Last night, American television reaches another low. Admittedly, that’s not saying much–as American TV has been a declining and collapsing mess of roses, survivors, vocal solos, and Flavor Flavs for the last 10 or so years–but this low is at the bottom of the deep end. Literally. Because, see, I’m super clever.
If you’re lucky enough to have never heard of it, ABC’s Splash is a “celebrity diving competition,” in which individuals of dubious celebrity square off and each week the worst scoring diver goes home. So in other words, it’s EVERY SHOW EVER. This is a show where the guy who writes the music explains that the contestants’ theme songs are supposed to be terrible, and you get the idea that everyone else on the show looks at their job the same way. And tonight is its season finale after its 8th week.
Quickly, I think we should rattle off everything wrong with that sentence. For starters, I correctly typed “8TH WEEK,” meaning this show was on the air for 8 weeks now. Eight. One more than 7. And it’s not even over yet; we could be doomed with a second season.
Secondly, the use of the word “celebrity” in said description has to be one of the most egregious misapplications of a word since “musician Paris Hilton.” Some of these “celebrities” would have trouble booking a table at Denny’s, let alone a role in a movie, television show, or commercial for prescription strength antiperspirant.
Third, it’s the cast. This season had a currently relevant athlete, and a historically relevant athlete, but the rest of the cast is a hodgepodge of child actors, former “stars,” and people who kind of look familiar. Besides having large breasts–which is a notable point of celebrity for half of the cast, but sadly not excluding the male contingent–other points of fame include: being on The Cosby Show (1984-1992), a Funny Or Die video with “millions of hits,” being the girlfriend of a college QB, being the recipient of 10 Nickelodeon Kid and Teen Choice Awards, a stand up special on Country Music Television, and penning the book Sliding into Home. That last one was of course written by Kendra Wilkinson–former playmate and Hugh Hefner lady-mate–making the book’s awkward and disturbing title (and not the book itself) the achievement.
Lastly–and perhaps most importantly–THIS IS A SHOW ABOUT PEOPLE DIVING. Diving. An act which takes between two and three seconds per person. And each week, not everyone even dives. And somehow, the show is STILL an hour long. By its sixth week, over 5 MILLION people watched this program, and that number was a season low.
And this isn’t even the only “celebrity diving competition” out this year. Fox tried to cobble together something awkwardly called Stars in Danger: The High Dive, only to be beaten to the punch by this crap. And still, more people watched last week, then watched the season premiere of Community. And the season premiere of Splash you ask? That was watched by over twice as many people (8.8 million vs. a shade under 4 million). And…and…. and…this is why people have aneurysms!
You know what though, if we’re going to go for the gusto–if we’re going to try and come out with the most low brow, absurd, and disgusting spectacles involving faux celebrities–why stop here? Celebrity diving is pretty bad, but by no means the worst. I mean heck, remember Fox’s Man vs. Beast, the show where 44 little people competed against an elephant to see who could pull a jet plane better? By comparison, celebrity diving is intelligent and thought provoking. Like a Rembrandt painting, or a Beethoven symphony; just with more girls in tiny bikinis. Let’s push the envelope people. Let’s get creative.
AKA “Tramping with the Stars,” “Stamp that Tramp!” “Von Tramp Family Fun Hour”
This one to me is a no-brainer. Even if we kept the current cast of Splash, we’d still blow that show out of the water–pun fully intended and reached for. Briefly though, I feel I need to make sure we’re on the same page. I don’t mean “backyard, 4’x4′ circular, mesh enclosed, love it as a kid, love it more as a drunken teen” trampoline. I mean “giant, Olympic, oh my lord this is an Olympic Sport, how is this not a huge thing, trampoline.”
You know how nervous and enthralled you were when Louis Anderson was about to fall 10 feet? Imagine how anxious and captivated you will be when he falls REPEATEDLY from the same height. Each repetition a defiant test against the stress limits of tightly bound fabrics and stainless steel cables. Imagine the fear and intensity of Kareem Abdul Jabar on his first attempt, his absurdly lanky frame floating through the air like a skeleton on a physics computer program. And imagine Katherine Webb–and the needless montages of her training–her hair tussled about as she jumps, and jumps, and jumps while attempting to do splits. It’ll be like the ending to the Man Show, except you can tell your significant other you watch it for the competition and the drama. The celebrity host could be the current Chinese Olympic champion, Dong Dong.
Celebrity Drinking Games
AKA: “Celebrities: The E True Hollywood Story,” “Cele-BEER-ty Party Games,” “Drinking With The Stars”
If reality television has taught us anything, it’s that all events, games, competitions, and fights are about 140% better when the competitors are half in the bag. Or 330% when you eliminate the “half.” Simple misunderstandings become full blown arguments, easy goals like “getting into a bunk bed” become hysterically perilous journeys, and viral GIFs, Memes, and Youtube clips are bred at a frighteningly rampant pace. So it seems a simple and logical step to stop the drinking from intervening in the show, and make the drinking the actual competition.
Celebrities would compete–a la Beer Fest–in a series of drinking games and challenges, each week eliminating the weakest drinker. Or–to make this a little less dark–freeing the most human individual left. It would be a train wreck of delight with so many possibilities. We could stick by the standards and have them compete in a keg stand competition, only to watch Lindsay Lohan win by 41 minutes. We could have a beer pong tournament, and see how well Charles Barkley or Metta World Peace would react under real game pressure when the other one drunkenly swats their ball away. And we can get really creative too. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie could have a DUI go-kart race, where the winner avoids the authorities for the longest.
This show would be tremendous, AND have the potential for endless seasons and re-vamps. Plus, you’d never run out of relevant hosts — relevant to the content of the show, social relevancy is not guaranteed. Imagine Snooki as the ring leader–i.e. the person IN CHARGE–of 15 other celebrities. Or imagine duel co-hosts Simon Cowell & Paula Abdul. You thought they hated each other when they had to pretend to be slightly sober? Oh boy. That was nothing.
Celebrity Marathon Dancing
AKA: “American Cha-Cha,” “Keep It Up,” “The Long Hard Dance Tonight”
I for one am never impressed by celebrity dancing shows. All it really is (much like what any girl I’ve slept with would say) is an underwhelming 2 -3 minute routine, that goes by in the blink of an eye, and for the most part has the partner doing all of the work. There’s all this build up, then a whole bunch of “meh.” I don’t see the difficulty, I don’t see the excitement, I don’t see any reason worth watching.
But if we changed regular dancing, to having them compete in dance marathons… then count me in. If you dangled a big enough prize–which for most of these celebrities could be a box of wine and a two night stay at a Day’s Inn–you could watch people fight exhaustion, hunger, and fatigue all to just stay in the competition. And if you rigged the prize, so it got larger the longer you danced, it would be a delightful feast in human suffering.
I don’t want to watch Drew Lachey dance. But, “continue” to dance, after 36 hours and 12 minutes, after his feet are blistered and the only thing he’s had to eat in 3 days is a stick of Trident gum: sign me up. If that’s not exciting enough, have the competitors square off against each other to help stack the deck in their favor. Losers of duels would get heavier shoes, or have to dance to “Endless Love” on loop. Winners could get needed rest breaks, or packs of marbles and bags of oil to use against their competitors when the time is right. More pandemonium? Special guest referee/enforcer Tonya Harding. Tell her she can win another shot at the 1994 Gold or just wave a $20 where she can see it, and watch what she can come up with.
AKA: “A Knight’s Fail,” “The Stick and Pony Show,” “So You Think You Can Lance?”
This one again seems like a no-brainer. At the end of the day, all we ever want from our celebrities is for them to love us. We just want them to realize how bright, beautiful, clever, and wonderful we are; pick us out from our obscurity, and live with us forever in rich and extravagant wedded bliss. But we all know that things like that–the perfect life that me and Kate Upton share–don’t really ever happen. So instead we search for other ways for stars to show their love, their adoration, their need for us.
And what better way for them to show that then having them joust against each other for our amusement? Each week celebrity competitors would suit up in medieval regalia, hop aboard their trusted steeds, and square off against each other for joust supremacy. The rules of the actual joust would be historically accurate, or as much as I could gleam from many a drunken night at Medieval Times. A broken lance to the body gets you one point, a broken lance to the shield or face gets you two, and unhorsing a rider gets you three. Three points win, unless either of the contestants are named Lohan, Hilton, or Bieber; in which case riders will compete until either they or their opponent (but hopefully they) are dead. Special contests would be held each week to grant riders immunity and bonuses. Want a lance with a sharpened tip? Try your luck at crossbow skeet shooting. Want to give your opponent a shield made out of aluminum foil? Try to scale the castle wall in the fastest time. Want to advance to the next round without jousting? Challenge Gary Busey to a horse eating contest. Side note: He’s undefeated (4 and 0) to date. And that’s without cameras rolling.
Celebrity Bull Fighting
AKA: “Cut the Bull!” “Around The Horns,” “America’s Next Top Matador”
Bull Fighting. One of the world’s most gruesome and dangerous sports. If a matador loses, it can be one of the grizzliest of scenes; bulls trampling and goring their would be assailants, sometimes until there is only one competitor left. If a matador wins–no matter how skilled and agile he is–his win is always in someway bound by luck. For victory against the bull is rare, difficult, and even more dangerous. And that is when you ARE a trained professional.
Imagine how much more exciting and dangerous it is when the matador is instead Andy Dick–comedian and recovering(?) “every drug ever” abuser. Producers might be kind enough to slow the bull down with some tranquilizer darts before the contest started, but unfortunately Mr. Dick has had most of those same tranquilizers in his system since 1999. Still, he went in confident, proud, taunting the bull with a red cape the producers had fashioned for the day. Sober or not, expect him to become a frantic mess of red stumbling but mere meters away from a slowly wakening and frightened mammoth of a beast. Quick question, would anyone–anyone with a pulse–ever turn THAT off? of course not.
Americas Next Top Matador would be a hit before even the first drop of blood hit the stadium ground. And although it would be extremely violent, that’s not to say that it won’t have something for the ladies (minus Sarah Maclachlan… She’ll be writing new ASPCA songs till the “cows” come home. Literally, kind of…) There’ll be picturesque scenery, lush aerial shots of foreign lands, at least one celebrity will have a six pack and find ever-increasing excuses to be shirtless, the bulls will give out roses to the surviving contestants, and did we mention that the winning celebrity will donate a portion of his prize to charity? Because that will be happening, and you’d be villainous if you DIDN’T watch.
AKA: “Bloody Beat Down,” “The Price is Fight,” “Trading Spin-Kicks”
Although it sounds absurdly “out there,” or “violent,” a celebrity Bloodsport show really isn’t dramatically far off from anything already on reality television. I mean have you seen a fight on Jersey Shore, Road Rules/Real World: The Challenge, or anything on VH1 in the last few years? Guys have punched girls, girls have punched guys, guys have CERTAINLY punched guys, Bret Michaels has knocked himself out, and CT has fought Adam, Wes, Kenny, the 1981 West German swim team, and Mothra. If anything, a celebrity Bloodsport would provide refinement to the combat already on reality television.
Because what it would really do, is provide closure. Finality. We’d no longer need to debate who would have won in a fight between two different show’s stars, what would have happened had producers not been there, or if Omorosa is as crazy as we think. The proof will be in the pudding. Or in this case; the dramatically staged, no holds barred, everything legal, fight to the death. Which, by the way, will be amazing. Broken glass, scimitars, fire, spears, enough absurd chanting and ritualism to make Temple of Doom look as non threatening and pacified as the Indian guy from Big Bang Theory: these things are going to have everything. The spectacle, the action, the violence: you will be hard pressed to turn away. Especially as audience interaction will be key to the show. Viewers will choose who fights who, where they fight, what weapons are available, and what advantages are given. No options will be off the table, except that no matter what, Spencer Pratt will be fighting a 30 pound lead weight, and a pit of lava. That was pre-determined long ago, and is too important to be left up to chance.
Celebrity Russian Roulette
AKA: “From Russia with Glock,” “The Chamber,” “Live, or No Live.”
Imagine the suspense. On one side of the table, sits Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. At the other, Tila Tequila. Between them a revolver, loaded with exactly one bullet. They each take a turn placing the barrel of the gun against their head and pulling the trigger. Then they each take another turn. Now two chambers remain, two turns remain, and only one bullet. Could you switch to another channel?
OF COURSE NOT! They don’t even make scenes that suspenseful in Japanese horror movies, and those people make the Human Centipede look like a Disney Film. Live, or No Live would be a show no one could turn away from. The premise and action would be simple; celebrities–of any number or lot–would play a game of Russian Roulette. There would be no fighting, no distractions, no extravagant pageantry. Just 6 chambers, 1 bullet, and millions of television viewers. Because how could anyone not watch something so suspenseful? It would be like a rose ceremony, conducted during a final weigh-in, while a tribal council decides the verdict. Each episode will be like watching 10 season finales combined, after you’ve had a few too many red wines, and you care just a bit too much. And like it or not–and you really can’t like it–you’re invested in these characters before the cameras even start rolling. So each turn, each spin of the barrel, carries even more weight. Need more reasons to watch? How about Gordon Ramsey as the show’s host. Can you imagine him–yelling with the full vitriol of a man enraged by rare salmon–telling the contestants to “Pull the trigger! Pull it now, you sodding dolt!” SOLD.
Celebrity Hunger Games
AKA: “Celebrity Hunger Games”
Ladies and gentleman, this is the gusto, and we have gone for it. As wonderful as all of the other ideas proposed have been–and they are quite wonderful, as I proposed them–they were only a warm up for the real deal. Celebrity Hunger Games. The plot would be extremely simple and completely devoid of originality and inspiration. So, just like any other existing reality show. Contestants would be let loose in the wild together, 10 to 12 at a time. Each will be fighting for survival against the elements and the other contestants. There are no rules, except that there may be only one sole survivor. How he or she gets to that end point, is completely up to them.
And that is why the show would be a complete smash hit. There would be no way to predict what happened: no contrived plots, no written scripts, plans, or directives. Contestants could form alliances, or go for the prize by themselves. They could use weapons, or evasion, or cunning, or hives of bees. There could be intense firefights and bouts of armed combat, or their could be slow and methodical stalking. The possibilities are limitless, especially when you consider the amount of ridiculous crap producers will put in the hands of contestants. Uzis, spears, land mines, jet fuel, torches, dogs, knives, crossbows, poison, and copies of the movie Gigli. All the terrible things in the world, all at the fingertips of a group of celebrities trying to kill each other.
And what celebrities you ask? Whichever ones you want. You could do entire themed seasons! Collect all the “Real Housewives” of wherever, and tell them the prize is their own spin-off show. Or maybe their children’s genuine affection. Then watch the claws come out. That doesn’t whet your appetite? Then how about a season of former 90’s TV stars. Or former one hit wonder musicians? PED positive athletes? 1980’s movie stars? People who have tried a shot at love, rode a bus of love, loved money, New York, ham of love, tennis love, or whatever else VH1 threw up on the world? There are so many options.
My choice, and I would suspect the choice of anyone else who understands the beautiful opportunity this show presents, would be the cast of the Expendables 2. Stallone, Li, Statham, Norris, Lundgren, Van Damme; all of those guys let loose in the woods, each trying to outwit and outlast the others. We could tell them the prize is a starring role in a new relevant action movie, and the gloves would come completely off. Throw Gary Busey in for good measure–as no reality competition can reach its apex without him–and you have a bonified, verified, global smash hit. It’s a shame it costs so many lives, but so does an iPod. You’ll be okay with it in like 2 years.
Andrew previously chronicled how your drunk friends on St. Patrick’s Day are like Willy Wonka characters, and spent an absurd amount of time detailing the connection between Dwight Howard and the Baby from the TV show Dinosuars. All so that you didn’t have to.