Blow Up

There's plenty of colour in Seven's new shiny floor show -but haven't we seen it all before?

“What was your reaction when you were asked to host a show about balloons?” Becky Lucas asks Stephen Curry.

“Honestly… it was how did you get my number?” he replies.

It’s a similar reaction many have had, with even one Seven network exec conceding the idea has drawn eye-rolls.

Blow Up is based on a Dutch format (aren’t they all?) but you could be excused for thinking you had stumbled onto a spin-off of Lego Masters.  There’s a lot that looks familiar around here.

The format sees 10 balloon artists, who range from kid’s entertainers to magicians, corporate and retail stylists, competing as teams or solo for a $100,000 prize. Judging them is seasoned pro Chris Adamo who runs his own balloon styling company. According to the show, “The incredible world of balloon artistry has been hidden in the shadows until now.” Who knew?

Given the full shiny floor TV treatment, this studio is possibly adjacent to the Lego home. Our 10 contestants all enter when the giant doors open and walk into a darkened, smoke-filled space that quickly lights up like a Christmas tree. Together with stirring music from the Endemol Shine audio department, this is Inspiration 101.

“Wow!” “Oh my God!” our artists declare, before the reveal of the Balloon Library, a brightly coloured storage of thousands of (deflated) balloons that possibly once housed Lego pieces. The balloons are made of latex and yes, will be recycled after the show for playgrounds, possiby like some of this set resembling excess parts from the Zumbo’s Just Desserts set.

To be fair, it’s a colourful candy shop that kids would probably kill to play amongst.

First up is a 12 hour challenge in which two teams must get creative with the themes, Future or Fantasy. Judge Chris is looking for cohesion, a word you’ll hear a lot, as these new best frenemies must work together to agree on a vision and draw upon their skills.

Like most TV shows of this genre, there are varying degrees of planning, failure, desperation, success and detail… you know the drill. Hosts intervene to draw out the ambition and punctuate with a punchline. For Becky Lucas, there’s more than a little innuendo, with references to face-to-crotch-height ratio, and another suggestion that big feet is code for something else… seriously?

Stephen Curry also makes several derisive lines about Lucas that feels like two opposites reaching for TV chemistry.

But we’re here for the finished designs, right? Thankfully they are lavish and colourful and it seems, yes, you really can use balloons to create anything if you have the motivation.

A solo challenge follows for the members of the winning team introducing helium and the need to float in a short one hour burst (sorry!).

There’s a ticking studio clock and ‘master interviews’ in which contestants describe their projects on the run, … think cakes that don’t rise and plastic towers that tumble, substituted for balloons that don’t float and ambitious ideas in need of compromise.

And despite the name of the show, only some of the ballooning involves mouths and human breath, the rest is via automated oxygen tanks. Boo.

The sum total of all the moving parts is colourful eye candy which kids may readily embrace (co-viewing is big these days). Compared to some stinkers Seven has seen in the past (Ultimate Tag, Cannonball, Celebrity Splash), this emerges with a sense of fun still intact.

But I just felt like I had seen it all before. What is Seven thinking playing it right after Lego Masters?

For this adult, Reality TV really needs to stop going back to the same tropes and find new ways of storytelling, instead of serving up cookie-cutter clutter.

7:30pm Monday on Seven.

15 Responses

  1. The hosts were fine the main issue was why did the first episode go for nearly 100 minutes. It took 20/25 min to actually start a challenge this was more of a issue to me

    1. That’s the big issue Australian TV has at the moment – most these formats are fine to fill an hour once a week elsewhere in the world, but they’re not designed to air for 90 minutes as your centrepiece three nights a week. At best this should have been a secondary show for Seven filling the nights their big franchise isn’t on air once or twice a week.

  2. That prompts me to think what happens to all the lego bricks. Again another environmental concern . I hope that they donate the finished products to somewhere they can be enjoyed by children. Like a local hospital or school.

  3. According to Environmental Nature Center, latex balloons can take anywhere between six months to four years to biodegrade. In the time before they completely decompose, these balloons can still wreak havoc on the ecosystems they end up in.

  4. When I first saw the promos, I immediately thought it was Lego Masters but with balloons, Filmed the same way, they have their own brickman, and a comedian (s) hosting it.

    I’ll give it a week before it’s dumped to 7Flix.

    1. You are correct. An ad between H & A advertised it now on 7flix tonight. Still at 7:30pm. Tonight on 7 will be MAFS reunion and next week 1% club

  5. I feel the same David. Too close to Lego Masters. Becky Lucas not a fan.
    I also worry about aff of those balloons going into the environment. I am guessing they are not using biodegradable balloons.

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