How do we introduce the new kids on The Block?

That was the question producers of the New Zealand version (Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7.30pm, TV3) of the hit Aussie television show might have faced if they weren't working with a format.

I'd imagine they weren't allowed to deviate too far from the show's blueprint.

So, rather than getting the inspiring, creative thinking you'd expect to see toward the end of a competitive renovations show, we got the inevitable gimmicky opening race between the contestants to a) find their free utes, b) find a small red block in the sponsor's hardware store and c) navigate their way to one of four Takapuna do-ups for a shot at winning $80,000 in prize money.


Does all this running around amount to finding the country's most talented and resourceful DIY/amateur interior designers? No, but presumably it was to give us a glimpse of the talent and how they work together under pressure.

So where are the oldies? The four competing couples barely have a wrinkle between them. Sarah, 21, and Richard, 24, the youngest of the bunch, are already renovating their first house. Libby, 29 and Ben, 31, are brother and sister and appear to be the most competitive.

They claim to get along well but Libby does most of the talking, usually over her brother. Ginny, 22 and Rhys, 23, from "the beautiful Neekee" (New Plymouth for those who don't speak New Zild) are my favourites: Ginny made the mistake of reading her iPhone map, quite possibly on bus route mode, as Rhys drove to Bunnings. "Babe, it's the phone, I swear to God."

Later, they told the camera they looked after each other. Cut to Ginny telling Rhys what to do. "That one there! Go get it!" Yes ma'am.

Finally, there were DIY newbies and the show's only parents, Rachel, 35, and Tyson, 36, who took forever to find their ute and moved with as much urgency as a blind turtle.

Because The Block is the most expensive non-drama ever made in New Zealand, you expect to hear from the sponsor every now and then.

But if the Bunnings marketing department did a shot of tequila every time they heard their store's name uttered, they would not have been allowed anywhere near those utes.

Their profile put MasterChef's Countdown sponsorship to shame. Freedom clearly didn't pay as much for the privilege and barely got a screen shot of their branding.

We got to see how good the contestants are at craftsmanship only when host Mark Richardson offered them the chance to build a toolbox as quickly as possible, thereby risk drilling through their partner's finger.

This is going to be one drawn-out show. The couples made it to The Block but were we all allowed inside? Not until the very end when we got a glimpse of next week's viewing.

Reality TV is all about extremes, of course, but I can't say I'm all that excited about watching the couples clean cruddy old toilets, sweep up debris or patch up brick walls that look as though they've been deliberately slammed with wrecking balls.

Save the hammer for the auctions. I'll tune again in when they've cleaned things up a bit.

* What did you think of The Block? Post your comments below.