As a fan of the original (and arguably superior) Japanese Ninja Warrior, I was thrilled when the stateside version launched several years ago. I worried, of course, that the USA edition would be a watered down take on the original, but those fears were quashed soon after it began airing.
True, American Ninja Warrior was definitely different from the Japanese version (called Sasuke), most notably in the fact that many of the obstacles had been made slightly easier. It didn't detract from the overall experience of the show, and right off the bat several competitors hooked you in with their dramatic performances and interesting life stories.
Who didn't find themselves cheering on the Wolfpack, The Weatherman, or the total badass Kacy Catanzaro (pictured)? But somewhere along the way the focus appears to have shifted. Instead of showcasing hardcore athletes, American Ninja Warrior is increasingly featuring people who have "interesting" life stories, or heart-string tugging tragedies. While it's great of the show to give these people a spotlight to share their triumphs, the end result is that you wind up with a lot of competitors who fall within minutes (sometimes within mere seconds) of starting the course.
Again, my heart goes out to these novice competitors, and I appreciate what the show is trying to do, but in most of these cases the introductory, tear-inducing montage lasts far longer than the person's actual run. We're getting into Nicholas Sparks territory here, and that's the point at which I have to tune out.