Opening episode of popular show lots of fun but wait until the terrible repetition and preening judges kick in.

Here we go again in the game that never ends - you know, the one where the television people make out they know local talent and that they really want to give it the big break.

Well, ha bloody ha to that, I say. Which is all by way of mentioning that the most awful and, at the same time, most popular of those talent shows is back.

It's called - as if you didn't know - NZ's Got Talent and, like that other homegrown hit Nothing Trivial, the title is a little misleading.

But that doesn't matter, because the opening episode on Sunday (TV One, 7.30pm) was hugely and expensively entertaining and filled with the sort of winning distractions, the laughs, the thrills and the tears that only first encounters can bring.


Though, of course, the blush fades quickly from the cheeks of these shows as the terrible repetition and the limited vocabulary and the endless preening of the celebrity judges begins to gnaw at you.

But as I said, Sunday's opener was just fine and fun too, down in Dunedin on the first leg of the show's heats with a rag-tag line-up of the semi-talented and misguided.

And these shows do love the misguided, one of whom, on Sunday, dressed in a sombrero, clogs and a kilt over his PJ bottoms to sing his way, at admirable speed, through the names of the countries of the world.

I'm not saying that was a high point of the show, but it was certainly a point, as was the bloke doing a dance with some flags and Bill Watson from Timaru, an 83-year-old magician with a scary stare.

NZ's Got Talent is a concept show that takes all sorts - singers, conjurers, a 9-year-old drummer and rather a lot of dancers.

For that, blame this year's new international judge, Cris Judd, a dance dude who has worked with Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. The first episode was awash in dancers, from a mini-Michael Jackson through a hot dance troupe called Identity to a slightly alarming Highland group.

But enough about the so-called talent. It's the three judges who get the camera action on this show, along with a certain amount for presenter Tamati Coffey, slimmed down since his appearance on the first series of NZ's Got Talent, and, dare I say, camped up a little with his delivery style, which might be fun, for a while.

There's no change, elsewhere, with supermodel Rachel Hunter and musician Jason Kerrison back on the judging panel. Rachel - "I'm so excited" - shouted yes to almost everyone who took the stage.

Jason, Mr Slick, called everyone, including a mere child, "man". Cris, who seemed relatively circumspect in the face of so much variable dancing talent, said, "I'm honoured".

Having weathered the campaign of last year's first series of NZ's Got Talent, I did notice certain themes coming round again - the inevitable old lady singer with a not-bad voice.

There were some good performers. One, called Mansell, melted everyone with a folksy take on One Direction's Little Things.

But, for my money, the best act was a wild-eyed sheila called Jo who redefined interpretive dancing when she "signed" to Wherever I Lay My Hat.