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Masterchef Australia – The Conjugal Visit Episode

This episode really highlighted a lot of the negatives of this season. Tonight the friends and family of the final five contestants were on set and they were cooking for them. The winner got a night at home with their family and the bonus was getting a meal cooked by George and Gary.

The premise of the challenge was good, however again it veered into pantomime. A bit like the woman who was the champion baker who cooked off against Billy Law. Complete with people running down from the balcony and it felt a bit contrived.

My issues with the episode:

  • It was 14 minutes before the cooking actually started;
  • If I wanted to be entertained by cute kids on camera I will watch Junior Masterchef;
  • I didn’t need the whole kids being prompted to call out to their mum Kate;
  • Or see George make ham and pineapple pizza with them;
  • Nor do I care about Alana being a Geelong cats supporter, or having two puppies; and
  • The editing telling us Alana had not won a challenge yet, which hinted that she was going to win tonight.

The contestants were able to cook anything they wanted to and on the plus side all of the food looked delicious.

However I did laugh that Dani made it to top five and she did not know or remember to prick the puff pastry. Did she make the pastry? I didn’t see her make it but it would be a brave person who didn’t make their own pastry at this stage of the competition.

However a chef tweeted me and said puff pastry takes hours.

Kate made Roast Pork with potato dauphinoise.

Kate’s husband has the masterchef lingo down pat, he said “has all the elements I like”

Ellie made Chicken and mushroom pie, with mash potato and cavalo nero. Gary said ” a good home cooked meal”. Matt thought it was one of the best pies cooked in the masterchef kitchen. Ellie did make her own suet pastry.

Michael cooked sous-vide lamb rack with lamb rump and crumbed lamb brain. His mother and sister were not keen on tasting the lamb brains. Seriously their son is two weeks off winning $100,000 you would think they could choke it down and gush. Michael should not bother going on The Amazing Race with either of them, as there is always a disgusting eating challenge in each series and you just have to get it down.

However I was hoping his sister would puke all over the table, if they are going to give us theatrics that would have been the ultimate one.

George thought the lambs brains were the dish. Gary thought he missed the mark with the lamb rack as he left on sinew and fat.

Alana cooked a crepe stack filled with lemon curd, raspberries, and chestnut and armagnac ice cream. “Spectacular cooking” said Gary, and Matt thought it was the best dish she had cooked so far in the competition.

Dani made vanilla slice  “Amazing rhubarb puree” said Matt  and “An amazing end to an amazing tasting” said George. Dani’s mum made me laugh anything they said about Dani she would say that is just like me. To be fair they do look alike.

The winner unsurprisingly was Alana who looked like they would make the most of the conjugal visit with her husband.

Also tomorrow night I noted Michael was going up against noted chef Ezard, and cooking his signature dishes with only a 10 minute head start. Compare that to cooking off against an amateur cook Eamon Sullivan.


1 RarelySeen { 07.26.11 at 3:51 pm }

Paul, I realise you are a rather glass-half-full kind of commentator of MasterCrap, however since you asked; the judges buffoonery, the inconsistency with the ammunity challenges, the unequal editing of screen time for contestants and the noted rising online discontent with the lack of talent & lack of actual cooking time.
I loved season one & two, even though I gave a few contestants a hard time (nod to Callum & that nob from season one whatizname starting with an A…). I will buy Jimmy’s Atta Flour, I will buy Marion’s cheats fishcakes but I will not buy anything with Spinal Tap’s features on it.

2 Paul { 07.26.11 at 4:13 pm }

Not a problem RarelySeen.

It’s exactly the same as previous years IMO. Just that people have shorter memories. My god, last year Matt P was smashing plates.

There is always online discontent. Its the nature of the beast. People are always going to be more aggressive in their whinging when they have the protection of anonymity. Most of it hardly ever makes sense half the time anyway.

However, its still rating its arse off and thats the only thing that matters.

Hard to take people’s complaints seriously when it still rates 1.6 to 1.8 almost every night.

3 Chunks { 07.26.11 at 4:49 pm }

Indeed, that part is difficult to understand, but here we all are watching and moaning. I note that The Renovators picked up 100,000 viewers last night and beat Amazing Race, so anything is possible.

4 AnonyMousse { 07.26.11 at 5:07 pm }

Paul – yes, it’s rating. But since you’ve said it’s the same as last year and you’re challenging people’s statements that there’s a drop then the question should be asked – is it actually rating as well as last season?

In the numbers I’ve compared (and I have too much of a life to exhaustively compare every number, but I did compare a couple of weeks of the later bit of the Masterchef season last year to the same period this year, and last nights episode to the second last week of last year), the ratings look to be on average around 150-200K down this year. Last night it rated 1.67 million – I can’t compare that to last season as last season’s Monday was an elimination, but in the entire second last week of last year’s Masterchef it was rating between 2-2.5 million (not including Masterclass in any of all this).

The next week may be the real teller (if they’re notably down in final’s week, then it’s undeniable that people really have lost interest, even if the people not watching do tune in for the final episode itself) but numbers do appear to be down with every episode I compared.

Sure, they’re still rating first, but from what I can see there is a quantifiable drop in viewership.

5 davsimp { 07.26.11 at 7:23 pm }

I know everyone is crapping their daks about a Dani/Ellie final, but I haven’t given up on young Michael yet. Come on Mikey, stop racking your brains and scratching your rump and go and get that pin boy!!!

6 brain dead dave { 07.26.11 at 7:37 pm }

Feel free to publish your name and address with every bullying post,Paul. Thought so.

7 brain dead dave { 07.26.11 at 8:26 pm }

Dani looks real devastated about Michael overcooking the quail eggs.

8 littlepetal { 07.26.11 at 8:52 pm }

The girls didn’t want Michael to win as they shouted to Ezard to put on the crackling on the plates!!

9 Paul { 07.26.11 at 9:01 pm }

Undoubtedly it has dropped on last year. Hard to keep up that pace.

I doubt there has been a television series in the world where S3 hasn’t dropped off compared to S2. Plus the other networks have thrown the kitchen sink at MC this year.

But still, 1.6-1.8 every night is huge numbers. To put it in perspective it would have to be doing 800k or so to be in danger of being aced. Not going to happen any time soon.

Next year will probably do 1.4-1.8 and they are still extraordinary figures to get night after night for 2.5 months.

10 AnonyMousse { 07.26.11 at 9:40 pm }

I think you just moved from being a ‘glass is half full’ guy to a ‘glass is half full of shit’ man. You call people out when they say people are dropping watching this show, then when the ratings back this up you turn around and say ‘yeah that happens to all shows’.

Of course the show’s not going to be cancelled next season, because the numbers are still very good, but the point is that people are turning into other shows – they’re not as interested in Masterchef as they were last season. You keep acting as if that’s not happening, but it is.

11 Jo { 07.26.11 at 9:59 pm }

Paul, I’ll have to disagree with “I doubt there has been a television series in the world where S3 hasn’t dropped off compared to S2”. CSI had higher ratings in S3 than S2. X-Files also had higher ratings in S3 than S2, even higher in S4 and higher still in S5. They’re just two shows I happen to like, so I’m sure there are plenty more examples out there. It’s not unheard of for a show to get better and more popular as time goes on.

12 Paul { 07.26.11 at 10:24 pm }

It would be impossible to keep the same ratings as last year. The final was the highest rating show (non sporting) in Australian television history.

Come on mate – you’re smart enough to understand that. If a football team wins every game one season and loses two games the next season, is that season considered a disaster. Of course not.

Also I never said that people weren’t dropping off. However I hardly think that the Fremantle execs are planning on jumping off the West Gate Bridge any time soon.

I’ll take your word on CSI and X-Files but they were coming off a much smaller base than Masterchef.

13 Jo { 07.26.11 at 10:55 pm }

I’m not quite sure what you mean by a “much smaller base”, but anyway the problem is when you start adding ifs and buts, your original statement becomes useless. My point was that “I doubt there has been a television series in the world where S3 hasn’t dropped off compared to S2” is completely wrong and a questionable statement to make to further your argument.

14 AnonyMousse { 07.27.11 at 12:47 am }

Paul – of course it’s not the end of the world for the producers. But my central point was that there were things about season 3 that caused viewer dissatisfaction and that the reduced ratings show that.

We can’t deny there is a downturn in viewership – whether it’s due to what most of us say here (boring contestants who aren’t shown to be as good as previous seasons and inconsistent immunity challenges) or whether it’s due to something else like general viewer fatigue over the format (in a way this isn’t the third season of Masterchef, it’s the fifth – thanks to the celebrity and junior versions), there is a factor somewhere that’s caused a comperable downturn.

I certainly hope they make some changes for the next season – if I get the same feeling from season 4 as I got from early on in season 3, I’ll trust my instincts and jump ship before I get invested again.

15 Casper { 07.27.11 at 1:01 am }

AnonyMousse – The mass roll out of digital TV may be a contributing factor aswell.

16 Crystal { 07.27.11 at 7:31 am }

…I thoiffy Alana’s husband was her brother (tuned in late, meh) and was considerably grossed out when they kept kissing on the mouth haha. They looked so alike!!!!

17 JaniceG { 07.27.11 at 9:48 pm }

@Paul: I think your memory might be a bit hazy – if they’re still online, I invite you to look at some of the episodes from last season in the week before the finals and see what the contestants were plating up compared to what the contestants in this season are doing. Also, last season was much more consistent in its elimination challenges and immunity pin challenges.

18 Culinary Boner { 07.28.11 at 11:04 am }

RarelySeen, Julie Goodwin? Fat jokes? Nah… I was just flying the flag for my theory this particular MILF (Moustache I’d Like to Forget*) would go off like a bag full of firecrackers whilst playing her hubby’s bed flute…hence the stormy, seismic Tasman (nudge, nudge) references… truly, ruly as Norman Gunston used to say…
i thought my ‘thar she blows’ comment said it all…
BUT, to prove me innocence 100% conclusively I offer the following…did you know *gasp* that according to my tele the other night Julie G is on Dicko’s babblefest to *double gasp* talk about P-O-R-N.
Is this because, like, this stuff is her special MasterMind subject or somethin’?
What vital questions will Dicko cover????
Should more women in PORN have moustaches, now the blokes have gone off upper-lip hair and failed to follow in Ron Jeremy’s footsteps?
Is what Nigella offers on screen: a) home economics, b) handy seduction tips, or, c) the art of fellatio, volume 12?

Will Dicko be able to keep a straight face?

* BDD definition from many posts ago.