Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Episode 1 “Campers Arrive”

I’m going to have a full review of First Day of Camp once I’ve watched the whole thing, which might just be a week from now, depending on my current schedule and other things I need to do. I can switch things up, it’s no biggie. “Campers Arrive” is possibly the strangest series premiere I’ve ever seen, because First Day of Camp is the prequel to a beloved cult classic that was made 14 years ago. Most of our favourites from the film are back, and we have some new additions in the people at Camp Tiger Claw across the lake, as well as in John Slattery the new drama teacher.

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Public Service Announcement: All of Hamish and Andy, now on Stan

Well, they don’t have the podcast up yet, but when I logged into Stan today to see what was new, the TV Category had a new section, titled “Hamish and Andy“. They’re not comedy or drama, but they’re a category unto themselves. It seems to have all of the Caravan of Courage and Gap Year programmes. Now I’m off to watch Wet Hot American Summer: First day of Camp on Netflix (I like to switch between the two).

Glitch, Series 1 Episode 4

I have a new working theory on everything that is going on in Glitch, and we’ll get to that soon. Glitch is a much better show than I had expected, and I’m grateful for that, even though there are some storylines I’m not too thrilled with. This week we learn more about Kirsty’s death, as she remembers it herself. Maria briefly reconciles with Leon; aside from that, getting a ride from Vic didn’t help very much. We still know very little about Charlie or Rodger Corser, and Bo and Patrick could be related! This isn’t quite the clockwork universe we see in some shows (namely Breaking Bad), but I’ll have to reserve judgement on that until we reach the end of the series. At this point I think that Glitch has been cleverly constructed as a whole, and I’m fairly sure we’re going somewhere, I’m just not sure where yet.

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Madam Secretary, Season 1 Episode 21: “The Kill List”

Henry: I think we have officially gone through the looking glass.

The Madam Secretary writers have done their research. Ironically, their episodes seem much more ripped from the headlines as they air in Australia than they would have however many weeks ago when they were broadcast on CBS. A few weeks ago it was Greece, and this week sees President Dalton signing a nuclear peace treaty with Iran. The main complaint I have about this storyline is that there are no members of Congress protesting the bill (As John Oliver said, it’s going to be a long 60 days), and the only real opposition on the side of the United States is Juliette’s attempt to assassinate President Shiraz. There’s the protest as well, but that fits into the broader themes of an episode and what it means to work in government and make a decision that benefits the most people.

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UnREAL, Season 1 Episode 9: “Princess”

Image courtesy of Lifetime

Image courtesy of Lifetime

Shiri Appleby is the star of UnREAL, but “Princess” belongs to Quinn. It’s easy to praise Constance Zimmer’s performance over Shiri Appleby’s (although you’d be wrong), because hers is the more showy. This week however, Quinn was on fire, as she makes the decision to leave Chet, and blackmailed both Rachel and Adam using the footage she found of them having sex. Rachel and Adam did their best to cover the camera, but gravity can be a bitch. Meanwhile, Rachel spends the day having no idea what she wants, and Adam goes on individual dates with Grace, Anna and Faith, who unfortunately leaves Everlasting this week. Bye, Faith! You were always my favourite, and I hope you and Amy live happily ever after and maybe come back to the show, please.

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Live Blog: MasterChef Finale 2015

7:30 pm: I predicted a couple of weeks ago that the top two would be Billie and Georgia, and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever made an accurate prediction about reality television. My decision to write about this finale may have been premature, given that it’s two and a half hours long. I think Billie is going to win.

7:40: The first challenge is a Mystery Box! This is great, because the Mystery Box is probably my favourite of all MasterChef challenges. Because it’s the finale, the judges have some of Australia’s best food producers to bring in fresh produce, and I want to eat it all. From Georgia and Billie’s reactions, it appears that they’re going to choose the same ingredients, so it’s a good thing that the judges send out the produce people so their feelings don’t get hurt when their ingredients aren’t chosen.

7:45: Georgia is making a dessert pasta, and Billie is doing strawberries three ways, and they’re using pretty much the same ingredients.

7:50: Gary and George come over to put doubt into Georgia’s mind about her idea, which is their job. However Georgia is the most anxious contestant I’ve ever seen on MasterChef, and she’s also great at Mystery Boxes, so you never know.

7:55 Matt comes over and asks Billie whether or not she’s nervouos about how much Georgia is doing, and suddenly Billie is adding four new elements to the dish. Both of these amateur cooks are good enough to win the competition, but MasterChef is such an artificial environment that the judges are able to get into the contestants’ heads because they know them so well.

7:58 Georgia’s pasta dough might be too thick, and Billie realises she has too many elements, just as they have one minute left.

8:00 They’ve just finished the last Mystery Box they’ll ever cook on MasterChef! Now it’s time for some reflection before the judges taste.

Billie: Gary loves some of it, but he couldn’t taste the strawberries in Billie’s parfait. George says there are some slight problems, but the textures are exciting, and flavour comes from texture. Matt says something about the produce and then nothing particularly amazing about the dish.

Georgia: The judges question sweet pasta dishes just before we cut to an ad break so we can learn about Sam, The Bachelor.

8:04 I’m really intrigued by The Bachelor from the promos, but I don’t really want to watch it, so I hope someone writes some good recaps. In the meantime, check out Matt Singer’s Bachelorette recaps over at Screencrush. I’m less intrigued by The Great Australian Spelling Bee. Bring on The Great Australian Bake-Off, Lifestyle!

8:07 Dramatic music as the judges taste Georgia’s dish! The editing on this show is fantastic. Gary thinks Georgia did a great job, and basically saved herself by putting the vanilla bean in the pasta dough. George says it’s more like a warm salad, and Matt says it’s fantastic, even though the pasta dough was too thick.

8:09 Round 1 Scores! Billie gets a 7 from Gary, a 7 from George and a 7 from Matt, totalling 21 points, for people who don’t know their 3 or 7 times tables. And people who do, I guess. Georgia gets an 8 from Matt, 7 from George and 8 from Gary, which puts her 2 points ahead of Billie with a score of 23.

8:11 The judges are talking a bunch before letting the contestants know that they’ve invited their families to the show. I can’t imagine being away from my family for so long with very little contact, that’s probably the hardest thing about the whole competition.

8:13 They introduce their families. Billie didn’t like milking the cows, and Georgia was a messy cook. We have our first misuse of the world ‘surreal’ of the night, although I did miss some of the introduction to brush my teeth.

8:15 Billie and Georgia are cooking for their families as well as for the judges. Georgia is going to cook with mushrooms, Billie is going back to keeping it simple afther the first round, and she’s going for scallops.

8:18 Georgia is doing a mushroom tribute; she hated mushrooms as a child, but her mum loved them, and the hero of the dish is a mushroom custard. The judges question Billie’s idea of making a scallop dish in a 90 minute challenge, and now she’s freaking out after the last challenge, concerned she’s made the same mistake. Now it’s time for some Channel Ten cross-promotion, with some sponsor ads thrown in.

8:20 There’s an ad for Meryl Streep’s new film Ricki and the Flash, in which one of her daughters plays her daughter. I’m not sure whether it’s Mamie (of The Good Wife fame) or Grace (of The Newsroom fame).

8:23 Billie has decided to only add two elements. Billie’s my pick to win this, so it had better pay off. Meanwhile, Georgia is adding a hazlenut granola (what is that?) to her dish because she’s worried about texture.

8:25 Billie’s dad says her vinaigrette is ‘alright’. He’s a classic country bloke. Georgia’s mushroom custard is perfect, but I’m not a fan of custard, and the mushroom colour isn’t great, so I’ll pretend I believe her.

8:27 Ten minutes to go! Gary comes to see how Georgia’s going, and questions whether Georgia’s oven is too hot. If they’re not cooked properly, she’s in ‘big trouble’.

8:28 Billie is worried that she hasn’t even started yet. She’s practiced with her scallops though. Georgia’s unmoulding her custards, which don’t look appetising at all.

8:29 Billie is disappointed with her plating, but I think it looks lovely until I see what Georgia’s done.

8:33 Sam, The Bachelor, obviously doesn’t watch UnREAL, because he didn’t consider that one of the contestants would already have a daughter.

8:34 Time for the second tasting of the night! Once again we begin with Billie. Her dad seems impressed, and everyone is nodding. The puree makes the dish special according to Matt, but Gary’s favourite thing is the roast fennel. George says this isn’t the best plating she’s ever done, but he ate the whole thing, which is much more important. The judges ask Billie’s parents if they’re proud, and of course they are.

8:36 It’s now Georgia’s turn. She’s happy with the dish, even though mushroom custard sounds super disgusting. The judges make fun of Georgia for talking while they’re eating, and they have a nice laugh with Georgia’s family. Apparently the custard is cooked perfect, but I still wouldn’t eat it.

8:38 Time for the Round 2 scores, and both dishes were ‘brilliant’. We all know that Billie is two points behind because she’s mentioned it 50 times. Billie gets an 8 from George, 8 from Gary and 9 from Matt, for a Round 2 score of 25 and an overall score of 46.

8:40 Georgia gets a 9 from Matt, 9 from George and probably 9 from Gary, who was talking about his custard concerns, and yes he gave her 9 for a Round 2 score of 27 and an overall score of 50. I picked Billie for the winner, my pride is on the line! There’s a pressure test coming up though, and Brent was behind before the pressure test last year before winning the whole thing.

8:43 Sam mentions the Blake controversy from last year. Is The Bachelor really the most talked about show in the country? Ugh, this ad is giving me strange UnREAL flashbacks. I’ll be reviewing UnREAL tomorrow.

8:46 Has Channel Ten had any original scripted programming this year? Last year there was Offspring, Puberty Blues and Party Tricks. All I’m seeing ads for right now are Spelling Bee, The Bachelor and The Biggest Loser.

8:47 It’s a Heston Pressure Test! We already know this from the ads, but the contestants are about to find out, except when you figure out that this was filmed months ago. Billie and Georgia find out how hard the Pressure Test is going to be and decide to split the money.

8:49 Matt finally announces that it’s a Heston Blumenthal Pressure Test. Georgia: “It’s Heston, he’s back.” Matt asks Heston just how difficult the test is. Georgia says that there’s no one who understands his flavours before she even sees the dish.

8:51 Gold baubles! Of course it looks amazing, and he seems to have given it a scientific name the way you would a plant. (The only scientific name I can think of off the top of my head is ceratopetalum gummiferum). Oh, he’s named it after a good rot that affects some breeds of grape. That caramel vine is stunning, how do you make it so tall?

8:53 Heston: “Some of these elements have sub-elements”
Georgia: “A babushka recipe”
Heston: “55 stages”

8:54 It’s a really good cheese and wine dish, so maybe this would be the perfect dessert for Jessica. Heston is leading them through the tasting of the dish. This dish sent a professional pastry chef to a clinic, so this whole thing is pretty ridiculous. The entire challenge is 5 hours of preparation and 15 minutes to assemble.

8:57 Heston is also judging this challenge, which means there are 40 points up for grabs. It’s at this stage the hyperbole surrounding the show starts to get to me.

8:58 The challenge starts, and the judges talk about how difficult the challenge is, just in case the audience hadn’t been told enough. I love this show, but the amount of repetition is frustrating.

9:00 They’re waiting for the temperature to reach 108C, so my guess is that someone is going to make a mistake with their thermometre. It took them both 20 minutes to do the first element.

9:02 Why aren’t you using a pipette to weigh the vodka?

9:03 Gary stops both the contestants to let them know they’re behind schedule, but at least they’re at relatively the same point. And now we get two ads in a row with Matt Preston!

9:04 I find it really disconcerting that McDonald’s use Zadok the Priest in their ads for the creations thing, I sang that for a school concert in Year 7.

9:06 The sky is already dark and they’re only half an hour into the challenge, this is ridiculous. Billie needs her four points back. She’s a fantastic multitasker, so I’m sure she’ll be great. Georgia has the advantage of being at the back bench, so she can see where BIllie is at.

9:10 Georgia is getting flustered as Billie is motoring on. No one has ever made up this many points in the finale before, but the way Georgia and Billie deal with stress gives Billie the advantage in this Pressure Test. It turns out that Georgia is so worried about how far along Billie is that she’s not thinking about what she’s doing.

9:12 I assume they each get their own fridge so that they don’t have a Great British Bake-Off style disaster of the wrong custard, or Bin-Gate.

9:13 Sara is doing commentary, and I don’t think I like her cape very much. Georgia is worrying a lot. Aaaaaaand she spills her gel. This is the last thing Georgia needs. In her defence, the judges have been incredibly cruel in setting this challenge. George gives a great pep talk and reminds her that she has a 4 point lead, which isn’t insignificant.

9:16 Why do they put on make-up if they know they’ll probably cry? I know it’s television.

MORE IMPORTANTLY: I’m very disappointed that Taylor Swift has licenced Shake It Off to The Biggest Loser, which is a show that encompasses everything that Shake It Off is not. It’s fat-shaming disguised as a health show, and it’s disgusting. The contestants on The Biggest Loser would be better off dancing to Shake It Off, because the haters gonna hate.

9:20 Georgia has halved the rest of the ingredients for the recipe, which is what I predicted she’d do. Billie is worried about Georgia, because she’s the best.

9:24 Billie is ON FIRE. She’s up to the sugar ball, and the music is dramatic as she takes a swig of water. It’s science time! Billie has put on her PPE and is ready to go. Of Course Heston has a special gold sugar, because of course he does. I bet Reynold is really jealous that he’s not making this. Billie is having trouble, and it’s a good thing she’s given herself a lot of time. Heston says it took him three days to get the sugar blowing right, so that’s where we’re at.

9:27 Georgia is spending extra time on her chocolate. There are 20 minutes left, and Heston is supervising Billie’s sugar work. She’s spent nearly 40 minutes on this one element, and this is when she gets stressed. Heston is helping her with it as she gets it right, and then it breaks as she takes it off.

9:30 Billie actually breaks down, and I can understand why this is so stressful. But she still has time! Come on Bilie! I want you to succeed! George is on pep talk duty, telling Billie that if it was easy, anyone could do it. WHich is half true, but also not everyone keeps glass blowing equipment and special Heston sugar in their kitchen so they can make a sphere of golden sugar. Billie has another go, and she gets it! She’s a champion, and now she’s getting all her elements in containers.

9:34 Georgia has finished her chocolate with 10 minutes to go, and now she’s doing her sugar ball. She ditches the sugar ball, which is understandable. Better to have one missing element than two.

9:35 Do they have to plate four dishes or just one? Time is up! Heston goes and gives them a hug. Billie: “It was really hard, Heston!” They have a right to be annoyed.

9:36 We’re at another ad break, and I’m wondering what on earth the judges are going to have Heston whip up for the finale next year. Who knows, maybe Reynold will have invented something that’s finale worthy by then.

9:40 I’ve debated whether or not to watch Have You Been Paying Attention?, but season two winner Adam Liaw will be on! The show is going to finish late though. BIllie is plating up, and it looks magnificent.

9:42 Okay, they only have to plate one dish, which is a relief. Heston is a Billie fan, because he’s a thinking person.

9:44 George already has his plating tweezers out, and the judges are so impressed with how well Billie has done. And they haven’t even tasted it yet! Heston is speechless and thinks Billie is “some kind of Superwoman”. Can someone please make a MasterChef parody where the contestants are all superheroes and Billie is Superwoman? Or maybe Wonderwoman, and the film is still directed by Michelle MacLaren.

9:46 Georgia plates up. She has two chocolate balls to make up for the missing sugar ball, and her gel doesn’t look as good. Georgia’s a little sad that this is the last time she’s going into the tasting room. Heston is impressed that Georgia was able to pull herself out of her doubt spiral. Now Matt is asking about her family, because this is MasterChef, and they need to make the contestants cry at least twice. Georgia’s always had great support but the issue was self-doubt. It appears that people find Georgia annoying, but I see a lot of myself in her, and I love that she never gives up.

9:48 Georgia’s dish is well-balanced, and the chocolate spheres are good, but there are serious issues. Billie’s won the challenge, but has she won the competition? I think yes, but I can’t be sure. Time for an ad break.

9:55 They’re revealing the final scores, which means that there’s going to be a lot of posturing before they actually get to the scores. Oh wait, all the people are already there! The judges are telling us it all comes down to the scores in these folders, which we already know. They’re scoring Georgia first, which means Billie wins.

9:57 Georgia gets 7 from Heston, 7 from Matt, 8 from George and 8 from Gary. That’s a round 3 score of 30, bringing her total to 80. Billie needs 34 to win, which she obviously did, because she’s getting at least 36. Billie gets 9 from Gary, 9 from George, 9 from Matt, and finally I’m guessing a 10 from Heston. Oh no, it’s a 9. Either way, she’s won! She got the 36 I predicted, which means she has a total of 82winning by 2 points!

10:01 This brings me to the end of my live blog, and it’s been fun, but I don’t know whether or not I’ll do future live blogs, this was just the best way for me to review the finale.

10:05 I thought it was over but then Heston Blumenthal offered Billie a job at the Fat Duck. Other contestants have been offered jobs at the end of their MasterChef journeys (TM), but I didn’t expect that.

Television Review: Strike Back, Season 2

Strike Back is a strange beast. Based on a series of novels by Chris Ryan, each season is ten episodes long, but it’s more like five 90-minute movies screened over the space of two and a half months. I was all in on Strike Back’s first season, mainly through my love of Damien Scott, which is why the start of the second season felt so cheap. By the end of the season however, I was all in. Strike Back is a show about men being soldiers and looking good while doing it, but it also touches on geopolitical issues, which the second season had. It didn’t have it in spades, because it’s not The Wire; it doesn’t seek to examine just how difficult it can be to change institutions, but it did base its conflicts on current and historical global affairs, which is one of the many things I like in my television. Also Charles Dance is just so good as a villain, which everyone knows from Game of Thrones.

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