Longing for sports on national TV? Steph Curry has a cure for you: the season 2 debut of ABC’s Holey Moley on Thursday night.
Fire-breathing dragons. Giant rubber ducks. Electrically-charged holes. A zipline to a totem pole perilously situated above a volcano. These are just some of the surprises you can expect to see when season 2 of ABC’s television series Holey Moley debuts on Thursday.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down much of ordinary life in the United States for the past two months, sports fans are left starving for content. Stadiums across the country stand empty. Athletes are idle, hoping they’ll be able to get back on the field, court or rink at some point in 2020. Television networks fill the hours with replays of decades-old events.
Executive producer Stephen Curry and the cast and crew of Holey Moley want to change all that by giving the public not only an athletic competition but a chance to laugh and get away from the headlines sprawled across the news.
“Right now, if I were to say what does the world need, the world needs comfort, the world needs to laugh. And you have a great buddy comedy here that happens to be infused with great competition,” says Joe Tessitore, who hosts the show alongside actor/comedian Rob Riggle and sideline reporter Jeannie Mai.
“We’re going to make you laugh, we’re going to show you some great competition and golf, there’s $250,000 on the line…and then you get athleticism, you get wipeouts, you get physical comedy. So I think it’s a nice remedy for a lot of what we’ve been dealing with right now.”
Holey Moley is a mini-golf competition, but with a twist. Each hole features an obstacle for the competitor to get through. Forget mechanical bulls; this show has a mechanical gopher the players have to stay on. These aren’t your average players either. They range from a 65-year-old grandmother to an Olympic golfer in her 20s. There are pro golfers who’ve competed in major championships and world putting champions, all trying to win the quarter-million first prize that comes with the championship putt in the season finale.
Curry, a golf enthusiast and two-time NBA MVP for the Golden State Warriors, does more than just lend his name to the show. He takes part in each episode alongside the contestants and is heavily involved in the creative process.
“I think Steph brings much more than just star power to the show. I think Steph is probably the soul of the show,” Tessitore says. “He’s very involved in the show. He was wonderful last year. Played a huge role last year, both on-camera and off-camera. And, once again, he’s very much committed this year both in his executive producer role and getting into the creative side, and his on-air role, as well.”
Tessitore and Riggle also bring a comedic element to the show. Tessitore uses his decades-long experience as a sportscaster, including the last two years as the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football, to see the show through the eyes of the audience, laughing along with them. Riggle is quick to chime in with a joke and to poke fun at the outrageous action out on the course. Together they bring a retro look to the show, donning the iconic gold blazers that bring back memories of Howard Cosell and Wide World of Sports.
“When you see those vintage gold jackets with the ABC patch on the breast, it takes you back to that place of the comfort food of TV sports entertainment,” Tessitore says. “They’re iconic, they’re vintage, and they bring you back to a certain place.”
The first season of the series aired last summer in 10 episodes. But each episode featured the same holes. This year, Tessitore promises, the challenges will constantly change, including a championship putt on “the most outrageous hole you’ll ever see.”
“I think the show showed last season that it’s run, it’s entertaining, it’s all of that. I think the show is different this year in a lot of better ways,” he says. “First of all, you have incredible physical humor to the show. The wipeouts, what’s physically being asked of these competitors athletically, from speed to height and jumping, the wipeouts are unbelievable in this show.”
New episodes of Holey Moley will air every Thursday night on ABC at 9 p.m. EST. With sports on pause for the immediate future, it’s a chance to see some competition and have fun at the same time. “When you sit down for one hour of this, you are smiling and laughing. There’s just a joyfulness to the show, and I like that,” Tessitore says.
You probably will too.