Calum Henderson writes about (mainly terrible) television.

Review: Our First Home gets the foundations right

Tthe three families still have the same main objective: "To achieve the greatest percentage of profit by renovating and reselling their house." Photo / Supplied
Tthe three families still have the same main objective: "To achieve the greatest percentage of profit by renovating and reselling their house." Photo / Supplied

Eagle-eyed viewers of TV3's genre-defining home renovation reality franchise The Block NZ will have noticed that last year's series contained very little actual home renovation.

Most episodes seemed to go out of their way to avoid showing all the hammering and sawing " instead they focused on the competitive tension and high-stakes drama between teams (who hid Brooke and Mitch's toothbrushes?) and sent them out on endless diversionary challenges to give the builders a bit of peace and quiet.

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We got the before, the after, and literally anything else they could think of in between.

This is probably all your average TV punter really longs to see from a home renovation show. But what about the hardcore DIY fanatics out there?

Did they despair at the lack of detail, shake their heads at all the time wasted on frivolous challenges when they could have been watching a Gib installation? Happily, for them, there's Our First Home.

Where The Block NZ was bright and gaudy, Our First Home fits into the soft-lit, slightly twee aesthetic TV One seems to be cultivating across its lifestyle shows.

But dressing aside, the three families still have the same main objective: "To achieve the greatest percentage of profit by renovating and reselling their house," is how host and minor Brendon McCullum lookalike Goran Paladin put it to us on Sunday night.

Its three families have a tremendous degree of autonomy and comfort compared to their Block NZ counterparts.

They seemingly get to sleep at night, and have two full days to complete their weekly challenges, as opposed to two hours. In the first week they got to go out and buy their own houses, spread across West Auckland, which they can renovate in any order or style they like.

Their lack of proximity should reduce the risk of any competitive tension arising, which would only have distracted from the good honest DIY action the show promises to deliver across its three nights a week.

The Roughans, a strait-laced Southland farming family, have had all the early running. Steph and boyfriend Sam - an architect and a council planner respectively - have won both challenges to date with the help of Steph's parents Lyn and Pat, who seem endearingly reluctant to be on TV.

Last week's Tiny House challenge (in which they decorated a tiny house) and this week's Lighting challenge (where they recycled some copper piping into a trendy light fitting) have so far netted them $30,000 in upgrades for their Te Atatu South do-up.

"The other families must feel stink," joked dad Pat, a possible low-key contender to become the show's unlikely star.

Hard to tell how the Wotton family feel, stink or otherwise - the unusual mixed family dynamic of boyfriend's mum and girlfriend's dad means almost all of their interactions are polite and diplomatic.

Josh and girlfriend Bex's dad Henry spent all Sunday's episode companionably demolishing the concrete floor of their garage in Henderson. We kept coming back and checking in on them in the faint hope that something might happen.

Eventually they found a shoe. Wait, "a couple of shoes ..." Ominous music started playing. Bloody hell, had they found a body? Sadly, no. Just an old pair of brogues.

Our First Home host Goran Paladin. Photo / Supplied
Our First Home host Goran Paladin. Photo / Supplied

The most instantly loveable of the three families, the Pearces from Tauranga, seem unreservedly happy to be on the show - laughing and joking while the others fret and agonise over every detail. Atareta and Tawera, working alongside parents Janette and Grant, ambitiously describe their brief for their Henderson bungalow as "coastal breezy," and almost everything else as "awesome".

They're raw and good-natured and will almost definitely be destroyed by the cruel, ruthless world of competitive home renovation.

Early days, but there seems to be nary a Brooke or Mitch in the pack. In fact, everything about this show seems to have been deliberately engineered as the anti-Block NZ - from the polite narration to the painfully dull sponsored content (Steph and Sam's consultation with a man from AA Insurance).

Depending on your appetite for DIY authenticity, that either makes Our First Home the connoisseur's Block NZ, or merely The Block NZ with all the boring bits left in.

- NZ Herald

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