Tv Review: Taskmaster New Zealand Series 1 Episode 1

taskmaster nz s01e01 indexThere’s been many a version of Taskmaster made in recent years, with America, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Finland all having a shot at creating their own take on the show. Some have been enormous fun and just as good as the superlative UK version, with Norway’s series capturing its joyful spirit best for me, while the American one was the worst and didn’t quite work due to it being only 20 odd minutes long and feeling rather rushed.

Now New Zealand have got in on the act, and at this point given the number UK series and all of the alternative versions you’d think they’d have no excuse not to capture just why the series is so much fun, and they’ve come quite close. Perhaps most importantly when making the show you need to ensure that the hosts have genuine chemistry and aren’t afraid to mock or tease the contestants, and with this version it’s almost there, host Jeremy Wells is no Greg Davies and needs to be harsher when scoring but he came out with a fair few decent lines, and sidekick Paul Williams is a strong choice, a little awkward and offbeat and so suitably funny, while also not taking any nonsense from the contestants.

As I’ve commented in reviews of the UK edition, it’s a show that lives or dies based on what the contestants are like, and they don’t need to be naturally funny either as David Baddiel proved in series 9 by being an abject idiot who was confused by most of the tasks, or Joe Thomas in series 8 who was seemingly alarmed by the entire world. With this it’s a mixed bag, Angella Dravid is beautifully deadpan and very funny and so is my current favourite, but Guy Williams’ competitive and argumentative nature when performing the tasks has led to a good few funny moments and that puts him in second place. Leigh Hart’s a bit of a dick which is amusing sometimes and not at others and so he might go either way, Brynley Stent is only okay, and Madeleine Sami is unfortunately rather bland and not adding much to the show, but hopefully that’ll change over time.

The tasks themselves weren’t the best that have ever been created but they weren’t too bad, the prize task was fine but as with the UK edition rarely that interesting, while the making a letter themed sculpture was easily the best as it allowed them to show off their creative side. The making a cocktail task was often weak frustratingly, not giving the contestants much of a chance to do anything daft or imaginative, but at least the hitting fruit with bread one was a return to form and contained a a lot of amusing moments. Finally it was downhill again with the studio task where they had to pack a suitcase, as watching them do so was drab indeed, but then it’s rare for the studio task to ever be that good when Greg and co are involved and I really wish it was dropped from all of the versions of the series.

Overall it’s pretty good then, there are certain aspects which need to be sharpened, Jeremy Wells needs to be a little crueller, and the mixture of the type of tasks featured would work better if there was at least one less physical task and one further creative one, there’s been so many devised by the UK series that they really don’t have any excuses not to feature such a thing. It’s definitely a hell of a lot better than the American series any way, and shows a lot of potential, if you’re not a Taskmaster fan it’s unlikely to convert you to the joys of the series but if you are it’s definitely worth seeking out.

★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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Related Links:
Our review of Taskmaster UK Series 10 Episode 1
Our review of Taskmaster UK Series 9 Episode 1
Our review of Taskmaster UK Series 8 Episode 1
Our review of Taskmaster UK Series 7 Episode 1

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