So at the end of last year’s Masterchef Season 6, I didn’t think it could have been topped. The contestants were the best yet. The food was seriously delicious and the plating was the best by far. The family feel of the show and from the contestants was palpable. The challenges were the most difficult yet. How could Masterchef seriously do any better?
Then comes season 7, and wow… Reynold Poernomo’s ‘Forbidden Fruit’ in the invention test… in the second week… and I knew we were in for a mindblowing season.
As a short review of this year it seems the same things that were great from last year was also great from this year, only amplified.
- The contestants, the best of any season ever – especially the top 10.
- The selection process of the top 24 was replicated perfectly from last season – predictable, but still wonderful to watch.
- The family feel was maintained – probably the best change from the previous 5 seasons. The contestants all sticking around to tearily farewell eliminated contestants has been one of the best additions to the show, IMHO. It really allowed the group to bond together more, and also showed a greater level of fellowship and humanity between the contestants. Masterchef consistently beats out its main rival (My Kitchen Rules) for this very reason.
- The eliminations continued to be challenging on a number of levels – I especially liked the ‘Name that Herb’ challenge as it really did prove difficult.
- Speaking of which, the challenges in general were really inventive. My hat off to the producers for constantly coming up with new or creative reused ideas.
- Travel was kept to a minimum. There were some location based events – such as the cross country drive across Victoria’s King Valley to pick up ingredients for the Pizzini Wines challenge.
- The challenges themselves were impressive in scope and grandeur – and kept getting bigger until we really did have a finale pressure test befitting the series and the contestants capabilities. 5 hours for a Heston dessert. #wow.
- There seemed to be less celebrity chef weeks this year – there was Marco week, but not much else.
- Shannon Bennett worked out brilliantly as a chef mentor. He seemed more helpful than Kylie Kwong from last year. It was also brilliant to watch him take on Georgia in the final immunity challenge – he had a really good rapport with the contestants so the banter was that much more enjoyable.
- I read a great article from Matt Preston with his thoughts on the season so far – and one thing he mentioned was that there was more invention in the mystery box challenge than in the intention test itself. I think that was true generally – though I really did like those invention tests which were completely out of the box (eg the Heston liquid into a solid invention test).
- It’s weird that in the driving challenges the contestants were squeezed into little Alfa Romeo’s and during the elimination challenges the three contestants would arrive individually in large Jeeps.
- It was rather satisfying when some of the contestants left. Philipino John Carasig became a bit of the loveable villain this series with his penchant for creating great dishes while at the same time ruining team challenges with his individualism. He brought tension to the show which was relieved when at last he bowed out at the end of week 7.
- Returning past contestants for a week was great. It was good to catch up with Poh (season 1), Kylie (s4), Callum (s2), Ben and Andy (s4), and Justine (s1). It was also great to see how far they had come up against the current contestants.
- The lack of masterclasses was a surprise. I can only remember two of them the whole season. I didn’t mind that, but it would have been nicer to do a couple more – perhaps not weekly but at least every third week or so.
So did Masterchef improve on its formula from last season? Well, let’s take a look at the four issues I had last year.
First, I complained that the selection process for the top 24 was predictable. It was the same this year. But after some reflection I realised that the current set up is probably about as good as it’s going to get.
Next I complained about the clichés and real time commentary. The cliff hangers were again utterly predictable, they were, however, a little less often – or at least I felt they were (I haven’t done any statistical checks!). The real-time commentary from the contestants was a lot more focused and also felt less trite than last year. The after-ad breaks, however, often remained far too long. They could be paired down so as to not take up too much time. But overall I’d say there was improvement across the board on this complaint from last year. Previous seasons felt like they were being dragged out, this year felt tighter and succinct.
Finally the major issue I had was the overrun timeslot. The start times seem much more predictable now, and thanks Channel 10 for sticking to that. But the overruns were still there. It’s something learned to live with – making sure I’d always overrun the recording on my PVR by 30 minutes each night… just in case.
So overall I thought this year was about as perfect a season as you could get. Masterchef is on a winning formula. Bring on next year!