ABC’s premiere of “Splash” on Tuesday night, March 19 was more belly flop than entertainment. The latest celebrity reality show to hit the screen was about as exciting as watching paint dry, as five of the 10 celebrity divers training with Greg Louganis showed us how to fall off a diving board with little style or grace.
The dives themselves took only a second or two, so the rest of the show was filled with celebrity backgrounds and film clips of rehearsals, which weren’t any more exciting than the dives. If ABC was shooting for a “Dancing With the Stars” spinoff, they failed miserably. We’re treated to at least a minute of dancing for each scene of DWTS, but the dive shots on “Splash” were just that – a splash across our screens.
While “Dancing With the Stars” has often been criticized for being a popularity contest with fans carrying along lousy dancers week to week, at least the judges don’t hold back. Celebrity dancers’ scores are based on the actual dance performed at that time, not what they did in rehearsal, or how hard they tried. “Splash” judges tossed out scores based on effort and yes, even how tall a celebrity contestant is – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar received scores of 7 and 7.5 from judges David Boudia and Steve Foley because he’s over 7 ft. tall.
The most exciting shot of the premiere episode of “Splash” was a film clip of comedian Louie Anderson trying to get out of the pool the first time during a practice session. At 400 lbs, it was no easy feat, and even with his co-stars pulling him, he was unable to get out until someone got in the water with him and pushed while others pulled. Near tears, Louie said it was one of his most embarrassing moments, and said his goal was to be able to get out of the pool on his own. A touching scene, I give Anderson props for putting himself out there and challenging himself … but it still didn’t make his dive worth a score of 7.25 points.
After scores were in, the two lowest scoring divers were set to a dive-off and the loser was sent home the first night, something else that’s not in line with the way “Dancing With the Stars” eliminations are determined. With an hour show that needed filler, I guess it was either that or -- heaven forbid -- more diving.