Competitive reality shows have tightly controlled formulas for a reason, and Mike Puru fits the format. But Duncan Greive had been hoping we’d have someone stranger watching The Bachelor unfold.
This morning Mike Puru was announced as our inaugural host of The Bachelor, an appointment that was greeted with an overwhelming shrug by New Zealand. Because it was the safe, logical choice. Mike Puru – a DJ on pop station The Edge – has hosted similar shows before (remember Sing Like a Superstar? I hope not), along with other exciting TV gigs (Rockquest! The Shopping Channel!). Most importantly, he will not screw this up.
The latter really matters. When series creator Mike Fleiss isn’t spending nights playing recordings of dogs barking to mess with Baywatch stars, his company is making $100m a year, mostly from The Bachelor.
You don’t risk that kind of cashflow with a rogue host, especially not for the chump change a hick country like ours will be paying. Safe, dependable if not a little boring is what you’re looking for, and the host’s main requirement is being cheesy enough to believe that The Bachelor is likely to conclude by bringing us a couple very much in love.
(While that idea might seem entirely preposterous, The Edge has married three sets of complete strangers over the last 15 years – along with a set of hetero male friends, dickishly – and all are still together. So maybe ridiculous, vaguely offensive scenarios are the best way to find The One?)
Despite his own brief marriage ending in divorce, I think Puru still believes in the power and potential of love, more specifically of The Rose. He’ll do a solid, unspectacular job and let the contestants do the gross, debasing stuff, which is as it should be.
The thing is though, the safe choice is not the exciting choice. I was a little gutted that they hadn’t gone for someone a little more esoteric, and have thus compiled this list of alternates should Puru take ill or somehow fail so abysmally he requires replacing, listing their pros and cons and giving odds as to their chances of inheriting the gig.
All are men, because that’s the formula, and all are or have been MediaWorks employees – because it’s manifestly clear that at this point the company would never contemplate the costs and dangers of hiring outside its own stable. And all would be more fun than Puru. In no particular order…
Pros: MediaWorks’ hardest worker has watched both X Factor and The Block from the cheap seats, hyping the crowd on and off camera, so has ‘put in the yards’ for the job. He’s got a maniacally bold interviewing style and sense of the absurd which would be heavily drawn upon in a show like this, and as New Zealand’s reigning sexiest man could coach The Bachelor if he ever found his sexiness waning.
Cons: Williams is way too cynical to ever properly engage with this show. His career has been built upon watching dumbfounded as humans go about their business, and yelling in amazement and horror. While The Bachelor will provide plenty of aberrant action in that regard, the host has to believe in the mission. Williams just couldn’t pull that pose off.
Odds: $9 An idealist trapped in commercial radio and TV hell, Williams is overdue a Network-style ‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore’-moment. The Bachelor couldn’t help but bring it vomiting out of him.
Pros: Charming, handsome and with the best dirty pun one liners in the country – an asset here, clearly – Mathura-Jeffree was the best thing about New Zealand’s Next Top Model, and is overdue a new vehicle after the underwhelming Hottest Home Baker.
Cons: Puru’s charismatic, but he doesn’t come off as rooter – he’s friendly, approachable, unthreatening. That’s the host’s beat. Mathura-Jeffree might be too much competition for the contestants, unable to hold back his natural lustiness for long enough to get a show out without showing up all involved for their lack of sexual wattage.
Odds: $6 High risk, high reward – he would make the show extraordinary and probably wreck it at the same time.
Pros: Funny enough and familiar enough to both his audience and the game (thanks to his solid work on The Block), Richardson’s successfully completed his strange metamorphosis from stodgy, podgy batsmen to trim, tanned media dude.
Cons: Probably a little busy courtesy of another season of The Block being scheduled for 2015, along with continuing to pound out The Crowd Goes Wild on both TV and radio. But he’s also a little cynical, seeing (not without justification) the worst in humanity most of the time. That’s not such a problem on an aspirational franchise like The Block, but The Bachelor will unavoidably bring him face to face with our species at its most nakedly venal (and venally naked). It’s hard to imagine him being able to disguise his disgust.
Odds: $4.50 Solid, reliable, but too cynical and probably too old.
Pros: Dominic Bowden should host everything we produce, with production schedules meshed to allow him to be chauffeured from set-to-set and winter schedules featuring Bowden on every channel all the time. He’s just that good – slick, witty and utterly in love with the process and the product. He’s also cheese leavened with a little refined sauce – perfect for a show like The Bachelor, which will each in appropriate measures.
Cons: Taken by X Factor, which is so ferociously time intensive that there’ll be no room in Dom’s schedule for any romance, sadly.
Odds: $1.18 If Mike breaks so much as a nail TV3 will bow to the inevitable – Dom will be slipping into a suit and gathering his roses.
Damo from The Block
Pros: Having created a celebrity, shouldn’t MediaWorks also get to profit from him, too? Damo would be on an unproven rookie contract, so dirt cheap (which the accountants would love), and has proven starpower and sex appeal. Why not deploy it in the most sexually charged mainstream series of them all?
Cons: Too sexy for this show, Damo would naturally outshine any bachelor this side of Max Key. Also, as he proved at the MediaWorks launch, he’s prone to accidentally uttering brutal, soul-scouring home truths without even being particularly aware of having done so. This could prove catastrophic for the series (while also extremely entertaining).
Odds: $12 He’s cheap, but cheap for a reason.