Kristin Hall: NZ does have talent, but not on TV

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It's a term rehashed and regurgitated by pushy parents, motivational speakers and hip-hop stars alike: If at first you don't succeed, try again. Coined by American educator Thomas Palmer in the early 1800s, the mantra created to encourage bygone students to do their homework has since wiggled it's weasely way into song, politics and clichéd sports movies. Unfortunately, none of that makes it true.

It's fair to say that some things certainly should be tried over and over again. The human race would probably not have got very far if we had given up on fire, the wheel, and learning to digest solids. Yet in the same way we learned to persevere with these vital means to a fruitful existence there are other things that must simply be given up on before they destroy everything good about Earth as we know it.

New Zealand is clearly still in the early learning stages of this philosophy: according to insiders, Sally and Jaime Ridge are set to star in New Zealand's own version of Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Television wise, we'd been doing quite well over the past few years, the hideousness of such televised publicity stunts as Celebrity Treasure Island, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, and anything featuring Nikki Watson proving so painfully vacuous even the dirt cheap production costs couldn't keep them on our screens.

Three seasons of New Zealand Idol sucked the talent pool clean dry, with New Zealand's Next Top Model also grinding to a halt after sorting through and spitting out all the rosy-faced skeletors the country had to offer in just a few rounds.

Now, after at least a decade of pumping Kiwi eyeballs with questionable vocal talent, ex-league stars climbing coconut trees and Suzanne Paul's voice, only the classics remain. It appeared for a moment the great producers in the sky had accepted that in Aotearoa true reality entertainment equals washed up corpses at Piha and Rodney Hide learning the mambo.

Or at least that's what we had foolishly, foolishly assumed. If the speculators are right, the relatively cringe-free period of NZ reality fare is to be as brief as Ben Lummis' singing career.

Both the Ridges themselves and host channel TV3 have kept quiet about when and whether in fact 'Keeping Up With Some People New Zealanders Don't Really Care About But Are Nice To Look At' (KUWSPNZDRCABANTLA) will eventually reach our screens but that isn't the only reservation hovering in the Chanel-scented air. The question, really, facing viewers and critics of the next pipeline reality offering is, what will there be to watch? US and UK-based versions of teen channel MTV are continually slammed by parents and religious types for the mind-paralysing properties of shows such as Jersey Shore and Geordie Shore. On the other hand it can hardly be argued that the documentation of a group of friends who exist solely to drink till they can't walk, mutilate the English language and maintain a steady circulation of bed-hopping to keep things in the family isn't slightly fascinating.

Even with the famed Kardashian enterprise, a series based solely on the exploits of women made famous for marrying into money, the sheer amount of surgical fiddling required to keep Kris Jenner's eyebrows on an apparent mission to the moon is enough to keep any spectator entertained for at least a few minutes.

The other factor here is money, the daily trivialities of the Kardashian klan are unusual because of the ludicrous amount of money earned and in turn splashed willynilly on everyday things. Although the Ridges are certainly better off and better looking than the bulk of the population they are hardly likely to generate the layperson's yearly salary on one episode. The air of glamour and notoriety ends to tarnish somewhat after you've seen said celebrities in New World looking at mixed nuts.

The anticipated arrival of KUWSPNZDRCABANTLA is not the only burgeoning reality debut either. Determined to pluck the remnants of hope left out of the NZ Idol legacy, TVNZ have announced the launch of another Kiwi spin-off, New Zealand's Got Talent, a worryingly bold statement that should quite possibly be rejigged to include a question mark at the end.

The truth is New Zealand does have talent, we are ecologically adept, make a cracking flat white and can spot and swerve into a possum on a highway from 50 paces. Unfortunately none of these things translate well on screen or can be demonstrated competently on an over-lit stage.

I propose a combination of the two budding series' as a pilot trial. If Sally and Jaime Ridge want an adoring public following they can jolly well earn it.

'In New Zealand's first groundbreaking hybrid reality extravaganza, Sally and Jaime go head to head to see who has the stamina to bed as many elite sports players as they can, sell the most weepy personal stories of heartbreak and courage to women's magazines, and shop until their under-fed limbs reach fracture point! Along with grueling daily analysis from our renowned judges, our two stunning competitors will have to deal with harrowing daily challenges from split ends to full fat milk and colonic irrigation cleansing! Which Ridge will win? Only you decide.'

Now there's a show with promise.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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