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Photo: Supplied/Three
Photo: Supplied/Three

Pop CultureJuly 25, 2022

Welcome back, Masked Singer NZ, you glorious fever dream

Photo: Supplied/Three
Photo: Supplied/Three

Who is it, who is it, who is it underneath the mask? Tara Ward has a lovely time watching the return of The Masked Singer NZ. 

You don’t have to be a celebrity wearing a giant ice cream cone to know that embracing The Masked Singer NZ is the best – nay, the only – way to get through this shitstorm of a winter. Wild costumes! Silly song choices! A gyrating alligator! Who says TV is dead? Certainly not me and certainly not Sharyn Casey, and we’ll tell you this for free: whoever the celebrity hiding inside that giant steak and cheese pie costume is, they are living their very best life and I will hear no further arguments about it.

The Masked Singer NZ returned to Three last night with 12 glorious costumes and two new judges. Sharyn “Aunty Shaz Dog” Casey and James “Detective Daddy” Roque returned to the judging panel for a second season and were joined by Anika Moa, while Jono Pryor was the first of a series of special-guest guessers. The mood was set, the game was on. All we needed was a sparkly unicorn to come on stage and rap the shit out of Scribe.

(Screengrab: Three)

How many unicorns you know roll like this? Not many, if any. Bedazzled Unicorn was a sparkly vision, her hooves made for dancing and her culottes born to be wild. None of the guessing panel knew who Unicorn was, mostly because that’s the point of the show, but also because unicorns are also tricky little fuckers. One clue mentioned breadcrumbs, which made Sharyn wonder if it was Nadia Lim. “I’ve seen Nadia Lim breadcrumb some stuff,” Aunty Shaz Dog said, and she wasn’t wrong. In this wicked game, Nadia Lim covered in breadcrumbs is as valid a guess as any other.

Nobody puts breadcrumbs in the corner, apart from The Masked NZ audience. They vote which singers go through to the next round, and they sent the one horned wonder straight into the bottom three. Unicorn’s rival, Retro Robot – could be Simon Bridges, could be the Waipū Terror Doll – sang ‘Cry Me a River’ and earned a standing ovation from three of the four judges. That’s like a Dancing With the Stars perfect score in week one. Where does Retro Robot go from here, other than the scrap metal yard? God speed, Retro Robot.

Retro Robot, Clint Randall and Bedazzled Unicorn walk into a bar (Screengrab: Three)

It may have been chaos on stage, but the judges were having the time of their lives. The banter flowed and the guesses spewed forth like a volcano spurting out New Zealand celebrities. Anika Moa wondered if Retro Robot was Brian Tamaki, but Jono Pryor pointed out Tamaki was anti-mandate and unlikely to go on a show about masks. Jono reckoned Robot was Rhys Darby, while in the next round, James Roque thought Gladiator Alligator might be Ben Lummis. The jewelled reptile had sauntered onto the stage to sing ‘Moondance’, swivelling his hips like no alligator should. Were we not entertained? The audience certainly were, sending Alligator’s leafy rival Pōhutukawa Tree straight to the bottom three.

The final round in this cheese dream talent show saw a giant ice cream cone duke it out with a baby bird, because that is the reality TV circle of life. Ruru Chick sang Robyn’s ‘Dancing on My Own’, her golden shell shimmering in time with the beat. James thought Ruru was Karen O’Leary, while Jono reckoned Rose Matafeo. Two Scoop Ice Cream sang ‘Cold Cold Heart’, maybe because it lives in the freezer, maybe because it knew the audience was going to send it to the bottom three. We’ll never know the truth.

Two Scoop Ice Cream was now up for elimination, and 90 minutes of spangly creatures singing cover songs was over too soon. The judges had to decide which of Bedazzled Unicorn, Pōhutukawa Tree and Two Scoop Ice Cream would be eliminated, and they struggled to choose. Forget Sophie’s Choice, this was Sharyn’s Choice. It was horn over heart and tongue over trees as the judges threw Pōhutukawa Tree into the Masked Singer mulcher of hopes and dreams.

Image: Three

The journey was over, the mighty had fallen. The judges had a final chance to guess Pōhutukawa Tree’s identity, and everyone but Detective Daddy chose Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender mayor and member of parliament. The crowd chanted “take it off!” at a dancing tree until the mask was lifted and Georgina Beyer’s face appeared. The clues were good, the judges were correct, and never before has a fabric tree trunk had such a nice time. Beyer sang ‘Fever’ again as the credits rolled, and her words echoed through my heart. Never knew how much I loved you, Masked Singer.

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The Masked Singer NZ is on Sundays at 7pm and on ThreeNow. 


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