“You might be wondering, ‘Why is some American down here talking to us Australians about mini golf?'” asks Rob Riggle.
“Well, it’s because Channel 7 paid me a lotttt of money.”
And with that Rob Riggle won me over as a commentator on Seven’s new Holey Moley.
He is joined by “professional handsome man Shrivo” and Sonia Kruger, “host of Holey Moley, Big Brother, My Barista Rules and these 42 upcoming Seven shows.”
Ok I will stop giving away all the gags, but as you can see Holey Moley has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek.
The series is created by Chris Culvenor of Australia’s Eureka Productions, which has produced two seasons for ABC America to much acclaim. After Seven abandoned plans to shoot a local version on the US course, another was rebuilt in Brisbane, “designed by Greg Norman” (don’t believe it).
But this is no mere putt-putt by your local esplanade. It is a grand-scale, burst of colour and storybook under TV lights, with all kinds of thematic holes.
Naturally this gives rise to gags both deliberate, “Everybody’s favourite hole, Uranus!” and unintended, “Let’s go down to Sonia to take us through the hole.”
Shrivo Shirvington is the straight man to Riggle’s daffy Americana, both donning jackets possibly dusted off from Seven’s World of Sport days.
To the game play: there are 4 x 2 players who each compete in a knockout round on separate holes, whittled down via a second stage to a three-way final. The winner of each episode will proceed to a Holey Moley final for $100,000.
But this is a course designed to thwart, so the contestants -both experienced putters and seasoned amateurs- will be tested by whatever showbiz chicanery can be thrown at them: fire, water, windmills that injure, celebrities in show-me-the-money cameos and even an embedded ad for Fetch TV. Random.
Sonia Kruger grabs a mere few quotes from hopeful players at 1.5m, while Greg Norman phones it in from the safety of an armchair in a studio (he didn’t set foot on the course in the premiere episode).
But it’s the course hijinks paired with Riggle’s pitch-perfect commentary we are here for: a giant rotisserie, a polar bear atop an icy ramp that may be left over from Game of Games, fake sharks, angry birds and celebrity pirates. Like Nine’s Lego Masters, kids are going to love Holey Moley and probably pester you to be dragged to the nearest putt-putt.
If I have any concerns it is the show length (yikes 62 minutes without ads) and whether it is compelling enough to draw me back for subsequent episodes -a personal choice, perhaps. The production elements are easily better than Wipeout, the dreadful Celebrity Splash and Cannonball (ugh), and even the hokey It’s a Knockout (which ran for over 100 episodes).
Holey Moley is defiantly silly and just crazy enough to work.
Begins 7:30pm Monday February 1 on Seven.