Look, I’m not saying this is going to become a regular thing or anything, but I still have THINGS TO SAY, okay?
I can’t imagine Splash! is ever going to be a great show, but it’s in with a chance of becoming a good one – not least because, judging by episode two, it’s showing an encouraging willingness to learn from its mistakes. There’s still a lot of work to be done (and I’ll get to the specifics in due course), but it’s good to know that the producers have at least been paying attention to the feedback they’ve been getting and trying to course-correct a little bit. Other shows (mentioning no names, THE X FACTOR), would do well to follow this example, rather than just blindly trundling on insisting that everything’s totally fine.
Probably the biggest improvement made this week was something so simple that I’m amazed it wasn’t part of the format from the very beginning: before each celebrity dived, we were shown a quick VT of Tom Daley demonstrating what their intended dive was supposed to look like. Not only did this actually give those of us without an especially detailed knowledge of diving (which I’m guessing was quite a large percentage of the audience) an idea of what we should be looking for, it also gave the show five more opportunities to show Tom Daley in his Speedos, thus providing that section of the audience (you know the one I’m talking about) with an excuse not to channel-hop. Of course, what they didn’t show us was that all of these sequences had to be filmed twice because the first time around, people were taking flash photographs. (TOPICAL OLYMPIC HUMOUR!)
Another improvement this week, and perhaps the one that nobody expected: a bunch of celebrities who, for the most part, were quite good at diving. Whether this was because they’d had a week longer to train than last week’s group, or because they were simply more naturally talented, is up for debate (I’d say it’s probably a bit of both), but it does make the whole show a lot more enjoyable if you’re not just watching D-lister after D-lister flopping inelegantly off the three-metre board and overextending upon their entry. (Fnar.) This week’s stars were human non-sequitur Joey Essex, model Caprice (hey, does anyone know if she’s also a swimwear designer? Because I could really have done with finding that out, if only somebody had mentioned it), obvious filler contestant Diarmuid Gavin, this week’s injury porn provider Charlotte Jackson, and unexpected ringer Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. Four out of five of them were decent-to-very good, and one of them was Diarmuid Gavin, and that ratio is fairly acceptable to me.
So Joey Essex decided at the last minute to dive from the TEN! METRE! BOARD!, instead of wherever he was originally going to dive from, a fact that we were reminded of almost as often as we were informed that Caprice is a swimwear designer. His tuck was rather poorly-executed (who would have thought you could use the exact same phrase to describe a contestant on this show and one on RuPaul’s Drag Race?), but his bravery in diving from the TEN! METRE! BOARD! was applauded by the judges. Caprice turned out to be a total ringer and executed a near faultless 1½ somersault from the three metre springboard, which provided a bit of variation for the viewers (admittedly, Jenni did this exact dive last week, but barely even used the springiness of the springboard and kind of fluffed her somersault, so it was nice to see someone doing it properly). Arguably, however, the highlight of Caprice’s appearance was Tom calling her “the bravest thing I’ve ever met”. Yes, “thing”. He’s such a shady bitch. ♥ (Also, for anyone keeping score, Caprice is claiming to be 41 these days.) Diarmuid did…something, but he’s beyond irrelevant considering we have actual competence on the show this week, so let’s keep moving.
Since nobody admitted to aquaphobia or any childhood trauma this week, Charlotte provided our tragedy quota for the week by breaking her big toe in two places during training. This of course meant lots of close-ups of feet, which is TV kryptonite to me, so apologies if my report is less than detailed here but I was trying to look ANYWHERE but directly at the screen. Ugh, feet. Anyway, having wrecked her DIVING TOE, Charlotte found herself unable to push off (I’ve known a few people like that) and had to settle for doing a pike fall from the seven metre board rather than the more elaborate somersault she’d been planning. It was a solid, if unspectacular, performance, and the judges gave her lots of points for effort and some pity points for not being able to do what she wanted, as well as talking about how much they were looking forward to seeing her diving properly soon. Does anyone know how long broken toes take to heal? Because she’s got, like, a fortnight before she has to dive again, and I’m no doctor, but I’m unconvinced she’ll be in any sort of fit state to push off before this series is over. Finally, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, human punchline, made a creditable stab at ending 25 years of ridicule by actually being quite good, doing a 1½ somersault pike from the TEN! METRE! BOARD! and getting 27.5 out of 30 for his efforts. It feels very strange to be writing about Eddie The Eagle without ending on a “LOL HE’S SO SHIT” joke, almost as strange as it is to be considering Splash! as a legitimate means of rehabilitating one’s reputation.
Since the contestants raised their game this week, the hosts valiantly tried to do the same, and to be fair, Gabby and Vernon managed not to look quite so embarrassed this week and the show did flow a little more smoothly – at least as long as no one was trying to read out any voting numbers, because not only did they have to repeat Diarmuid’s voting number after getting it incorrect the first time (which I’m sure was a great relief to all the viewers who were definitely planning on voting for him), they later had to repeat Joey’s voting number after messing it up during the recap, only for Gabby to mess the number up repeatedly in her correction. Not her finest hour. Her actual finest hour, if you ask me, was her reaction to Tom making the most of the opportunity to hug a semi-naked Joey Essex after asking for “some Essex love” (a moment that I’m sure will live on in gif infamy on the internet forever) by declaring with a total lack of interest “we’ll high-five it, Joey, is that all right? Yeah.” Marvellous. Speaking of the contestant-mentor interactions, I particularly enjoyed Caprice hugging Tom after her dive and leaving him with a big damp mark on his right tit for the rest of the show. It was just funny in an entirely immature way, and I’m fine with my decision to find that amusing, SO THERE.
The announcing of the results is also much clearer now: we went straight to the person with the highest combined score (Eddie, duh) and then eliminated the two who had the lowest combined scores, leaving just the two contestants taking part in the Splash-Off. Interestingly this week, the public vote did make a difference to the outcome: in a SHOCKING turn of events, it appears the ITV1 primetime audience has no real interest in voting for Caprice, leaving Charlotte and Joey to battle it out for the remaining spot in the semi-final. When they reprised their dives, Joey’s was a little bit better than the first time and Charlotte’s was a little worse, but since the show had spent the entire episode getting its pants in a twist about the fact that it currently had no “girls” in the final, even though it only had two people in the final at all (it’d be nice if they said “women” instead of “girls”, too), it wasn’t a huge surprise that Charlotte went through. Now let’s just hope that her toe has super-speedy healing powers. Also, kudos to Jo and Leon for being possibly the only judges in the history of reality TV to actually understand the direction “I just need the name”, since they were running over time. Less kudos to The Other Judge for the fact that I still can never remember his name despite being told it at least six times per episode, and to Leon for expecting anyone to care that he was RUSHED TO HOSPITAL TO HAVE HIS APPENDIX OUT this week.
So, those bits that still need work? Yeah, the filler bits while they tally the vote are still pretty dreadful: the Aquabatics segment is still uncomfortably uneven, with all the actual diving being performed by men, while women must content themselves with prancing around on the poolside or doing a synchronised swimming number (I realise that’s an impressive skill in itself, of course, but in a show about diving, could they really find no female divers at all?). If that weren’t bad enough, the camera blocking here remains atrocious: too many moments where the cameras aren’t ready to capture the dives, too many long shots when nothing is actually happening, and too much aimless whirling around in general. With the rest of the show managing to up its game a bit, this is all still embarrassingly amateurish and is probably the part that needs the most work before next week. But given the show’s apparent commitment to improving itself, I’m quietly optimistic that they might sort that out before the end of the series.