A TV network taking a punt on new local content is always a welcome move. It's even better when that gamble actually pays off.
Case in point? Three's Comedy Pilot Week.
Those of you who can still remember as far back as last September may recall Three airing five local half-hour sitcom pilots, with ratings and viewer feedback determining which – if any of them – would be picked up for a full run.
And despite this country's very patchy history of producing watchable sitcoms, two of those pilots were each given the green light to become an eight-part series: Mean Mums, a South Pacific Pictures production that got the highest overall rating during the experiment, and MediaWorks' own contribution, Golden Boy.
Both shows finally premiered last night in a rare local comedy double bill, with Mean Mums first out of the gate to prove its worth as a fully fledged series.
Written by Amanda Alison, the show focuses on three women who make up the fundraising committee at a primary school.
Morgana O'Reilly stars as single mum Jess, who's desperate to become friends with her fellow committee members, Hine (Aroha Rawson), an unflappable mother of five, and Heather (Anna Jullienne), the prickly, perfectionist super-mum of your schoolyard nightmares.
I have to admit (especially since I wrote it in this very column back in September) that I didn't especially care for the original Mean Mums pilot. While the three leads all had great charisma, the jokes about mums in the school yard were all ones I'd heard a thousand times before.
Thankfully, those jokes have sharpened up since the pilot episode aired. While an early, juvenile gag about a sausage sizzle poster featuring some unfortunate sausage and coin placement had me dreading what was to follow for the next 20 minutes, this new episode had some decent zingers – and next week's schoolyard nits caper looks even better.
While Jullienne gets the lion's share of the good lines as Heather snips about the "street value" of the sausages given away at a fundraiser, it's still hard to beat O'Reilly's sparkly energy as Jess, as she perfectly encapsulates the show's comedy-with-a-heart-of-gold vibe.
The show is appropriately sitcom sweet but with just enough sting in its tail to avoid syrupy territory, helped in part by Cori Gonzalez-Macuer's turn as grumpy school caretaker, Freddy.
Mean Mums also has the undeniable advantage of running immediately after Three's biggest TV property, The Block NZ – but hopefully viewers also hang on long enough to take in Golden Boy, because it's the real treat of this double bill.
Set in the fictional small town of Crawdon, the show stars Hayley Sproull as Mitch, a recent journalism graduate who's found herself back home and struggling in the shadow of her All Black brother, Tama (James Rolleston).
Stacked with an embarrassment of comedy riches and famous Kiwi faces both on screen and behind the scenes – including Dean O'Gorman, Madeleine Sami, Kimberly Crossman, Rima Te Wiata and Kura Forrester, just to name a few – Golden Boy has also made a few changes for the better since its pilot.
The original episode alluded to some big mystery surrounding Tama, but the writers seem to have done away with that (for now, anyway) and instead focused on the foibles of Mitch, her love interest Aussie Dave (O'Gorman) and the endearing, completely bonkers inhabitants of Crawdon, who are so obsessed with their resident All Black, they make a point of saving his cardboard cut-out in a fire.
The first episode is certainly busy with a speed dating night at the local pub to contend with, but remarkably there isn't a single dud character among its sprawling cast, with the townspeople and their quirks staying just the right side of ridiculous.
It's also refreshing to see the show turn the fact they couldn't get Rawiri Paratene back to play Mitch's dad into a situation where Mitch has two mums instead – and have that family unit treated as the completely normal set-up that it is.
Golden Boy is genuinely funny and proves the perfect dessert for following the more wholesome serving of Mean Mums, making for quite the double act. But, of course, the real proof of the pudding will be in the eating, i.e. cold, hard ratings.
So I have my fingers crossed viewers will show up in their droves, because if it convinces MediaWorks to take another gamble on fresh, scripted Kiwi comedy like this, that can only be a good thing.
Mean Mums and Golden Boy air at 8.35pm and 9.05pm Tuesdays on Three.