Can you have too much of a good thing?

It's a theory being tested by TVNZ with its current onslaught of reality TV programming, most notably Project Runway NZ and The Great Kiwi Bake Off.

As two of the shiny, new jewels in TVNZ's crown this year, the network went whole hog and also commissioned online companion shows to run alongside them: An Extra Slice for Bake Off and Models of Project Runway. And the results of these sideshows have been mixed.

Kiwi designers and models on Project Runway NZ. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi designers and models on Project Runway NZ. Photo / Supplied

In the case of both franchises, the main events have been really rather good. Project Runway NZ features a decent cast of designers and all the silly challenges I could've ever hoped for. (Design an avant-garde outfit inspired by a Holden Astra? Okay, sure!) The Great Kiwi Bake Off, meanwhile, continues to be one of the most charming programmes of the year.


But what of their wee companion shows?

At first glance, Models of Project Runway has all the ingredients for great telly – models, stressed designers, behind-the-scenes catwalk footage and microphones picking up some of the models' less than kind critiques of their outfits.

The series also gives us another opportunity to enjoy some of the more memorable moments from the main show. Watch again as model Dante nearly passes out under the weight of what looks like 1000 layers of neoprene. Relive designer Massey using a pen to draw on his disastrous red carpet look.

Then the models offer us a few glimpses into their glamorous existences. Maddy, for example, shares her morning routine. "I get dressed. I wash my face. I make a bagel. That's it." Another episode opens with a model talking about getting her hair done for winter. It's as riveting as it sounds.

The Great Kiwi Bakeoff. Photo / Supplied
The Great Kiwi Bakeoff. Photo / Supplied

And much like Massey's sewing, Models of Project Runway feels a little rough around the edges. With nothing in the way of a presenter or even a voice-over, it lacks a certain cohesion on its own.

But over at The Great Kiwi Bake Off, An Extra Slice is a big step up in entertainment value, mostly because it has the one thing Models does not: comedian Chris Parker.

Sitting in his cold little corner of the Bake Off tent, An Extra Slice host Parker's enthusiasm and quick wit are a perfect fit for the franchise.

The episodes are a mix of recaps from the main show and some am-cam footage (which doesn't really add anything except to prove Parker is really there). Each week also features Parker's interviews with the star bakers and eliminated contestants.

And he looks like he's having a blast.

He gets icing on his glasses while conducting blind taste tests of cakes. He sings to a beautiful pavlova. He broaches the subject of a contestant's burnt upside-down pineapple cake by saying, "I've heard it's very cooked". When another contestant laments that their pavlova looks and tastes nothing like pavlova, Parker reassures him, "As long as it identifies as a pav, it doesn't matter."

Comedian Chris Parker. Photo / Supplied.
Comedian Chris Parker. Photo / Supplied.

And with one of the most expressive faces in the business, Parker manages to convey delight, sadness, shock, pride, concern and just the right amount of shade all in the space of 8-10 minutes. He's a natural. I could watch him critique baked goods all day.

But do we really need these companion shows?

In the case of Models of Project Runway, it depends on who's watching.

Anyone with a passing interest in fashion (which, full disclosure, is not me – I wrote this column while dressed in grey trackpants and a T-shirt from fictional workplace Dunder Mifflin) will gladly have a nose at the behind-the-scenes action and enjoy a different perspective on the runway spectacle.

They might struggle to stick through the dull patches, but given the episodes are so short, it's still a safe investment of time to catch those moments of modelling drama.

But in the case of The Great Kiwi Bake Off, we definitely need that Extra Slice. In fact, we need another spin-off from that spin-off. TVNZ commissioners, please make Chris Eats Cake happen in 2019.

The Great Kiwi Bake Off: An Extra Slice and Models of Project Runway are both available via TVNZ OnDemand.