The return of Winners and Losers on Wednesday night (TV1, 8.30pm) opened with each of the four girlfriends who won Lotto now teamed up with a steady boyfriend and enjoying a weekend retreat together.
This show is written by the same chap who penned Packed to the Rafters, an equally cheesy show, but that drama was about family relationships while Winners and Losers focuses on friendships and the inner loser within each Lotto winner.
If episode one of this "charmedy" - as its producer calls it - is a tone-setter then it would seem that the dull but decent boyfriends of the core cast of girls have increased roles, especially Matt and Doug as they try to come to terms with Bec living with Matt while carrying Doug's baby, along with the further complication of Doug and siren Sophie now shacked up together.
It would appear the show has evolved into a family drama, with the Gross family, particularly Trish, coming to terms with the surprise arrival of Brian's battle-axe mother, who has announced she's moving in.
Frances, too, is playing mummy to Jasmine, her naughty kid sister, while Frances' boyfriend, Zac, has been coerced into taking on a fatherly role, self-consciously announcing to Jasmine on forced cue that he's there to stay, unlike her mother's procession of boyfriends.
While away on a weekend, a volubly orgasmic Jenny, encouraged by new boyfriend Callum, who happens to be Bec's brother (the odious term tight-knit community springs to mind), struggles to tell her other Lotto mates that she's blown all the money and is broke.
The announcement is milked for all its worth as Jenny has several attempts at choking it out before spilling all, the news being received philosophically by her chums, who think she's a veritable Mother Teresa for donating a mill to the oncology ward after her mother's brush with cancer.
The problem with Winners and Losers is that it isn't really prime-time-viewing material. This tame, gal-pal romp is so predictable, so determined to promote family values and be heartwarming, that it would be better suited to a Home and Away 5.30pm, pre-news bulletin time slot.
- The Dominion Post