My Kitchen Rules
Posted 16 April 2012 - 11:22 AM
12 episodes: no one eliminated.
18 episodes: first couple is eliminated.
These are hour-long episodes! What the heck is going on here, is this show going to run forever? I started speculating about Stockholm syndrome, with the captives/contestants starting to empathize with their captors/judges, hanging on their every word, having it become their only reality.
Then, episode 19 the show shifted gears. All of a sudden, they are all competing at the same time. Or going places and cooking. And the competitions are... fair! No one is ever sent home for something silly. In fact, you have to lose 2-3 times in a row in evenly matched battles to be sent off the show.
All this makes for quite a bit of screentime (consider Top Chef is over before these people have eliminated one person, screen-time wise). Is this a good thing? I think so, I mean, why not? I'd watch 40 extra episodes of Top-Chef a year, I love this stuff.
One other big thing: My Kitchen Rules in particular has absolutely mastered conveying information to the viewer. I did not even realize they were doing it. They have the contestants, and the judges, sit down with the editors and do interviews/voiceovers (often pretending that they do not know the outcome). Then they integrate these with the cooking, so you have 'kitchen drama' 'voiceover bit of recipe/technique' 'what is going wrong' 'what should they be doing instead' etc all at once.
Directors of American food tv need to watch/imitate this last part, it’s very well done.
Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:33 PM
I think equating it to Top Chef is a little unfair, they're very different shows. I don't mind the length of time until the first elimination, the scoring system and critiques from some of the contestants who have no idea is just as interesting/entertaining for me, if not more so.
I do think they could get better guest judges than Tobie Puttock and Karen Martini, but then again they have the appeal for the demographic, with their Jamie Oliver and Better Homes and Gardens backgrounds. It's not so much a show for the serious foodie as it is a show for the casual viewer.
Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:33 PM
In that respect, MKR devotes most of the show to the food being cooked, whereas Top Chef you are lucky if you see even a glimpse of technique or ingredients.
(It's kind of fun to make fun of the judges too. Pete "what Menu scored it +1" and Menu "My steak does not have enough sauce!"). No clue who the guest judges are, so they don't bug me.
The third season is much more fun than the second, I'd be interested in hearing what you think of it. (Some of the contestants are fantasticly better cooks too)
Edited by Werdna, 18 April 2012 - 01:38 PM.
Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:18 PM
TV cooking shows fascinate me because they're a collision of my professional life (TV) and my hobby (cooking). When I'm watching a cooking show - especially ones that are more 'reality' style, I'm often busy admiring the way the show is produced while being annoyed at aspects of the cooking, or vice versa!
You seem intrigued by the show's format, so here are some vague ramblings about how it came to be:
Firstly, realise that Australia is a small TV market, and until recently we only had 3 free commercial TV channels. We have more now, and cable is much more widespread than it was 10 years ago, but basically we have 3 non-government channels - 7, 9 and 10. They are fierce competitive rivals...
In 2003 Channel 9 invented a reality TV series called 'The Block', which put 4 couples in a competition to renovate a block of flats. The show was a smash hit and continues to this day, still with huge ratings.
Channel 7 wanted something just as popular, so they responded in 2004 by creating a TV series called 'My restaurant rules', which pitted 5 couples (each representing their own state) in a competition to renovate and launch a restaurant. There were many elements of the show that closely mimicked elements of 'The Block', such as weekly cash bonuses to the couple who had done the best job in that particular week. The show rated OK but was never the smash hit that 'The Block' was, and it only ran for 2 series.
Jump forwards to 2009. Channel 10 license the UK series 'Masterchef' but give it a radical makeover, and turn it into a reality TV show where the contestants live in a house together but risk eviction based on various cooking challenges. Masterchef is on TV 6 nights a week and rates its socks off. It is very difficult to explain to anyone overseas what an unexpected phenomenon the Australian series of Masterchef became. It was so popular that during the general election, a scheduled TV debate by the two party leaders going for Prime Minister was re-scheduled so it didn't clash with the Masterchef final.
Channel 7 want something similar, and decide on a format comparable to the UK show 'Come dine with me' - where competitors cook dinner parties for each other in their own kitchens and rate each other's food. Perhaps the success of Masterchef prompted them to look at other UK cooking shows? However a local cable company had already licensed the UK format and produced 'Come dine with me Australia' for pay tv. So Channel 7 called their version 'My restaurant rules' to tie in with their previous series 'My kitchen rules' and tweaked the format enough to avoid legal issues with both 'Come dine with me' and 'Masterchef'. Basically they combined elements of Masterchef with Come dine with me, and retained the concept of the competitors representing their own state.
What you get is a TV series in which the first few weeks closely resemble the format of 'Come dine with me', as each couple cook in their own homes for the other competitors, who judge their cooking. Based on the scores, some couples are evicted and then the series switches to a format that closely resembles Masterchef Australia, where the couples compete against each other at various locations, with various challenges, and are judged by a panel of professional/celebrity chefs. Couples are progressively eliminated until there's a 'Grand Final', and a winner.
So there you go, perhaps that answers some of your questions regarding the format?
Personally, I like the show but it's more reality than cooking, so they obviously hype up the drama and tension. As someone who is heavily interested in the science behind cooking it often frustrates me when the contestants get highly emotional about things which are completely wrong! This happens all the time... in the most recent series, two contestants try cooking steak with a digital thermometer so they don't overcook it. However they do two things wrong - firstly they cook the steaks until the internal temperature is about 65C (55C would be considered rare), and secondly they don't make an allowance for the temperature to continue rising after they take the steaks off the heat. The end result is horribly overcooked steak, and a shot of the contestants declaring that digital thermometers are rubbish and throwing theirs in the bin. Obviously the thermometer wasn't broken, they just didn't know what they were doing... but I guess it's good entertainment!
Posted 23 April 2012 - 11:02 AM
Nit-picking is also my favorite thing while watching these shows, heh. Masterchef AU is simply amazing, I think season 3 of that was my favorite food-show ever. That said, I still think the TV-side of MKR is better for passing on recipe tidbits in an easy-to-digest format. But it's hard to compete with the celebrity lineup Masterchef-3 brought in.
The show-format shift is great! That threw me for a real loop, and while I do not like the first-part format nearly as much, in retrospect it helps with getting to know the characters before you see them compete, more emotional investment=better for these things. My friend sent me another DVD with Masterchef NZ on it, where they alternate competition episodes with ‘teach the contestants in classroom format’ episodes. Classroom episodes bored my wife to tears, me to a lesser extent, and we ended up skipping those. It’s a format switch but not, I think, a good one.
To ramble on, the cheating is subtle but noticeable. I mean, it's not really cheating, because all the contestants do it. But you can tell that something strange is going on, when people are cooking things they never have cooked before, from hidden recipes, messing them up and forgetting parts of the recipe.. anyway, I can tell some serious coaching is going on in the background. Which I have no objection at all to, makes for good TV (and I really don't want to see it, like in MC NZ). Also, I KNOW the MKR people are not decorating their own instant restaurants. So I guess all I’m saying here is that there are a lot of people working on the show who are not showing up in the credits/show who maybe deserve to be cooked for every once in a while .
I had just watched the steak-instant thermo episode and was yelling ‘noooo’ at the screen with you. Lots of talk of ‘sealing’ meat, trying to braise a 5 lb uncut pork shoulder in an hour (where did they come up with that? Yikes) And a woeful lack of pressure-cookers used (especially for stock making, which they still try to do in 1 hour).
I found myself skinning a chicken the other day though, grinding up the meat/liver and slapping together a roulade in just minutes which would not have occurred to me to do until I saw it on the show (wrapping in plastic-wrap/foil, cooking, unwrapping and then frying until brown). MMM. And I have a huge hankering for a duck-neck sausage.