Alex Casey watches the charming, awkward return of First Dates NZ, including a famous radio host and a Lannister situation for the ages.
First Dates NZ feels like home, and not just because the greatest night of my life (X Factor NZ launch party where I was photographed with ½ of Brendon Thomas and the Vibes, 2015) was also held in the golden womb of SkyCity’s Gusto Grand. It feels like home because it’s one of the only places on telly that bumbling, awkward, blushing New Zealanders can collide like bumper cars without any faff like tribal councils, altars or glittering mansions to be seen. Thanks to discreet cameras and a hearty Kiwi amount of free shots from the bar, it could be real.
Where last season might best be remembered for this tall glass of milk and an exciting spinoff venture featuring anthropomorphised guinea pigs, this season of First Dates NZ was off to a roaring start with a whole new slate of memorable characters taking the plunge into a televised blind date. No experts watching from afar, no Dom Bowden peeking through the roses – just two people sitting in what could well become pure hell, real quick. Here were the brave tributes this week.
#1 SUE AND BARRY
Quote of the night: “Watch out Browns Bay, Takapuna and… everywhere”
Heart monitor: ❤❤❤❤❤
Nothing warms me cold, dead, heart like older singletons flirting up a storm within the walls of a SkyCity property, and Sue and Bazza get a full five hearts out of five for this redemption tale for the ages. Last season Sue, 61, rocked up the First Dates NZ arena, only to be dished up everyone’s worst nightmare:
“If this doesn’t work I’m going back to the remote and the cat,” said Sue, before wishing for a man who can dance her to the edge of love. Enter Barry aka Baz, who has danced in front of at least 600 people, been in a hot air balloon and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He’s a widower who has lots of friends but sometimes likes to buy a glass of wine and sit by himself. For the record: I am NOT crying and I don’t know why you would even say something so defamatory. I’m calling the speech police.
They laughed, they joked, Baz shaka-ed. Will they see each other again? “In a heartbeat.” Will I start weeping gently again? In a heartbeat.
#2 POLLY AND JAYDEN
Quote of the night: “I’ve got hair in my mouth.”
Heart monitor: ❤❤❤❤
She was a popular radio host, he had a big moustache, can I make it any more obvious? Described as “the other” Polly, PJ Harding was a bloody delight from the second she walks in and declares “I’VE GOT HAIR IN MY MOUTH.” Is it a figure of speech or an actual condition? Maybe Jayden, a fireman with a Sainsbury-level mo, can figure it out. He allegedly has a “big heart”. Yikes. With her hairy mouth and his gargantuan ticker, they were forming quite the medical marvel.
The commonalities didn’t stop there. PJ had to touch the corners of a table before she could eat, and Jayden had to eat his dessert with a teaspoon. I’m blown out of the water with the same speed and power of PJ blowing her nose into a huge napkin… could it be that these two might actually work out? Jaden promised that next time he will make sure that he touches the corners of the table for her, which sounds like a sexy thing but is definitely not a sexy thing.
#3 JIMMY AND LAURA
Quote of the night: “I’ve been single all my life… so, since birth”
Heart monitor: ❤❤❤
Jimmy is a data analyst, who wanted someone small in stature and big in experience. Jimmy pre-loaded with soft drinks and some last minute pickup line practice ahead of meeting Laura, a true sweetheart and ballet dancer who is all about having fun – her motto being “stuff the ex, this is about me.” I’m not sure Jimmy realised you don’t need a pickup line a) ever but b) especially when your date has already been secured.
My favourite thing about this pair was that Jimmy wouldn’t touch any of the free alcohol available, so Laura stepped up and did shots for days. Apparently, Jimmy tried drinking once, and “one bottle went in and two bottles came out.” This is truly an amazing Jesus-like superpower and I do not understand why Laura would not to want to stick around to maximise her alcohol supply happily ever after. Oh well. To infinity and beyond, I guess.
#4 CALLUM AND NATALIE
Quote of the night: “You look like my brother”
Heart monitor: ❤
Callum is a hearty horseman who also has a voice so deep it is quite possibly my own personal brown note. Natalie loves to laugh, and “feels so happy inside herself” when she has the opportunity to enjoy a laugh. Lucky for her, Sir Brown Note immediately slipped over when she walked in and she got to laugh for days, maybe years, before ordering a Mango-rita. “I heard it in a song and I was like ‘I must have it’” she said, referring to Thomas Rhett’s similarly brown-note-inducing ‘Unforgettable‘.
If you think that’s unforgettable, you should see how she reacts to some tomato sauce. “I AM PHYSICALLY AFRAID OF TOMATO SAUCE” she cackled, while valiant Mr Brown Note stashed it behind some pokies somewhere. With the frightening sauce concealed, the pair got stuck into some serious banter. She’s a theatre gal and a musician who pens her own ‘unforgettable’ tunage. “The fact that you write…” said Callum, “… I’m impressed.”
Despite Callum’s noble horse impression, he could neigh change one immovable fact: they look related. “I would very much like to see you again,” said Callum. “You look like my brother,” said Natalie. With that, Callum slug-slid out of the room on his belly to drown his sorrows in a Gilmour’s vat of tomato sauce. Lannister situation: avoided. At least this week.
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