Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Celebrity Splash and How Did It Get Here: Or the Day TV Really Gave Up

Celebrity Splash is a TV series, in the same way a hot dog is considered a food. It has the parts of a TV series, it looks like a TV series and we consume it like a TV series but afterwards you feel regretful, wonder what it was made from and why it exists. I had to take a blood test this morning and had a good conversation with the woman taking my blood. After she retracted her fangs, she asked if I saw that "travesty" Celebrity Splash last night and how we even got to this point in television.

I'd seen the billboards, the magazine ads, the TV spots, but the actual show? I reserve my right to actually call out whether or not the show is bad (even with a hotdog comparison). I had better things to do last night, like watch Charmed and Q and A, during it's timeslot. The show from my understanding is to get B and C-list celebrities to confront their fears of actually making it to the top of something in their life before plunging deep into a pool of uncertain liquid, where they are cheered on by a crowd; a perfectly defunct metaphor for their careers. This is only exacerbated by the amount of promotion the celebrities get from just being on the show and the possible endorsements and opportunities they'll get when the show is over..

So how did we get to this point? Well, it all started with the 2012 London Olympics and a Dutchman. Yeah, remember that fun time in 2012 where the entire world was on stage wagging their nationalistic cocks in everyone's face. It was a glorious time where London was showing off how great they were and not any of the other horrible stuff in recent memory, like riots, unemployment or healthcare issues. But even before the Olympics even occurred there was a man by the name of Reniout Oerlemans

Seen here in his battle against the Huns.

Mr. Oerlemans was an actor, who eventually evolved like a suited Pokémon, into a TV presenter and producer in the Netherlands. He started on a soap in the 90's called Good Times, Bad Times and eventually was on a series of shows to do with money, people yelling and contests. In 2012, he co-hosted the Netherlands version of Strictly Come Dancing and The Logies, before pitching the TV series with his new production company, Eyeworks. That show was Sterren Springen Op Zaterdag - or roughly translated, Stars Springing on Saturday - and was about people being trained to dive/fall into water. The show averaged about 1.5 million per episode, in a country who's population is just over 16 million; itt was a ratings hit. So much so that he sold the format to ABC in America and ITV in the UK and even set up shop with Eyeworks in different countries.
...because BrainWorks was "too cerebral" and considered false advertising.

The show was also brought to the US by Eyeworks and to the UK where it was renamed as the onomatopoeic, Splash!  Since the show's original inception, it has been sold to Argentina, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Lebanon, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the Ukraine and of course, our humble home girt by sea, Australia. 

In the UK, the show was also a rating bonanza cashing in on the Olympic-sized jingoism that the country had fallen into with their host services, as well as their love of people falling, spurred on by years of WipeOut and  mismanaged parliament. The show featured celebrities such as "oh hey that girl from the Sugababes", "Oi, isn't she from Shameless?" and "Oh fuck me, is that an actual Olympic athlete."

Yes, both the winner and loser of Splash!

Upon airing, the show was considered a "a new low for television" and cynical TV wet dream, Charlie Brooker described the show as the most "unedifying example of celebrity plummeting since Rod Hull." The show did however fairly well in the ratings with 5.6 million views for it's timeslot. However, this was on a Saturday night which is common for British programming's light entertainment to fall. Regardless, the show has been greenlit for a second series.

Then over to the United States it went, spreading like blue algae in an unclean backyard hot tub. The show dropped the exclamation point, anticipating the lack of excitement and sound of their money dropping into the Dutch bank accounts. The US version starred, whatsherface from the Cosby Show, not Pamela Anderson from BayWatch, Louie Anderson and Drake from Drake and Josh. The show has been doing alright in the US, but is consistently being beaten by The Voice, which is in it's fourth season in the US.

Coincidentally, the same took place last night as the show went to air. The Voice topped Australia's ratings, much like Joel Madden's hair on a door frame, with over 2 million tuning in, over Splash's 1.3 million. I feel like this will be the high point of the show, unless that weird thing happens where the show gets more appalling and less boring. This will bring a whole new audience of people to mock it on Twitter, instead of some of the singers of The Voice, in the same timeslot.

To be fair, Celebrity Splash didn't have this.
Some of the fanfare for the show has been a mix of alright and utterly shithouse, but the real and more verbose words came from the Facebook page. Such as this comment, 
"What a load of shift, get it off TV, didn't think your channel would stoop so low. Waiting over two hours to watch something decent. Get it off"
I guess she didn't watch Dancing with the Stars or My Kitchen Rules recently.
"Really Channel Seven what a load of rubbish For goodness sake git rid of this crap love Revenge put that on at 8.30 and greys after then put that stupid show on when everyone has gone to bed"
More comedy gold from the Facebook page:
It would seem that channel 7 has plunged to new depths in BORING!!!!!!!. What may have been great live entertainment was a TOTAL WASHOUT. As usual, the little action there was, got overshadowed by the person with the microphone (whoever that was).
And some more...
I only came to this page to say that this is the most pathetic excuse for entertainment that has ever been shown on this channel, even worse than the worse rubbish I've seen on any other channel, good one seven, you're losing me & a lot of others!

Unfortunately, while there was a mild public outcry, the show did come in the top five for the evening and even though it was beaten by The Voice, there was enough online chatter to keep it going for at least, another week. Sadly, we won't see this going to the dogs, like The Shire. At least, the Shire didn't try to kill anyone.
They did however kill Lara Bingle and dumped her body in a ditch in Cronulla
The problem is that we are a nation of sport fanatics, but unless we can bet on it or we can view it in a stadium we won't enjoy it as much. Also these are celebrities, some of them incredibly beloved such as former cabbage-patch kid, Josh Thomas, Gay King (or Queen), Adam Richard and indie darling and filimmaker, Paul Fenech. It's troubling to see such amazing comedic and talented people on the wrong side of the tracks like this. All three of these guys have had fairly well-received TV series that they've produced and written, and I just hoped they were paid appropriately to appear last night.

Let's just be clear about something Australian TV producers: Nobody asked for this. You know what you could have done with the millions of dollars you paid for in rights, licensing and production costs, you could have put them into local productions or at the very least, airing even the first season of Game of Thrones in a late-night timeslot. Thank God for QuickFlix though. 

There is a lot to be said about copying and buying formats, but when there isn't anything spectacular about it, you and everyone who's watching has been swindled. Splash in the UK and the US, has not been picked up for a second season and have both only aired five or six episodes each. The original Netherlands-based series only had four episodes and has only recently been greenlit for a second.

We did not want this. You were beaten in the ratings, unfortunately by another commissioned international TV series. Hang your head in shame. Talk to Australian writers, directors, producers, crewman and investors and help fund Australian content. For the love of God, you're wasting time and money, did you not see the budget?  Well, honestly, it could be worse.

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