So it’s no secret that we love Masterchef in this household. And this season reaffirmed why.
It really doesn’t feel like it was only three months ago that I live blogged my way through the first episode of season six of Masterchef. That feels good – the last few seasons of Masterchef always felt like they were being dragged out, but this year was such a fun ride (even with the many familiar elements) that the time passed relatively quickly.
But then again, I could just be getting old with time feeling like it’s moving by quicker.
So here’s my basic review of the season. I hope Channel 10 sees this as I think some of the ‘Needs Work’ section really needs addressing:
- This season had the best contestants of any season so far. When the advertisements had George Colambaris spouting his praises I was interested to see whether it was puffery or the real deal. The contestants exceeded expectations – seriously, their plating skills and food quality was just amazing. Oh for smell ‘o vision!Sure, there were not-so-great contestants. When Brendan Langfield served up medium-rare pork thinking it was perfect (what the?) for the first time he’s ever cooked pork, that was bad. But even then, in the ‘return’ episode where the eliminated contestants could cook off for a place back in the competition you could see that he had worked really hard on the outside. This was a special group.
- The selection process for the top 24 was probably as good as it was going to get. I liked that there was warning to the contestants that if they weren’t up to scratch then you wouldn’t try to fill in the top 24 for the sake of it – which might have been a lesson learned from last year?
- There seemed to be a much greater sense of a family feel within the group of contestants this year. I think this was partly aided by the nice addition of having the main group stay back at the Kitchen during the elimination to be able to say their goodbyes as a whole group. Previous years had a secret reveal to the remaining contestants back home, and a final toast to the eliminated – which always seemed hollow in their absence.
- Marco and Heston weeks. Marco week, again, was good. He’s such a fatherly figure! When he took Byron aside at the end and gave him some final encouragement there was a real sense that the viewer was there with Marco encouraging Byron – fantastic stuff. This season also enjoyed the company of Heston Blumenthal for a whole week and that was worth it. And how can you not love that ultimate season winner Brent woke up to Heston at their house in a onesie.
- Last season’s battle of the sexes was not replayed. Thankfully.
- Cutting down the viewing from 6 nights a week to five nights made sense – combining the final elimination with a Masterclass was thoughtful planning.
- Speaking of eliminations, it was nice to see that eliminations included more cooking and food knowledge. The disaster of the ‘voting’ system of season one has thankfully never been returned to. But with an extra round for the contestants to participate in this mean that one slip up didn’t mean all was lost. So the shock exit of Marion from season 2 hasn’t been repeated. When Sarah, a strong contender, went this year it was because the wheels were falling off her wagon and not because she made one small mistake to send her home.
- This year lacked any spectacular travel locations. Steph and I were waiting for it to happen… but it never did. There’s something ok with that, because the show itself is so focused on the contestants that the viewer’s ability to be immersed into a location just couldn’t go deep enough. Location shooting works better for shows like Luke Nguyen in France or Vietnam – spending a whole series there, travelling, seeing some sights, allowing us to immerse ourselves into the culture and place of location. Last seasons’ regular travelling never achieved this immersion experience, and just seemed gratuitous and over the top.
That’s the great stuff. Now here’s some things I think need work:
- The selection process of the top 24 was predictable. For evidence of this, see my live blog post on the opening episode. The editing of the show generally makes for non-exciting viewing – with predictable outcomes.
- The clichés need to go. The puns are still there, but they didn’t seem as intrusive, or as overused as previous seasons. But the cliff hangers are utterly predictable and annoying – as soon as anything remotely dramatic happens I know we’re going to an ad break.The ‘real time’ commentary by the contestants can often be trite. There’s got to be better ways of doing that, or at least some coaching.And please sort out the after ad-break recaps. I’ve complained about this before. They are still unnecessarily long. What’s the point – do you honestly believe that people are tuning in late, or do you believe your audience is so forgetful they can’t remember what happened two and half minutes earlier? Neither is true.
- But here are my two biggest bones to pick this season. Steph and I have a young family and I have a busy evening schedule during the week. So we regularly watch the show as recorded by our PVR. The first bone I have to pick is this: the start time of the show changed slightly night to night. I don’t seem to have this problem with other programs we record – but it seemed fairly regular that one night our recording would start half way through the intro song, and other nights we’d be catching the tailend of The Project. TV shows used to be clockwork when they started. I used to be able to set my watch to them. Now, more than ever, it’s totally unpredictable.But my biggest bone to pick is the overrun finale. It was advertised to finish at 9:30pm. I knew that the show would run a little over, so I overran the PVR setting by 15 minutes – yet STILL missed out on the winning announcement. I get why you overrun programs – it keeps people on your channel – but seriously, with so many people using PVRs to rewatch programs later, or skip advertisements quicker, it’s time to rethink this whole strategy. Don’t be jerks about this.
Some other random thoughts:
- We haven’t seen a Kid’s Masterchef – that would be a nice return – and perhaps make it a little less daunting for the contestants.
- Need a Jamie Oliver week!
- Bring back the professionals. That was one hell of a series.
That’s it from me. What would you add? Put it in the comments below…