Anyway, we've got new hosts Michael Strahan & Jay Glazer, when there was barely enough work for one host. There will be a lot of unnecessary talking this season. It speaks volumes when, at the start of the episode, Strahan announces that he is "excited and ready" for the show to start--he may be ready, but he doesn't seem the least bit excited. He seems almost a little sad.
This season, each episode will feature either basketball or football. There will be 3 Joes & 3 Pros. The Joes are actually competing together, not against each other, which is new, and could lend an interesting dynamic to the show, or it could down massively on the internecine Joe shit talking. There are 3 events, and then a final game. Each event the Joes win gives them a head-start for the final competition. If they win, the three Joes split $10,000, which is an interesting amount--they each get $3,333.33? Who gets the extra penny?
In this first episode at least the Joes selected seem to be of higher quality than in previous seasons (no offense, old Joes!) All of our Joes seem to be in their early to mid 20's, as opposed to late 20's - mid-30's of previous seasons. These guys played college ball a couple of year ago, not a decade ago.
Our Joes are:
Deshun Jackson, who no local media cared enough to write about, sadly.
Our Pros are:
Ron Harper, who is considered "one of the great players of all time" by Ron Harper.
Shawn Kemp, who is not as out of shape as you might expect.
Eddie Jones, who is kind of out of shape, and more than I was expecting.
Joe Deshun Jackson expresses some borderline shock at seeing Ron Harper--"He's old enough to be my grandaddy! He was 40 when he was playing!" To be fair, Harper is 45 years old now, and retired in 2001--which would have been age 38. Still, Deshun's point is valid.
So, the Joes are working and rooting with and for each other in all the challenges. The first challenge is really all about the big guys--Kemp vs Danny Jones, who is not a small kid at 6' 7", 240 pounds, Strahan is probably right when he says that Jones is probably used to being the biggest guy on the court. He and Kemp are going after rebounds. First guy to board 3 times and outlet the ball successfully to a defended teammate wins. The battle goes back and forth a bit, but Kemp is just too damn big--he wins, 3-2.
The second challenge pits Deshun and Mark against all three Pros. Deshun and Mark have to get the ball in bounds, and then to midcourt. Here, the age of the Pros really shows--they simply can't keep up with either Deshun or Mark on the court. The tandem get to midcourt pretty easily 3 times. I will mention at this point that I don't know if it is editing or not, but these Joes talk less trash (Deshun aside) than most Joes do. They get 3 points to carry into their final 3-3 game at the end of the episode.
Third challenge looks like an easy one for the Pros--it pits Eddie Jones against Deshun Jackson in a shooting contest, with levels of points associated with distance from the net. Lay-ups are worth one point, mid-range 2, 3 pointers start at about the 3 point line. I've seen jumpshooting contests on PvJ before, and it is one of those things that retired players are still really, really good at. But Eddie kind of stinks it up a bit--missing a lot of shots from midrange and distance, and finishing with 11 points in 45 seconds. Deshun starts off missing a few from the top of the key, then moves to hit lay-ups. He gets a chance at the end of clock, but comes up short, and finishes with 8 points. He is heard to say, "I missed a couple I really should have made."
This is about the time I noticed that out of a 40 minute episode, only 20 minutes have been taken up with the challenges. I started to wonder how they are going to stretch a 5 minute game into 20 minutes of airplay. They managed, with a little help. The Joes start the game up 3-0. The Pros opening game chant is, "One, Two, Three. BEAT THAT ASS." Snappy, Pros.
Later, Shawn Kemp yells at a Joe, "You know what I do for a living, right?" As far as I know, he was not talking about his career making illegimate babies. (Seriously, we are about a half-decade away from having an entire NBA franchise made up of Kemp progeny. The Richmond Kemps, or something like that.)
In the first 3 minutes of the 5 minute game, the Joes have hit one shot. But by the end of regulation, the game is tied 9-9, thanks mainly to the hustle play of Danny Jones. He's clearly the MVP of the Joes at this point. I'd like to note at this point that maybe they should get some people in that gym--that sights and sounds of 3 on 3 basketball with no one but cameramen, Jay Glazer and Michael Strahan looking on is strange and discomfiting. In overtime, no one seems to have anything in the tank. One field goal in the entire 1:30, a 2-pointer by Danny Jones, and then going 1-2 from the line gives the Joes a 12-9 win. The Joes are Happy--the Pros don't seem to care too much (though Eddie looks a bit unhappy), and the audience (me) kind of shrugs its collective shoulders.
However, I feel like good things could still happen in the future of the season. The football episodes tend to be more physical, and tonight's episode will feature Simeon Rice, who I believe to be awesomely crazy. I'm hoping for some overly brash Joes getting hurt.