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David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)

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The true test is when you get to cook with 'roo [May. 27th, 2014|12:08 am]
David Alexander McDonald (Steven E. McDonald)
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[Wait, I felt something! |hungryhungry]

Last year my then-girlfriend and I got into watching Masterchef Australia...which was entirely my fault, as she was watching the US version, and didn't really like it -- and I can't stand it. If I recall correctly, I'd actually started withing Masterchef Australia by this point, not realizing the haul I was in for -- unlike every other Masterchef series, this one does episodes five days a week (Thursdays are usually Masterclass sessions), with seasons occasionally getting up to 84 episodes.

Unlike the other Masterchef series that I've seen (US, UK, Ireland,. New Zealand), the Australian version never actually becomes a chore to watch, even when it goes sailing off the rails the way it tended to in series 5 -- the winner, Emma Dean, was widely reviled, and the show pilloried for the way the contests were handled during the course of series 5. For our part, we were amongst those rooting for Kelty (or Kelty Goat-Boy as we kept calling him, which was the result of an incident in an early episode.) Some of those selected for the top 24 at the start of the season were hopeless, and frankly annoying.

Part of the fun of the Aussie show is spotting the relationships -- things tend to get very free-wheeling at times, although often ambiguous as well (there was a male pair early in the season who were bringing the bro-yay so hard, with tears and all, that we were dead certain there was something major going on there. Who knows?) This isn't something you see in the other iterations, at least the English-language ones. The Irish and English editions generally have contestants being aloof from each other, the US version encourages everyone to engage in a battle with each other, and everyone in the New Zealand edition seems faintly bored, if thoroughly on-task.

Masterchef Australia, meanwhile, is big old friendly shaggy dog of a thing, and notable for how friendly everybody is to each other -- there are times when a contestant is eliminated that almost everyone else is absolutely gutted by the event, including the three judges. In my opinion (and that of many others) it's not just down to the producers, but to the choice of judges -- George, Gary, and Matt are very different from each other, and play that to the hilt -- while not being afraid to play the room as a trio of comedians. Matt, in particular, is a big ol' puppy. They try to play George as the designated scary guy, but it never works. Gary is the one who heaves the sighs and shakes his head at the other two.

There's also the appeal for me because I like to cook -- and I wish I had the money to do some serious work in the kitchen, but I lack the tools for it. I learned to cook in self-defense when I was a kid (the joys of English cooking drove me to it.) Still every now and then I do get a bit adventurous. This series is full of mad ideas, and I'd love to try a few of them myself.

Anyway, the series is back for a sixth season, and it's already off to a much better start. There was word that the show would be seriously overhauled, but it hasn't been. It *has* been focused -- the top 24 this year are an amazing lot -- even Georgia, who was subbed in overnight to replace a contestant who had to leave for medical reasons. There's several people who didn't make th cut who may well be back again next year.

I don't usually go for reality shows, or for contest shows, but this is really the exception, possibly because I love food. I'm glad to see it's back again.