SHHH: I just got to watch the first two episodes of “Derby Till I Die”

Obviously, even though we don’t like to admit it here, the Brits sometimes do things first and better than us.

The people from Rampage Studios were kind enough to send me the first two episodes of this series about the London Rollergirls (and a lot more). But they were also smart enough to allow me just a few hours to watch them and with restricted passwords, so I can’t post them for all to see. The series can be seen on Extreme TV in the UK.

I have seen every Derby Film from The Fireball with Mickey Rooney, Pat O’Brien, and Marilyn Monroe. to my “Derby”. “Whip It” and “Derby Baby” so you can say I know my Derby. But DTID chooses an interesting path: each episode follows a different individual through her daily life, especially with Derby. Treekill Tart (Theresa Brown) wants more than anything to be a London Rollergirl and is in their rec league. The first episode follows her through her training, competing and finally with her tryout which occurs every six months by LRG. What makes it good programming is seeing the reaction of others in her personal life, her work as a park ranger, her try with the other women at burlesque. and finally her tryout, which if you have watched Derby at all you know she will be rejected, but she just goes forward to try again. And unlike the series shown on AE years ago, this show is never dull or exploitive.

Although the camera work and editing are stellar there will be complaints from Derbyites that there isn’t more Derby and less other. The obvious answer: if you are creating a series you want everyone to watch and be interested in, you better achieve balance, and the producers have accomplished that. And Treekill exudes such joy and spirit the episode just flies by, and of course my very own (she will learn someday) Raw Heidi and the others are huge contributors. They were able to catch the naturalness and the uniqueness of Roller Derby (“Darby”) people. And the Ewok portion showed another side of the fun of the game.

The second episode is definitely more hardcore. The focus is on that great Derby couple from the Brawlers, Stefanie Mainey and Olivia Coupe; Stefanie the star skater, Olivia the captain, and a couple in real life. You want to see fitness and training that any sport participant would want to emulate, it is here….a great tourney in Europe where the Berlin Bombshells upset the team from the UK, the Tiger Bay Brawlers; it is there where the skating and the fans are captured perfectly. And the episode ends with LRG coming to the US to skate (and beat!) the fabulous Rat City (Seattle) Rollers in a huge NBA arena. The action caught is startling.

I am not a reviewer and there is no way I can do this series justice. Those who know me know that I love film and am rather harsh in my criticisms (see “The Dallas Buyers Club” and know I liked it), so I am far less likely to fall over everything just because it is Derby.

This is a wonderful series: I hope someone picks it up here: frankly, if not ESPN, then Oprah, Bravo, etc. Perhaps the most important thing you will get from these shows are implied empowerment, team play, athleticism, love of sport with no pay, and an enthusiasm for life that is bigger than life.

Good show, Rampage, and the London Rollergirls and supporting cast.

Interim report: Roller Derby today

I am sure others as I did watched Roller Derby streamed on our internet devices this past weekend.

The banked track action as Battle of the Bank VI was uneven because of the disparity in the leagues,as there were the very talented LA Derby Dolls, San Diego, Arizona, Tilted Thunder, and the others, although Sugartown showed great progress.  The continuous action on the banked track and the rules modifications by those leagues definitely sped up the games and kept the large audience involved.  The best game was the semi-final between San Diego and Arizona, only to be decided by what I consider the largest deficiency in the rules, that a jam can start without a jammer on each team  (penalize the skater, not the helmet).

Image by leonardobc from

Image by leonardobc from

Maybe the only reason for that happening is to have the power jam which goes against the spirit of the game, learning to play offense and defense at the same time.  Unfortunately Arizona was pretty tired after their semi-final just an hour before the  championship game against LA.  The Derby Dolls would have won anyway, but I feel Arizona could have put up a better showing.

I was fortunate enough to see the telecast of Seattle and London, and the game was definitely a faster and almost non-slow game than others I have seen recently.  And Elwood Bruise and others said that the Oly-London game was an absolutely barn burner of great conditioned players, excellent position skaters who knew their function, and balls-out(?) action. Congratulations to the Brits for a great showing against 3 of the top teams in the world.

You can get as upset with me as you want, but slow derby, for all the great strategy ramifications that might be talked about, is not good Roller Derby from the fans perspective, which may or not be your concern.

If your object is to increase your fan base, sell more merchandise and keep the league functioning, it is my opinion that you better have your blockers blocking regardless of the passive offense or whatever you call it, or just have private games.

It may be your version of Roller Derby, but it certainly isn’t of most, and it isn’t just the opinion of the pain-in-the-ass commissioner.   I love Roller Derby – not cobweb Derby.