MasterChef USA: reviews
So is it "Simple and familiar" or "Cold, flavourless and should be sent back to the kitchen"?
Hot on the heels of our finale, MasterChef has just launched in the US, where much of the format is based on the Australian production.
But the series is fronted by Gordon Ramsay, whose schtick as provactive chef is well-established.
In a top-heavy Reality market, so far, the critics seem divided.
LA Times says:
Its pleasures are simple and familiar. There is the usual mix of boastful losers and shy winners, of tiresome cutting remarks and delightful delighted approval. Any spark of a backstory — he’s doing it for the kids, she’s doing it for her folks — is blown up, for at least a little while, into a fire. We meet the talented, the untalented, and the more or less talented who swear on their mother’s spatula that if they’re given a chance they will work harder than anyone has ever worked before, or who promise, implicitly, to bring the sort of drama the producers crave as much as, if not more than, pure capability. In reality television, every contest is also a soap opera.
On other cooking shows, like Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” contestants are professional chefs. There is an assumption that their food is palatable. In “MasterChef,” cooking talent varies dramatically, which makes taste a more important unknown. Even so, the show manages to be hugely entertaining and involving thanks mainly to the judges’ personalities and the ability of the producers to spot emotionally charged stories when they see them. Sometimes these elements work together. A fleeting note after the closing credits said “decisions were made by the judges with input from the producers. Some deliberations occurred off camera.” In other words, taste might count for a lot less than this series would have you believe. Unlike many three-judge shows, this one doesn’t fall into the predictable pattern of good cop-bad cop-middle cop. Although Bowles is a little more flexible than the other two, any of them are capable of skewering an unpalatable dish.
Miami Herald says:
Gordon Ramsay, the host of Fox’s MasterChef, is also a bit of a cartoon, albeit the type you find drawn on bathroom walls. Instead of ranting obscenities at professional chefs, as he does on Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchens, Ramsay is bellowing them at amateur cooking contestants. But otherwise this show is pretty much identical to the others. Ramsay reduces the cooks to tears, reduces their spouses to tears, and probably beats their children and steals their kidneys, though you’ll have to buy the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD to see that part. Even Ramsay’s most barbarous fans are likely to find this formula so thin by now that, by comparison, Louise Roe looks like a blimp.
The Globe and Mail says:
Anyway, the competitors come and go. One if the most appalling segments involves a fella who is, apparently, a farmer by trade, He cooks a potato dish. It fails to pass muster with the judges. When the poor fella has departed, one if the judges cackles, “He’s farmer, right. So it looks like cow dung topped with cheese.” The only reason to include the poor guy was, obviously, to mock him. And then there’s the guy who doesn’t put enough salt in something he cooks. There follow scenes of blubbering and tears as his family gets involved. The contrived sentimentality of it is, frankly, vomitous.
Almost laughably trying to blend FOX hits “American Idol” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” the new cooking competition show “Masterchef,” which debuts on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010, is nowhere near as interesting as either and falls ridiculously flat when compared to the excellent “Top Chef.” With clearly-scripted, false moments and hysterically little focus on actual FOOD, “Masterchef” is cold, flavorless, and should be sent back to the kitchen for a refund…….Even the “positive” auditions, the folks lucky enough to get an apron, feel scripted. That’s the problem with “Masterchef.” It doesn’t feel genuine in the way it treats its winners or losers. And we see laughably little actual cooking. A shot of pasta in a pan, a cut to a jar of sauce — but we get very little sense of what the contestants have actually made and what it tastes like, as the writers, I mean, producers focus more on the personal stories of the chefs. Is this a personality contest or a cooking one?
(I give our current affairs shows 24 hours to get this one on their running sheet as a story!).