1. Come Dine With Me NZ is perfect right out of the oven
There is no better illustration of MediaWorks' maniacal new direction than it absent-mindedly plopping Come Dine With Me in the slot formerly reserved for Campbell Live. This innocent-but-foolish programming decision has lead to mind-meltingly dumb exhortations to boycott all 3 News products - as Karl Puschmann pointed out last week, that'll definitely persuade them to pour resources into that poor, battered newsroom. And it's lead to vengeful rage directed at poor, battered giant Guy Williams, the narrator of Come Dine With Me - ironically one of the channel's most vocal supporters of Campbell Live and its worldview.
All this merry chaos has obscured that fact that Come Dine With Me NZ itself is looking an absolute gem. As Chris Schulz pointed out in his defense of the show, the food is refreshingly terrible - burned buns and baked beans and all that. This and a matchlessly weird first crop of contestants help make it an instant member of that pantheon of imported reality shows - think NZ's Next Top Model and The Bachelor - we've most profoundly made our own.
2. Dom's eyes tell all on Dancing With the Stars
Lost amongst Colin's controversial cornrow experiment and Jay-Jay's horrifying slo-mo tumble was one of the great bungled cuts-to-ads in recent memory. Say what you want about X Factor, but that show was slicker than Simon Barnett's waxed chest, and thus sets an imposing production bar which Dancing With the Stars can't help but blunder into. Hosts drop unintentional c-bombs, the number of the beast is regularly flashed on screen and the background graphics look like a Windows '97-era screensaver. But my favourite mangled moment was so slight you could easily have missed it. As seen in the Vine above, Dom threw to the judges with an enthusiasm entirely absent in Candy Lane, who looks nervously around, while the show's rambunctious theme jigs away. Then the camera cuts back to Dom who looks at it quizzically, as if trying to understand how he, the greatest host this country has ever produced, ended up on such a jucy el cheapo show. It's only a blink-and-you'll-miss-it instant, but it was the best fun I had watching TV this week.
3. Shortland Street's winter season lukewarm debut
The nights are getting colder and darker, luckily Shortland Street has lit its almighty beacon of explosive drama and launched the winter season to see you through these chilly months. With hour-long episodes every Monday, the show categorically promises to "turn up the heat" as temperatures drop. So far, it seems that the only heat that has been turned up is on Pixie's family oven to cook her up another batch of hash brownies. Which is pretty on point in terms of current affairs, but as I wrote earlier this week, not going to set the world ablaze just yet. Talking of ovens, Bella also has a bun in hers - the announcement shocking Jimmy to the very core of his Ezibuy pleather jacket. Will she keep it? Will they stay together? Will he take his earring out? I can feel that promised heat rising already. Also look out for Boyd's pioneering venture - printing out a man a new face on his 3D printer. The future is here. The future is Ferndale. Get caught up by watching the latest instalment of James Mustapic's tremendous Shorty Street Scandal series below - it's no coincidence that the new Shorty villain Reuben shares his last name by the way.
4. Trippy redneck vibes on TV3's Reality Trip
Amidst the launch of Come Dine With Me, and banshee screams that Guy Williams had punched John Campbell square in the jaw and run off into the sunset with Rachel Glucina, TV3 premiered another incredible reality series that felt like it was criminally under-watched. The documentary forces a group of young New Zealanders around the world to better understand where their favourite consumer products come from. Everyone should be talking about this show. Not only is the premise wonderful and genuinely eye-opening - the talent is far more exciting than Come Dine's Tony wearing a Hugh Hefner robe. How about Steph Lai, the 21 year-old former Miss Asia NZ who only just made a bed for the first time in her life. Or Kieran, the 25 year-old radio engineer with the tense redneck views of an old man sitting on a porch with a shotgun. First up, they head to the Philippines to make copper coils to go inside phones. It's a tedious job which, much like Chinese water torture, forces captives to eventually reveal their innermost thoughts. Tune in to hear Kieran's astounding views on immigrants, women and beneficiaries.
5. One Doubles Down on Real(ity) Estate with House Hunt
Not content with bringing us 1000 hours of Our First Home earlier in the year, TVNZ has laid the foundations of more real estate drama with the debut of House Hunt, a show which follows young New Zealanders as they try and jump onto the runaway freight train that is our property market - in Auckland and Christchurch, at least.
The first episode featured an Otara couple with $400,000 to spend being repeatedly knocked back from any kind of house, which was deeply poignant. The show resolutely avoided looking at the various factors which are driving this generation-defining scenario, which was a little disappointing. But that was more than compensated by the quiet lunacy of the other couple featured, Christchurch's Martin and Helena. She is lovely and personable, and has moved from England to live with Martin, who seems entirely reasonable - apart from one bizarre fixation. Narrating genius Bill Kerton allows him room to grow into a strange, obsessed caricature, ranting constantly about tiles: "I don't like the tiles"; "I don't know why they don't tile"; "that's what I mean about bathrooms. Rather than an acrylic shower - tiles!" He's exactly the kind of weird fish these shows demand, and usually get. As a result House Hunt, market analysis-related omissions aside, looks like a winner.
Mandatory Weekend Viewing:
- The cult time-traveling romance series just wrapped its first season - down it all in one go to dose up on kilts and fireside romps.
Movie: The Sessions, TV3, Sunday at 10.30pm - John Hawkes stars alongside Helen Hunt as a man in an iron lung determined to lose his virginity. Sweet, funny and a triumphant supporting role from William H Macy.
Watch: Celebrity Wife Swap, Prime, Friday at 9.30pm - reality star Kendra Wilkinson swaps lives with octomom Kate Gosselin. Seems weird. Why don't their husbands get swapped? Still - this show is always horrifically entertaining.