Film and TV

Shallow Pool: Adding Musicians (and Silly Theme Songs) to TV's Splash

As often as I've been complemented on my taste in music, I've been ridiculed for the horrible television programs I sometimes watch. Case in point: my DVR's arteries were recently clogged with episodes of the ABC celebrity competition, Splash.

For those who may have missed it, Splash was a taped and televised diving contest between B-listers like Nickelodeon child star Drake Bell and Baywatch actress Nicole Eggert. In all, ten people were invited to dive weekly (11 counting Brandi Chastain, the U.S. Women's Soccer player who replaced Chelsea Lately's Chuy Bravo after he was injured before the competition ever started).

Two diving experts scored their efforts, which ranged from "not bad" to "ohmygod, did he or she survive that?" True to the format of these shows, every week one person would be eliminated until a champion was crowned. The season ended with extreme sports-personality Rory Bushfield winning the title.

Along the way, there was some drama between dive coach/Olympic legend Greg Louganis and some of his uncertain but game pupils. It was neat to see 66-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and 400-pound Louie Anderson defy naysayers to compete and walk away with no crippling injuries.

But, to be honest, that's not why I watched. The best part of the show had nothing to do with the personal courage these also-rans had to summon to dive from many feet above the surface. It wasn't even the outlandish bathing suits that looked ridiculous on everyone except former Miss Alabama and Brent Musburger dreamgirl Katherine Webb, who looked perfect in whatever odd thing they threw upon her.

The best part of the show was the "walk-up" music played for each star as he or she made his or her way to their respective diving boards. It was kinda like what you hear at Minute Maid when one of the Astros approaches the plate for his latest strikeout. Only, these songs were written specifically for each celebrity, and seemed to embrace and embody the kitsch of the entire show in just a few bars.

According to TV Guide, the network planned to use popular songs for each celebrity. Doing so would have distressed the show's budget; so, as a cost-saver, the producers chose instead to write and record original songs for each competitor. The results were purposely hilarious.

For example, here's a snippet of the song scripted for the Detroit Lions' quarterback-smasher, Ndomukong Suh:

"My name's N-dom-u-kong, let's not pronounce it wrong, I'm about to get it on, get it on like Donkey Kong"

Webb's song went a little something like this:

"Oh, here comes Miss Alabama... she mixes diving with glamma... she doesn't look like your gramma"

And, my personal favorite, Chastain's song, which must have been thrown together at the last minute when she was called in to sub, simple and straightforward as it was.

"Brandi Chastain, do it again! She used to play soccer, now she's hittin' the water..."

Weirdly, that one's become a very scary, unshakeable earworm and I've actually experienced the horror of hearing myself sing it aloud in public.

Anyhow, all this got me wondering, where were the music celebrities? Except for Bell, who played guitar and sang on his former TV show Drake & Josh, Splash's musical talent pool was empty. Here are the musicians I'd like to see take the plunge next season, along with their walk-up jingles:

ALANIS MORISSETTE She's familiar with television, having begun her career on a Canadian TV kids show and more recently having appeared on Showtime's Weeds. She's not afraid to show a little skin; you might recall, she once did a video in the buff.

If she has a bad dive, she's likely to recover with a stronger effort, as she is apparently resilient. She toured as Vanilla Ice's opening act in the early 1990s. In spite of that setback, she still went on to sell tens of millions of albums, including 1995 breakthrough Jagged Little Pill.

Jingle: "Alanis! Alanis! She's not from Atlantis!/ Because there's only water there/ No diving platforms and no air/ You live, you learn/ You jump, you turn/ And if you over-rotate, girl/ You oughta know you'll crash and burn!"

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.