Valentine’s Marathon & TV Binge: What is Love (2012)

Happy Valentine’s Day! We made it here sadly with very little posts so you will see tomorrow that I will most probably be extending the marathon throughout the month. The stars really didn’t align for us this month with the PC issues and such. However, we will deal with the blog stuff later.

Today, I have lined up such a fitting TV Binge to add into the Valentine’s Marathon and that 2012 Taiwanese drama, What is Love. I just wrapped it up over the weekend and maybe I will even start doing a ranking of Taiwanese series soon. There is an incredibly small amount of photos for this show online since I am working with a computer that can’t read Chinese so I went back to the series to screenshot some pictures. Hopefully you will like it. I apologize if the quality isn’t that great in advance.

Lets check it out!

What is Love (2012)

What is Love poster

Cast: Chris Wu, Jade Chou, Duncan Lai, King Chin, Kimi Hsia, Gina Lim

Thirty-two-year-old Li Yi Hua (Jade Chou) is longing for a romantic relationship and wants to marry a good man. Along comes Bai Zong You (Chris Wu), who breaks women’s hearts with one-night stands. Bai Zong You sets his sights on wooing Li Yi Hua next. What she doesn’t know is that she might have true feels for him. – Wikipedia

I’d like to think that I am fairly picky when I watch Taiwanese series mostly because I have been watching them a long time and with it, comes the expectations that there are so many better ones and hoping to find ones that truly find a nice balance of romance and comedy depending on the story they deliver. Of course, I have also fallen out of the loop for a while since I stopped watching them for a few years until they started appearing on Netflix last year. These series fall into their own tropes but they also have some nice silly bits that usually help with the story. I went into What Is Love having no knowledge of what the story is about and a little bit skeptical on how this would turn out. Let me tell you, it was definitely a very pleasant surprise. There are many plot points here that break the normal perception of what these characters would act and somewhat flips the typical story on its head a little. Plus, it creates a lovely balance of romance drama and romance comedy as well as comedic breaks with both its dialogue and its characters. At the same time, the story never forgets that when the journey of love includes a lot of factors, be it your best friends, your family and all kinds of elements and these characters play a decent role in how these two main characters approach their decisions.

On top of that, this is a completely new cast to myself. The only person here that I wanted to watch was Chris Wu (aka Kangren Wu) who is the main male role Bai Zong-You who was in Autumn’s Concerto which I loved quite a bit as well. You can check out the TV Binge here. In that one, he played the supporting male character which was the total opposite of this role. I have to say, while I liked that role, this role was really fun and matched his handsome and charming appearance.

What I Loved:

  • The Songs and Opening Theme Clip: I usually don’t talk a ton about music around here except for the music obsessions segment but I thought this opening clip was adorable, especially that surf board balancing part. Not just the opening theme clip was really nice but the songs were all very fitting to whatever scene they were playing in.
  • Chris Wu & Jade Chou: Chris Wu (aka Wu Kangren) plays Bai Zong-You, the playboy who becomes mesmerized by the challenge of proving his love to Jade Chou’s character, Li Yi-Hua. A lot of the “romance” is in the beginning because the course of the film is about them both realizing what is love. They are at the opposite spectrums in many sense. However, consider the chase and the enlightening moments for Bai Zong-You being the really great parts, whether he does it through revenge or plotting or slowly finding the way to approach his love interest and acknowledge love with her. At the other end, Li Yi-Hua is one of those rare characters in Asian TV series that really shows a strong sense of a woman that acknowledges her loneliness but will not compromise her love for someone who is undeserving no matter how much pain she feels in having to go through the heartbreak. what is love
  • The Guys: One of the best points of the series is its ability to create a balance of characters. Even if you look at these guys here who are best friends. They have varying personalities as well and their own lessons to learn. Each of them fit somewhere else in how they see love and a lot of the humor is in their silliness. This links heavily to the next point that I liked. 

What is Love

  • The Ladies: Just like the guys, the ladies here are quite fun to watch. Our main character of course has already been talked about before, but her best friends are equally diverse in personality from Xiao Lu on the left who plays a young divorcee with a kid who is really silly to the opposite, Lan Jun who plays the mature friend who reasons and sees through a lot of the bullshit.

What is Love

  • Love Interest: I’ve always been the type that finds it funny how the supporting character that you know the main character won’t end up with is always very perfect and deserving to be loved. Taiwanese series loves to do that and this one honestly gives Yi Hua a worthy man in Shao Qian (played by Duncan Lai). He’s quite the gentleman. what is love

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Too Many Flashbacks: One of the biggest pet peeves I have with TV series, especially of the Korean and sometimes Taiwanese nature is their love for flashbacks. I get flashbacks especially when it helps elevate an emotion but when you get the same flashback every episode just to emphasize on a character’s hooked onto this moment, its okay to drop a few of those.
  • Lengthy Episodes: While this didn’t really turn me off so much as its inconvenient to find a place to stop watching, the 1.5 hour long episodes are quite abnormal to me. I wasn’t sure if it was just a Netflix choice but as I was researching the show, it seems it was aired with that episode length, a little baffling in my mind but what do I know. Since this was quite binge-worthy, I didn’t quite mind the lengthy episode since the power of the pause button and Netflix saves my spot whenever I take a break.

what is love

Overall, What is Love was quite the pleasant surprise. It delivered a really fun story. Not only did it give a rather strong female character with a lot of personality, it also gave an array of cast that were unique in their own way but impacted the story as well to create a nice balance. Taiwanese TV series like these are romantic comedy affairs but somethings it forgets to find that balance and while there were some odd ends here and there that went a little overboard, this one achieved that balance really well. It always remembered to toss in some funny moments to never let the drama last way too long. Plus, just like Yi-Hua needed to learn to accept a playboy and Bai Zong-You had to gain her trust, we saw both sides of the story and was able to at least feel like he could be trusted also. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of “What is Love” because it differs in so many ways and isn’t always just romantic and this one does tackle all of it. There is no formula but at least, its a really fun journey thats us on a nice ride as the characters all figure out their version of love and thats pretty awesome in my book.


TV Binge: Wolf Creek (Season 1, 2016)

I watched Wolf Creek quite a few years ago. The movie was quite memorable to say the least and one of the highlights of the movie from what I remembered was Mick Taylor, the villain of the movie. Recently we subscribed to Shudder and with it came the first season of Wolf Creek. We had no idea where this would go but just in case, we rewatched the movie as preparation before starting it. The movie absolutely still holds up today. Here’s my original review of it. Now time to take a look at the TV series.

Wolf Creek (Season 1, 2016)

wolf creek

Cast: John Jarrett, Lucy Fry, Dustin Clare

An anthology series which centers on different characters being targeted by crazed serial killer Mick Taylor in the Australian outback. – IMDB

Wolf Creek is one of those series that gave me incredibly mixed feelings. Its really a mini series length which works for what it tries to accomplish. It focuses around a sixteen year old girl Eve whose family gets killed by Mick Taylor on a camping trip in Australia. The reason for the trip was for her recovery from drug addiction, mostly of the pain killer variety and she heads out to track down the killer that she feels is linked to many disappearances in Australia on her own when the police doesn’t seem to be able to help her or believe her. The first season tells the story on her side, the policeman and Mick Taylor’s side as well. The angle they choose is great but the best way that I can describe this series is it felt like a tease and not enough follow through. Don’t get me wrong. The pacing and the length work very well to the advantage of the series. The episodes take place over various areas of Australia and it almost feels like a lethal cat and mouse game except they are somewhat chasing each other while adding in the policeman Sullivan into the equation who tries to follow the girl’s traces.

wolf creek

Other than the beautiful Outback setting here and the road trip style here that works really well, the main characters are all done really well. Eve is played Lucy Fry and she carries herself very well especially as her character is written with a lot of development as she matures and learns from her mistakes over the course of the episodes and her chase of Mick Taylor. She grows tough and learns how to blend in and even cover her tracks a little while picking up a few femme fatale traits. Her vengeful mind and her constant resistance to her addiction takes into an intriguing journey to say the least. The cop here, Sullivan, also sees a side of his story from his personal story to his trail to find out more also makes him a pretty great character to watch. He also gets a good bit of development here however what stands out for him is his rugged personality. Then of course, there’s Mick Taylor, as always played by John Jarrett. I think he’s a great fit for this character and the fact that Wolf Creek has managed to get him to join back in for the TV series is pretty fantastic.

Wolf Creek

With that said, the part which I disliked the most about the series went to all these supporting characters that these characters meet along the way and seem to want to build up and develop halfway and make its audience care and then takes them out of the equation abruptly. I’m not exactly a fan of that. While I understand that TV series will have constant change and each of these characters may have been a little bit of a guiding light and purpose to Eve’s revenge journey, and they can’t always keep everyone on forever, it seems slightly silly to keep removing people out and it somewhat bothered me.

Overall, the first season of Wolf Creek is pretty decent. The main characters do a decent job and the structure of the show works pretty well. I had some minor issues on not letting some supporting characters of bigger roles but then, looking at the show being an anthology style per season, it seems to make much more sense. I do like the anthology idea which seems fitting for the emphasis on Mick Taylor rather than his victims.

TV Binge: Zumbo’s Just Desserts (Season 1, 2016)

The Super Bowl weekend just ended and this has been in queue to be written for a while so I figured that we’re in Valentine’s marathon time and desserts are a staple here. I’m not sure I’ll get any desserts done as work has been hectic but I’ve been getting lots of baking ideas and techniques I want to learn from watching this reality competitive Australian baking show called Zumbo’s Just Desserts, hosted by Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo. At this point, I put it on in the background a lot just to keep myself motivated so I’ve watched it a few times to say the very least. With that said, you probably already know how I feel about it.

Let’s check it out!

Zumbo’s Just Desserts (Season 1, 2016)

Zumbo's Just Desserts

Judges: Adriano Zumbo, Rachel Khoo

Assistant: Gigi Falanga

A competitive baking show? Count me in! Despite my many unsuccessful scheduling to get back to baking, it is still an immense passion of mine. I honestly don’t know fancy bakers around the world so it was the first time that I even heard about Adriano Zumbo. He is paired up with Rachel Khoo who is seemingly not only as knowledgeable about dessert flavors but also quite charismatic to watch as a team. However, their 12 competitors are the real stars here because they are all different in personality and while most have likeable traits and great aspirations and fantastic talent, they also have somewhat of a villainous competitor here who helps balance out the show and really give it some human drama on who to root for.

Zumbo's Just Desserts

The show breaks down into 12 episodes which sees the contestant with the lowest score be eliminated from the show in each episode. Each episode consists of two rounds. The first is called a Sweet Sensations task which runs along the theme of a day. There were color coordinated fresh fruits, magic, fire, kids birthday cake just to name a few. The two with lowest scores go into the second round head to head to fight for survival in a Zumbo Test. If you didn’t know Adriano Zumbo before, well, his Zumbo Creations are jaw-dropping awesome. Complex but awesome. And this probably will give a great idea of his dessert creator abilities. In the Zumbo Test, the two have to recreate his dessert in the allotted time. The various themes and absolutely Zumbo’s creations are the highlights here. The struggles and the successes make this show really fun to watch. Its always down to the wire and its really exciting to watch because the skills and ideas are really fantastic and watching them being executed is a lot of fun.

Zumbo's Just Desserts

What I did like a lot for the show, even if it felt a little showy and over the top was the location and set design. It had these colorful tones and felt like walking into Willy Wonka factory. Its pretty fascinating and emphasizes on the wonderful world of baking. Well, its wonderful because I love baking. If you put aside the setting, something else I really like is how they introduce each of the plates that the competitors conceptualize in this sketch like below. I think its really neat because you get to see whether the end results actually happens. Let’s face it, the best part of reality TV is that things happen out of their control and its those struggles and how they push through it that make it fun to watch.

Zumbo's Just Desserts

Overall, Zumbo’s Just Desserts is a really great show. Its fun and cool and very exciting to watch. There’s a nice balance in the competitors on their different styles and strengths. Zumbo and Rachel Khoo are a nice team together. The setting emphasizes on the enchanting world they want to have here. Zumbo Creations are just from another world and makes me want to work hard to bake better and learn different techniques (although the hard part is everything I do has to have a somewhat vegan twist). I have a few criticisms of the show but nothing that has stopped me from binging it 3 times already on Netflix. I would have loved to see them actually talk out how they determined the scores though as sometimes their criticism seem to not exactly match the scores they give. I’m honestly just hoping there will be a Season 2 soon.


TV Binge: Gilmore Girls (Season 5, 2005)

Today, we’re continuing the very overdue Gilmore Girl binges. We’re at Season 5 now! The show’s kept a fairly good pace up till now. Before I get ahead of myself, remember that if you haven’t seen Gilmore Girls, that this season 5 binge recap will have tiny spoilers just because of the continuity of the story. I try to keep to the things I liked and disliked so that its brief but there’s things I really can’t avoid.

Gilmore Girls (Season 5, 2015)

gilmore girls s5


Cast: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson, Sean Gunn, Kelly Bishop, Matt Czuchry,

Season 4 ended with quite the cliffhanger. It took us into Season 5 with a nice change in pace. For one, the Gilmore Girls are more or less in a disagreement resulting in Rory’s eventual departure for the summer with her grandmother. Of course, there was separation all around as the reason Emily Gilmore left was because of her decision to have a divorce over a decision in Season 4 that she disagreed with because it would possibly push Lorelai and Rory away. With the family relationships in a tangle, it only signaled in more conflict as the boyfriends for Lorelai and Rory marched in and out of their respective lives. Season 5 had a lot of coming to terms with their situations and being okay with it.

In many ways, Season 5 was a very strong season. It had both conflicts between our favorite mother and daughter but also life situations that proved how amazing their relationship and support system was. There were a lot of hilarious moments and balanced equally with more serious outcomes.

What follows now will most likely head into spoiler territory if you have not caught up so consider yourself warned…

Let us start with some arcs that I loved/ liked:

Emily and Richard

Season 5 spent a good deal of time with the previous generation of Gilmores. An almost forty year marriage that was put into separation. What started out as putting up a front turned into a downright hilarious spiral to their separation from the start and then came back to having the couple separated and then their reunion. It does spark a lot of silly moments, once of the first including Emily Gilmore climbing out of the basement window and shedding her skirt in the process. Just a quick example but it was nice to see how their relationship fell apart but came back together. It was a long-awaited focus on Emily and Richard Gilmore that was quite needed.


Marty’s character arc started last semester as “The Naked Guy” and its nice to see him coming back as his character meshes really well with Rory and for a good part of the first two years at Yale, he is somewhat of a support system as they sit down to study together and hang out and he brings over food from his random jobs here and there. He is someone that seems to be on the same wavelength as Rory because they both don’t come from privileged families (in a way) and they speak the same language. In this season, he doesn’t get a ton of arc but its enough to really see their friendship be solidified in a certain way. I have read some stuff here and there that ships Marty and Rory. While I think Marty is a stellar arc, I never thought he was meant for her but more as a comparison of the change she’s incurring through college.

Lorelai and Luke

Let’s be honest. This pairing was eventually going to happen since day one of Gilmore Girls. Luke and Lorelai just needed to fall into the right timing in their lives to embrace it. This season gave them still a lot of hardships however, there were still a lot of fun moments as they learned to adapt to each other’s lives. Its never easy to date a Gilmore Girl especially with the family ties baggage that comes along with it.

Logan & the Life and Death Brigade

gilmore girls

Season 5 took a lot of time building up the entrance of Logan as a love interest for Rory. Matt Czuchry does a great job and taking on this character. While I’m totally part of the Jess team, I do believe that Logan had to come into Rory’s life and teach her to not be afraid to live her life and actually experience it even if it meant taking risks and chances. Some of those ties to Logan did bring on some bad repercussions and Rory did try to change who she was for him but in the end, they do change each other for the better in many ways as well. However, Logan does draw many parallels to her own father and its probably why its takes a while for Lorelai to enjoy it. However, lots of great fun moments with them both good and bad.

Sookie and Jackson

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it before but Sookie and Jackson are absolutely hilarious. Especially in Season 5, they also have a stronger arc as they embrace the arrival of their second child while Jackson fights for justice and then ends up running for Town Selectman (I think that’s the title) and his duties drive him crazy after he wins. Its all kinds of crazy as they both are truly hilarious characters that play off each other as a couple so well in the quirkiness and most awkward of ways.

Paris: Rory, Doyle, Yale Daily News

As the series goes on, its hard to not love Paris for her straight forward, blunt and no filter dialogue. She’s hilarious in both her expressions and just how she is. Both in her journalistic efforts which bring on some funny moments and in her eventual pursuit for her relationship with Doyle, the editor of Yale Daily News and is a slightly silly character as well. She and her ways is starting to be a solid part of Rory’s life that Rory herself seems to have accepted and learned to be okay with in general. Its a lot of fun times as they have clashy conversations which tend just get forgotten and their friendship grows stronger despite of it all.

Lane & Zach/Hep Alien

Hep Alien has spent a few seasons growing. Its characters involved also becoming more familiar. Particularly since Lane chose to rebel against her mom’s wishes to follow her own dreams which turns out that being an adult and living seems to be getting in the way in this season. Its great to see sucha motivated character in Lane especially as she starts to learn that he likes Zack of all people. Zack however does turn out to be one of slow but harmless characters and leads to their own good moments as they embrace the idea of being together and as their relationship develops and finds a balance within their band.

One of the arcs that I got why it happened but wasn’t a particular fan of:

The Second Try with Rory and Dean

Dean is an okay boyfriend. In perspective of him once being a great boyfriend, it felt inevitable that the arc would lead back there. The way it happened however was not something I particularly thought was good. However, Gilmore Girls succeeds in showing off the messiness of life and the bad decisions the Gilmore Girls all make before realizing what is right for them. Plus, first loves are known to linger on our minds so its hard to really fault anyone in this situation however, their second try might have the right feelings there but it seemed to still lack the timing and growth that they both needed.

Gilmore Girls’ season 5 succeeds as a whole as probably having some of the funniest moments of the show and leading the characters each into their own development. Time to get on with Season 6 shortly!

Somewhat of a detailed TV binge format here. I am still trying to figure out what works best.


TV Binge: Ultimate Beastmaster (Season 2, 2017)

Ultimate Beastmaster had their season 2 released on Netflix on December 15th, 2017. You can see our recap of Season 1 HERE.

Ultimate Beastmaster (Season 2, 2017)

ultimate beastmaster

Creators: David Broome & Sylvester Stallone

Our household are big fans of Ultimate Beastmaster. From the structure of the beast to the structure of the challenge in this Netflix’s version of American Ninja Warrior, its a lot of fun to watch. This year’s Ultimate Beastmaster brought on a new slate of competitors. Aside from the USA being there in Season 1, there was China, India, Italy, Spain, France. Being Chinese, I was pretty happy to see China have its contestants and a lot of them were pretty incredible.

Ultimate Beastmaster

With new countries came new hosts and new chemistry. USA being the only overlap country in the two seasons came back with two different hosts. The first season was hyped up because of big names attached with Terry Crews and Charissa Thompson. This time, we had Tiki Barber and Chris DiStefano. It took a little while to get used to them however as they show did go on their jokes, while feeling a little like dad jokes did get a few funny moments. However, the Italian hosts and the French hosts had a really fun feud going on that worked to make it very entertaining to watch. Of course, the Chinese hosts also had a balancing act where the lady Qinyi Du was overly enthusiastic and was pretty much hilarious but was paired with Bin Gu who seemed much more quiet and contemplative. While he didn’t say much, somehow this pairing worked in its own way.

ultimate beastmaster

In many ways, this season’s beastmasters had two brother pairings which worked very well together. It came with a lot of nice and supportive moments. Plus, the competitors chosen here were quite diverse although parkour and mountain climbing athletes definitely had an advantage to the others with both flexibility and working to the obstacles here. It was also nice to see the sportsmanship exhibited here and the enthusiasm. Getting through any of these obstacles was challenging in any of the stages and no matter who you rooted for, it was hard to not feel tense for any of the competitors because the course was tough on them and this took a lot of courage.

ultimate beastmaster

In terms of budget, you can already see some changes in there. For one, the countries all have their own country colors and outfits and gears. On top of that, the course itself had some changes. The first stage starts off differently than season one and to be honest, this one feels much harder because its about jumping far distances which is good because it prepares you for the huge challenge even from the first season which are the energy coils. The point system also had an overhaul and I think its quite fair this way plus the point thrusters are not flip switches but actual buttons which is pretty cool. The first stage also had alternate paths with every other episode and group of competitors, which is new and refreshing. The second stage didn’t quite feel like there was a lot of changes. The third stage however did have bigger changes as they added in what seems like a longer area of sinking coils and transitioning to this Hangman section which is ridiculously hard just to watch because its so challenging to even watch. The final stage also had an overhaul that was pretty awesome and more extensive as well. You need to actually see the Beast to be really impressed with its challenges.

I’m not going to tell you who wins this whole thing because it would be completely in spoiler territory and I think that you should watch it because its a lot of fun. I would also love to see Ultimate Beastmaster go on to have more seasons so hopefully someone dropping by here with Netflix would want to watch it and give it some boost. Of course, there’s also the whole thing that watching this is so positive. I’m not sure about everyone else here but while I’ve fallen off the working out regime and working hard in 2018 to get back into it, this competition is so motivational and positive. But then, I’ve always loved to do treetop obstacle courses and thought before about trying out in Spartan Races and such. Maybe I’ll do it one day. On a finishing note, you know who I’d love to see doing this one just for kicks? Stephen Amell. A bonus celebrity version for charity would be pretty cool as well with TV and movie superheroes or something. Go watch Ultimate Beastmaster! Its totally worth your time.


TV Binge: Once Upon a Time (Season 5, 2015)

Moving right along in the incredible attempt to catch up with Once Upon a Time, I wrapped up Season 5. Once Upon a Time continues to twists up some of the tales and puts together some interesting pairings which is one thing that I love the most about the show. Plus, after so many years, its hard to not love a lot of the characters. It also helps that last year I did end up going to visit the little town that its shot in in Vancouver and totally fangirled which makes seeing Storybrooke so much more personal (in my mind).

Once Upon a Time (Season 5, 2015)

once upon a time s5 poster

Creator: Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis

Cast: Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, Jared Gilmore, Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Emilie de Ravin, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, Liam Garrigan, Greg Germann

 Maybe its the fact that hopping back to this that I forgot how packed Once Upon a Time but Season 5 feels like there is a vast amount of characters that traverse the path in the few villains they do cross. As a little season 5 recap, the season picks up where the 4th ends with Emma taking the responsibility to be the Dark One and gets sent back to The Enchanted Forest. The rest of her family finds a way back and they eventually end up in Camelot where they meet King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. They have a secret to complete that involves the search for the Dark One. Somehow they get sent back to Storybrooke and Emma has lost the fight and has embraced has her dark side while wiping away everyone’s memory. A course of events sends Hook to the Underworld where they also follow and get trapped by Hades and confront some of their own people they have lost. When they do find a way back to Storybrooke, they get tricked and sent to The Land of Untold Stories where they meet the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that about covers the general outline.

once upon a time s5

Season 5 is crazy packed as everyone embarks on a journey about their value and whether they are good and evil and being okay with who they are. Some extremities are taken which of course take a turn for a bad the lingers into the next season. Fairy tales are about happy endings and if Once Upon a Time has taught us anything, its that they are quite the rare occurrence in the show especially when it involves Regina and Emma. Being the Savior or a Villain both doesn’t give you the merit to have the happy ending. However, Season 5 may feel packed but its great to see the twists on these characters. In fact it expands on these characters as they also meet Merida and help her with her quest to become queen of Dunbroch.  We flash back to see Mulan and Red Riding Hood and Dorothy and their connection to everything. Of course, it wouldn’t be this show without Rumplestiltskin and his secrets along with trying to get back Belle which also sees a twist on her story and Gaston. Snow also once knew Hercules as well. We see some characters exit the show as well as the Underworld allows some characters to eventually either move on in a good or bad way. Thinking back to the season feels really busy but at times, that is what works to keep us on our toes and always learning that this world still has a lot to offer as they can breakaway from the fairy tales as well as take characters from classics. That is the magic of why I love Once Upon a Time.

once upon a time

The villain this season did have quite a spark. I have to say that in the few times that I’ve seen Greg Germann, he’s always been so fun to watch. This time, he plays Hades and not only does he resemble how Hades looked in Disney’s Hercules but he does take on that villainous role really well. Talking about villains, while I did enjoy the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bit, the way Mr. Hyde talked was so grating and annoying. If anything, that was the only thing I didn’t like about this season. Once Upon a Time also has these villains that are truly horrible and ruthless. However, they also have this story that gives them a moment of hope for redemption and its always that unknown of whether it will happen or not. Another point of why I do like Once Upon a Time a lot is dealing with the character development and this season may be busy but a lot of the characters had their moment to truly see their thoughts and things they haven’t been able to let go of and in many ways, they did embrace themselves.

once upon a time

Overall, Season 5 was a lot of fun. While you could argue that the huge amount of characters made the story very scattered, somehow it still works very well to keep it fun and adventurous to watch as our characters grew and truly embraced issues that bothered them and confronted their monsters both mentally and physically. A really nice collection of villains and heroes in Season 5 and I’m looking forward to watching Season 6.


TV Binge: The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 1, 2017)

I love watching cooking shows. However, I don’t have actual TV so the only chance is when I visit someone else’s house and it happens to be playing. It does make it a very incomplete experience. Of course, there is the free streaming from one of the national TV channels which holds the episode for a week which is hard to remember sometimes to catch it every once in a while. When The Big Family Cooking Showdown appeared on Netflix, I went right ahead and started watching it. The premise behind it is pretty fun.

Let’s check it out!

The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 1, 2017)

the big family cooking showdownHosts: Zoe Ball & Nadiya Hussain

Judges: Rosemary Shrager & Giorgio Locatelli

Competitive food show celebrating the families who make ordinary food extraordinary, presented by Zoe Ball and Nadiya Hussain. – IMDB

The Big Family Cooking Showdown has a decent setup. It shows off families going head to head against each other for the title of the best family chefs. They pick their own teams of three to work together and create these dishes. In the first few episodes, it is two teams and whoever wins will head into the semi-finals. They have three rounds for this cooking event which isn’t live and loses the cooking on the spot as the rounds to get them into the semi-final has been given to them in advance so that they can prepare carefully. It leaves a touch of spontaneity there even if we don’t know what they are doing. Suffice to say, it does show the viewers which team has better time management than others and how they deal in stress as things usually don’t work out the way they would in your own kitchen. The first part when two teams go against each other is in three parts with three challenges: the 10 pound challenge, Home Visits Challenge and Impress Your Neighbors Challenge. The semi-finals have the remaining teams groups in 3 teams against each other for three rounds also:  What’s in the Fridge, Perfect Puddings and Nation’s Favorite With a Twist. And then the final features a continuous making of a three course meal.

the big family cooking showdown

The setup of the competition is pretty nice. The families are slightly diverse with their cultures and heritage adding a nice touch to each of these plates. The teams work out really well against each other. The first part has a nice bit of giving them time to prepare in advance and it really is up to them to have structured a plan with the time constraints and factoring in any stress or changes. At the same time, it also poses that question of losing that spontaneity that teams put on the spot would have. However, the challenges in the first rounds are pretty neat as they focus on family issues starting off with how much food can you make with a constrained budget. The Home Visit gives us a nice snippet of seeing the family in their own environment which helps minimize the accidents that could happen while the final round is impress your neighbors so its making the foods that go above and beyond but dishes that they are proud of in a three course meal. The structure here works because of these themes being more family-oriented. The spontaneity factor is fixed in the semi-final when their first and second challenge are unknown. The first tests their ability to be flexible with what is available to them and the second being how good they can work together and follow instructions while delegating the tasks that each member is better at. While the show does have a lot of pre-preparation, the segments do feel very well-done to make sure that it highlights the team and gives them time to improve on their menus and skills.

the big family cooking showdown

The hosts of the show are Zoe Ball and Nadiya Hussain. They are quite enthusiastic and often joke about their love for eating but their lack of knowledge on actual cooking which brings out their friendliness to be there. Where they lack the knowledge, they can build with their balance to the show’s charisma as they communicate with the families and introduce the rules of each part. The judges for this show are Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Schrager, who I’ve never heard of before. However, they obviously do have their knowledge of food and cooking which is undeniable. One thing that does fall apart is their criticism is slightly lacking in some parts where it becomes a little repetitive in the way they compliment or dislike certain foods. It is here that the show nearing the end seems to fall a little flat.

Overall, The Big Family Cooking Showdown is pretty enjoyable because the families’ diversity in their cooking and dishes mixed into their creativity. The hosts are very enjoyable to watch although the judges are qualified but lack the charisma in their criticism to make it seem more engaging.