The Masked Singer NZ: Setting free ‘Paula Bennett’ and a Cocker Spaniel fight

Desperate for something new from episode 3, I turned my attention to the opening dance sequence. The freshly attired Look Sharp dancers were back and seemed ready to crack on with an absolutely smashing episode. I, for one, was pumped.

But as I watched on I felt like a disappointed high school drama teacher who wanted to direct Cats but only had the budget for Cat in the Hat.

Host Clinton Randell appeared from behind his mask, like he did every other evening before, with a look on his face that genuinely suggested we should be shocked to see him.

This now-iconic five-piece dance troupe must have shared many the vino with one Candy Lane while learning this routine, and they are going to use it within an inch of its life. Don’t ever tell me this show isn’t killing it in the value for money department.

“It’s early days, but I’m still pretty confused,” says host Randell, and every person over the age of 30 who’s downloaded TikTok.

As per New Zealand reality TV, we start with some awkwardness – genuine godforsaking awkwardness – when host Randell suggests Ladi6 might have worn a “Cocker Spaniel” costume if she was on the show as a Masked Singer.

She looks confused, and a little offended. We at home are trying to decide if we are the guy who walks away as we see a fight kicking off, or if we are the guy who starts it.

“Lady and the Tramp!” declares Randell too confidentially, with an air of not being able to read a room.

“What did you call her? Excuse me?” says judge James Roque, who looked genuinely fantastic in blue velvet tonight, and at this moment my money is on Roque.

Fellow judge Sharon Casey offers to throw a pen at Randell, and while we love her, the object doesn’t seem heavy enough, so we are disappointed.

The first contestant to take the stage tonight was the nation’s favourite costume, Alien, who sung a truly unique rendition of Devo’s Whip It.

Finally, we got a good guess from Roque, who guessed fellow comedian Tom Sainsbury might be the celeb behind Alien’s mask. Could it be?

Next up was Tuatara – who almost definitely is Jason Kerrison – who managed to smash Alien out of this galaxy in our first song battle.

Jelly Fish was up next, and at this point, I realised why this show format just doesn’t work in New Zealand. While it’s truly wild and there’s a part of me that simply has to know who is behind the mask, our talent pool and country is just too small.

I was able to identify nearly every single contestant from this episode in one way or another and felt disappointed to have been able to figure it out only three episodes in.

Then came Possum and Possums dancers who need credit for this … whatever this is … they need credit for it.

Medusa was up next and brought the absolute energy of someone who sings in a decent wedding cover band, but honestly had bigger dreams.

But it was Possum and our beloved Alien in the bottom two and tonight we got to reveal who was under Te Papa’s latest acquisition – the Alien.

When the green alien head came off, we shook in our boots as Paula Bennett was revealed to be under the costume. She shimmied off her kimono, chugged her bowl latte and asked for her chicken, cranberry and brie panini to be toasted.

Well not Bennett herself, but the nation’s official Paula Bennett impersonator, comedian and Snapchat superstar, Tom Sainsbury.

Sainsbury then did a shoutout to his mum, “Hope you enjoyed it. Hope you were proud of my singing. Question mark? Who knew I was so good at singing?” and we adored him even a little bit more.

But who will be under the mask tomorrow night? What Now’s iconic Propsboy? That guy who got his scooter stolen outside a dairy and made us all say “Nek Minnit” for three long years? The Briscoes lady?

Or maybe, just maybe. Behind that mask, in all his highly successful, genuine good guy glory, will be Richie McCaw?! Seriously judges, please stop guessing Richie McCaw.

• The Masked Singer NZ screens on Three on Sundays from 7pm and Mondays from 7.30pm

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