Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: Reno Rumble

TV Preview: Reno Rumble | TV2, 9.45 Wednesday


By Doug Coutts

The news that the latest series of MasterChef NZ is a ratings disaster has probably got them sobbing into their chai lattes at Mediaworks HQ, but it could be a good thing: it could be a sign that viewers are getting sick of reality format shows. And if that’s the case, then Reno Rumble will surely hasten the demise.

It’s not good, not good at all, but then the odds were stacked against it from the start. The producers have merely taken two existing formats, along with the vilest participants ever to appear on them, added some new rules that are even more dodgy and nonsensical than the ones they had before and then hired a bunch of caravans. Before anyone could say “lazy bullshit television”, we’ve got a new series.

Reno Rumble takes contestants from The Block and House Rules, forms them into two teams – red and blue – and sets them a new bunch of challenges. That the Blue team failed to understand the rules from the get-go gives you some indication of how dopey they are – the rules and the contestants.

The flimsy premise is that each team of four couples has to renovate side by side houses which are then given back to the people who lived there on the condition they feign gratitude, cry a lot and don’t mention they didn’t exactly want a retro-contemporary themed water feature in the den. Or even a den.

Each couple has to complete a bedroom, which is then judged, and the team decides who gets to complete each of the other four rooms, which are also judged. The couple that does the best bedroom in each house wins immunity but one couple from the losing house gets kicked off. This all makes perfect sense, kind of, until you start wondering what happens if one team loses three weeks in a row.

You can stop wondering. I’ve done some extra research and it seems that the couples are in fact teams, and the Red and Blue teams aren’t really teams, in which case … no, I’m with the Blues on this. It doesn’t make sense.

It’s not just contrived – Reno Rumble is cynical, exploitative and just plain trashy, put together by people with the creative instincts of builders’ bog.

At least they’re too embarrassed to call it reality – Reno Rumble is ‘event television’; presumably the television you have to watch in the event of your being locked in a room with the remote on the other side of the door and nothing to throw at the screen. Good luck.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at:
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