Reality TV is a well-tilled field, but it’s so overfarmed that it’s rare anything fresh or new can grow there. Despite the genre’s overstuffed nature there been some standouts in recent years, including Nailed It, which made a successful transition from cooking meme to highly entertaining television.
If you like that show, have I got something for you…
Lego Masters Australia streams exclusively on the free TV streaming service Tubi in the United States. It’s a great show, with intriguing characters, some fun challenges and a sense of joy which is all too rare in reality TV. if the name sounds familiar, there is a good reason: Lego Masters (US) is about to air its third season, and it follows roughly the same format. However, if you like Lego but find host Will Arnett’s attention-seeking too much, then the Australian version is a welcome salve.
Starting several years before the American one, Lego Masters Australia pairs the stunts and high-stakes drama of the stateside version with the bonhomie of Nailed It or Great British Baking Show. It’s more naïve and charming than the Fox staple, and its success is largely due to the presence of two people.
Host Hamish Blake is likable and self-effacing, and with his background in radio and improv he’s able to deliver witty, good-natured commentary. He is gracefully assisted by the show’s judge, “the Brickman” (Ryan McKnight), whose enthusiasm for the hobby and deep compassion for the contestants are equally infectious.
Not only is Brickman a great builder (the only Lego Certified Professional in the Southern Hemisphere), but he’s also willing to lend a hand when the contestants get stuck or look like they’re making a mistake. He’s a big softie and frequently gets emotional after having to judge someone off. I just want to give him a hug. Together, Hamish and Brickman’s natural chemistry helps make the show consistently watchable through each of the seasons.
By contrast, the contestants on Lego Masters US, laughing politely at Will Arnett’s “zany” antics, look like they’re in as much pain as we the viewers are. While season 2 of Lego Masters thankfully toned down the wackiness, it can’t do much about its supporting judges. I’m sure they know their stuff, but they fail to surmount Arnett’s towering ego.
The contestants on the Australian show range from the mild-mannered to the egomaniacal: from the sweet grandson-grandmother duo Matt and Lynn to the ambitious-yet-flawed Kale. That’s just the first season, but it’s also the last in which the producers tried to create a “bad guy.” The enemy in subsequent seasons becomes time itself as contestants rush to complete their builds in what are some pretty unusual challenges, whether it’s to build a model hanging from a single brick, replicate an ’80s gadget or design something to be hit by a bowling ball.
In one memorable scene from season 2, the contestants need to create an underwater diorama, and Hamish comments at length on one of the entries — while he is himself submerged. Bubbles are all that come out, and they’re accompanied by the giggles of the contestants.
Some of the builds are phenomenal — and while there’s only one professional on the show, the Brickman, even he is flabbergasted at times by what the contestants can achieve in a short amount of time. The dioramas are some of the best models created over the course of the three seasons, and while I won’t spoil it, it’s one of the grand final builds from the first season that still sticks in my mind.
Of the three seasons showing on Tubi, it’s the second that’s the standout. It forgoes the overhyped drama of the other two seasons and instead adopts some of the feel-good tone of Great British Bake Off. Of course, starting from the first season will help you get a feel for the format and for the hosts.
A lot of recent reality shows are some variation of “get contestants to make stuff and crown a winner.” While Lego Masters Australia doesn’t break new ground, it’s the care the show and its characters put into the show that makes it work. And makes it worth watching.
If you’re stuck looking for a fun, family-friendly show, then Lego Masters Australia is heartily recommended. It’s feel-good and easily bingeable. It’s the best reason to install Tubi.