Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Colonel Moseley reviews "Masterchef" ~ from 16.2.2008

The Mem and I have always enjoyed watching Masterchef from it's original incarnation with Loyd Grossman to its current four nights a week with John Torode and his sidekick Gregg Wallace - who seems to have morphed from a vegetable guru to an ingedients expert. Anyway, we find the gastro-porn laced with tough competition and human interest compelling and relaxing with a gin and tonic of an evening. Other than the fact that the current 8.30 slot is less convenient than 6.30, a few things strike one about the current format:

  • It's a shame that every programme starts with clips of several contestants inadvisably asserting that they have come to win the whole competition and that it will change their lives. Few seem to realise how demanding the job would be. Many should be afraid of achieving what they say they wish.
  • Sometimes when the verdict between contestants is close, it is possible to predict who will win and live to fight another day. Basically, the contestant who is good TV seems more likely to survive - there is an advantage in being telegenic - cute, attractive or appealingly quirky. We usually win our imaginary bets between ourselves on the outcome
  • It seems sad that a contestant who has survived the tough first round can be sent home after the ingredients and passion test in the quarter final without even cooking
  • the passion test itself now looks a little unconvincing, tired and formulaic - it needs a revamp
  • the endurance test seems a little over the top. It's not too entertaining to see amateurs struggle over breakfast service which they could probably master with reasonable practice and then decide they don't really want to spend their lives being a short order cook - it doesn't seem to represent what contestants aspire to. The dinner service of their own creations is a more useful indicator of potential excellence and makes more interesting viewing - it can also test stamina sufficiently.
  • more contestants now seem canny enough to play to the judge's admitted tastes and personalities -from a love of certain puddings and cuisines to the promotion of the underdog. Viewers can detect what may not be entirely genuine and it detracts from the programme

Despite these few issues, Masterchef is still compulsive viewing for foodies. The next series might be even better if these points were addressed. Bon appetit!

Postscript 29~2~2008  : the 2008 series ended last night with James a worthy winner. What a talented group of finalists and what daunting tasks they overcame in the final. With their exceptional but different talents Jonny, Emily or James might have won. It's difficult to imagine how they managed to hold their nerve to cook such a complex dinner for that table of Michelin-starred chefs at the Dorchester, let alone to recreate those signature dishes for the likes of Pierre Gagnaire in France. The latter stages of the series were fascinating. It couldn't get much better than this next year - or could it?

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