Halloween 2018 TV Binge: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell (Season 1, 2018)

Moving onto another spontaneous TV Binge. I’m starting to divert away from inital plans (as I had foresaw), however, this new Netflix series which I know nothing about before is right up my alley so I gave it a go. Plus, its pretty dark and has some bizarre creepy Halloween elements so it fit well with the half-baked Halloween marathon that I’ve been having this month.

Let’s check out The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell!

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell (Season 1, 2018)

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Cast: Christine McConnell, Colleen Smith, Michael Oosterom, Mick Ignis, Adam Mayfield, Dita Von Teese

Part cooking show, part sitcom in the vein of the Addams Family and the Muppet Show set inside the enchanted home of Christine McConnell, who has attracted hundreds of thousands of social media followers with her creepy edible creations. – IMDB

I watch a lot of the cooking and/or food related shows on Netflix. I haven’t heard of Christine McConnell before this show despite her Instagram fame. Now that I have that out of the way, The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell is a neat concept. She is definitely talented. Her creations are weird but detailed and definitely requires a lot of skill and artistic talent to do. The concept of using a crossover with puppets like The Muppets Show also adds a different vibe to the overall show. However, this isn’t a show for children at all. As the show moves along, it gets dark over its six episodes currently available in the first season.

With that said, I like weird but the overload of oddity and strangeness made it a little hard to find where it wanted to set its tone. I didn’t find the sitcom aspect worked for myself but it all comes down to humor being very subjective. Even with six episodes, it felt a little bit of a chore to get through. There is no doubt there is something to take away from her creations, be it a skill or two about how to assemble something with that amount of grandeur and over the top. It also has a wide variety of things to teach with some crafts and both dinner, appetizers and dessert creations. Its all about the construction which is where this falls apart a little. As pretty as it is, its not really a cooking show if I look at something and admire its craftsmanship but think to myself, for example, when will I have time to craft a chicken pastry for a chicken pot pie… With that said, the second half of the show that settles into the odd world does work better than the first half. Maybe its getting used to the humor or the tone or the characters but whatever the reason, it felt more compelling to watch with also a constrained direction for each episode which works. The 20 plus minute episode is its saving grace as it keeps things paced well.

Overall, its a hit and miss for me. I like the concept and the creativity behind each of her ideas and acknowledge the skill and appreciate being able to learn some decorating skills and craft skills, there is too much of a mixed world of weirdness that surpasses my limit. The humor sitcom part also doesn’t quite land well for myself. However, its not a long first season with 6 episodes of 20 plus minutes long which makes it a series that even if you were to try because you like the style and odd things, it won’t take up too much of your time. The creations alone (even if not a lot of people, I suppose, really has time to do about 90% of her stuff) are worth looking at, which is great because this is called The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell so it delivers on its title which is always a good thing. Plus, Christine McConnell has a fantastic wardrobe and the house its set in also is so very pretty.

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.