‘The Challenge: All Stars’ Premiere: What Worked & What Didn’t
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the series premiere of The Challenge: All Stars, “Legends Never Die.”]
If you’re a fan of the reality competition series The Challenge, you’re in heaven right now, between Double Agents airing Wednesdays on MTV and now All Stars released Thursdays on Paramount+. And the latter, bringing back the OG competitors from years (decades!) past, is, for the most part, exactly what it needs to be.
The April 1 premiere re-introduces viewers to 22 of the franchise’s most iconic players, competing for $500,000, and it’s business as usual: a quick rundown of the season, a daily challenge, deliberation, and an elimination, with drama, of course, at every turn. But it wasn’t all perfect. Below, we take a look at what worked and what didn’t in the first episode of the limited series.
Worked: The Format’s the Same
Fortunately, the producers haven’t attempted to shake things up for this special season just because they’ve brought in heavy hitters. The format has not changed, as broken down above, and the goal is still the same: do whatever it takes to take home the grand prize. Even better, it’s an individual game, so even though they may have to work in teams at some points, the players will still turn on each other at a moment’s notice.
Just look at what happens in the premiere, as the losing team’s captain, Laterrian Wallace (three Challenges), must go into elimination and the house agrees to nominate Ace Amerson (four Challenges) to go against him at the former’s request. As happens at deliberation, an argument breaks out as it becomes Ace defending himself against (most of) the rest of the house.
Worked: The Use of Past Footage
Something The Challenge has always included is past footage to support or dispute a claim from one of the players, and that’s especially helpful when they’re talking about something that happened over a decade ago on All Stars. For example, when Jisela Delgado (three Challenges) can use the Life Saver she earned by being the female captain of the winning team during the daily challenge (as it’s a men’s elimination) and chooses not to due to her history with Ace, we see him calling her “dead weight” back in The Gauntlet 2 (2005).
Plus, it’s a great way to remind viewers of these players’ pasts on the show since it has been quite a while for some of them.
Didn’t Work: The First Daily Challenge
Host TJ Lavin introduces the players to their first daily challenge, “Deep Blue Dive,” in which they must solve math equations and swim out to fetch puzzle pieces (with different colors for two teams) in the water. And as he tends to do, he delights in telling them how the challenge is harder than ever before: the water’s colder, the dives are deeper, and the blocks are heavier.
And while yes, these players have done Challenges before, the slow start, number of five-minute penalties, medical checks, and stalls makes it feel like it takes up more than 12 minutes of the episode.
“If you thought TJ and the challenge gods were just going to bring a bunch of 35+ year olds in here and take it easy on us, you are sadly mistaken,” Derrick Kosinski (10 Challenges, three wins) says.
“I thought we were going to be hanging out, having a good time,” Trishelle Cannatella (four Challenges) admits. “But no, this is a real challenge.”
“Welcome to The Challenge: The Senior Edition,” Teck Holmes (one Challenge), quips. “Today looks like recess at the old folks’ home. We got the medics out here, we got the walkers out, we got the wheelchairs out. A lot of old people going down today, y’all, myself included.”
Maybe something a bit easier would have been better to kick things off.
Worked: The Downtime
It’s always fun to see the players let loose and show they do actually enjoy spending time together, and what better way to do so with this group than with a ’90s throwback party? The best part? Jisela acknowledging that partying just isn’t the same the next day with the hangover now that they’re older.
Worked: The First Elimination
When All Stars really became good is when it came time for the first elimination in the Arena, with Laterrian and Ace facing off in the classic, very physical “Pole Wrestle.” (As the name suggests, both players hold onto a pole and the first person to rip it out of the other’s hands twice wins.)
Laterrian’s joy (he “looks like he just won the lottery,” Jemmye Carroll, seven Challenges, notes) at the physicality of it is a delight to witness. And while Ace does try his hardest to hold on — Laterrian ends up lifting him up and slamming him to the ground over and over — he’s eliminated in two rounds. It’s a violent, dirty, insane elimination and the best way to welcome everyone to The Challenge: All Stars.
Worked: The Profanity
Understandably, because The Challenge usually airs on MTV, any profanity must be bleeped out. Because All Stars is streaming on Paramount+, that’s not the case and it’s a huge plus. The show just flows better without the sudden bleeping in the middle of a rant or in a dramatic or tense situation.
The Challenge: All Stars, Thursdays, Paramount+