TV Binge: The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 2, 2018)

You can find the TV Binge for previous season below:

Season 1

The Big Family Cooking Showdown (Season 2, 2018)

the big family cooking showdown s2

Judges: Tommy Banks & Angellica Bell

If you had been following The Big Family Cooking Showdown, you would already know that they had announced a lot of changes in Season 2 prior to its airing. I’m not quite sure if it aired before it became a Netflix Original or not, but I believe its a BBC 2 show. Either way, other than just having the judges change, the show took away its hosts and let the judges take over that job as well. The structure of the competition has also changed. It still has some of the same challenges. This season, it separates into two parts essentially. The first 5 episodes is for two group of 4 families, where they end up having 2 families going into the play-offs, then the next 5 episodes is the second two groups of 4 families to fight for the two spots to the play-offs. Then the remaining is playoffs for the 4 families with 1 family eliminated, 1 family getting fast-track to the finals and the next last two fighting for the last finals spot.

big family cooking showdown s2

In terms of challenge, the 10 pound challenge remains as the kick-off challenge but with the added surprise element of doing the shopping on the spot and having to do their calculations and then if over, to give up whichever items. The first day wraps up with a known challenge of national dishes with a twist. After that, one family is eliminated. Day 2 has the 3 families in their next challenge where they choose one member to bake a dessert that they can choose the difficulty level which leads to a second challenge pre-known to make a two course meal (main dish and dessert). The playoffs are also structured over 2 days with the first having one spontaneous challenge called the pick ‘n mix challenge where the judges have one set ingredient and one member of each family chooses an ingredient from what is provided and they have to incorporate all the  ingredients into their dish with a minimal selection of spices, etc and wraps up the day with an indulgent treat meal (known in advance). There are following challenges of zero-waste (or as close to it as possible) meals and then the finale is essentially the same challenges as season one with a cooking spontaneous challenge followed by a 3 course meal.

After a huge description, we can go and break it down a little. Let’s start with the host/judges. Tommy Banks and Angellica Bell are really fun to watch. They work together well to create a nice dynamic. They have some puns and in general are a warmer experience and share a good knowledge of food and cooking throughout. They add in little discussions between and it makes for a nice idea of where they stand. As for the candidates, this is where the colors are. Its in the families that join who bring in the playfulness and spontaneous elements. Each of the families of 3 bring a different style and cooking mentality and its because of this and it brings in a lot of fun little moments. What works better in Season 2 is making it more focused on 4 families each time instead of doing them 2 families at a time like in the first season.

big family cooking showdown s2

In any cooking competition, its all about the challenges and the food. Its a good idea to put each day of the challenge with two of them where one is spontaneous and one is known before. Its a good bit to see which family works well even without practice and shows off some true creativity and skill. The spontaneous challenges are the ones that bring a lot more interesting elements to the competition. Its the ones that truly have that surprise factor also and have more issues that come up and chaos. Let’s be honest that perfect shows aren’t fun to watch and instead the chaos and overcoming those obstacles in whatever way is usually an enjoyable bit to see. Nothing works like a little bit of drama, right? In that sense, I think that might be where I’ve pinpointed the bits that don’t work so well here as the show at times feels a little bland. It might have to be that some parts, go by too long and then some go too fast and then there is a balance that sometimes isn’t balanced properly to make the show completely bingeworthy. Why I say that is that some food competitions like Zumbo’s Just Desserts, I can go back and watch it over and over again knowing the results but for The Big Family Cooking Showdown, I was lukewarm with Season 1 and didn’t rewatch it and then this Season 2 although I have some families that I really liked and the elements technically all work together, something never made me want to watch more than an episode or two and stop, nor do I have that urge to go back and watch it again. There’s something missing and I can’t quite pinpoint what it is. Perhaps its the same home footages of the families that repeat itself over and over again as well. Its definitely heading in the right direction though. If Season 3 happens, I’m hoping that there are some additional changes to make it even better.

Have you seen The Big Family Cooking Showdown?

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What’s Up Week 12: Accidentally Binging & Random Movie Viewing

Another week has flown by. A lot of stuff happened especially with my office having some changes that took away from some personal time. With that said, this week is one of the more balanced ones as I managed to get things done in all sections.

READING

Obsidio

Currently reading: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

Obsidio is going a bit slower than expected. It always is a slower starts as I try to catch back up to the things that gone on in the previous two books, not that they really rely too much on it as the basis are generally reiterated again. However, some of the characters did overlap. I’m about 20% done at this point (and probably haven’t updated my Goodreads progress in a while as I’m writing this). So far, its still pretty good and is setting up for what this novel’s race for time is. The format still works really well. We will just have to see how things go from here and hope that it wraps up the trilogy in a satisfying way.

PLAYING

her story

  • Her Story

Currently playing: Mortal Kombat X – Towers

Our next Game Warp review is for Her Story. We are finding a pace in doing longer and shorter games as much as possible to hopefully keep episodes going more frequently . There will be a first hour or first half hour gameplay of Her Story going up on the channel at some point because this story is all about unveiling the story through piecing together 6 different videos. Its a pretty cool idea but then I’m not going to talk too much about it since the episode will come out in the next few weeks.

If you missed it, Mortal Kombat X podcast review has been released. Talking about MKX, I decided to go back to check out some of the other modes and dive a little deeper and landed on the Towers mode which is essentially using a character and fighting 10 opponents. At the end, a little story parallel to the one in story mode plays out in art images. I want to eventually get through all the fighters but so far I have only gone through 2 of them with the husband.

WATCHING

jaws 2

  • The Cave
  • Jaws 2
  • Death Note (2017)

Its a real mish mash of randomness this week in terms of watching. Probably the most random since the beginning of 2019. I’m trying to do a random alphabet Netflix thing. Not official or anything. A lot of good stuff is coming up and I wanted to clear out more films in the mean time. Call it a preemptive strike in anticipate for the crazy April month coming up. The standout film of this batch might be a bit tough but I think Jaws 2 was the surprise of the three. I didn’t expect The Cave or Death Note to be anything too special but Jaws 2 took a good angle for its sequel and I like the execution pretty well.

I’m working through some double features now and hoping to get it out soon. Its a work in progress to work through the lesser backlog (although still there).

BINGING

  • Accidentally in Love (Netflix Original, 2018)
  • My Little One 2 (2019)

Currently binging: The Singer 2019, My Amazing Boyfriend 2, Mr. Swimmer

Took  a little detour and break from Mr. Swimmer as most Chinese dramas tend to take the last 10 episodes and turn them into mega frustrating and emotional and stupid bits before it gets to whatever finale. To save myself from breaking anything, I decided to take a moment and watch something else. Who would have thought that it was a binge-fest of Accidentally in Love, a Netflix Original Chinese drama which was so much fun that I finished it in less than a week. It has perfect episode lengths (35 minutes or so), perfect series length (30 episodes) and the fun and cute tone with some infectious characters. I’m so excited about it that I want to write up the TV binge right away (it won’t happen probably). To be fair, My Little One 2 also finished up and I also liked it a ton. The finale wrap-up episode was a really nice one. I need to go back to finish Season 1 for the sons version, which I’m about halfway through.

 That’s it for this What’s Up!
Things are picking up and finding its balance again!
It never lasts but the point is to try 🙂

What have you been up to?

TV Binge: Queer Eye (Season 3, 2019)

Queer Eye (Season 3, 2019)

Queer Eye

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

The third season of Queer Eye is finally here! If you read my Queer Eye Season 1 TV Binge (you can find it HERE), I’m a huge fan of the show. I’ve probably watched seasons 1 and 2 a good five times on and off. So good that I spent so much time rewatching it and haven’t written up the Season 2 TV binge. I did debate doing it first but oh well, let’s stay current and catch up later, right?

Season 3 moves the Fab Five to a new city. This time, they are helping out people in Kansus City, Missouri! Its nice to change the location, even if it means nothing to me because I don’t live in the US. However, other than location, there is a few little changes here and there which are subtle but contribute a lot to making this show even more powerful and effective than before. It didn’t really need to change anything but whatever it did, has given it a smoother execution.

queer eye s3 1

First of all, after 2 seasons, the Fab Five in Season 3 has really found their place in each of their domains. They jive together well and even better than before, making them even more genuine to watch and having that feeling of being approachable and knowledgeable makes their distance and a lot of the candidates undergoing these makeovers as they tell their stories even more relevant.  It is their dynamic and their experiences that lend to each of these stories and adds that personal touch. Its also the mesh of the more fun elements of the actual makeover and  then the more emotional elements of the candidates back stories and how they got to the place that they are in and the inner battles they have. Its the balance that the Fab Five and the show as achieved that makes the the more intriguing to watch.

The second thing that works here is that the show always picks a good balance of people doing it. They have zero boundaries in that sense. We see people of all ages, gender and race and then are able to see how they can help each of them improve themselves. This works because it also emphasizes that people shouldn’t see each other’s differences but rather see our similarities and that everyone tackles a lot of the same problems. It also works a lot on tackling feelings and inner (more psychological) issues while upgrading and educating on the outside beauty. It helps that Fab Five are genuinely supportive, encouraging and positive. The diversity of the people and families involved here make it really great to watch. In previous seasons, there was a bigger gap between how one story to the next would translate and connect but in this season, the stories all land in their own way, tugging those heart strings, breaking those boundaries and taking strides towards viewing this world and understanding the difficulties that a lot of people face and the hurdles that make them fall behind and need that nudge to move forward again in the right direction to find themselves, their identity and their confidence, etc.

queer eye s3

The last point is that each of these stories seem to have this family/relationship theme revolving around it. It is one of those subtle changes but a lot of these stories is about their family members or someone close nominating them due to whatever reason or anticipating an event or just being better for themselves so they can be their best selves for the next step in their lives. Its because of the choices in whose stories are told and those different stages in life that make them more poignant and touching.

Queer Eye has reached Season 3 and this is the best season so far. The Fab Five are great together and provide both heartwarming moments and comedic ones as well. Its a warm and show that aims to spread love and a lot of positive messages about acceptance in the society. Its one that needs a box of Kleenex but in such a satisfying way. Its bingeworthy and I can’t wait for the next season.

Have you seen Queer Eye Season 3 yet?

TV Binge: The Inn 亲爱的客栈 (Season 2, 2018)

I’ve never watched the first season. Apparently there are a few changes, prominently the location and the employees and part-time celebrity employees and guests changed. This results in different dynamics and different challenges.

I’ve attached the playlist of the entire season below. You have to open and go back to the episode 1 probably but it should be mostly subtitled.

The Inn (Season 2, 2018)

The Inn

Network: Hunan TV

Boss: Wang Ke & Liu Tao
Full-Time Employees: Dylan Wang, Kido Ma, Philip Wu, Shen Yue
Part-Time Employees: Myolie Wu, Sean Chen, Tengri, Andy Yang, Bridgette Qiao, Jiang Zi Xin, Johnny Chen, Zhang Lingzhi, Angelica Lee, Cheng Xiao, Vega Li, Mao Buyi, Ziwen Wang

The Inn is a reality TV series that centers around businessman Wang Ke and his renowned actress wife Tao Liu who goes to a rural area of China to set up an inn for 20 days which will then be passed over to the government to help with tourism and economics in the beautiful secluded area perfect for citygoers to recharge and get in touch with nature. Its all part of their slogan of “creating beautiful life”. During the stay, various guests come and share their stories while renowned celebrities will also show up as part time workers. Of course, there are also celebrities there which are full time workers. This season’s set in Bai Lang Zhen is part of northern China near the border and started with three full time workers Meteor Garden 2018’s Dylan Wang, singer Philip Wu and Kido Ma and later is joined by Meteor Garden 2018’s Shen Yue. This is all an effort to not only help build the physical inn but also to set up a working business model with some prominent people in the town there to learn to manage after the team as left.

the inn 2

With that said, The Inn Season 2 is a stellar show. On one hand, it shows the struggles of building a business and the reality that the young employees learned that no task is easy to achieve. On the other hand, it looks also at the success of what they can bring with something like this where a lot of guests and part time employees through these human interactions shared their conflicts and difficulties and dilemmas and in some ways found their solution or untangled a bit of their thoughts as well. The heartwarming aspect of the show definitely takes a front seat here. While some criticisms did suggest that perhaps some of it is staged, I don’t think a lot of it is staged but rather that the after production of adding in little comments and such make it more charming and engaging and at times, funny. Considering the hours spent there and the amount of cameras, it was more an idea of what post-editing felt like was more entertaining for its audience plus it had to play a lot on things like the current trends, such as last year’s shipping of Meteor Garden’s Dylan Wang and Shen Yue and adding in things like Season 1’s My Little One Philip Wu making a comment that his dream girl would be something like Shen Yue as well as the addition of Kido Ma who eventually becomes the one that gets paired up with Shen Yue as we see their friendship getting a lot of mentions by the end.

the inn 2

One of the most valuable traits of The Inn is how it brings together this genuine sort of feeling. It has to do with how its guests are picked with very real every people such as being pressured to marry or being afraid of getting pregnant or not having sufficient amount of time for family because of work, etc. It emphasizes that the people that we meet every day whether just a passing moment can bring something new to our lives. As much as The Inn is an escape, its also a place to contemplate life and hopefully find some positive way to change or resolve some of their own problems. Everyday problems that people have. Even with the guests that show up, they all show a part of themselves that help out. With the young stars, it gives them a chance to experience this new side of things while the more mature guests share their intellect be it about marriage or loss and so on so forth. Its because there is so much to discover that makes this show so fun to watch. It feels genuinely like watching real people going through real things and at the same time, sharing thoughts and positive ways to resolve and just open up other people’s minds about different topics. It took me on a roller coaster of feelings full of funny laughing moments and some touching moments as well. I’m desperately looking forward to the next season. In the mean time, maybe I’ll go back and watch Season 1 and see how this reality show started in the first place.

TV Binge: The Final Table (Season 1, 2018)

The Final Table (Season 1, 2018)

The Final Table

Host: Andrew Knowlton

Global competitions should be the hook for Netflix in all kinds of competition simply because they have the opportunity and the resource to make them. It is why I was so excited to stary watching The Final Table. Well, and because I’m a foodie and love watching food related shows (which reminds me that I need to get back to Chef’s Table). The Final Table is just the debut season so there are some imperfections in execution overall but the concept itself is a good one. If there is enough popularity, it would be interesting to see how they can make certain changes to make it more polished to watch. Since I probably won’t find another place to write this, I think the host Andrew Knowlton does a great job and is a good fit for the show because he has the knowledge for it and the charisma to carry the show.

Just for a little basics, The Final Table starts off with teams of two cooks paired up by the chefs own choosing. They are all professional chefs in their own specialities and their different origins and backgrounds. Each episode is themed around one country. The first round consists of a national dish from said country set by the three ambassador judges, which usually includes two celebrities/public figures and one known critic from the specific country. The bottom three teams (until they reach the ending episodes) go into a final dish round where a legendary chef from the specified country will choose an ingredient known in that country to be the star of their next dish and the team considered the less refined for whatever reason will depart the competition. In the last finale, the Top 2 teams break up into individual competition again and the 4 competitors go head to head for the two rounds for the big finale.

The Final Table

Right away, the pros of this one is the country by country theme per episode. It helps people learn about other countries and their dishes and cultures as well as shows off some of their known celebrities. It seems like a pretty win win situation. At the same time, a few (if not more) of the chefs were on Chef’s Table so already associated with the show or known before so makes it more fun to watch in that regard. Some of the national dish choices are pretty surprising so its always nice for the unexpected and mystery element. That part of the structure works well and is well put together. Themed like that gives it a chance to hit a lot of other countries even after they get through all the countries associated with Netflix.

If we look at teams of two, that works pretty well also. It gives them a chance to learn from each other and encourages team work and adds the drama element. At the same time, it gives the chefs a chance to make a more elaborate dish and be strong in certain segments because of each of their different knowledge lending a hand to creating their version of the traditional dish or their knowledge of the ingredient and how to use it in their interpretation as well. If we look at the ambassadors and critics, I don’t have a lot of knowledge of a lot of foreign movies and such so obviously, I knew the USA celebrities the most and then some of them looked familiar and I knew some of the chefs because of Chef’s Table. I think that is part of the fun also as long as the judges themselves have knowledge in food and give constructive criticism.

So far, I’ve said a lot of pros of the show and it is a pretty good structure in its heart. However, I have this issue with how it changes from the teams to the individuals. Personally, if the final challenge was just the last team standing, that might be a little more reasonable. Or commit to it completely and do a half point of top 5 where we get to see the abilities of the individual chef for a few rounds to make it more engaging. At this point, its like a sudden drop to finish the show in a set amount of episodes where they drop a few teams in one shot to force a top 2 which gets siphoned into the finale which just automatically has three chefs removed. That part of the structure needs some work to see what sort of transition works better. If its too little episodes for the amount of teams, then cut 2 teams or something to make it work out. Whatever it is, that needs some work to not feel like the change comes and leaves too abruptly.

Overall, its a good idea and things work for the most part. There probably will be more polish to this if it gains its popularity. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing another season of The Final Table.