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The Telefile
<I>Splash</I>: Not the Giant Belly Flop We Had Feared

After watching the recent Fox special Stars in Danger: The High Dive, we were convinced that not only was Splash going to be a waste of time, but that the entire concept of celebrities diving was pointless. And while it still is true that this is utterly unnecessary (as are most reality shows), at least Splash surprised us by being well produced, interestingly cast and kind of fun. Yeah, we're as shocked as anyone. We might even watch it again next week. Here's why:

An Oddly Compelling Group of Celebrities
We didn't think we wanted to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar jumping off a diving board, but we were proven wrong. Watching his extra-long body try to contort into sleek tiny diver positions was pretty damned entertaining. And given his age, even impressive. Sure the judges may have overscored both Kareem and Louie Anderson because of the fact that they even got up on the diving board and didn't end up drowning, but we've watched enough Dancing With the Stars to begrudgingly accept how this sort of thing works. And we're curious to see next week, mostly to watch the likes of Chuy Bravo and Ndamukong Suh compete.

The Splashy Flashy Costumes
Diving swimsuits aren't exactly what you'd call particularly flattering, but on this show they at least made the ones for the ladies metallic, sparkly and a little bit fabulous. That was well demonstrated last night by Katherine Webb in particular. But even the wetsuits had some color and appeal to them.

The Cirque Du Soleil Spectacle
While Stars in Danger looked like it cost about four dollars to make, here they did a really cool intro with some professional divers and some synchronized swimming and even these swings that shoot people out into the water. It caught our attention from the get-go, and having coach Greg Louganis dive was a nice touch as well.

The Judges Are Full of Constructive Criticism
You'd think this would be a pre-requisite for judging, but instead of just commenting on the height the stars chose, they actually gave technical tips on how to improve and do more interesting dives for the future. Again, it seemed that someone like Rory Bushfield should have gotten higher scores for his tricky dive, but David Boudia and Steve Foley (who have a ton of diving credits) are obviously grading on a curve so the fun people don't get eliminated week one. It's a tough balance of making good TV and competently judging, and they managed it so far... but if Kareem wins just because of his history, we reserve the right to change our minds on this.

The Audience Gets a Say, Too
This is not live (or at least not at this point), so the audience is limited to the people actually in attendance, but it is still nice that some sort of spectators get a chance to weigh in on what they are watching. It gives the illusion of the masses having some control, even if it didn't matter much in the premiere. Sorry, Rudy Huxtable.

The Stars Are Actually in Danger
Unlike the seemingly fake JWOWW injury on Stars in Danger, on an upcoming episode it seems like Chuy Bravo may suffer an actual injury. That's according to news reports, so we'll have to wait see how it plays out since it wasn't addressed on the premiere. And while we feel bad for Chuy, it does go to show that if you actually do dives (instead of just jumping feet first off a diving board like a small child or Kim Richards), there is a lot to it.

It Was Only an Hour
Not making this show two hours a week has already earned some points in our book. Sure it meant that they had to split it up so that only half of the celebrities performed in an episode, but after being subjected two endless hours of Idol and Dancing With the Stars and the forthcoming The Voice, we might not have had time to squeeze in a program that is more than an hour a week.

Whoa! Joey Lawrence Makes a Decent Host
Joey Lawrence shares hosting duties with sports reporter Charissa Thompson, and he's quite charming at it. He seems weirdly enthusiastic about the diving and has the peppy personality and on-the-spot comments you need to keep the pace of this show up.

Not Just A Special
Stars in Danger had a number of problems, but a big one was that it was a one-off. So the short practice time (two weeks) and the lack of incentive for practicing (it's not like you'd get to come back for more TV time) really added to low stakes of the whole thing. Here, there is a chance that if you do well you could come back and gain some fame, which for the likes of Kendra Wilkinson or Nicole Eggert is an opportunity in itself. Also, it gives the celebrities a chance to become better divers (here they've already had more than a month of practice) and work their way up to doing dives that are more complicated if they get to stick around. We expect that the live belly-flop potential will be at an all-time high by episode 5.

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