Picks of the week: MASTERCHEF NEW ZEALAND and MY KITCHEN RULES
Chances are Raglan cook Aaron Brunet will win MasterChef on Sunday night. The 42-year-old, who is earnest but clearly excited by food, has been by far the most consistent of the contestants, even though he got flustered during the making of his Turduckenqua, with guest judge Martin Bosley saying "it completely died on the plate".
But his two dishes in last week's semifinal, where he had to recreate chef Simon Wright of The French Cafe's quail with pancetta, mushrooms, chestnuts, croissants and truffle butter, along with a vanilla cream dessert, were "sublime" (Ray McVinnie's words) replicas. Still, he also showed a few nerves by melting a plastic dish on the stove top during service and forgetting the chives to go with the quail, only to be reminded by Wright at the last minute.
Following the semifinal elimination of Kelly Kaihea, Brunet goes up against likeable Nelson cook Paula Saengthian-Ngam. She comes across as shy and lacking in confidence, but is a natural cook who, to borrow a phrase from the judges, "puts herself on the plate". For her, it's all about passion, although as she admitted in the semifinal, she is not a fine-dining chef, which may not bode well for her in the final.
In the two-hour finale, the pair face four challenges. The first is a taste test set by McVinnie, before they set about creating a three-course menu with the entree overseen by fine-dining maestro Tony Astle.
Then the contestants must replicate a main set by chef and host of MasterChef Australia, George Calombaris, and finally they attempt the nightmare dessert known as "The Croquembouche Mark II".
Meanwhile, the My Kitchen Rules final on Monday will see young brother and sister team Jake and Elle and Queensland couple Dan and Steph square off. And if the MasterChef contestants think they have it tough in their final then spare a thought for the Australians, who must cook a five-course feast for 100 people with an extremely tight deadline.
Now that Ashlee and Sophia have gone, MKR may lack the verbal fireworks, but one thing's for sure, these remaining two teams can cook.
MASTERCHEF NEW ZEALAND
When: Sunday, 7.30pm
Where: TV One
What: The final cook-off
MY KITCHEN RULES
When: Monday, 8pm
What: Two teams, one winner
Sitcom pick: TWO AND A HALF MEN
It's been a year since internet billionaire Walden Schmidt stumbled into a Malibu beach house and bought the property where tightly wound chiropractor Alan Harper and his slacker teenage son Jake resided, and thus a year since Ashton Kutcher took over from Charlie Sheen.
Jake has now decided to join the army, and Alan and Walden seem to be having some luck in their respective relationships, so things are looking up for the bumbling trio.
In the 10th season premiere, Walden is going all out to woo his lovely British girlfriend Zoey on her birthday, and make it memorable by proposing to her. Of course this leaves Alan a little nervous - if Zoey and Walden get married, he'll have to move out again. But as always in sitcom land, things don't quite go to plan.
When: Wednesday, 7.30pm
What: Three bumbling men
Documentary pick: CLIMBED EVERY MOUNTAIN
Their story became widely known only after the release of one of the most enduringly popular 20th century films - The Sound of Music - but the true story of the Von Trapp family singers remains a source of fascination, for its mixture of music, fame, and danger.
In this new documentary, Nicholas Hammond, who played Friedrich, the eldest Von Trapp son in the classic 1965 film, travels to old immigration station Ellis Island, and the family estate in Vermont, to discover how they escaped Austria and became a successful singing group in America. He also returns to Salzburg to find out how Austrians feel about the musical and film. Bizarrely it was first performed there nearly 50 years after the film was released. Hammond will also be in Auckland to host "An Evening With Julie Andrews" when she appears at The Civic on June 5.
When: Sunday, 8.35pm
What: The true story of the Von Trapp family
Crime pick: THE KILLING
Screening just three days after its American premiere, the third season of this intense police drama starts off a year after Detective Sarah Linden and her partner Holder closed the difficult and twisted Rosie Larsen case. Linden is no longer a detective, having taken her life in a different direction - she's living on an island, working for a ferry company, and she's got a cute boyfriend. Holder is still in the force, with a new partner, and making a good name for himself as a homicide detective.
It's when Holder's search for a runaway street girl leads him to discover a gruesome string of murders, that Linden is drawn back into an investigation.
When: Wednesday, 8.30pm
What: A wider, tougher, new case
Comedy pick: THE NEIGHBORS
Peter Sarsgaard is a new key cast member, playing Ray Seward, a death-row inmate who may just hold a key to the investigation.
This new ABC comedy, just renewed for a second season in the US, has been billed as a science-fiction sitcom - a genre last visited in cult-hit 3rd Rock From The Sun. It revolves around the Weaver family, which has decided to move into the gated community of Hidden Hills. It seems like the perfect place to make their home, until they meet their oddball neighbours. The Weavers can't figure them out. Are they a cult? Or Amish? Or are they just really foreign? Really foreign it turns out - they're all the way from planet Zabvron. It seems the entire gated community is made up of aliens that have taken human form while they've been stuck on Earth for the past 10 years - except that they receive nourishment through their eyes and mind by reading books rather than eating, and cry green goo from their ears.
When: Wednesday, 8pm
What: Take me to your leader