The best and worst reality TV coming
PREPARE to be bombarded as the networks launch their big ticket reality shows for the second half of 2017. Whether it's cooking, renovating, relationships or celebs that float your boat, there's something for everyone. But which shows will sink or swim? Anna Brain has checked them out.
Ten, 7.30pm tonight
No surprises here. Matty J is an affable single, a known quantity since he was passed over by Bachelorette Georgia Love. The camera loves him and so will viewers, as he diplomatically wrangles a gaggle of women vying for his attention. Matty has all the answers in his welcome chat with Osher. "I believe in love at first conversation," he says. "You need a deeper connection than just thinking someone is beautiful." Of course, it doesn't hurt if she's beautiful, and these ladies are no slouches in the looks department.
Natalie is the one to watch, a 26-year-old midwife with no filter. She says she broke her off her last relationship (with a woman) after seeing a shirtless Matty J on TV.
"I'm not going to say it turned me straight again, but in some ways, it turned me straight again." Soft lighting, candles and roses; fans will enjoy the familiarity of a carefully concocted love story. It's a classic case of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'
Ten, 7.30pm Sunday, July 30
Play some mind games? Don't mind if we do. Every one of the 24 Aussies in Samoa for Survivor is a veteran of the game ... from home. But this is real. Some of their approaches are well thought out, such as Jericho, an intense chap who says his religion will carry him. "And if there's bloodshed, I hope I drag someone down to hell with me." Then there's the middle-aged bloke who says "my current strategy is that I'm a d---head," ... quite the mixed bag. Producer Stephen Tate says it's essential that players are duplicitous.
"Firstly we look for robust players who are tough enough to survive the elements for 55 days and then, yes we are looking for game players. People who get that this is a game that requires big moves. You can't hide under a rock and expect the Survivor Jury to hand you half a million dollars at the end of the game."
It's hard to keep a repeat format feeling fresh, but Survivor is smart - itself a survivor of the reality genre - getting contestants to do all the hard work.
This Time Next Year
Nine, Monday, July 31, 8.40pm
Didn't want to like this, couldn't help it. Hosted by Karl Stefanovic, the divisive brekkie host in need of some image maintenance, it's a smart format done well. Everyone loves a before and after, but they're usually padded out with loads of waffle in between. Not so here. Guests make a pledge that this time next year they make a major change in their life; have a baby, lose 50kg, learn to walk again, find a life partner. Then hey presto, we jump forward 12 months to see the result. Tear-jerking stuff, it tells great stories and is ably hosted by Stefanovic whose short interview banter has been finely honed on Today. Will it be the prime time hit he needs? Maybe not. But it should draw a decent crowd following on from The Block.
Seven, 7pm Sunday, August 6
Channel Seven is pinning its hopes on Marco Pierre White, billed as the bloke who eats Gordon Ramsay for breakfast. The formidable host is a natural from the outset, curtly informing his celebrity cooks he has never heard of them.
"Some of you know me, some do not," he says. "I don't know any of you at all. I'm sure you're famous, and successful. But what's important to me is why we're here."
Celebrity shows are often criticised for B, C and D-list players, but this cast is a great mix. We have villains (former pollie David Oldfield and deluded Real Housewife Pettifleur Berenger), competitive athletes (Candice Warner and Jess Fox), actors (Debra Lawrance and Lincoln Lewis), radio's Sam Frost and an import, Geordie Shore star Gaz Beadle.
The Chase's Issa Schultz is a standout, utterly intimidated by Marco, and their bond will be one to watch if Schultz survives in the kitchen.
After 15 minutes of awkward introductions it's challenge time; cooking three courses for 60 guests. Bear in mind that some of these guys can't boil an egg.
Hell's Kitchen might lose some viewers to ratings powerhouse The Block, but for those with reno-fatigue, this new series offers a welcome alternative.
Nine, 7pm Sunday, July 30
Same old, yet not ... Scott Cam could host this show in his sleep, but to keep contestants on their toes (and Cam from nodding off) they've chosen houses, instead of apartments, to be transformed. Trucked in to a Melbourne site, the old homes with period features mean it's not just a case of making them look pretty, teams must factor in heritage details.
A cast of the usual suspects includes pretty young things, wise older things, and a pair of quirky mates for good measure. There are new rules, such as challenge winner's ability to penalise other teams financially. Don't overthink it; if you like reno shows, this one is for you.