Rambling Dispatches: “Splash”


Every Thursday in Rambling Dispatches, resident malcontent Quinn McGee rants about whatever he damn well pleases.

So the celebrity reality competition is the asshole of the television world. It’s a way to laugh at the failures of those more fortunate than us for no reason beyond the simple, petty things we find entertaining. They take all of the horrible parts of the reality competition gimmick that’s long been played out, and pair it up with the utterly desperate and depressing grabs for stardom by “celebrities” facing irrelevance. One of these gems made its debut here in America this past Tuesday, a show called Splash. It’s a celebrity diving competition, and if that sounds like it’s a huge amount of fun, let me tell you: it absolutely isn’t.  It stars celebrities ranging from all-time NBA points leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Miss Alabama 2012 Katherine Webb (more on her in a little bit). None of these people are really relevant in 2013, and they had their time (Drake Bell), yet they’re all here for the paycheck in lieu of a real job. Based on that assessment, I guess you can tell what I thought of the show already. It might have been one of the worst and least enjoyable shows I have ever seen on television, and this is coming from someone who names The Scorpion King as one of his favorite movies. (You my boy, Dwayne!)

First off, I don’t think the crowd even liked the show. You know when you go to a sporting event, and there’s a little sideshow halftime performance for which people only politely clap? Imagine that same level of enthusiasm, but apply it to the main attraction. That’s what you get in terms of energy with Splash. Even Joey Lawrence knows that what he’s actively participating in is just a sad attempt at quick ratings, and his career clearly needs a boost too. You can tell by his dead eyes, eyes much like the rest of the third and fourth-string celebrities present. It’s actually the most real piece or reality television I’ve seen, because you’re right in the middle of no action whatsoever. There’s also a lady announcer that I’ve never heard of, but she’s just as disinterested. The most exciting part of the episode was when people dressed in fancy dance attire dived into the pool/stage setup in a grand show-opening performance, showing just where the talent was and that it was never coming back again. But of course, we’re supposed to be watching the episode for the rousing inspiration of the success of these celebrities, and the fact that they can be more than just celebrities and accomplish things.

This brings me to the celebrities. Only five people dove this episode, with one being eliminated and the other five going next week, which already throws scoring into question. The people who dove first were Keshia Knight-Pulliam from The Cosby show, Louie Anderson in all his 400+ pound glory, Katherine Webb (whose real purpose for being cast becomes transparent once her robe comes off), an X-Games winner for skiing named Rory Bushfield and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has no business on this show because he has accomplished so much and is 65 years old. He must have needed the money. I won’t go into the other celebrities, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for those of you who are going to watch next week, although please don’t. None of the dives were anything more complicated than the dives you probably did in a public pool as a kid, save for the dive from Bushfield, but the dude won a medal elsewhere in sports for doing spins and tricks.

It was interesting because these participants were training with the most decorated people in diving for what seemed like a while before this competition. I know it took me all of about 15 minutes to perform a simple dive as a kid, so it seems like the instruction is just not sticking at all. Now, it seems like I’m putting down everyone, but the coach (Greg Louganis) is incredibly likable and seems like a great person who doesn’t need to be in this position. The other two judges aren’t that bad either, though the judging was based on the feelings of the judge, not the performance, with Kareem getting the second-highest score for a flop and Webb getting saved from elimination by the judges with one of the worst dives in the whole show, and that’s compared to Louie Anderson.

Even after all of that, the largest issue I had with the show was that it was just an excuse to get the ladies into revealing diving outfits. You know when you see pro divers perform (or you don’t, because you don’t subscribe to Obscure Sports Quarterly), and they wear one-pieces that are kind of aerodynamic with their hair up in a ponytail? Well, throw that shit out the window, because when Miss Alabama comes to dive, she comes with her hair professionally done and in a swimsuit that has as much fabric removed from it as possible. She was even announced with a “get excited, men!” feel. They even uber-sexualized the little girl from The Cosby Show.

I didn’t even quite get to everything, but think I nailed its formula down. Take a bunch of people down on their luck or just looking to make their break. Place them in a diving competition, because all of the other sports were done already, and let the camera roll. It’s really a sad show. There’s no comedy to it, not even the unintentional kind. This is a sign that we need to just let the celebrity reality competition show die, because this show gave up before it began. Luckily, rumor has it that ABC already ordered another season before this one premiered, so if you miss this train, the next will surely be coming around again in about a half a year. Hooray.