The pilot for new body-boarding-meets-water-boarding show, Guantanamo Baywatch, has been roundly slammed for a number of simulated drowning scenes in its opening episode.
Created to show the lighter side of torture and human rights abuse, the program re-casts David Hasselhoff as a troubled mentor who helps Abu Hamza overcome disability to pursue a career in lifeguarding. In return, his pupil attempts to cure the star’s drinking problem with a sympathetic combination of doctrinal rhetoric and occasional violence.
“The show hit snags from day one.” says producer Jerry Baumstein. “To be completely honest, hiring Abu was our first mistake. Literally. Our casting director got entirely the wrong end of the stick when we said the show needed a ‘hook’.”
“Things only got worse when he showed up for the first day’s shoot and absolutely refused to get his feet wet. And that’s when we noticed the fuses coming from his shoes. David started drinking quite heavily after that.”
Despite its tortured production, the show strikes a dramatic and emotional endnote in Abu Hamza’s final rescue scene, as Baumstein notes:
“Spotting a floating body in the distance (well, what he assumes is the distance), Abu gradually, but courageously, swims out to help the victim; only to find, once ashore, that it’s the body of his long-lost spiritual leader. Of course, the guy’s wracked with guilt at not having got there in time, and this is only made worse by the gaping hole where the corpse’s left eye should be... which Hamza can only assume is his fault!”
The show's dubious moral fibre has not, however, stopped it becoming a surprise hit in fashion circles, with bright orange burkas and jumpsuits set to become this summer’s must-have beachwear.