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Original Issue




If you were born after the mid-1980s, there are so many iconic sports phenomena you can experience only retroactively. For example: a losing Yankees season, a Stanley Cup win by the Rangers, the O.J. Simpson case ... or the spandex-clad, hairspray-fueled pageantry of American Gladiators, the first season of which is now available on SI TV.

The show is a remarkable capsule of its time, glittery Lycra and all. In each episode of Season 1, four muscular competitors—a rotating group from a cast that eventually included (above, from left)Gemini, Zap, Gold, Laser, Turbo, Ice, Lace, Nitro, Thunder and Blaze—power through strength- and agility-testing challenges with self-explanatory names like "human cannonball" and "joust" in a quest to become the eventual Grand Champion.

The show won't seem entirely foreign to the modern viewer. Familiar to football fans are the painstaking rules explanations by hosts Joe Theismann and Mike Adamle—not to mention the apparent concussion suffered by one contestant, Malibu, in the debut episode's Powerball competition. Whether you're looking to relive old times or learn a little more about the (weird, weird) era of the first Bush Administration, these early episodes of American Gladiators will get the job done.


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