TV Binge: Sugar Rush Christmas (Season 1, 2019)

You can also check out:

Sugar Rush (Season 1, 2018)
Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

Sugar Rush Christmas (Season 1, 2019)

sugar rush christmas

Host: Hunter March

Judge: Adriano Zumbo, Candace Nelson

Sugar Rush is finding its own slice of fun on Netflix and this year, they released their Christmas edition, Sugar Rush Christmas which uses the same system and concept as pretty much the changes they made in Season 2 (you can see what I mean from the review linked above) and implementing it to a Christmas scenario whether its Christmas spirit, Wintery themes like polar bears and North Pole or Santa Claus, etc. The themes inspire some of these bakers to make some great desserts.

Sugar Rush Christmas

Sugar Rush is the more professional baking side of baking competition and it has its own viewers because there is a really nice element of strategy and how some of these teams play for more time in their final round. The time element is what makes this fun and definitely inspires to open up a lot of creative baking themes as well. The variety leaves room to see where different bakers will do their own versions of desserts and this season’s competitors are rather fun, bringing in variety with a few bringing something new like gluten-free teams, etc.

Sugar Rush Christmas

At the same time, the charm of the show is in its host and guest judges. Hunter March adds a lot to these shows which are normally more serious in nature with bringing in some bad jokes or just simply bringing up the energy. Perhaps its scripted or its not, because unlike Nailed It, they never do seem to have that as a joke so I can only imagine that he does his part improvised and it all lands very naturally and adds a lot of fun. The guests this time also adds some fun as well, even if most of them are fairly unknown to myself because I either don’t watch their Netflix shows or whatever else. They aren’t all comedians or actors but still almost all offer good criticism.

Sugar Rush Christmas is for the audience that is there for more serious baking and creativity with a slight hint of fun on a time-based challenge. Most of the time, the time element really comes into play as something that can get a little tense about in the final challenge and not so much for all the other two challenges in the beginning for Cupcakes and Confections respectively, except for maybe one time in this season. For myself, its fun because I enjoy baking and learning new ideas for baked goods and designs especially for the holidays. With 6 episodes in this season, its very easy to binge if you enjoy this sort of entertainment, if not, its still fun to watch one episode at a time. It does have a lot of Christmas spirit and adds some nice holiday fun.

That’s it for this TV binge! I am curious on what other people feel about Sugar Rush?
Have you seen it? Is it something you like to watch?

TV Binge: Nailed it! Holiday (Season 2, 2019)

Previous seasons reviewed: Nailed It! Holiday (Season 1)

Nailed It! Holiday (Season 2, 2019)

Nailed It! Holiday

Hosts: Nicole Byers, Jacques Torres

Its the time of year for Nailed It! Holiday again! Its always a fun time with Nailed It as I always say in the little TV binges that I do. Nicole Byer and Jacques Torres are a great team together in terms of just finding the chemistry together and being able to deliver the jokes. They both have their own place in the show that helps advance it forward. This time, they picked a lot of comedic guest judges and that adds a lot to how fun the whole experience becomes. There are some returning guests, some of the more entertaining ones for sure and then some fun new ones as well. Of course, we can’t forget to mention (which I always do) associate director Wes, now has a lot of screen time from Nicole cracking jokes at him to bringing all the prizes and trophies in themed outfits sometimes.

Nailed it Holiday s2

Nailed It Holiday also is a bit more diverse than just Christmas, just like its previous season, except this time, they didn’t go into crafts territory and stayed true to different designs in the realm of holidays. The wider themes outside of Christmas like Hanukkah and New Year’s and some Christmas related stories from Christmas Carol to Dr. Seuss stories all really do add to what it does (as well as the latter helping cross promote other Netflix Original series like Green Eggs and Ham, of course). A lot of the Nailed It designs are quite amazing. A normal baker would take it as a feat already but for amateur bakers who audition for these things because a  lot of them get confused in the whole realm of baking, its a mountain to climb and the show is about highlighting their failures and shortcomings and boy, this time does it deliver.

Nailed It Holiday S2

It sounds really mean to have a show that really just picks on its bakers for how bad they do but also giving them pointers on how to improve, whether its as simple as breaking the habit a lot of times of ignoring measurements and quantities. The best seasons of Nailed It is not only its hosts, guest judges but also how the participants are chosen and this season has some real gold and you know that when in one of the episode, Nicole Byers comments “Where did we find these people?” I’m not one to laugh at other people because while I do enjoy baking, I still consider myself an amateur seeing as I don’t do this professionally but some of these things that happen, its hard to imagine how, but then that is part of the charm of the show.

Overall, Nailed It Holiday’s second season is a real fun time. It has some great guests, the hosts are absolutely on point and the bakers that they chose for the competition are a lot of times very entertaining in all their mishaps. Not to mention, they have some really nice baking projects, from cakes to cupcakes to cookies and the designs are really nice. Its an overall good time so can’t really ask for more! Plus, if you take your time  and not binge it like I did, you can actually watch it all the way to New Year’s.

TV Binge: You’re My Destiny (Fated to Love You/命中注定我愛你, 2008)

You’re My Destiny (命中注定我愛你, 2008)

fated to love you

Director: Ming Zhang Chen

Cast: Joe Chen, Ethan Juan, Baron Chen, Bianca Bai, Ai Zhen Tan, Bruce Chen, Jessica Song, Jack Na, Mei Xiu Lin

An ordinary girl marries a handsome heir after she became pregnant with his child from a one night stand. – IMDB

Updated Nov.15: Available on Netflix (Canada)

STORY

You're My Destiny

Back in 2008, You’re My Destiny was a big deal. I only remember because a lot of people were talking about it but I was in the phase of moving away from Taiwanese dramas so I never caught onto it until last year and recently rewatching it this year.

You’re My Destiny, which I remembered was called Fated to Love You is about an ordinary working class girl called Xin Yi Chen (a name that they emphasize is about as normal and regular as there are a ton of them in every location) who is what they would call a “sticky note girl”, who is a girl that just follows other people’s instructions and helps every way they can and doesn’t’ have a personality of her own. The set-up is that she goes on a cruise with her boyfriend to hopefully hold his heart but then due to all kinds of coincidences, she ends up meeting a the sole heir of a personal hygiene (most known for their natural soap) company Cun Xi who has been ditched by his girlfriend Anna and also through all kinds of coincidences, has a one night stand where she later finds out she gets pregnant and they are asked to get married. Can a baby bring together two people who don’t love each other?

LENGTH/PACING

Episodes: 39 episodes
Episode length: 40 minutes

39 episodes for any romantic comedy/drama series is always a bit on the long side. You’re My Destiny definitely feels like it runs a bit too long. It was much more fun before the whole separation, which while was needed the whole part in Shanghai went on probably a few episodes too long. The character development needed the shift but at the same time, the whole coming back together process in the portion after then took up a lot of time and felt like it dragged on for too long for the sake of adding in unnecessary drama, even though it did make the effort through it to take its time to address all the loose ends from Dylan (2nd male lead character) search for his sister and settling Cun Xi’s girlfriend situation as well as giving his assistant, his grandma and Xin Yi’s sisters all having some kind of wrap-up.

CHARACTERS/CHEMISTRY

As with most TV dramas, its all about the characters and their chemistry because that is what builds their ships. You’re My Destiny, where this is the original version, has some really nice characters. It has a lot to do with its cast. The ones that excel has to go to Joe Chen as the female lead as well as one of Baron Chen’s first roles as the second male lead as Dylan. Ethan Juan as the first male lead Cun Xi actually out of character design is the type of character that is hard to fight for because he treats Xin Yi really bad for the majority and is a rather selfish character, bad in communicating his feelings or even being honest with his feelings.

You're My Destiny

The first pairing to look at is the first female/male characters, Xin Yi and Cun Xi who has a fairly gradual development in their relationship especially as they get married due to an accidental pregnancy. However, it goes through a lot of bumps as it starts off with the anticipation of a divorce after the whole deed is done. Suffice to say all Cun Xi’s idea and the way he treats her makes it hard to root for his success in the second half of the series when it takes part when Xin Yi transforms herself into Elaine after a story plot transition. While parts of his resentment does make sense, its also a very spoiled character for Cun Xi that makes his character difficult to like, but elevates the other supporting characters like his grandmother or assistant that points these things out to him as he slowly (I mean really slowly) figures things out.

You're My Destiny

The next pairing is the rather one sided love of Dylan (played by Baron Chen) to Xin Yi which is brought together some kind of destiny as well. Dylan is the typical type of fantastic second male lead that feels very perfect both in his more mature approach to different dilemmas and being there for Xin Yi whenever she needs help and is neglected, as well as his willing to help her achieve her happiness regardless of his own and trying to make Xin Yi better. Everything that you’d want from a relationship for a lovable female lead like Xin Yi who feels very innocent but is somewhat bullied in her relationship. Call him her guardian angel or her ultimate support and backup but they were the relationship that we want to happen but of course, doesn’t.

There are some sweet moments between both of them regardless of the couples. Was there great chemistry between any of these pairings? They are some very good swoon-worthy ones. At the same time, some of the chemistry between the family relationship especially bringing in the element of Cun Xi’s grandmother who is the overdramatic and manipulative element that propels the story forward as well as Xin Yi’s family from her sister’s in-laws to her 2 sisters to her mother all adding quite a lot of comedic elements here. And well, there’s this somewhat square relationship so we can’t ignore Cun Xi’s actual girlfriend Anna who also wasn’t present enough but felt like she had a similar type of character to Cun Xi due to her selfishness and living by her choices and trying to play the pity card when things don’t go to her plans.

OVERALL

You’re My Destiny 2008 is the original version of this story made in Taiwan and holds the record for a highest average single episode rating. No doubt Joe Chen and its array of supporting cast with a lot of acting credits at the time of the airing that brought in a lot of its initial hype, this drama really shines because of her role as Chen Xin Yi. It brings out a type of girls and the chemistry works a lot because of her character development and the balance of comedy and romance. The series does do a change in between as the main couple separates and it can get frustrating watching now with the whole bad communication causing a lot of the issues here especially by the male lead that makes the story drag on at times. The series itself could definitely have benefited from wrapping up the last 10 episodes faster paced. Does it quite live up to its hype? I have to say that in the 2000s, there’s a lot of other series that probably delivered better especially on rewatchability. I rewatch this one mostly for Joe Chen and Baron Chen’s performances and the hilarious grandmother role that cracks me up all the time.

MAIN THEME

Other info related to You’re My Destiny, there are two remakes of this series: the first is a Korean remake in 2014 called You Are My Destiny and the second is a Thailand remake in 2017 called You’re My Destiny. 

TV Binge: Queer Eye: We’re in Japan (Season 1, 2019)

Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! (Season 1, 2019)

queer eye we're in japan

Hosts: Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Kiko Mizuhara

Guest: Naomi Watanabe

In this short and sweet 4 episodes Queer Eye season, something of a spin-off, the Fab 5 head out to Japan to makeover four heroes as we’ve come to call the people nominated. Heading to Japan is a big deal as they tackle cultural differences but also share the niche slices of Japan from lesbian and gay bars to manga-themed restaurants and the general cultural family dynamic and the whole closed communication structure in relationships both families and romantic ones plus the general perception of how the community values become one’s own identity and how to break from it. Heading to Japan is a huge deal because it shows the reach that Fab 5 can give to those who need it and truly emphasize on how differences in gender, ethnicity are not so much hurdles as we all just need to find our self-confidence and learn to love ourselves and communicate.

qe1

Each episode in this season shows a very different story. The first is one about a woman who gave up her own personal space and life for the community as well as a hospice so others get the best care in their final days. Being in the older demographic and having the “hero” element with her selflessness, its a hurdle about the importance for loving herself and the perfect step to understand the Japanese values. The second story dives into the LGBTQ views in Japan and self-identity in a place that limits someone from being themselves completely. The third story also turns it around and looks at the family dynamic, parent and child communication, the tough love element in a household and especially the ideal woman of how a girl sees herself. The final story goes into the whole communication in marriage and it takes a rather emotional turn as they look at the “sexless” marriage which goes unspoken as well as opening communication to better relationships and facing the issues rather than ignoring them.

Queer Eye I'm in Japan

Looking at each of these stories, Queer Eye We’re in Japan emphasizes something they talked about in the first episode of the first season (at least I think it was there). While each story touches on a different element of Japanese values, views and culture which may be different to the Fab 5, they also tread carefully around it, each of these stories and how a person’s view changes and all these other elements to a certain extent are similar to everyone else. In reality, Queer Eye and the Fab 5 is about embracing our similarities rather than our differences because our stories are more similar than different when you take away the prejudices and stereotypes of gender or ethnicity, etc.

queer eye I'm in Japan

Its 4 episodes and I’ve gone on for far too long talking about not a lot in the review department. These 4 episodes are touching and well-executed. It has a lot of fun moments as well as expected with the Fab 5. Its nicely balanced and well worth a watch. Plus, they have some hosts that are big in Japan like their tour guide Kiko Mizuhara as well as a guest host from Naomi Watanabe, who are both unique icons. Just make sure to keep a Kleenex box nearby (just in case). I’m definitely hoping that they continue to do more episodes in Japan (or other places with different cultures).

TV Binge: A Discovery of Witches (Season 1, 2018)

A Discovery of Witches (Season 1, 2018)

A Discovery of Witches

Cast: Matthew Goode, Teresa Palmer, Valarie Pettiford, Malin Buska, Owen Teale, Alex Kingston, Aiysha Hart, Edward Bluemel, Gregg Chillin, Trevor Eve, Louise Brealey, Elarica Johnson

Diana Bishop, historian and witch, accesses Ashmole 782 and knows she must solve its mysteries. She is offered help by the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, but he’s a vampire and witches should never trust vampires. – IMDB

A Discovery of Witches is a fun little gem. Season 1 is neatly packed at 8 episodes and stars the talented but rather underrated (in my opinion) Matthew Goode (I mean, have you seen him in Stoker?) and the very charming Teresa Palmer as they are paired up as two magical individuals, vampire and witch who unexpectedly and much against the magical order’s rules, fall in love with each other, except maybe its not that surprising with later discoveries.

A Discovery of Witches

Granted its only a few episodes long for the first season, the story does have some odd execution issues that probably lean more on building a romantic foundation between the two characters a lot in the first half before bringing in the magical dangers in the second half. This execution is good and bad. Its good because the characters of Matthew and Diana become quite the connected couple and we can root for them together. The bad is that, it takes a little away from the thrills of this world of magic and keeps that part relatively more shallow and piles it on a lot more in the second half. I haven’t read the source material so maybe that is also how the book is.

A Discovery of Witches Season 1

While I say that, Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer are amazing as a couple and probably will end up on couples to ship together for sure. Their characters Matthew and Diana are fascinating together even when some of the dialogue is very been there done that and maybe even a tad cringey however somehow whenever ancient vampires come into play, it all becomes a little more acceptable because they are expected to be old-fashioned. The connection they have is great on screen and they have some believable chemistry and passion between them. It also helps that Diana learns from him as he learns and protects her from the magical world that she isn’t quite familiar with. At the same time, they balance out because while she lacks control in her powers, she is also a tough character with determination not only for their love but other elements as well. TV couples that somewhat grow and better themselves together make for strong characters.

A Discovery of Witches Season 1

Where this season and possibly the story itself has its limits is in some relatively annoying characters who almost seem endless and have no sense of danger to them. Like the girl above playing Satu (Malin Buska) who honestly is supposed to be scary or unsettling through the constant character design of quiet and glares. Her character felt quite useless throughout although how they end the season 1 (and depending on what Season 2 does with it) might change that thought. While there are other fairly disposable characters here presented, which probably only feels that way because the season is so compact and has a good number of characters revealed but never quite having enough place to be memorable or meaningful.

This first season of A Discovery of Witches is honestly setting up a lot of foundations and giving an outline of the characters and the world and magical politics, that set the stage for whats to come in future seasons. Many shows tend to do that as something of an introductory. Luckily, there’s enough here to have Season 2 greenlit and hopefully will be released soon.

TV Binge: The Mist (Season 1, 2017)

The Mist (Season 1, 2017)

The Mist 2017

Creator: Christian Torpe

Cast: Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney, Danica Curcic, Okezie Morro, Luke Cosgrove, Darren Pettie, Russell Posner, Frances Conroy

After an eerie mist rolls into a small town, the residents must battle the mysterious mist and its threats, fighting to maintain their morality and sanity. – IMDB

Hello to another Stephen King adaptation! I’m going to be honest that I’m not a huge fan of the 2007 film due to the ending but I have since seen the alternate ending and grown to have a newfound appreciation for it. Its not really a surprise that The Mist would be turned into a TV series, after all Under the Dome is kind of the same concept of being trapped somewhere with unknown dangers surrounding the characters. I’ve always believed that The Mist has the potential premise (without reading the source material) to make for some good TV but sadly, what I saw for the Season 1 (which was cancelled understandably) was a huge letdown. There were character issues and pacing and execution problems and every episode felt very rinse and repeat to a point that I actually lost track of what was happening and got confused a little.

The Mist 2017

The structure of the show separates the main characters into three different groups: the first is at the mall including mother and daughter who had intended to leave town due to her daughter being raped who ends up at the same place as who they believe did rape her. The second group is the father who is trying to get to them and picks up a drug addict and an amnesiac military man as well as his daughter’s best friend. The third group is at the church with the police chief, a nature lover elderly lady who believes this is linked a previous event called Black Spring and clashes with the priest’s belief of Judgement Day’s arrival. It all converges to the end game of the focus of the story of these three groups meeting up at some point.

The Mist 2017

The Mist still remains a good premise to use. Its a smart Mist that comes around and then brings up a lot of questions on what it portrays as people can see dead people from that past that haunt them as well as those around them can also. It has these elements that are different for each one and then in one case, one character managed to escape the mist. The mechanics of the mist is the big mystery here and probably what works best when its at work. However, the story paces and executes the story between the characters in somewhat of a loopy way that makes it feels very much a lot of the same things going on. There’s the mystery of who actually did rape the girl and then the question of military blending with the people at the mall and then all these characters have their own motives which is fine because this is TV and it needs the content to move forward and develop everyone to give them all some kind of substance but then it also falls in the more dramatic elements. Probably where it suffers the most is in the beginning sequences and things do get more intense by the second half of the season.

The Mist 2017

The characters are rather bland as well as they all are rather familiar. There’s the rebellious daughter who ends up befriending the guy she thinks raped her while her mother is protective of her but rather overprotective as well. The lady at the church is one of the crazier roles and carries some good moments but is also a little over the top as well just like how some of the characters shift in nature very quickly. There are also a lot of characters that show up that a lot of it becomes very messy and lacks some depth on the story itself. Not to mention, a lot of the characters aren’t really very likeable that they become slightly annoying to watch.

The Mist in concept and premise does definitely have the potential and near to the end, a lot of the potential does show up as a lot of the different factors starting getting a solid footing but it is too little too late. It has some horror moments and there are some psychological bits to it and when The Mist is at work, the show is at its best. Unfortunately, the show focuses more on its unpleasantly structured characters and the same “been there done that” drama which doesn’t have a lot of great acting to compliment it sometimes that doesn’t quite work here. Along with how its the same running from the mist and hallucinations and death becoming fairly repetitive for some of them that it feels like the same problems stew rather than make progress. Its a bit frustrating that The Mist really was a letdown. At least, its made me want to check out the source material sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

TV Binge: Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)

Million Pound Menu (Season 2, 2019)

million pound menu

Host: Fred Sirieix

Million Pound Menu is currently in its second season. Its main concept is that various restaurants concepts or food trucks or simply developing ideas are brought in to compete for a chance to run a pop-up restaurant for a few days to test their idea and functionality to impress several investors and hopefully end up getting an offer to invest and partner with them to take the next step.

While I can’t remember season 1 really well, Season 2 is structured where the first step is to put three restaurants against each other to cook the four investors of the panel their most popular/outstanding dish and to share their vision and concept for their restaurant as well as lay out their deal. The investors have to come to a consensus on one restaurant team who progresses to the next step to get a chance at the pop-up restaurant. In that process, investors who aren’t interested can drop out. Day 1 of the pop up restaurant is a soft launch dinner service where its open to public and the investors dine together to try out the menu and service. If they are satisfied, they progress to the next morning to discuss their business plans. If they pass this part, its the final stage of Day 2 lunch service at full price where the investors come back separately to dine alone and understand how the public feels about the concept and the food. At the end of Day 2, the investors have until 7pm to return if they want to offer them an investment.

Million Pound Menu is only 8 episodes long and it works to its favor because it is about investments and the progress of the meals and such. The show is edited fairly well to capture those moments in the services where the issues occur or the highlights of the discussions between the restaurant owners and the investors regardless of which meeting it is. There’s always that part of having the reason of why an investor backs out when they do. Its a decent show to see whether its the different concepts of restaurants but also gives the mentality behind investments as well as business plans and what different investors view a different path for some of these restaurants. What’s nice here (different from say shows like product-based investment shows like Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank), the investors can offer a different deal and modify the amount they plan on investing. There’s a certain level of flexibility there.

While I think that most of the investors are pretty intriguing to watch, the host Fred Sirieux is also quite knowledgeable but has an element of being over enthusiastic. It might his accent or how its shot that makes him that way. He does balance a lot of it well as he does help out the different restaurant owners and gives them advice when he sees things going wrong. However, the hosting is sometimes a little over the top for my liking. Obviously not enough to stop watching, but its something to point out. There are some neat restaurants presented here and its always a bet on whether the investors do end up coming back or not. Its a fun show and its about restaurant investment which is pretty interesting in general.