Posts tagged #tv review

Make & Bake

One of the only genres of reality TV that I can get behind is the creative competition show. You know… Project Runway, Forged in Fire, RuPaul’s Drag Race, etc. While I try to tune out any drama that may arise (it is reality TV, after all), I’m so in awe of watching talented individuals create something, anything, under time, budget, or competitive constraints. Heck, throw away all the constraints and I'd just watch creative process videos for days.

gbbs.jpeg
making it.jpg

One of my favorite shows in this genre is The Great British Baking Show and a new (slightly different) season just dropped on Netflix. I also just finished checking out NBC’s new Making It, which feels like a distant, crafty relative of all the British bakers I love, so I thought I’d give a rundown of each show. Not that it’s a competition.

Hosts

noel-and-sandi.jpg

GBBS: This season, both Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who have hosted the series from the beginning, were replaced. Bummer. But not a total bummer because the new hosts are the wonderfully wacky Noel Fielding and the surprisingly emotional Sandi Toksvig. Their silliness is kept to a demure and distinctly British level and they really feel like a support system and friendly face for the contestants.

Making-It-Amy-Poehler-Nick-Offerman.jpg

Making It: Aside from being crafty, the main reason I wanted to watch Making It was for the hosts. Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman walk the contestants through each week’s challenges and it’s obvious the two are good friends in real life. In this situation, Nick is the arts & crafts aficionado and Amy is the not-creatively-inclined-but-arts-appreciative sidekick. I was a little off-put by how over-the-top the side segments were, though. There was no subtlety to their gags and puns and it felt like it was taking time away from the main focus of the show.

Judges

Paul Prue.jpg

GBBS: The newest season of The Great British Baking Show sees Paul Hollywood back, but not veteran Mary Berry. I was a bit worried about the new hosting dynamics, but I actually really enjoyed Berry's colorful replacement, Prue Leith. Both Hollywood and Leith gave honest and humble praise when earned and constructive and helpful criticism when necessary. With the exception of the technical challenges, the judges roam the room, observe the contestants, and ask insightful questions to make the most informed decisions in the final judging. And more than any other season, I believe, contestants emotionally accept the coveted Paul Hollywood Handshake.

dayna doonan.jpg

aking It: The judges for Making It are Dayna Isom Johnson and Simon Doonan. Both have legitimate crafting cred: Johnson is Etsy’s Trend Expert and Doonan is a Barneys NY Creative Ambassador. Unlike GBBS, the judges for Making It appear only after the first challenge and then interact with the contestants for the second challenge before revealing the winner for the week. Like GBBS, they offered thoughtful criticisms and praise, but the interactions felt a bit bland. I didn’t ever really feel like they were totally wowed, except maybe on the last episode.

Facilities

tent.jpg

GBBS: All the baking goes down in a tent on the grounds of an English estate. While picturesque, the outside weather often affects the outcomes of the bakes: chocolate melts, custard oozes, and bakers drip.

barn.jpg

Making It: Contestants craft in a chic, modern barn in the woods. While most stayed inside to complete their challenges, a few contestants popped outside to work in a bigger space or make use of the power tools.

Challenges

technical.jpg

GBBS: The Great British Baking Show consists of three challenges: a signature bake, a technical challenge, and a show-stopper. Contestants are able to plan and practice for the signature bakes and show-stoppers, but the technical challenge is like a pop quiz on a subject of which you have no knowledge. It’s intense.

master.jpg

Making It: Making It features two challenges: a faster craft and a master craft. The faster craft is done in just a few short hours and the master craft in, what seems like, a day. While GBBS contestants must rely solely on their own knowledge and skills, there are assistants helping the makers construct and assemble their master craft projects.

Prizes

Baking cast.jpg

GBBS: Each episode, a Star Baker is chosen and, in the end, the winner is given a crystal cake stand trophy. And maybe some flowers.

3331_QA_Making-It-Premiers-on-NBC.jpg

Making It: Each of the two challenges per episode has a winner, who receives a patch. In the end, $100,000 is awarded to the winning Master Crafter, though the hosts are quick to emphasize that it’s not about the money… it’s about a job done well.

They’re pretty similar, right? In structure, anyway. Amy even references the GBBS at one point in Making It. I had high hopes for Making It as a craft enthusiast myself, but, if it wasn’t obvious, my love runs deep for the British. To me, the camaraderie and relationships among the bakers is, no pun intended, more sweet than that of the makers. The series also really showcases the nuances of baking and it bothered me how little Making It actually showed of, well, making stuff. It felt very rushed and like so much more was being crafted behind-the-scenes. I was very pleased with the winner of Making It this season and would watch again if they come back with more, but I’d probably tune in after my GBBS fix.

Posted on September 9, 2018 and filed under TV Reviews.

Summer Binges

What do you watch when you get home from work? (I’m assuming here that most people plop, exhausted, on the couch after work every single night because that’s exactly what I do) I noticed this summer that my post-work TV viewing revolved around suspense dramas and murder, so I thought I’d rank the six shows I binged between June and August.

How To Get Away With Murder (streaming on Netflix): We’re obviously starting with the worst because, man, this show. It’s a few years old now, but I’d never seen it, so I watched the first season and half of the second and then I turned it off for good. A law professor literally teaches her students how to, well, you know - get away with murder. It was interesting at first, but then it became a huge tangled web of deceit with no resolution in sight. When one situation or threat was cleared, another (more implausible than the last) had already started brewing. It caused more stress than a day at work and I know murder shows aren’t all relaxation and mindlessness, but jeez. No thanks. And I couldn’t get past Alfred Enoch not being Dean Thomas from Harry Potter.  

Goliath (streaming on Amazon Prime): This show is ranked second lowest on my list, but that’s not to say it was bad; it just wasn’t as intriguing (to me) as the other shows I watched. Billy Bob Thornton plays a smart and once powerful attorney who now drinks more than he practices law. In the first season, he’s talked into taking on a wrongful death case against a large corporation who happens to be represented by his previous firm (that he helped build) and conspiracies are unveiled. I liked the plot of first season more than the second, where a young boy is framed for murder; howeverrrrr… the second season had some pretty surreal situations that I feel need mentioning. Mark Duplass plays an unscrupulous developer who has some pretty specific turn ons involving H.R. Pufnstuf and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it was one of the most bizarre things I’d seen on TV for awhile. I just sat on my couch with an unbelieving and horrified look on my face - and doesn’t a reaction like that at least make for decent television?

The Tunnel (streaming on Amazon Prime and PBS Passport): My first (and not last) British show on the list. This is where my true love of crime procedural lies - across the pond. Or, in this case, across the Channel. The Tunnel is three seasons of the British working with the French to solve trans-Channel murder and crime. And yes, there are some subtitles. Like Goliath, the first season is the best and most plausible, but they’re all cleverly developed. I enjoyed the interaction between the two lead detectives -- Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon from Game of Thrones) and Clémence Poésey -- as they learned to trust each other and work as a team. They’re short at six episodes per season and the third and final season aired this summer.

Marcella (streaming on Netflix): Another British murder drama, this time with an extremely flawed and complicated lead (wait, isn’t that every murder mystery?). The first season aired a few years ago and I loved it. Anna Friel (from Pushing Daisies) plays Marcella Backland, a headstrong detective and mother who goes in and out of often-violent blackout episodes stemming from an unrealized traumatic event in her past. The second season aired this year and she finally delves deep enough in her psyche to understand what she’s been trying to bury for the last several years. There are definitely some intense scenes and, honestly, some are very disturbing and dark - notably more so than in the first season. Is it weird that that’s exactly what I love in a suspense show? The crazy ending leaves an opening for further seasons, but on a completely different path. Definitely check it out.

Sharp Objects (streaming on HBO Go): Sharp Objects is based on the book of the same name by Gillian Flynn, of Gone Girl fame. Over the course of a year or so, in the sleepy Missouri town of Wind Gap, two girls have been found brutally murdered. A reporter from St. Louis returns to her hometown to cover the latest murder and is brought face-to-face with her haunted past. Family and town dynamics are explored at a slow, but satisfying pace. The show feels distinctly Southern Gothic and patience is key for the reward of a shocking twist at the end… don’t skip the credits. I usually read books before I watch the TV or movie adaptation, but I was so disgusted with How To Get Away With Murder, I jumped into Sharp Objects without reading first. I’ve heard the show is slightly different than the book, so I think I’ll pick that up soon.

Endeavour (streaming on Amazon Prime and PBS Passport): Alright. This is it. As much as I love crazy, dark, and twisted murders, there’s nothing better than a British cozy mystery and Endeavour very much satisfies that sub-genre. My favorite class in college was British Detective Fiction - we read a mystery each week and broke down the genre from its origins to present-day trends. Everything from Agatha Christie to Colin Dexter, who, as it happens is directly connected to Endeavour. Colin Dexter is known for Inspector Morse - a slightly-more-than-middle-aged man who solves crimes across the city of Oxford, England. He debuted in 1975 and appeared in more than 13 novels across more than two decades (there was also a British TV series based on the books than ran almost as long). Endeavour imagines Morse as he would have been in the 1960s before he moved through the ranks of the British constabulary system. It’s just delightful and well-made. Each episode is approximately 90 minutes, so there’s plenty to sink into if you’re looking for a long-term relationship with a fictional character.

Posted on September 2, 2018 and filed under TV Reviews.

Big Mouth REVIEW

Big Mouth

I know I'm late to the party but after having a week to be to digest Big Mouth, a Netflix original and looking for a deeper meaning I've been forced to think about the tumultuous times of the spouting teenager. How it can be confusing and cause a crisis in oneself leading to the eventual understanding that your life has changed forever. An emerging butterfly breaking free
from your chrysalis of innocence but let's be honest it's shallower than a dirty street puddle after a bit of acid rain. In my opinion, therein lies the charm. We follow a few middle school children as they are visited by the Maurice Hormone Monster. In the opening, you can see the foreboding shadow of Maurice looming over Nick Birch (Nick Kroll )and Andrew Glouberman (John Mulaney) our main characters as Charles Bradley's "changes" plays in the background may he rest in peace. Maurice is the physical embodiment of all the freak nasty thoughts that can go through one's mindin' the nastiest of ways also played by Nick Kroll as he channels is best Diedrich Bader impersonation. At the ripe old age of 75,000,000 years old, he knows the
deepest darkest desires humanity can have and plays on those to coax them to act on them. Episode one "Ejaculation" starts as Andrew and Nick are in sex-ed learning about the  intricacies of the female body.

maxresdefault.jpg
image.jpg

Suddenly Maurice rumbles Andrews desk a breaks free like a genie as he tells Andrew its show time. At the behest of Andrew, he eventually breaks down as innuendo are flying faster than the cars to the Fast and Furious series and fumbles to the restroom to "take care of the problem". Cut to the Birch house as the sit around the table. The father Eliot Birch (Fred
Armisen) mentions how much he loves his family and that his house was the place of death for Duke Ellington. Eventually the boys are getting ready for bed and Nick accidentally sees Andrews "dinger" a wave of awkwardness and tension divides the boys as Nick is perplexed by the size difference. Nick then introduces us to my favorite character in the series. The ghost of Duke Ellington (Jordan Peele) at this point I was like "WTF". The Duke is a zany and experienced character that takes us through a myriad of experiences that only he could have and drawing parallels to the situations of the boys. You may ask yourself what would a 119 year old ghost of a legend have in common with two 7th grade boys? The answer is sex drugs and rock and roll. The episode and the series take you down a rabbit hole that is interesting outlandish and all the while never forgetting to be raunchy. Some of the situations can be humanizing while others are just playing weird.
All in all, I'd recommend the show 2 "Dingers" up.

59e12898d4e9201e008b5453-750-563.jpg
Posted on June 23, 2018 .