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Tube Talk: In search of TV beefcake

Tube Talk With John Forde

In search of TV beefcake

Like most swinging Singletons in this city, I’m in search of the perfect companion to ride my Sin Carriage of Love. Unfortunately, since New Zealand doesn’t having a dating culture and men are largely dogs, I’ve been spending more and more time safely at home with the curtains drawn, curled up with my television.

Bathed in the comfort of the tube’s flickering blue light, I can roam through the channels artlessly, looking for my ideal TV beefcake.

Not our news and current affairs shows, of course, where there isn’t an alpha dog to be seen. Between the trolls of TV1 (Holmes, Hosking) and John Campbell’s immovable Ken Doll hair, it’s Flacid City all around.

No, my future man-slave is to be found among action flicks, cop dramas and the odd home improvement show. And with TV’s high turnaround, you can audition new trade every night of the week. Well, almost.

Aiden on Sex and the City, Nate on Six Feet Under, ER’s sexy Serbian doctor, former Aussie soap heartthrob Simon Baker on TV2’s fabulously earnest lawyer drama The Guardian …one by one, they’re all offered up for our viewing pleasure. But being American (and, of course, fictitious), it seems more sensible to covet someone closer to home – someone who you might stand a chance of tripping over in a bar somewhere.

Right now I’m completely obsessed with local TV twosome Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis, who’ve been exhumed to host TV2’s bizarre-but-fun Dating Game.

Dating Game is like beefcake cloning. The producers, realising we’d all like to lick Matt & Marc, have set the twosome up as dating Svengalis for other less-blessed singles. Pretty boy Matthew and rugged Southern Man Marc share the secrets of their own studliness by taking two blokes, moulding them in their own image, and setting them, pitbull like, on a woman who gets to choose between them. And along the way, they exude that strangely too-self conscious Odd Couple, “We’re-just-good-friends” chemistry implicit in all great male-male comedy duos.

Some people would point out the irony of two sportsmen who’ve been through well-publicised relationship breakups hosting a dating show. Personally, I’m just pleased to have their spankably-cute selves back on TV - plus you get the fun of laughing at ugly people humiliating themselves on bad dates.

First up was Eurotrash babe Inga, who claimed to like hairy-chested men. “Well, she would, wouldn’t she? She’s Russian!” Marc pointed out helpfully. Matt & Marc scraped the bottom of the evolutionary barrel and found two hulking specimens and would-be Inga-tamers, Brett and Andy. You sensed Inga wanted to bypass both of them and just mount the hirsute Mark, but she went along to a cosy dinner with Brett and a ridiculously overblown dance date with Andy anyway.

As part of the Dating Game service, Matt & Marc individually rework their protegés’ wardrobes, strip them of bad clichés, and even watch the dates on closed-circuit TV, barking instructions over a hidden mike. “Order for her, she likes men to take control!” Matt growled at Andy as he made the moves over dinner. Ye gods! I was waiting for the “Throw her over your hairy shoulder and drag her back to your man-cave” instruction, but sadly, it never came.

In the end, Inga chose Brett, but who really cares? Watching Matt & Marc scrapping between themselves about who’s the biggest Alpha-male is about as much fun as you’ll have – fully or partially clothed – watching TV this winter. Woof!

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