By Adam Carlson
March 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
Adam Taylor/ABC
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Here’s the thing about Splash: It doesn’t actually make any sense. And that’s a compliment — if the show made any sense, it wouldn’t be any fun.

For the uninitiated, here’s what you must know: Splash is a new ABC reality diving competition wherein 10 stars train for six weeks and then, each week thereafter, perform at least one dive for a live viewing audience, two judges, and Joey Lawrence. The judges score the dives; the audience scores the dive. All the while, synchronized swimmers practice their synchronicity before commercial breaks. And at the very tip-top of the hour, a woman walks toward the camera in a fancy dress, surrounded by photographers before — splash! — diving into the water.

Do we ever see any of the celebs actually train (under the beneficent twinkle of former Olympian Greg Louganis)? Not really. Do we ever see what the audience members score each diver? Never. Does anyone ask Joey what his co-host’s name is? Please.

Instead, in the following order, we see: Keshia Knight Pulliam do not-so-well; Louie Anderson do better; model Katherine Webb being called “fearless;” Rory Bushfield shirtless; and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become the unwitting mascot for ageism.

And all that before even mentioning the show’s sound editing, which makes every splash sound like the water is crunching, or its ridiculous accoutrements, like the “diving lounge” that is literally designed to prevent lounging.

Judging them all is Dave Boudia and Steve Foley, two Olympians who, together, add up to one personality. Actually, let’s just scrap Steve altogether and work on cloning Dave: he looks like Paul Wesley melded with a Revlon ad and he gives constructive, demonstrable advice in between waxing wise about each diver’s “journey.”

Unfortunately, the Boudia-Foley duo seems handicapped by Splash’s fixation on turning every moment into a Moment: They’re fairly on-target in their criticisms but all over the place with their scoring. Knight Pulliam gets a pair of 6s and told to work on her balance. Anderson gets a 7 and 7.5 and a bunch of exclamation marks for making it out of the water on his own.

(Anderson, for his part, seems to take the show far more seriously than it takes him, with much time set aside to talk about “the troops” and self-improvement, which has the double-edged effect of making you like him more and yourself less.)

Webb is then told to up the “degree of difficulty” with her next dive and given a 7 and 6.5; Bushfield, who pulls off two flips and a twist from the tallest diving board available, gets a 7.5 and 8.5; and Kareem gets a 7.5 and 7 because, both judges agree, he tried really hard.

One commercial break and another reference by Joey to the audience’s shadowy ability to vote and it’s Webb and Knight Pulliam who are set-up to compete in the first-ever “dive-off,” which is exactly what it sounds like. Webb goes higher but Knight Pulliam goes fancier. Webb wins.

Next week up the ladder: Nicole Eggert, Ndamukong Suh, Kendra Wilkinson, Chuy Bravo, and Drake Bell.

Did you watch Splash? More importantly: Will you watch it again?

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