Iron Sharpens Iron review – a compelling sporting setup that feels hamstrung by the Quibi format

April 21, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
TV Reviews
2.5

Summary

The idea here is a compelling one for sports fans, but you can’t help but feel it would have benefitted from a longer format.

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2.5

Summary

The idea here is a compelling one for sports fans, but you can’t help but feel it would have benefitted from a longer format.

This review of Iron Sharpens Iron (Quibi) is based on the first episode.


Quibi is a great idea for a streaming platform — an affordable service designed for regular short bursts of entertainment. But some shows are more suited to it than others. Answered, by Vox Media, is a daily Q&A about coronavirus which feels perfectly-tailored towards five-ish-minute episodes, while Cody Heller’s Dummy, a narrative show, simply feels like a movie cut up into digestible chunks. In Iron Sharpens Iron, Quibi has a problem — it would pretty undeniably be better if there was more of it.

By that, I don’t mean more episodes, since those are coming. I simply mean more time. The premise of the show, which is executive produced by former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, is that two top professional athletes from different sports get together to put each other through their training programs and have a (very) brief conversation about sports, fitness, leadership, and what it’s like to be at the top, or at least near the top, of competitive professional athletics. Newton himself stars in the first episode opposite Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, and it’s a short-lived partnership that would have surely benefitted from another twenty minutes together.

Iron Sharpens Iron is compelling for many reasons. For one thing, these are high-level, very famous athletes, and the series is also set to feature boxers Deontay Wilder and Andy Ruiz Jr., skateboarder Nyjah Huston, hurdler Lolo Jones, and many more besides, obviously encompassing a wide range of disciplines. The similarities and differences across training regimens and mindsets are fascinating when held up in such close proximity to each other, and seeing talented, beloved athletes speak candidly is a pleasure for sports fans. In the first episode (the only one at the time of writing), Newton and Young have a chemistry that I’d have liked to see more of, and insider secrets that would surely be insightful for budding athletes and fans alike.

Still, quibbles aside, the idea is compelling enough on its own that Iron Sharpens Iron will undoubtedly attract the eyes and ears of those of us who’re missing professional sports — and perhaps the insights it is able to offer in its slight running time will go some way in plugging the football-shaped hole we’re currently staring through.


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