Film Review: I, Frankenstein 3D

This review was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 29 July 2014.

I, try to make an effort to support the Australian film industry. In the case of I, Frankenstein, it’s more like an overseas production that just happened to be shot in Melbourne. Sure, besides import stars Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy, the production employed 500 locals including director Stuart Beattie, but from a creative perspective, it’s like trying to claim Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Episode III – Revenge of the Sith as Australian movies. There’s a big difference between an Australian film and one that’s simply shot in Australia.

I, Frankenstein is based on a graphic novel and comes from the mind of Kevin Grevioux, creator of the Underworld franchise, except this time, it’s Demons versus Gargoyles. There was some talk of a crossover between the two worlds but it may have been a little difficult to explain the presence of Bill Nighy as the antagonist in both films, but as different characters.

Charles Wessex (Nighy) is the leader of the Demons, bent on finding the secret of reanimating human corpses so that the demon souls of the underworld (not that Underworld) can return to earth. His target is Adam (Eckhart) the two hundred year old living result of a successful experiment by one Victor Frankenstein. Siding with the good Gargoyles and their queen (Miranda Otto), Adam fights for the future of, um, Melbourne alongside the warrior (Jai Courtney) and beautiful scientist, in a Tara Reid kinda way, Terra Wade (Yvonne Strahovski).

Post-converted into 3D, the action scenes are competent but nothing new. To keep the blood letting to a minimum, the Demons explode into flame when destroyed. No green screen in Melbourne was safe during the production, with many, many CGI heavy scenes. Only a few physical landmarks are recognisable in the final product, with the National Gallery of Victoria doubling for Central Station. Otherwise, it’s the same dark european type gothic city as depicted so often in these types of films.

Plot holes abound, from the sublime (the bizarre title – I guess Frankenstein is his surname) to the ridiculous (Frankenstein’s two hundred year old diary is in mint condition). Bad guys fully explain their devious plans to a temporarily subdued Adam, sixties Batman style. The human population don’t appear to notice the explosions and chaos around them.

The serious performances from the cast don’t match the silliness of the film. Nighy is at his scenery chewing best. Eckhart and Courtney growl their dialogue. Otto looks bored. Both Aden Young and Bruce Spence are wasted in cameo roles. Strahovski is radiant but I like everything she does.

The most successful element of the film is the art design. The gothic towers, industrial battlegrounds and derelict buildings are quite beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s all been done before.

With a disappointing box office return, don’t expect any sequels. I, am OK with that.

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Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 14:59  Leave a Comment  
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Theatre Review: Snow White Winter Family Musical

This review was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 8th July 2014.

Many years ago, whilst living in the UK, I had the pleasure of performing in a pantomime. Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood featured all of the hallmarks of this classic theatrical format: a “dame” (a man in drag); cheesy pop songs; a spooky forest (he’s behind you!); sweets being thrown to the audience; a moustache twirling villain; and audience participation (booing and hissing). It was great fun and the audience lapped it up.

Unfortunately, pantomime is not a theatrical staple in Australia. We’re trained to sit in our seats and behave. Luckily for Sydney audiences, this hasn’t stopped Bonnie Lythgoe (UK based producer and director, and former judge on So You Think You Can Dance Australia) from bringing Snow White Winter Family Musical to the State Theatre, just in time for the school holidays.

Pantomimes classically feature a celebrity cast hamming it up and Lythgoe has managed to snag one of the big guns of Australian stage and screen comedy in Magda Szubanski, as the dastardly Queen Grismelda. Also starring are Jimmy Rees (TV’s Giggle and Hoot), Peter Everett (Ready Steady Cook), Andrew Cutcliffe (Underbelly: RAZOR) and US based Aussie musical theatre star Josh Adamson.

For the titular role, Lythgoe ran a country wide talent search in a non-specific shopping centre chain and unearthed Erin Clare, a blue eyed brunette whose looks just scream Snow White. Oh, she can sing and dance too.

Lythgoe has also somehow managed to convince Sir Cliff Richard (the ultimate real life Peter Pan) and radio shock jock Kyle Sandilands to prerecord their parts as the split personalities of the magic mirror.

Rounding out the cast are two troupes of way too talented kiddies who alternate performances as the dancing ensemble and then don some rather creepy heads to portray the seven dwarves.

I was accompanied by two friends who were reasonably unfamiliar with panto, but egged on by Rees’ court jester Muddles, it didn’t take long for them (and the whole audience) to adapt to the concept of audience participation. We hissed the villain. We cheered for the handsome prince. We groaned at the opening chords of the obligatory One Direction songs. I booed at Kyle Sandilands (his onscreen cameo is further proof to my theory that he isn’t actually human).

The cast is uniformly fantastic with Rees particularly amusing (minus his owl) and Szubanski able to make a fluffed line into a memorable opportunity for hilarity. Everett was appropriately camp and new discovery Erin Clare is as beautiful as she is talented (but should stay away from poisoned apples to avoid typecasting and endless slumber).

Despite a rather clunky script, some underwritten characters and a flat second act, I had a great time. Worth the entry price alone is the best onstage flying illusion I have every seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Forget Mary Poppins, this is the real thing.

Let’s hope Snow White Winter Family Musical is a hit so Lythgow can make her panto an annual highlight on the rather ho-hum Sydney theatrical calendar. Next time, I’m going to take the kids.

Film Review: Sneezing Baby Panda: The Movie

This review was published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 6th May 2014.

In 2006, a sixteen second clip of a baby panda sneezing was uploaded on to YouTube.
195,875,796 views later (as of today), the viral video has generated hundreds of tribute and parody spin-offs and was named one of YouTube’s Best Fifty Videos by Time Magazine. Although uploaded by a fan, the original footage was taken by Australian documentary filmmakers Lesley Hammond and Jenny Walsh, who have now unleashed upon the world, Sneezing Baby Panda: The Movie. A cynical cash-in perhaps, but after sitting through this bizarre motion picture, I would suggest that they just relax and enjoy their YouTube royalties instead.

Billed as a mockumentary, SBP:TM is the cinematic equivalent of rogue taxidermy. My best description of this strange creature is a doco-narrative-comedy (pronounced “rubbish”).

Our sneezing panda, Chi Chi, portrayed by renown panda thespian Tai Shan (the first panda born at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.) tells us about his life through the irritating voice over work of Jane Ubrien. Via the magic of editing, footage of pandas doing stuff has been crafted to produce a storyline, of sorts. To add “fun”, sound effects have also been added. All that’s missing is Jo Beth Taylor. Think a panda farting is funny? Trust me, it is less so by the fourth time.

To add a human element to the film, we also follow zoologist Marnie Tyler (Amber Clayton) who is attempting to secure Chi Chi for the fictitious Ullamulla Zoo (the only zoo in Australia that is entirely run by two people). The only problem is that she has no idea where in China the panda resides. Rather than do some research online (she knows how the internet works because we see her watching that damn video a dozen times) Marnie simply purchases an airline ticket and begins her quest on foot, asking bemused Chinese locals if they recognises Chi Chi from a photo. Did I mention that the UN is also in hot pursuit? They apparently need a live panda too.

The 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province which jeopardised two hundred and eighty pandas at the Wolong National Nature Reserve and killed one is an enclosure collapse is briefly touched upon. I would have happily sat through a documentary about this event, but instead we have pandas falling in love, being bullied by “thug” pandas and copious unfunny clips of historical, sporting and cultural events with a panda digitally inserted, Forrest Gump style. Don’t ask me to explain the dinosaurs either.

The novelty wears thin really, really quickly and SBP:TM’s eighty nine minute run time drags. I would happily endure the same amount of time watching unedited footage of pandas doing their thing in the wild, or even better still, the uber-cute Amber Clayton washing her car and doing the grocery shopping.

There is nothing in SBP:TM that cannot be found in the sixteen seconds of the original viral video. This point is made even more obvious when the original clip is show multiple times throughout the film. I stopped counting at twenty.

With distribution deals in China sealed and other international territories in negotiation, the makers of Sneezing Baby Panda: The Movie may well have the last laugh, or sneeze.

Published in: on May 12, 2014 at 00:15  Leave a Comment  
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The Wonderland Years: Odd Jobs

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 25th March 2014.

Imagine arriving for a morning shift as a ride operator at Australia’s Wonderland to be given the task of searching for a missing crocodile. Named Maniac, the giant saltwater reptile had absconded from the wildlife park during the week and was somewhere in the park. To this day, I have no idea how he escaped. I guess someone slipped in a file baked into a birthday cake.

Moments later, I appeared at my assigned ride and dutifully began to search for my friend. Was he in the control booth? No. How about in the bins? No. Is he on the ride? Nope. How about the bushes at the side of the ride? For $7 an hour, there’s no way I’m going over there.

The park opened a little later with no sign of Maniac. He was found a few days later having a jolly good holiday in the lake by Bounty’s Revenge. Good thing the pirate stunt show finished up the week before.

Typing of the lake, I was once asked to clean the lake stage in preparation for a show. At the time, the park only operated on weekends and school holidays. During the week, the park was the domain of rats, cockroaches, crocodiles (sometimes) and lots and lots of ducks. And where did these birds live? On the lake stage of course.

Armed with just a broom and bucket, I can’t say that I removed much of the copious amounts of bird droppings from the stage. I guess I just spread it more evenly. Late apologies to the dance school performing that day. I hope your costumes were washable.

On the subject of washing clothes, imagine what happens to a garbage bin full of half consumed cups of soft drink over five days in the hot sun. The answer my friends is bin juice. Add to this equation the thinest plastic bin liners ever manufactured and what do you get? Stinky wet trousers and shoes every other shift when the bin liner disintegrates just when you are about to throw it into the dumpster.

For some extra money, my mate Craig and I picked up some shifts coming in during the week when the park was closed to dig dinosaur trenches. Over a couple of the hottest summer days ever, we attempted to smash our way through the hard ground around the Snowy River Rampage with picks and shovels in order to hide the cables for the animatronic dinosaurs that were being installed as a special attraction.

To this day, I can still hear the looping soundtrack of dinosaur noises that played for every minute of those shifts. Up close, the dinosaurs were, well, hydraulics and latex. Not particularly frightening. For real thrills, they should have let Maniac take his vacation there instead.

Despite the “interesting” jobs, terrible pay and the harsh conditions, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. It’s such a shame that Australia’s Wonderland is no more. Where will we now train the dinosaur trench diggers, bin juice connoisseurs, crocodile wranglers and duck poo cleaners of the future?

Published in: on April 6, 2014 at 23:03  Leave a Comment  
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The Wonderland Years: The Jousting Ring

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 4th March 2014.

The Jousting Ring was located on a rise in International Village, overlooking the lake. Otherwise known as the dodgem cars, this was an extremely popular attraction that allowed everybody to have go at driving with no consequences, experience or not. As a ride operator or loader at Australia’s Wonderland, the major problem with this attraction is that it allowed everybody to have a go at driving with no consequences, experience or not.

joust

You see, our dodgem cars were a little difficult to drive for the uninitiated. Turn the steering wheel too far in one direction and it would lock, sending the car into reverse. An hour or two rotation through the ride as an operator or loader would be mostly spent yelling at clueless riders stuck against walls, barriers or each other. Occasionally, guests would become so frustrated that they’d get up and attempt to leave mid-cycle which would result in an emergency stop.

Management also required that the car safety harnesses be worn in a particular way. Simply a loop of seatbelt material, all you needed to do was place it over your head and one shoulder, just like a normal seatbelt. Everyone can do that, right? Nope. As a loader, I would’ve walked kilometres every shift checking each and every seatbelt before the ride started. My favourite incorrect seatbelt configurations were around the waist, around the neck, around your child’s neck and both belts worn backpack style.

At the rear of the ride was the staff area for my section of the park. Here we would congregate at the beginning of the day to collect our ride folders and keys. One day I found a pile of blank postage paid customer response forms, completed them with a bunch of ridiculous suggestions and sent them in. I was amused to pick up a staff newsletter sometime later with my ideas listed as genuine customer feedback.

Why not change the direction of the dodgem cars to clockwise to provide variety for returning customers?

Why isn’t there a yum cha restaurant located in the park?

Have you considered a large dome over the park so it can stay open in the rain?

ring

One of my fondest memories of working on the Jousting Ring was when the maintenance engineers would turn up the voltage on the ride after the park closed. Now super-charged, the cars would fly around the track. With just a little bit of effort, it was possible to drift around the corners. Great fun and a fantastic way to unwind after a stressful day dealing with seatbelt challenged guests and their offspring.

The dodgem cars were sold off to an amusement hire company when the park closed in 2004, and the Jousting Ring was demolished the following year.

The Wonderland Years: Dragon’s Flight

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 25 February 2014.

Dragon’s Flight, a wave swinger ride known commonly as the flying chairs, was my least favourite attractions to operate at Australia’s Wonderland. One of the original rides when the park opened in 1985, it was located in the Medieval Faire zone, later renamed International Village.

Dragons Flight 03

Operating the ride was a challenge. Not only did you have to count forty eight riders at a time through the turnstile (we were supplied sporadically with cheap clicker counters which would literally fall apart in your hand after overuse), but you also had to control the ride brakes. There was a hydraulic foot pedal in the ride operator’s booth. As the chairs descended at the end of the cycle, I’d have to slow the ride so that the passengers would touch down exactly as the rotation stopped. I rarely got it right.

If I braked too early, the chairs would crash into each other in a uncontrolled seething mass of chains and legs. If I braked too late, the riders received the best foot exfoliation ever.

I was forever kicking guests off Dragon’s Flight. Mischievous riders would spin their chairs before the ride started and twist up the chains. They’d hang onto each other, or kick the chairs in front. I’d usually give one friendly warning on the mic, and if I was ignored, I’d cancel the ride cycle and bring everyone back down. I’d then kindly request that the idiots, er, naughty riders depart the attraction. Occasionally I’d cop some abuse from the evicted, but a quick call to security would usually result in the unruly guests escorted to the special attraction called the park exit.

Once, I answered a call from my manager informing me that a bomb threat had been received and asking that I casually check the bins and ride surrounds without the guests knowing. You can imagine exactly how obvious it was to the two hundred guests in the queue line when I brought the ride down, asked the passengers to depart, left the operator’s booth and proceeded to stick my head in every bin and shrub around the ride. One women asked me if I was looking for a bomb. I denied it, making up some pathetic explanation about a routine check for missing animals from the Wildlife Park.

Speaking of animals, every now and then in summer, I’d hear a shriek from the queue line and turn around to see people running in all directions. In the heat of the day, some of Wonderland’s residents snakes would come out of their holes to sunbake on the warm paths.

Dragon’s Flight was notorious for making riders sick. Known as a protein spill, there was a bucket of kitty litter ever present in the booth for a quick cleanup when a rider’s lunch came up for air, usually at least hourly on a hot day.

dragon_flight_sunway1

My not-so-beloved flying chairs ride is now located at Sunway Park in Malaysia.

Published in: on April 6, 2014 at 22:44  Comments (1)  
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Doctor Who Memories

This column was published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 26th November 2013.

After decades of adventures in time and space, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary this past weekend. With a special episode entitled, The Day of the Doctor, broadcast simultaneously worldwide alongside 3D screenings at cinemas, interest in all things Who is at an all time high. In today’s fickle television market, it is hard to believe that a franchise has lasted so long (albeit with a break from 1989 to 2005).

Growing up in the eighties, Doctor Who meant it was almost teatime. Broadcast almost perpetually on the ABC at 5:30pm, it usually followed a Japanese animated show such as Star Blazers, Voltron or Astro Boy. For the next thirty minutes, I’d witness the Doctor battle Daleks or Cybermen through my fingers or from behind the couch. Once the end credits rolled with the familiar theme tune playing, Peter Russell-Clarke’s Come and Get It would be on for 5 minutes and then mum would call us for dinner.

The Tom Baker years always seemed to be on endless repeats. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen The Ark in Space. That’s the story with the killer sleeping bag. Sure, it was meant to be an alien caterpillar called the Wirrn, but even at as a youngster I knew it was a guy in a sleeping bag painted green.

One of my friends at high school, Stu, was a huge fan and collected the Doctor Who novelizations published by Target. I’m pretty sure he had all 156 of them. Before I developed other interests (girls), he’d happily lend them to me. They were short reads and every couple of days I’d swap a consumed book for a new adventure. I wonder if he still has them all. I’m sure they would be worth a fortune in mint condition. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure Stu’s collection is not in mint condition. After all, they have all been in my school bag and I caught the bus and then walked home.

They say that your favourite Doctor is the one you grew up watching. Arguably that was Tom Baker, but in terms of new episodes, Sylvester McCoy is my Doctor. Not the most popular amongst hardcore fans, McCoy’s Doctor was a dark and slightly sinister character. I really liked his chemistry with companion Ace (the foxy Sophie Aldred) and was bitterly disappointed when the show was cancelled in 1989 by budget conscious BBC management.

A few years ago, McCoy and Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor) came to Australia for a fan event and I was lucky enough to meet them and get their autographs. They were both very pleasant and seemed well adjusted to their geek icon status. I will never forget when some idiot in the Q & A session challenged them to fight each other. That was never going to happen. After all, Time Lords are a peaceful race.

Congratulations Doctor Who. Here’s to another half century of dodgy alien costumes, shaky sets and wonderful memories.

Published in: on January 7, 2014 at 16:23  Comments (1)  
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Lego of Me: Canberra Brick Expo 2013

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 20th August 2013.

As a kid during the eighties, I’d look forward to the school holidays because that meant that it might be time for the Lego World Show. Once a year or so, a Grace Bros. store in Sydney would host a travelling themed display, all made from Lego bricks. I was in kid heaven exploring the larger than life creations. One year the theme was dinosaurs, the next ships of the sea, followed by the circus and then space exploration. Of course, each show would ultimately spill out into the Lego part of the toy section. I’m pretty sure a great deal of my childhood big bag of bricks was obtained via pleading and begging at the exit of the Lego World Shows.

Earlier this year, I inadvertently wandered into the Lego store in New York City with my travelling companion to discover that he was a Lego fanatic. I walked out with a few photographs and a cheap souvenir or two. Jeff carried out a couple of hundred dollars worth of playsets. And you think that you know somebody.

Fast forward a few months and Jeff has invited me to visit Brick Expo 2013 in Canberra. Held every year since 2010, the expo is a not for profit event run by the Canberra Lego Users Group, a collective of adults and children that love, well, Lego. Last year, the event raised over $40,000 to purchase much needed equipment (not made out of Lego) for the paediatric ward at the Canberra Hospital.

The first expo attracted 4,000 people. This year, the Brick Expo was the hottest ticket in town, with the event’s 12,000 tickets completely sold out. Take that Pink! Not bad for an organisation that started out a few years ago with 4 members and now boasts a membership of 70. That’s more than the Democrats.

Wandering around the expo, I was amazed to see the wide variety of styles and themes that keep the Lego nerds of Canberra off the streets: Star Wars, Batman, trains, pirates, Star Wars, cars and ships. Did I mention Star Wars?

Obviously there were plenty of displays made from official Lego kits and playsets but I was most impressed by the original creations. Apparently, it is possible to purchase bricks of almost any colour and size directly from Lego in Denmark. It works out to about 13c per brick. My favourites were a full size playable Lego guitar and a huge framed Superman picture. My respect also goes to the guy making a life size Tardis out of bricks. Blue Lego may be a little hard to come by until he finishes it.

Brick Expo is so popular that you only get a 90 minute window to explore before your session ends and you are sent on your way. Despite the incredibly complex displays on show, it was heartwarming to see kids happily sitting around and building their own creations. It reminded me of my childhood where I would spend hours building stuff, demolishing it, building again, and then sticking pieces up my nose.

Although I’m not convinced that adult Lego fandom is for me, I have a new respect for the little Danish plastic bricks and their devotees. Now please exit through the gift shop.

TV Review: Under the Dome

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 2nd July 2013.

The latest adaption of a Stephen King novel arrived on our TV screens last week. Premiering on Channel 10 just hours after its US broadcast, Under the Dome was watched by 1.7 million Aussie pairs of eyeballs. That’s a pretty good rating for a network that has been consistently failing in the rating of late. Reef Doctors anyone? I didn’t think so.

The premise is ripped straight out of The Simpsons Movie. A small town in the USA is encased in a mysterious dome. Even said dome’s crash landing was reminiscent to the completion of new buildings in The Simpsons Tapped Out game. I half expected Homer’s voice to exclaim “Kaboom”. Unfortunately, there are no further references to The Simpsons in this review. Doh!

The debut of the titular transparent structure hopefully set the tone for the rest of this 13 part mini-series. Landing on a farm, the dome wall managed to turn an unlucky cow into one of those Gunther von Hagens anatomy art installations. Wait, there’s one more Simpsons reference. Don’t have half a cow, man!

With two occasions of severed arms, told from the two available perspectives, Under the Dome introduced itself as an episodic thriller with lashings of gore. Finally, there’s something to watch each week alongside Hannibal and MasterChef.

Over the course of sixty minutes, we were introduced to the central characters and the subplots were laid which will hopefully entice viewers to stay for the entire season. The show opened with Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Mike Vogel), a war vet with a stupid name and mysterious motives for being in Chester’s Mill, burying a body, which we later discover was the husband of investigative reporter Julia Shumway (Rachelle LeFevre). Of course, by the end of the episode, Julia has unknowingly befriended Barbie. Why does every two bit American town have an investigative reporter? Wouldn’t the majority of stories in the local newspaper concern corn prices and weather forecasts?  And what’s with the ridiculous surname? The last TV character to have that surname was ALF.

Then there’s shady used car salesman and local politician “Big Jim” Rennie (Dean Norris) and Sheriff “Duke” Perkins (Jeff Fahey AKA The Lawnmower Man), both of whom seem to have known that the dome was coming because they were stockpiling propane gas. Maybe they were just preparing for a big town BBQ? After all, there is that half cow for disposal now. And do we really need to stoop to such silly stereotypes as car salesmen in local government?

For the younger demographic we have Joe and Angie McAlister (Colin Ford and Britt Robertson), teen siblings whose parents are locked out of the dome leaving them home alone. Let’s hope that the Wet Bandits are not around. The episode started with Angie in bed with local psycho Junior Rennie (Alexander Koch), son of “Big Jim”, and ended with her handcuffed in the basement. Breaking up is hard to do.

Overall, Under the Dome is shaping up to be an interesting watch but I’m going to give it one or two more episodes before committing. It won’t take much for the show to degenerate into a soap opera set inside a bubble. The producers need to tempt us back week with just a little more information about the dome.

Is it of human or alien origin? How is it powered? Where did it come from? Can you dig under it? Will it snow when you shake it?

Let’s hope the audiences stick around to keep Under the Dome running long enough for some satisfying answers.

Published in: on July 2, 2013 at 17:20  Leave a Comment  
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TV Review: Masterchef 2013 – Boys vs Girls

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 4th June 2013.

Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to reality TV cooking competitions, I prefer Masterchef. Sure, there are other (and higher rating) options available but I like my cooking competitions to be more about the food and less about human melodrama, double crosses and stereotypes.

So it was with a heavy heart that I witnessed the debut episode of the new season of Masterchef on Sunday night. Expecting the same old, comfortable format of previous years, I was horrified when judges George, Gary and cravat guy announced that the theme was boys versus girls.

Battle of the sexes? Really? Really? In a competition based on individual achievement, what relevance does the number of Y chromosomes have on one’s ability to prepare food for human consumption? What’s next? Battle of the blood types? Battle of the races? Plants versus zombies?

The episode began with the new array of kitchen cannon fodder arriving at the MCG for a showdown worthy of a place amongst the greatest competitions ever played on the hallowed turf: separating egg whites. Insert record scratch here. For the record, self-confessed cooking nerd Rishi bested opera singer Clarissa to separate 1kg of whites. Woohoo, boys rule!

The teams then rushed down, down (prices are down) to the nearest non-specific supermarket with only $204, representing the average family spend on groceries per week, to buy ingredients for a 3 course meal for fourteen. The boys had a few bucks more for winning the Great MCG Egg White Challenge™. I’m still not entirely sure about the link between the weekly expenditure statistic and the spending limit for a single meal, but who cares? It’s boys versus girls!

Desperation (for ratings) was the main scent emanating from the Masterchef kitchen as the producers immediately established the heroes and villains for the new season. Michael is the misogynist. Noelene is the eye rolling sarcastic divorcee. Jules likes to sledge the boys and call it like it is. A dispute at the supermarket over which ingredients to lose when the girls overspent led to the social worker labelling her teammates as “moles.” Wow, infighting already. It’s so My Kitchen Rules.

Clarissa is the annoying bossy one. As she dumped ingredients off the conveyor belt at the checkout, ethnic housewife with a heart of gold Samira was heard to utter, “Don’t let Clarissa touch my nuts”, without a hint of irony or innuendo. Unfortunately, this was the high point of the show.

To squeeze in yet another reference to the nameless supermarket chain sponsoring the program, the producers have also included an employee in the competition. Faiza, a veteran checkout chick with 8 years experience, saved the day for the female team by proposing that they half a clove of garlic to save 40c. Her employee discount card may have been more useful.

The fact that I am writing about the contestants and not the food isn’t a good sign for Masterchef Season 5. Falling ratings have prompted changes to the original format which replicate characteristics of its competitors. I’m predicting that Masterchef becoming more like the others will make it harder for viewers to distinguish it in a crowded reality TV marketplace. It’s been fun but I’m voting myself out of the Masterchef kitchen this year.

Published in: on June 30, 2013 at 16:01  Leave a Comment  
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