Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Masterchef - A Masterclass in Dumbing Down

Masterchef has effortlessly reached new heights of sentimentality and melodrama. Just a short series ago, all we had to endure was a mildly watery eye in the waiting room after an arduous task was completed, or a slightly dizzy phonecall to a partner to say they'd made it through (followed by the ubiquitous hysterical screaming down the line while the contestant stood looking dazed and confused or grinning like a mad thing while choking back tears).

In the new, re-vamped, over-worked series, our patience is being stretched to new limits. In the first programme we were subjected to a wholel new range of friends and relatives hugging, laughing, crying, high-fiving, back-slapping and generally expressing unrepressed, nay wanton, encouragement to their warrior cook. If there was any dignity left in the programme it is safe to say that it has been chucked out with the vegetable peelings and the old set.

Such was my weary exhaustion at the end of the viewing hour, I did not even bother to go back to it till tonight. Things have not improved. I missed the first 15 minutes getting children to bed, but it quickly became clear I had actually missed nothing at all (though I'm glad I did not miss the spectacle of Gregg Wallace in a grey tweed flat cap and green barbour trying to do 'country' up in the Scottish Highlands). The levels of camaraderie seem to have no limits now. At every excuse, they are all embracing - men as bad as women - and punching the air and jumping up and down and looking aghast and surprised and flaring eyes and nostrils while clasping hands to mouth. And let's not forget the mantras of disappointment (I'm just not ready to go home'), or of success ('I just don't want this to stop) together with the ever-more irritating breathy voice-over of India Fisher announcing that the contestants 'are about to face their toughest test yet'. You don't say. As if all this wasn't disturbing enough, John and Gregg have clearly been instructed to ham up their naturally hammy characters even more. We are now watching caricatures of caricatures with ever more face-pulling, frowning, head-shaking and raised eyebrows. And even they are now embracing in a way never seen before. Two have become inextricably one. Certainly when it comes to leering at one contestant's perfect skin and perfect cleavage. No wonder they put her through. Oh, and just in case one should be in any doubt as to the deity which can be achieved by becoming a Masterchef Champion, a 3-line whip was drawn up of previous winners, all now looking suitably smug and enjoying their new status of judge rather than contender.

By the end of it all I was left with a bad case of indigestion and a strong desire to scream, intelligence duly insulted. Masterchef has become the latest victim to the misery that is reality TV. Shame on the BBC.

12 comments:

Pondside said...

"The misery that is reality TV"....exactly. Reality TV is a perfect example of aiming at the lowest common denominator. If you think the UK shows are bad, try watching anything that comes from this side of the pond. Sick-making.

David L Macaulay said...

I can't believe Masterchef is still around. I wrote a piece on it years ago interviewing the strangly spoken Lloyd Grossman.

BilboWaggins said...

Well said. Everything I hate about the new series and you have put it perfectly into words.

Curled up with ITV and watched the last episode of Downton Abbey instead - truly magnificent television, shame we have to wait until Autumn for the second series.

HER ON THE HILL said...

Hi Folks, and thanks for commenting.

Yes Pondie, sad to say but I do believe that what your great continent pushes out is largely responsible for a lot of our woes over here!! (But I'm not blaming you personally, of course...:-))

David, yes it is still around. But for how much longer? They changed the format of the very popular Ready Steady Cook which had been around for years too and, guess what, barely a year later it was taken off air. Never was the phrase 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' more apt. Lloyd 'contorted vowel' Grossman left the show after they changed the original format, accusing executives of dumbing it down then. That may be so, but I think we have plunged new depths here!

Hi Bilbo, thanks for popping by and I'm glad I struck a chord.

HER ON THE HILL said...

Tut, tut - I mean 'plumbed new depths', not 'plunged' (comment above). Couldn't let that one pass! (or is it 'past?). Goodness, think I'd better shut up now before I'm the one giving you all indigestion!

Mark said...

I watched it at the gym as I cycled on static bike for an hour - not sure which was most boring. And those people at the Scottish Castle - save me.

HER ON THE HILL said...

Mark - love it!

Nutty Gnome said...

I gave up part way through the first programme as it was just way too contrived for me!

Thanks for all your help and advice re my Big Bud Mited blackcurrant bushes. Looks like I'll be doing slash and burn this weekend!

Ladybird World Mother said...

I utterly agree with every morsel. I mean, word. I always loved it in the past with fab looking food and ideas for impossibly difficult dishes. Now, as you say, its all lip trembling, shoulder heaving drama. Can't be bothered. EXCELLENT post. xx

HER ON THE HILL said...

Hi Nutty - am so glad I was able to help, though obviously sad it was bad news for the blackcurrants - and very disappointing for you. Do try propagating in the future with the cuttings from healthy bushes - it is so easy. I was round at another friend's just yesterday helping her prune her apple trees and cordons as well as currant bushes and gooseberries and a hugely overrun clematis too. It was lovely to be able to pass on the knowledge that I have recently gained from the course - and she got some cuttings to propagate too! Good luck with it all and let me know how it goes.

LWM - thanks so much for popping by and leaving such a kind comment, and so glad you take the same view. The question remains, will the ratings rise again when a whole new set of trash Reality TV loving viewers latch on to it - or will it crash and burn because it has sacrificed its core audience in a greedy bid for even higher ratings? Only time will tell.

elizabethm said...

Me too. I loved the old format, even though I got annoyed with the breathy commentary and the overacting even then. But the revamped, souped up new series has just tipped over the edge into parody and I can't watch it any more. I don't know what has happened to audience numbers but there are least two of us not watching now. Three is you count my husband.

Junior MasterChef 2010 - Australia Cooking Show said...

I have written an article regarding a cooking game in Australia where in the contestants are merely kids but all have a potential in cooking. if you are not familirized with the show maybe you can read it at http://paidcritique.blogspot.com/2011/06/junior-masterchef-2010-australia.html


hope you like! :)

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