Why, on the first episode of TV2's new cooking show, My Kitchen Rules, did the narrator tell contestants their skills were "vital to their survival"? I'm pretty sure the two things vital to one's survival - food and water - are abundant on a show like MKR, the new Aussie reality series screening Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm. Then again, this is a universe where the people coming for dinner aren't your friends. They're strangers there to rate the food, decor and hospitality, and in the case of Jen, aka "Princess", to do so at every opportunity. (Oh, and where the kids would normally sit are a couple of famous Aussie chefs).
It must feel strange turning up to one of these "instant restaurants" and hoping you'll have a bad night, thereby giving you a better chance of winning $250,000. Real guests might swallow salty prawns and gnaw their way through overcooked lamb chops but the big personalities on MKR treat their hosts as though they've paid for the experience. Contrived though the set-up is, it does make you wonder how your mates really feel about your cooking. The chicken sashimi was lovely thanks. Ah, how good manners and salmonella don't mix.
When there's "the opportunity of a lifetime", as that pesky narrator kept telling us, is honesty really the best policy? Or would you be more inclined to vote strategically and give someone a low score they don't deserve? This is where I can't get my head around MKR. Still, it was more entertaining than expected. Particularly now there's a transtasman rivalry, with affable Kiwi couple Simon and Meg joining the competition. We'll find out on Sunday how well they cook "fush" but they were possibly cast for their outstanding Kiwi accents.
We haven't yet met the other six pairs. But since viewers will quickly get acquainted given the show is now dominating TV2's prime time, here are a few more things to ponder until next week's TV dinner. Even though she's condescending and rude, is Jen simply playing the game by pointing out the "doggy" smell at Angela and Justine's and insisting their semi-freddo was icecream? Was Leigh describing molecular gastronomy when she said she was glad she "put the wind in them"? Since when has McDonald's, the show's sponsor, welcomed you into its digs with a glass of bubbles? Did New South Wales siblings Steve and Helen weigh up the risks if the Greek dishes passed down from their grandmother didn't go down well? And why didn't sparky Steve test his new oven before using it to cook the biggest meal of their lives?
When they say "the stakes are higher" this season, which part of the animal are they referring to? Why, in the second episode, did Angela describe their dinner theme, the Garden of Eden as a play on words? Do Leigh and Jen host dinner parties where friends show up? When do soldiers David and Scott find the time to host dinner parties?
Finally, how will we find the time to put on our own when we're busy watching My Kitchen Rules three nights a week?