In late 2012 Campbell Live showed that dogs could be taught new tricks, when canines Monty and Porter got behind the wheel of a Mini Countryman and took it for a racetrack spin. On 10 December in a "world first" live test drive, Monty went solo and Porter (nearly) drove reporter Tristram Clayton around a bend. The following night saw definitive evidence that dogs can turn corners. The stunt was an SPCA campaign to change perception about the intelligence of rescued canines. Animal wrangler Mark Vette trained the driving dogs, who attracted global media attention.
In the final episode of the season, larrikin presenters Bill and Ben pretend to offend rugby league stars Monty Betham and Awen Guttenbeil (with a nod to American Beauty). The show's closing references the controversial finale of The Sopranos (complete with mocking soundtrack), and there are cameos from Karl Urban and Temuera Morrison. Ben revels in extended torture of Bill, while Auckland Blues coach Pat Lam concentrates on golfing. Elsewhere a shop dummy does some begging, and a unique interpretation of cross-training enrages a passing screen producer.
Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.
Based on a UK reality format, Dancing with the Stars sees a line-up of celebrities paired with a professional dance partner, and put through ballroom dance routines. Judges and a public vote eliminate a pair each week. A five time winner of best programme in its category, the show played for five hit seasons on TVNZ, hosted by Jason Gunn and Candy Lane. In 2015 it was relaunched by Great Southern TV for TV3; Dominic Bowden and Sharyn Casey hosted. Dai Henwood and Casey presented the seventh series in 2018. Winners have included Norm Hewitt and and Suzanne Paul.
Long-running series Marae DIY brings a tangata whenua twist to the home renovation format. Series creator Nevak Rogers describes the bilingual production as "the programme which helps marae knock out their 10 year plans in just four days". The drama of the building mahi is mixed with humour, whānau-spirit, tikanga (protocol) and history, and even makeovers for the nannies. For Marae DIY's 11th season in 2015, it shifted from Māori Television to TV3. In 2007 the 'Manutuke Marae' episode won a Qantas Award for Best Reality Show.
Mum is cornrowing Dad’s hair for a costume party in this final episode inspired by the lyrics of a track sent in by a series' fan (“Halloween party, Halloween!/ Halloween party, Halloween!”). Cousin Ira lures the twins into the lair of enemy band the Rugged Sharks, where they realise they are the wait staff. No one gets Kowhai’s Riddler costume and Monty drinks to ease the pain. This 10-part animated music biz satire stars Jessica Hansell and Rizvan Tu’itahi as Kowhai and Monty Hook; Madeleine Sami as mum; Frankie Stevens as dad and Scotty Cotter as cousin Ira.
Kowhai and Monty Hook run into some chic city girls at the dairy who invite them to play at an art opening. Under the influence of his mum’s “alternative medicine”, Monty pens an ode to spaghetti which Kowhai tries to reframe as a feminist thinkpiece. Crooner Frankie Stevens voices the twins’ slightly scary dad in this 10-part animated series created by Jessica Hansell. Wellington animators Skyranch is a collective of artist/musicians including Luke Rowell aka Disasteradio, responsible for the background sight gags.
Inspired by her idol, the all-dancing, singing and acting Alaze Rhetoric, Kowhai forces Monty to attend dance lessons so they too can bring a triple threat. But hot Euro dance teacher Francine (voiced by Madeleine Sami) is blind to Kowhai’s self-proclaimed talent and only has eyes for Monty. The voices for Jessica Hansell’s 10-part web series about the music biz were recorded in a single afternoon, with crooner Frankie Stevens onboard as the twins’ ex-army dad. Comic use of a dairy doorbell merits special mention in this Aroha Bridge episode.
Monty’s crappy administration skills prompt the Hook twins (Jessica Hansell aka musician Coco Solid and Rizvan Tu’itahi) to look for a manager in Hansell’s 10-part animated web comedy about a band dreaming of stardom. At the Aroha Bridge dairy they run into intriguing Scotsman Dougie (Frankie Stevens, also the voice of the twins’ macho dad) who just happens to be carrying all the right management literature under his arm – but Monty is suspicious of his motives. Aroha Bridge is based on Hansell’s comic strip Hook Ups, for music magazine Volume.
The Manawatu has provided fertile ground for New Zealand comedic talent, including producing six-person comedy group Facial DBX.