TVNZ hasn't traditionally been known for taking risks. But then 2018 rolled around.

First, they went and signed up Jeremy Wells to co-host their flagship daily current affairs show. And now they've gone and hired his buddies Matt Heath and Mike Lane from the Alternative Commentary Collective to join their Commonwealth Games coverage.

Positioned over on the network's Duke channel, Heath and Lane are beaming live into New Zealand's living rooms every weeknight for the duration of the Games as co-hosts of The Moment, a quick and dirty wrap of highlights and other talking points from the day's action.

That's right, live.


As we ponder that fact, let's not forget Heath and Lane's Alternative Commentary Collective is the outfit that's famous for its overly sexual remarks about the nation's cricketers and wound up being banned from the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Once upon a time, the chances of TVNZ hiring these guys to cover a major sporting event were about the same as me winning gold in the high jump (i.e. zero). But thank God they have.

Don't get me wrong. Watching several hours of lawn bowls or badminton does sound riveting. But, frankly, who has the time? A half-hour hot mess of Commonwealth Games gags and - very occasionally - some sports action is much more this time-poor viewer's cup of tea.

With live TV, there's always that little thrill of knowing it could go wrong at any time, but that tension is on a knife-edge when it comes to The Moment. Because while Heath and Lane might be broadcasting on a TVNZ channel, they also know they can't play things too safe, lest they alienate the dedicated following they've built elsewhere. So the duo have skated close to the line with some of their Games remarks thus far.

"Sniper One, take the shot," said Lane, as 15-year-old Australian singer Ruel performed at the opening ceremony.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing her snatch," said Lane (again) as they rolled footage from the women's weightlifting on day one.

Oh dear.

In an attempt to give their short series some semblance of cohesion, Heath and Lane walk us through a handful of regular features during each episode of The Moment.


My personal favourite is the slot they've reserved for poking fun at the TVNZ talent covering the Games over on the grown-up channels.

One night, they're chatting to sports presenter Andrew Saville while he dangles his legs ("great pins!") in a spa and rightly mocking him when he suggests he's not old enough to remember the 1990 Commonwealth Games. The next, they're grilling veteran broadcaster Peter Williams about a hypothetical situation involving $20 million and a tenacious, deadly snail. (Don't ask.)

Heath and Lane also routinely skewer New Zealand's favourite medal table - the per capita version – on the show, with a different variant of that theme each evening. Think 'flightless fauna to medals' or 'Warriors fans to medals', instead of boring old population statistics.

And, of course, there's the Alternative Commentary Collective signature move: coming up with a nickname for a famous Kiwi athlete. Games recipients thus far include Eliza McCartney, Tom Walsh and, in a particularly toe-curling moment, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.

It's no surprise The Moment often ventures into the juvenile, but some real gems have managed to surface, such as their ruthless-yet-hilarious commentary on the farce that is competitive walking. The show is also quite rough in parts, but that's all part of the charm.

For smoother, more professional commentary on the day's events (as well as actual coverage of the day's events) you would need to flip the channel back to Toni Street and her colleagues over on TVNZ 1. But then you'd miss the Games' multi-coloured koala mascot Borobi being described as a "chlamydia-ridden Pokemon". It's a tough choice.

The Moment was designed to add an amusing and unpredictable counterpoint to TVNZ's Games coverage and, at the time of writing, it's certainly achieved that. Although there's still five days of the Commonwealth Games to go, so this little experiment could yet go down in flames.

But let's hope not - because it's an experiment that's definitely worth rolling out again for whatever TVNZ's next major sporting event happens to be.

• The Moment screens weeknights throughout the Commonwealth Games on TVNZ Duke at 8.30pm. Watch on demand here.