Those expecting a new Australian Ninja Warrior when sports competition in the pool Cannonball arrives on Channel Seven on Wednesday are, sadly, in for a bellyflop.
Ninja saw amazingly fit men and women battling an extraordinarily difficult obstacle course. It was beautifully made and justifiably rated through the roof, even though no one was eventually crowned a winner.
Naturally, every other network is now searching for similar success and Cannonball’s opener promises “a place where dreams can be made or crumble”, where we “behold the magic” and meet the “heroes and jeeroes”.
The comparisons are inevitable, but Australian Ninja Warrior was a class act that blows this show out of the water.
What Cannonball delivers is a whole bunch of people whizzing down a water slide, being catapulted off a floating beanbag and jumping for the bullseye in a water park in Western Sydney.
The format is roughly this. Two teams with names like “Tatts Gotta Hurt”, “Blonde Bombshells”, “Bae Watch” and “Bomb Squad” have a crack at water activities.
They are speedily eliminated until one team remains, proceeding to a final where a couple of cars and $35,000 are at stake.
A “celebrity” team (in the first show, it’s Gareth and Alex from My Kitchen Rules) undertakes the same challenges and gives $500 to the team with the closest score to them.
Same challenges, same format every week.
Ninja hosts copped some flak online for their commentary but stand by for the social media comments about the banter from Cannonball co-hosts Ben Mingay and Tim Ross. It’s excruciating at times.
When contestant Liam finished well behind female contestant Parema, Tim noted Liam finished with a view of “a perfectly clenched pair of butt cheeks”.
“Not a bad consolation prize for the young bloke,” he joked.
One of the best things to come out of the show is the third co-host – Rachael Finch. She actually does the test runs on all of the challenges and is up there with the best of them on her performances.
Her job is to calm the contestants and start them off on the challenges.
Talking to The New Daily ahead of the show’s premiere, Finch said she was drawn to the hosting gig because she’s “a water baby at heart”.
“We grew up waterskiing. We’d be up at sunrise, pack the boat and get onto the water. I was barefoot waterskiing by 14,” she recalled.
“I had a couple of falls, lots of bruises – but my brother had four burst eardrums from landing badly.”
On Cannonball Finch said she saw many people conquer their fears.
“I had people shaking, right before me, just before they did it. We worked at building self-confidence in those who had never done anything like this before,” she explained.
“They blew me away.”
Unfortunately, the resulting show does nothing of the sort.