The World Cup is finally here, and rugby mania lurks at every turn. It haunts our offices and schools, heaves from our supermarket shelves and holds a vice-like grip on our news cycles. It's even found its way into the strange parallel universe inhabited by the hosts of Kiwi Living.
TV One's prime time lifestyle show appears to be set in a place outside of our own space and time - although host Miriama Kamo correctly alludes to the fact that it's nighttime, you can clearly see through the window behind her that it's still light outside, and celebrity chef Michael Van de Elzen is in the kitchen cooking breakfast. What the hell is going on?
In Friday night's special World Cup edition of the show, the four hosts - Kamo, Van de Elzen, Erin Simpson and fitness guru Lee-Anne Wann - have invited a couple of rugby experts to join them in the house they all appear to share as flatmates, or perhaps prisoners. Phil Gifford and Richard Turner perch uneasily on the couch, laughing nervously at every question. They may not make it out of here alive.
The house is a curiously-decorated state of affairs. There's a huge, psychedelic artwork on one of the walls, and through the window the garden looks so overgrown that barely any natural light can break through. The living area is shrouded in a perpetual gloom. Every light in the house must to be kept on at all times.
It's a relief to get out of there for a bit and join Lee-Anne down at the park with Josh Kronfeld, who's going to put her through an All Blacks-style workout. "We're gonna get muddy and we're gonna get into the grind."
What Josh has failed to notice is that they're on an artificial turf - there's not a hint of mud in sight, just hundreds of thousands of tiny rubber beads which are going to end up getting in his shoes.
In the end they go to a completely different park just to get a shot of Lee-Anne doing a press-up in the mud and spare Josh's blushes. But almost immediately he blows it again, ending the segment by pushing her off of a tackle bag and announcing "that's the end of the show". Mate, what are you doing? The show still has 50 minutes to go.
Back at the Kiwi Living house, chef Mike is emptying about 15 different types of beans into a pot. This isn't good. Could we have some kind of Jonestown scenario on our hands? "This is: 'Mike's baked beans'" announces Miriama, her tone darkly euphemistic. Phil and Richard look like they might be sick. They warily shovel some beans into their mouths.
They don't die. For reasons known only to him, Mike has decided to let them live. "This is sensational," says Phil. He's talking about the beans, but you suspect he could also be describing his profound sense of relief.
After this tense scene it's time for some fresh air with Matt Gibb. His segment is called 'Everywhere Man,' but he is also very much 'nowhere' - for unexplained reasons Matt has been exiled from the Kiwi Living house and must now spend his days endlessly driving around the backblocks of rural New Zealand.
Today he's on a pilgrimage to Kurow, searching for signs of our Rugby God. Will Richie McCaw appear in a slice of toast, a birthmark, a salt and vinegar chip? Will his portrait at the rugby club miraculously begin to cry if the All Blacks don't win?
Some predict he will one day return to drink among the mortals at the Kurow Tavern, which has kept all its bunting up from the 2011 World Cup, but the best place to look for the big man may well be up in the sky - gliding high above Omarama, as seen in some old news footage, where he tells the reporter: "It's quite nice just to float up there, no one hassling you or annoying you."
In the second half the show stumbles and loses its way. We stray wildly from the World Cup theme for a segment where a man enthusiastically lays a new lawn. Erin Simpson keeps herself busy decorating a man cave. The cave's recipients seem slightly nonplussed by the renovations, but Erin barrells on regardless, cheerfully adding one final flourish with a sign on the door bearing the commandment: 'What Happens In The Man Cave Stays In The Man Cave.'
Back in the living room, Miriama calls full time and our hosts bid us farewell with an eager but unconvincing cheer of, "Go the mighty All Blacks" .
There's an unmistakable sadness to their voices as they stare down the prospect of another week trapped in this house in a dimension all of its own - unable to tell day from night, just staring at that enormous psychedelic painting, eating Mike's baked beans, going slowly mad.