And in many ways it was all that and then some.
In other ways it was exactly like plenty of other shows I’ve seen: Gladiators, It’s a Knockout, Man O Man, The National Bingo Night, Dancing with the Stars. And possibly the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.
Yes this show was pretty camp, with an inordinate amount of colour and movement, possibly to divert us from the limits of its actual content and drama. In two hours of television there was about 14 minutes of actual content -this was the show’s biggest failing.
There were synchronised swimmers, divers, fireworks, gushing judges, Star Trek lights, wacky costumes -everything but Brynne Edelsten’s pooch in a kitchen sink.
Cheerful hosts ageless Larry Emdur and glam Kylie Gillies shared the master of ceremony duties. Before the events even got underway there was a disclaimer of sorts as Laura Csortan disqualified herself for injuries sustained during dry training.
“On doctor’s advice I can’t continue in the competition,” she said. “I’m so devastated and I’m sorry.”
At this point I was guessing more Australians would have been screaming “Who?” rather than “No!” For the record she was a presenter on The Great Outdoors back in 2006 and Miss Australia in 1997.
Former Gladiator Derek Boyer would take her place, possibly looking for remains of the Pyramid and Duel sets. His Bam-Bam outfit reiterated that the blokes were more covered up by the wardrobe department than the females. Clearly we’re not supposed to take things seriously.
As judges we had diver Matthew Mitcham, skiier Alisa Camplin and US diver Greg Louganis. Mitcham would prove to be the more relaxed and confident of the three, with a certain boyish charm that felt pretty natural in this most unnatural of situations.
Across the night 7 of the celebrities were summoned to the Sydney Aquatic diving board at various heights: 3, 5, 7.5 and 10 metres. Athlete Tamsyn Lewis was the first diver and despite her nerves put in a good effort.
Matthew Mitcham looked genuinely impressed. Or relieved. Or both.
She was scored on both her technical skill and effort (getting an A in effort at school never got me a Pass). Giving double scores was clearly to avoid anybody walking away with a fail, but it only added to the night’s padding.
After two post-poolside chats with Lewis, Kylie had us check the Leader Board. Seriously, after one dive?
Josh Thomas was next up, understandably worried about his appearance, but covering his shortcomings with gags. He’d taken a spray tan and spent plenty of time messing up his hair before emerging damp from the pool.
Matt Mitcham was complimentary. “I have a feeling you’ll be getting a lot of marriage proposals tonight.”
“From you?” asked Thomas. Fresh!
40 minutes into the show we’d had 2 dives, half of which seemed to consist of contestants walking around the pool to get from A to B.
“Cricketeer” (as Louganis called him) Andrew Symonds was next, tackling the 10 metre board, followed by Miss Australia 2012 Renae Ayris and Derek Boyer who gave the night it’s much-needed belly-flop, also from 10 metres.
Pauly Fenech was risking an ear injury we were told. But he didn’t care. “Stuff it. I’m committed.” They breed them tough in the Housing Commission flats.
Lastly it was up to Brynne Edelsten, worried a breast implant would be pushed up into her armpit. At least she was honest. Not content with a 5 metre dive she told Kylie she wanted to dive from 7.5 metres. Never one to miss an opportunity. Brynne gave a bedazzling dive, even losing two earrings in the process. I was going to tweet ‘foul’ because the dog didn’t join her but thought better of it.
We never got to see Leisel Jones, Adam Richard, Nick Bracks, Demi Harman, Andrew Welsh, Koby Abberton or Denise Drysdale diving (although Seven keeps editing footage of a woman from the US series into promos to hoodwink us into believing it’s Drysdale doing a tumble).
Through the night there were more than a few tech hiccups, notably with lighting and shadows. These are acceptable when a show is Live. But Celebrity Splash squibbed on that promise too.
By the time it was all over and I’d relinquished 2 hours of my life I’d never get back, I found myself asking ‘But what’s the point of it all?’ At least on Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice there’s a vague ambition to raise money for charity. Other shows offer recording contracts, book publishing deals and real estate sales.
Despite its best hopes Celebrity Splash didn’t evoke enough hilarity, shock, awe or terror from me.
“It has been an amazing night of diving,” said Larry signing off.
Really, Larry? Really?
Celebrity Splash continues 7:30pm tonight on Seven.