Wednesday 3 August 2011

How to watch MasterChef and retain your sanity

Has there ever been a television show that has treated its viewers so brazenly as though they are a lot of dumbclucks? In MasterChef  from the beginning to the end we are told over and over what we have just seen in case we didn’t catch it. And to top it off they begin by showing us a synopsis of everything we are going to see.

I have two methods for viewing this show, neither of them completely satisfactory for there is no way you can totally avoid the endless repetition. Both methods depend on pre-recording.

Method 1
Fast forward until after the titles. This pre-title section only repeats what happened the night before and then shows you everything you are going to watch (spoiling any surprises that might be there). This section is all a complete waste of time.   Note: If you don't want your programs spoilt by seeing bits of them prior to the viewing, avoid watching Channel Ten at all times. They have a habit of tossing in preview material that includes much of what you don't want to see. They've ruined several shows for me that way. They are total spoilers. Only tune in at the time of the show you want to see, then turn off.

Now fast forward through every ad break. Then go a little further because, as sure as sure, immediately after the ads the show will repeat what went on before the ads. I presume this is to help people with incredibly short memory spans who will have forgotten everything that went on before.

Using this method you cannot escape the sections wherein the contestants retell what just happened. This is probably the most annoying section especially since some contestants are preferred over others and these, oddly, are the most irritating ones.

Method 2
This is probably the better method because it saves heaps of time and you don’t have to watch the contestants’ comments.

Firstly, watch the section before the titles. This tells you everything you are going to see.

Now fast forward to the decision at the end. That’s all you really need.

As the show plays six nights a week, it’s amazing what time you have free if you use this particular method.

I’ve now watched MasterChef for three seasons and what’s most fascinating is the way in which the show has step by step destroyed itself. It is now so predictable that you know before the end of each night who the winner is going to be. The clues are all highlighted throughout, and you know each clue will be commented on by the judges. Each night there are some contestants who are ignored so you know that they are not in contention that night. I call them the ‘invisible’ contestants.

The show is so carefully edited that you begin to suspect the decisions. The judges do show preferential treatment towards some. They appear to excuse some particular contestants’ stuff-ups while others merit immediate comment or dismissal. I wonder whether the show is completely fair and unbiased. Perhaps judging should be made by people who are not watching the actual cooking. And, even more so, the judges should not know whose cooking they are adjudicating.

If MasterChef does not change for its next season I won’t be watching. I have already decided not to watch Channel Ten’s renovation show because it has been made by the same people that made MasterChef. From the clips I have seen they are even using the same formula language. Definitely not for me. 

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