I am, as happens on a fairly regular basis, distressed this morning. Did you watch American Gladiators last night? I know you didn't, the ratings will show that you didn't, but I did. And I am, as aforementioned, distressed.

The whole thing was one big advertisement for The Incredible Hulk. I know that NBC and Universal are now one big happy family, and I'm pleased for them, well and truly pleased, but why should American Gladiators be a pure commercial for The Incredible Hulk? When did content become solely advertising?

On the off chance that someone actually wants to sit down and watch regular, non-gamma ray-type people beat the living hell out of each other, why should we have to see everyone in the audience jump up and down with their hulk fists on? Worse than that, why should I have to watch Titan, whom I don't like anyway, dress in green paint in order to play Joust?

I don't mind products being promoted within shows. I dutifully notice every time someone whips out a Blackberry, turns on a Sony TV, or wears a beautiful Prada something or other (what does Prada make?), but product placement is different than what we saw last night on Gladiators. It was Hulk this, and Hulk that, and “Oh, there's Lou Ferrigno, say, he played the Hulk back in the day, didn't he?” It was just a little much… no, check that, it was a lot much. It was way, way, way, too much.

Now, while The Mole almost certainly has some product placement in it, like the mole himself, it's cleverly hidden. Okay, The Mole isn't great television, but it's just so weird that I can't help but watch it.

The show is full of horrific puns, odd tasks, and incredibly paranoid contestants. Last night, for one of the missions there was a “goal oriented” team and a team that preferred “uphill battles.” The latter had to bike up a huge hill, whereas the former had to play a little soccer in order to get gondola tickets to go up the same hill. Get it? One had to battle up the hill and the other had to score goals? Yeah, the show is full of doozies like that.

As for the suspicions of everyone involved, my goodness. The whole point is that one of the people present is lying to everyone else, they're trying to sabotage the whole group and prevent the group as a whole from getting money. Naturally, this makes everyone hugely suspect of everyone else. It's great. Is Bobby really unable to walk, run, and do anything athletic, or is he the mole? Is Paul really that loud, obnoxious, and divisive, or is he the mole? Is Nicole really that much of a mean-spirited, ill-tempered, poorly-mannered wretch, or is she the mole?

The Mole is one of those reality shows that really appeals to the audience's baser instincts. It is interesting because of the pseudo-psychological games the producers and contestants are playing on one another. I feel a little bad staring at these people week after week, but it's one of those things you just can't look away from.