus and tried his best but never got past Round 1, and of course their hero, the great Makoto Nagano, the strongest fisherman in Japan.
So all of these elaborate sets and frameworks look really cool, but to them it’s just not the same.
One of my coworkers is trying to score tickets for tonight’s taping, though the audience is limited to just a few hundred. I’ve read one of the producers commenting this is one of the tightest spots they’ve ever tried to cram the show into. Once they’re all finished, then begins post-production and the long wait after all of NBC’s other season finales are out of the way. The Indianapolis episode of American Ninja Warrior has a scheduled airdate of June 13th, so eventually we’ll all get to see the final results.
Hopefully someone actually makes it through the course alive. Or does the American version not have fatalities?