Saturday, July 8, 2017

On The Air: Battle of the Network Stars (2017)

When Battle of the Network Stars began in 1976, it was part of a sub-genre of sports entertainment known as "trash sports", which some would argue began with another ABC series, The Superstars, but it lasted for more than a decade, despite diminishing returns.

It may seem like an odd choice to be the middle part of ABC's Summer Fun & Games Thursday block, but there it is. Battle of the Network Stars isn't about the networks battling each other this time, though. Instead, the weekly rosters are a mash-up based on specific themes.

ESPN's Mike Greenberg and Joe Tessitore have been given the yellow Wide World of Sports blazers used for the original Battle, and one variant on the Wide World intro, complete with the late Jim McKay's narration, plays in the open of Battle. I'd think ESPN & ABC may be testing the waters of a Wide World revival for down the road, but we'll see. Because of the hour-long format, not all of the events are shown in their entirety. The original Battle was given either 90 minutes or 2 hours, twice a year.

The 2017 opener sees a team of "TV Sitcom" stars, headed by Tom Arnold and Dave Coulier, taking on "TV Kids", led by Facts of Life alums Kim Fields and Lisa Welchel, the latter of whom was last seen on Survivor a couple of years back. NFL star DeMarcus Ware and UFC ace Ronda Rousey are the team captains who will get different combos each week.

Let's take a look at week 1's rowing competition:

Amusing to some, but your actual mileage may vary.

Rating: B.

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