Dear ABC: renew Splash, but dump the judges and competition

ABC’s Splash concluded last night, and proved itself to be a surprisingly fun show–far better than the shitty one-off knock-off Fox churned out and aired first, and for me, more entertaining than Dancing with the Stars, perhaps because it was new. That’s true despite the fact that it had the most frustrating, stupid judges ever.

There’s nothing more I can say about David Boudia and Steve Foley except they are so awful the only logical score for them–based on their impossible-to-decipher weighting of scores and dives that made their judging seem arbitrary–would be a 10. Inscribing the numbers one to 10 on rubber balls, putting those in a box, and adding some kittens to see which ball they play with first would have provided more consistent and entertaining scores.

Mostly, the show worked because diving is actually interesting to watch, both training and the actual dives, which ranged from hilarious to scary. That included the amazing cold opens featuring other divers and fun choreography; the mid-season episodes needed more of those.

There was constant danger up to Nicole’s last dive, when she landed on her back and yelled, “I need help,” freaking out the female co-host so much she put the microphone into her nostril. (Nicole was actually hospitalized but that was edited out.) Speaking of the hosts, they were fine: not special but not distracting, unless you count Joey Lawrence’s hair.

Splash deserves to come back, although it’s ratings basically cratered as the season went on. I’ll blame the insipid judging and suggest something radical: bring it back without a competition element. I know that’s antithetical to everything broadcast networks believe about these kinds of shows, but just let everyone dive every week. That’s so much better than competing for nothing (not even charity) and being judged stupidly.

Mostly, I’d rather watch Louie Anderson fall off a platform than watch David Boudia grandstand. One is a complete, unmitigated disaster, and the other is Louie Anderson falling of a platform.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.