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22-Jan-2019 06:59

, the competition series that once pitted TV’s biggest stars against each other in a battle for athletic-actor supremacy, returns to the airwaves Thursday via reboot on ABC.In anticipation of this Olympian television event, three of Vulture’s more ’70s- and ’80s-nostalgic writers — Josef Adalian, Jen Chaney, and Maria Elena Fernandez — got together to discuss what made the original so great and whether the new one can recapture its magic.Here’s a transcript of that conversation, complete with videos of great moments in is returning to TV.As children of the ’70s and ’80s, I think all of us loved this competition series when we were growing up, in large part because we were getting to see our favorite TV stars in more candid situations, engaging in a competition that was real and unscripted.

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That will feel different from watching the key stars on what were then the only three major networks duke it out against each other. Perhaps by recruiting celebrities not quite at the peak of their fame, it will result in a show where the celebs are as fearless as those in the ’70s and ’80s. It’s difficult to understand what made the original so great unless you look at old You Tube clips. JC: Well, for starters, Howard Cosell’s turtleneck. MEF: Not only does Howard have a turtleneck, he’s got a jacket over it and he doesn’t even bother to take any of it off. But when Jenner goes down, the reaction of the celebrity crowd is just a classic TV lover’s dream come true. And yet, I still plan to use that quote anytime someone asks me to fix something that is out of my control: “Farrah, baby, I’m not in charge of the rules committee.” MEF: Cosell introduced Jane Seymour as “so pretty.” JC: So often on this show, they point out the women are at a disadvantage during the competition. JC: Here’s a classic tug-of-war battle, presented in two parts and anchored for CBS by Pernell Roberts of MEF: Tom Wopat!They don’t have to worry about losing that new Netflix series deal, so why not ham it up in the dunk tank? (It also helps if you’re old and remember the ’70s and ’80s, but I digress.) Maria, I know you have a classic clip you’d like to share. A very cocky Caitlyn Jenner — then still known as Bruce — getting dunked by Cosell himself. As if: “Of course she is going to fail.” JA: The producer of the reboot, Andrew Glassman, told me MEF: It’s crazy how wrapped up I got into that again. JA: This clip also offers a cautionary tale for the new show, I think. “But eventually the heatstroke, cocaine, and hubris will combine and they will go to the dark place, the place where each one is out for him or herself, the place where they must win at any cost.” This line single-handedly summarizes what made so great. JC: Cosell calls Pernell Roberts “a rock of Gibraltar.” JA: “Look at Debbie Allen: So small, so fragile.” Ah, Howard’s casual sexism never disappoints. But maybe, just maybe, the combination of four legit sports correspondents will give the new effort the gravitas it needs.Notice how sparingly produced the whole kerfuffle is. JC: I also think we watch reality-competition shows much more critically than we did then because reality TV has trained us to spot its tropes and to notice when something seems “real” or real. MEF: I’m sorry, Howard, but Debbie Allen is an ATHLETE. JA: I want to talk about some things that make me hopeful for the new version. They just need to hit that right combo of serious and lighthearted.Save for the ’70s porn music used to score the instant replay, the producers just let the drama play out. No annoying narrator or host trying to amp up the drama. I mean, I was a kid during the original sentimental! Here’s one good thing the producers did with this reboot: They’re having ESPN anchors host the show. JC: I also think it is smart, even if it was a move made out of necessity, to have classic and current stars in the mix.