The good news: kids will love Lego Masters. It is bursting with colour and taps into imagination that is absent in the competition reality genre.
The not-so good news: it is way too long and risks polarising adults as primetime entertainment. But hey, I scoffed at the idea of cooking in primetime and happily ate my words over MasterChef Australia, so I’m fully prepared to be wrong this time too.
I have zero experience in ever playing with Lego, but when you’re a shiny floor show you have to be confident you can convert any non-believer.
This UK format couldn’t be any more different to what was served up in Married at First Sight (from the same producers) and I love the unashamed gear shift. Hamish Blake is a breath of fresh air as our host, or perhaps anti-host, quietly mocking the conventions of the genre.
“Feels like an ad break,” he quips when disaster strikes one build.
There are eight duos competing for the series title and a $100,000 prize. Dressed just as colourfully as the Lego bricks, they are geeky game-players comprising friends, workmates, partners and even a grandma and her grandson. Where else on telly would you hear the phrase “We got this, Nanna.”
There’s a nice mix of diversity amongst them and the production values around the industrial set, with macro-shots and Reality 101 music are pretty cool.
Judging them is Lego Certified Professional Ryan “Brickman” McNaught, scrutinising builds for storytelling and technical prowess. There’s a “brick pit” supply of 2.5m parts -think MasterChef pantry of Lego bricks.
The first episode offers up a “golden brick” immunity prize -presented in a Lego-like Raiders of the Lost Ark moment- tasking teams to construct a (miniature) city block that shows off their talent. Imaginations run wild and while teams are encouraging rather than bitchily-competitive, one cocky contestant named Kale is the most abrasive. Good luck explaining DILF (his words) to your kids watching.
As creations build higher so does the risk factor. This stuff crumbles easily, even in the 15 hour time limit. TV takes its drama where it can get it, especially when the contestants are not glassing one another over a dinner table.
While I’m happy to see the finished builds, I’m not yet sold on the progress and duration to get to the destination. I know I’m supposed to marvel at little electronic additions of moving parts and flashing lights but they left me as underwhelmed on air as they did when I visited the set. Sorry gang.
But I did learn what a SNOT ball is (you’ll have to find out for yourself).
Having a sense of play is important in life, and there’s no reason why TV can’t showcase it, even to grown adults. There’s enough here to warrant a second inspection (indeed few remember that MasterChef struggled in its opening weeks before it took off, as did House Rules). Having kids onside will be a boon for word of mouth and for controlling the remote.
Nine taking a gamble with this as primetime entertainment will hopefully lead to others thinking outside the… brick.
I guess if you build it they will come?
Lego Masters begins 7pm Sunday April 28 on Nine.