Taskmaster NZ Off to “Terrific Start”

Taskmaster NZ premieres tonight (TVNZ 2, 8.30) on the back of an early rave review from Stuff and the network’s successful launch of Dog Almighty.

“With plenty of frenetic fun, no little artistic skills, the occasional memorable one-liner and a final task that actually has practical applications for the general public, Taskmaster NZ is off to a terrific start,” James Croot wrote on Stuff:

I approached the debut of Taskmaster NZ  with a degree of trepidation. Would Jeremy Wells have the same screen presence as the original Taskmaster Greg Davies? Could the challenges be as inventive, interesting and ingenious? And should whatever quintet they managed to cobble together really have been given 10-episodes off the bat The answer to all three is almost a resounding yes, at least based on the opening episode evidence.

As Croot also noted, adapting hit UK panel formats here can be a risky gambit (remember Would I Lie to You?) while in the US the UK original was pulled after only one episode because of disastrous ratings.

Moreover, not only does the NZ version have to face off against Three’s premiere of the spin-off from one of its most popular shows, 9-1-1: Lone Star, it was Taskmaster Jeremy Wells who told The TV Guide he “suspects” he wasn’t even first choice for the role:

“I think they wanted Jemaine Clement, but he was too expensive,” he says. “Then they were quite keen on Mike Hosking. Again, too expensive. So I think I was the third choice. But by that stage, they were struggling for time, but I fitted in with the budget so I’m happy to fulfil that role as the third favourite.”

But TVNZ has ensured Taskmaster NZ won’t be a one-night wonder: it also will screen 9.35 Thursdays on Duke and repeat 10.50 Fridays on TVNZ 2 after 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown.

TVNZ 2 also has strategically bedded in its version hard-on-the paws of Dog Almighty, the Jono-and-Ben series that launched on Monday and continued on Tuesday.

TVNZ reports the first two episodes reached 783,400 viewers aged 5+ and while Stuff’s Croot thought the premiere entertaining, he argued it was marred by a modern twist: “I can see the appeal of us learning all about the contestants’ human handlers. And there are certainly some characters …

“But did they have to provide the commentary, as well as the initial colour? Listening to their Dance Moms-meets-Googlebox-style stilted encouragement of each other and incessant observations made me yearn for the days of laconic Swanndri-wearing handlers and the measured, dulcet tones of John Gordon.”

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4 Responses to “Taskmaster NZ Off to “Terrific Start””

  1. I wasn’t entirely convinced by Taskmaster NZ … It wasn’t as bad as I had expected, but neither Wells nor non-Alex seemed entirely comfortable with what they were doing. More rehearsals needed, perhaps? Hopefully it gets better, rather than worse. I’d give it a C.

  2. Thanks for your review, Malx. I didn’t watch it (definitely the wrong demo and low JW threshold). What did everyone else think?

  3. Haha Phil @ low JW threshold. They say if you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say it, so I’ll do my best to click submit before saying it was complete shite.

  4. Don’t sugar-coat it, K — say how you really feel …

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