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Review: Yes, ABC's 'Holey Moley' Is a Real Show

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 10, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 10, 2019 |


It’s not so much that there are a lack of television options in the summer — I have about a six-show backlog at the moment — it’s that the good shows arrive in season-long increments in the summer, which means it takes a few days to watch them. In the meantime, to keep the content monster from starving here at Pajiba, I continue to scavenge Primetime Network television for things to write about, which this summer seems to be dominated by game shows, many of which I have already watched and reviewed.

In fact, if you look at the primetime network ratings this summer (please don’t, it’s depressing as hell), you’ll see that America’s Got Talent continued to hold the top spot, followed by The Bachelorette and Big Brother, and then a slew of game shows, including Press Your Luck, Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, Ellen’s Game of Games, Card Sharks, Spin the Wheel, and Match Game, among others. I’ve watched several of them at this point, and while a few are passably entertaining, I can’t imagine ever watching them a second time.

The top-rated game show of last week, however, was a show called Holey Moley, an “extreme” miniature golf competition, which is real and not a show made up by 30 Rock. It is beyond absurd. ABC must have spent a fortune building this course, but I’ll admit, it’s a really fun show to watch … once.

The gameplay involves three head-to-head rounds of minigolf as the series narrows the field of 12 down to a final three, who compete in a final hole for $25,000. The contestants are all very good at mini-golf, or at least they brag that they are. Many are of the goofy variety — the premiere episode featured a guy in a unicorn onesie and another in lumberjack garb.


Narrator: The Unicorn got beat.

The contestants, however, are not a draw. It’s really about the course. There’s a windmill course, for instance, in which the contestants have to not only put their balls through but run through the windmill themselves without getting knocked off the course (the first contestant is thrown from the course, twice). There’s a hole where the first player to climb up an ice wall gets the best ball position and another where players have to choose between Stephen Curry and a robot to take the next shot. In the “Distraction Hole,” players have to make a shot while Kenny G blares a saxophone at them (the players, hilariously, have no idea who Kenny G is). Still, another requires players to fall from a zip line onto a platform in a pool, and it looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen. The show has something of a Wipeout element to it.



Unfortunately, even with all the goofy obstacles, the gameplay isn’t particularly exciting despite all the editing performed to make it look more interesting than it is. The show really only works as well as it does because of the hosts, sportscaster Joe Tessitore and comedian Rob Riggle. They have a blast, treating the competition with an over-the-top seriousness that Riggle, in particular, really nails. The show is more comedy than competition — think Dodgeball the movie — and it feels like an hour-long SNL skit. In fact, I suspect that’s why Holey Moley won’t have very much lasting appeal. It’s hilarious. Once. And only if you don’t take it seriously. But I wouldn’t want to see the same SNL skit every week, and with 12 contestants and only 42 minutes, there’s not that much time to invest in the players themselves. Besides, who would want to?

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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