Review: New Zealand's Got Talent

04:01, Sep 10 2012
New Zealand's Got Talent judges
TALENT SPOTTERS: New Zealand's Got Talent judges Ali Campbell, Jason Kerrison and model Rachel Hunter.

Four years after Prime's semi-successful go at New Zealand's Got Talent, the show is back via a TVNZ reboot.

The choice of judges seemed at first a bit odd. There's model Rachel Hunter, still one of the county's most famous exports, but more known for her looks than any other talents.

The "international judge" is former UB40 frontman Ali Campbell, who has brought his reggae beats to New Zealand regularly. And OpShop singer Jason Kerrison, who actually does fit the bill rather nicely.

Completing the cast is the nation's favourite weatherman Tamati Coffey, the host who looks after the budding performers backstage.

First off is Billy's Big Brass Band, which is just 63-year-old Bill Rimmer (a one-man-orchestra).

He's clad in an army suit, big drums on his back, cymbal on his head, and he's playing the trumpet. He admits that he's never performed before and although he gets some laughs, Rachel thinks it was very entertaining, he is sent packing.

After a couple of cringe-worthy performances, it's time for the first real talent.

Seventeen-year-old Sonny Bill Williams look-a-like from Palmy, Tawaroa Kawana, sings I Don't Want To Talk About It by no other than Rachel's ex, Rod Stewart.

Rachel warns that Rod still has a special place in her heart but Tawaroa croons away, pulling out all the stops to win over the supermodel; he does such a great job that she tears up, the audience stands up and he's through to the next round.

To be honest, we don't only want to see future stars in these shows, we also enjoy it when ambitions are, well, just ambitions.

And the programme gave us a fair share of those too. There was Mario, the "last Westy rocker", singing electrician Stuart's not-quite-up-to-par Elvis performance, construction worker Frankie's pretty scary rendition of Smokie's Living Next Door to Alice, sword-swallower Gareth and author turned living rainbow Tamara Starr.

Probably the most entertaining non-starter was Russell Gray dancing to Britney Spear's Toxic, just like your embarrassing uncle at the last family gathering minutes before they close the bar.

But there were a lot of highlights, too. Stand-outs were comedy-dance-troupe extraordinaire, J-Geeks, who performed a laugh-out-loud performance to a medley of pop songs.

The incredibly likeable 22-year-old Dane Moeke made a splash with a Whitney Houston number.

While confessed karaoke-fan, 91-year-old Olivia Tuner from Christchurch, belted out the high notes like a pro and sang her way into the audiences and judges' hearts.

But mine, and probably the crowd's favourites, were the youngest talents.

Nine-year-old Ocean might be from Ashburton, but if you closed your eyes you could believe that she had grown up in the Swiss Alps and learned to yodel before babbling her first word.

Although she couldn't answer Jason's question what a prodigy is, she might well be one.

Then, last up, there's 10-year-old Jessie Hillel from Wellington. She first tells the audience that Michael Jackson is her idol and then delivers a breath-taking opera performance. 

And when Rachel says that this is what the show is about, she's right.

This time around it seems that New Zealand's Got Talent has got it right. It's entertaining, a good mixture between real talents and entertaining no-starters, and done well.

Where the show could do with some improvement is the casual banter between the judges and backstage. But we'll cut them some slack and hope they find their beat after a couple of episodes.

I am just left with one question: What are they giving the audience?

They're so thoroughly into the performances, getting up, clapping and shouting. It's like nothing I've seen in NZ before.

What did you think about the show?