Simon Barnett on his crazy new TV show XVenture.

Turns out Simon Barnett’s new show is absolute mayhem (WATCH)

Simon Barnett’s new show began over the weekend, and within minutes something extraordinary happened. Alex Casey recaps the mayhem. 

As New Zealand continues to collectively keen, wail and howl at Simon Barnett’s shock resignation from MoreFM 300-odd days from now, we’ve been thrown a glorious, dad bod-shaped bone in Three’s XVenture Family Challenge. The competition puts keen Kiwi families through a Lollipops Playland of physical challenges, all in the hopes of winning $25,000 prize money and the opportunity to prick their first born’s finger on Si B’s razor-sharp frosted tips, thus granting them immortality.

As if that wasn’t enough to get you hooked, it only took a few minutes into the first episode of XVenture Family Challenge for the craziest thing to ever be televised from inside an inflatable maze. If you are the kind of twisted fan of local fails such as Our First Home‘s wheelbarrow tumble, well, this one is for you.

The scene begins relatively normally for any show starring Simon Barnett in a tight sweater. He explains that two teams – the Hemenas and the Mussons – will start at either end of the “Amazing Moments” maze and will have to find their way to the end, despite various levels of sensory deprivation. Each team member will be without either sight, hearing, speech or, if you are young Alex, all of the above. So sets in motion the much-promised Amazing Moment™.

With the challenge underway, the Hemana family immediately form a human chain and begin to hustle their way through the maze in a tight, uniform line. “I’m coming up, I’m turning a corner,” says Hemana senior, leading the charge with clear, easy to follow directions. Team Husson are slower off the mark, clearly shaken by their opponent’s athletic synergy.

Not to worry though, Uncle Barry has Had An Idea™.

Uncle Baz hoists the young, senseless, Alex onto his shoulders, growing to about three metres tall. “That’s a new technique,” says Si nervously, throwing a glance at the very low inflatable doorway to the maze.

Si predicts a riot, Si predicts a riot

Within seconds, it’s clear that the Si-man was right to be concerned. Uncle Barry charges through the entrance, immediately nailing poor defenceless Alex in the noggin. He gets knocked down, but he pops up again, no inflatable doorway going to keep him down. A frightened woman behind Alex attempts to dunk his neck backwards at every doorway, not unlike a baptism from the underworld.

He needs a whiskey drink, he needs a vodka drink.

Nothing seems to be working. The poor kid has no choice but to flatten himself completely, upside down, against Uncle Barry’s back. It’s a fallen soldier being brought back from war, it’s The Exorcist hurtling down the stairs, it’s the Stuck on You reboot that no-one asked for.

The Hemana family, with all their team members firmly on the ground and the right way up, finish light years ahead. The Hussons puff their way to the finish several Amazing Moments later, showcasing the death-defying Cirque De Soliel stunt in full-length view. The kid doesn’t appear to be touching Uncle Barry at all. It’s astounding.

Jesus walks

Alex dismounts and Simon asks him if he was “freaking out.” “Yeah” says Alex. Unco Bazdog refuses to back down re: his completely berserk, game-wrecker of an idea. “No senses… chuck him on… passenger… take him for a ride… trust.”

“Good work team,” says Si, lying.


X-Venture Family Challenge airs Sundays on Three at 5.30pm.

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