Raves

I recken that it’s time for a kiwi entertainment show of some sort. At least a trial.

BBC Knowledge is re-running a 1998 series by Louis Theroux in which he
goes Gonzo-style into ‘weird’ subcultures. It makes a worthwhile change
from the standard fly on the wall stuff. He’s filming openly, to the
point of even participating in the main activity reported on. There is
no subterfuge or undercover try-to-catch-them-out but he leaves it,
thankfully, up to the viewer to ponder the lifestyles of the strange and
unknown
The episode
that caught my attention was about the Los Angeles porn industry, then
(1998) in the midst of an HIV scare (several performers had been
recently diagnosed and caused shock waves through the industry with many
reconsidering their careers) but not yet fully affected by the online
free-for-all (performing and downloading) which has made the current
business model basically untenable.
But what we learn from the film is that it’s an excellent short term
money spinner for performers despite the risks to your physical and
mental health. The glaring difference with the real world – speaking in
terms of male and female pay rates in doing the same job – is that men
earn far less than women and actually have a much harder (to excuse a
pun) job than their female co-stars: keeping wood and delivering the
money shot after a long day filming on a set with many staff around and
when many of your co-performers may not be of your sexual taste is
admirable. The attrition rate mentioned by the producers and casting
agents, who, of course, make the most money out of your talent, is not
surprising.
A few vignettes stuck in my mind: the English girl who preferred to work
in American porn instead of Europe because “she doesn’t get bruised or
injured here”; the male former Airforce performer who looked genuinely
puzzled when asked what he was going to do if porn didn’t work out in
the future (there is never a plan B in America, it seems); the sheer
stress on all the males to perform – and you got to feel sorry for those
gay-for-pay straight dudes who have their minds and genitals messed
with.

After 8 seasons former police detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) finally takes a bow, but not before taking on one final case.  The unsolved murder of his beloved wife Trudy, who was tragically killed in a car bomb explosion.

Over the past 8 seasons Monk has been trying hard to solve his wifes murder and get over his obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias so he can return to the police force.

Will Monk finally solve Trudys murder and find closure?

Watch part 1 of the series finale of Monk 3:00pm Saturday, May 21 on TV3

Greetings one and all! My sincere apologies to my readers for the hiatus in my posts but I now return to you with vengeance and as a married woman.

So we are now down to the final two in Masterchef but before we get to the ‘who should win’ question I feel a series recap is required.

-Hopeful cooks prepared dishes for the judges and 25 were selected to go through to the next round. Michael was awarded the golden apron which enabled him not only with powers of being fast tracked to the top 12 but also endowing him with a certain smugness whilest depleted Michael of all geographical knowledge.

-The 24 cooked off in a large garage with BBQs and eggs for the remaining 11 positions. Due to a lack of things to say, the judges forever harped on about the higher standard compared to season one.

-The top 12 faced their first challenge in the studio and Kathleen, with her wanna-be-Rihanna hairdo failed to deliver with her stuffed lamb, wrapped in the worlds worst pastry and was thus evicted. Allegedly when the cameras were off her departure was less than graceful.

– Episode 4 saw the contestants all cooking Italian (Michael missed that memo).Robert -for those of you that dont recognize his name you will remember him as ‘The Vegetarian’- he concocted a dish that was really a case of finding ingredients that dont work with each other, throwing them together and hoping someone else does worse. This travesty was the demise of Robert/the vegetarian/Gok. 

-Simon’s restaurant was not only mentioned in epi 5 (like it is in every other) but was the centre piece of the night. A giant commerical for countdown snuck out of the ads and into the show and no-one went home. Boring.

– Then the folks cooked Spanish cuqusine for Peter Gordon and in a ‘shock twist’ we said byebye to both Michelle and Sam

– The top 8 cook for kiddies. Fiona opened the episode speaking of how she does not like kids. She might have not wanted to say that as the children voted her dish the worst and we farewelled Fiona.

-In the Indian challenge Anthony’s bad cooking lead Josh Emett to questioning whether he was wearing underwear (?????????) and the potentially commando strutting Anthony was sent packing.

-Cupcakes proved to much for Billy.T.Cameron, whose ellimination lead to an uproar on Facebook by people unaware of the show being recorded last year. If I hear the words ‘Bring Back Cam’ one more time I will slap someone, Just give the man a yellow teatowel for his efforts and move on.

-Michael went home in the hotel challenge but at least he was able to find the right room to deliver the meal to and didn’t end up in a completely different hotel.

-New Zealand Masterchef ends up in Austraila to cook up their native wildlife and TraceyLee was waltzing matilda all the way back across the ditch.

-The production company manged to sneak Donna Hay into their luggage and into NZ on their way home for the cookbook challenge. Stu failed to measure up or the judges realized they couldn’t have another male school teacher win and a chance at the ‘Grand’ Finale was no longer his.

And here we are now: Whoopi-JacxBerg and Poh…oh sorry, I mean Nadia are the last two standing. On Sunday these two women will face off, someone will win and someone won’t. From what I have read on message-boards no-one can decide who should win but they all have a reason why they shouln’t win:

-Nadia shouldn’t win because she cries. Apparently being in an unreal expreience, away from home and weekly being berated should lead to joy and laughter, and anything to the contrary makes you unworthy.

-Jax is not allowed to win because she is not Maori or white. Just to let you know, you do have to be NZ citizen to enter the show and COME ON PEOPLE!!!! New Zealand is made up of so many different cultures, please dont make me have to give the xenophobic rant.

So who will win? What will their challenges be? Will Nadia cry? Why wasn’t there a black team? Where is my free fancy cell phone? And can Simon make it through one episode without saying ‘Euro’. Tune in 7.30pm Sunday as the whole country will finally find out who is our Next New Zealand Countdown Commercial Star.

 

I’ve been watching the UK TV series ‘How the Other Half Live’ on TV One – and its got me thinking. I know – a reality show that makes you think! What is the world coming to?

It’s refreshing to watch a reality show that isn’t all about confrontation, exploitation or competition, but it is not an easy watch.

Each week, the programme profiles a rich family and the poor family they are sponsoring. It takes the concept of international child sponsorship, but does it within the United Kingdom – enabling the families to meet and explore the impact of the donations made. Central to all the shows have been the children – who take lead roles in explaining their situations and showcasing their home environments.

On many levels the show is heart warming and affirming. In most cases the children (both rich and poor) display real depth of character and empathy with each other, and the families have found things in common despite their vastly different wealth and lifestyles.

What the show doesn’t shy away from are the questions of judgement or arrogance that could get in the way of such generosity. In most cases at the start, the wealthy adults express hope that the receiving families won’t fritter the cash away or waste it on frivolous things. Some have acknowledged the awkwardness and potential of coming across like Lady Bountiful, while the poorer parents have worried before hosting the wealthier families in their extremely modest homes. But over all, the show is done with sensitivity and compassion – ensuring everyone is portrayed respectfully.

As a viewer, it is a challenge to watch on several levels. I admit to feeling a little judgemental near the start of some episodes as wealthy children show off their extravagant lifestyles, mansions and designer label wardrobes and handbags, but they all seem to redeem themselves during the shows – displaying a compassion for their fellow human beings while realising how fortunate they are. Watching the poorer children wide-eyed and awestruck by the homes and wealth of their benefactors makes me wonder how they cope after the shows end – do they feel even worse off or jealous? Presumably there is some support behind the scenes to help the families cope with the different worlds they are exposed to and their return to normal life – but none of this is evident on screen.

The show makes me question my own spending habits and how I could use my money less selfishly. Seeing the extreme hardship and restricted living conditions of the children in the show is gut wrenching, and makes one want to help similar families here. Could that work? How and who would manage such processes between Remuera and Otara, Plimmerton and Cannons Creek or Fendalton and Aranui? Recognising the impact of their contributions motivates the wealthy families to give more and in targeted ways – sometimes offering a job or making a difference in non-financial ways. While the extremes of rich and poor make good television – isn’t there room for those of more modest means to contribute in real life?

When making a difference is such a major motivation to give, there must be ways to make these connections here without causing chaos, but right now it’s not clear to me how. And while most don’t have the resources to give to the same level as those in the show, some creative approaches here could build the commitment of donors in this country.

‘How the Other Half Live’ recently finished screening Thursday evenings on TV One.

Sky’s brand new iphone app is just about perfect.  

It’s free, has a nice easy-to-use interface for checking out TV listings (and it includes the free-to-air channels too), searchable and can be configured to your viewing preferences by just showing the channels you like to watch.

The best feature for me though would have to be the remote recording and alerts on our MySky.  I know they’ve had this feature on their website for quite a while, but I’m usually out and about when I want to record something and logging in on their website never really seemed an easy thing to do on my phone (plus this way, I only need to enter my login information once). 

Thanks Sky!  

SKY TV NZ - Sky Network Television Limited

UKTV has started screening a terrific cop series here in New Zealand. Inspector George Gently
has the appearance of a run-of-the-mill detective series but its
setting in 1960s rural England makes it interesting. The death penalty
was still in force and enforced, which makes a conviction for murder a
risky affair for your own life. The lack of modern gadgetry in crime
solving such as DNA testing, cellphones and computer databases are still
decades away. It makes for so much better drama when it is all about
the relationships of the protagonists, the criminal motives and the
psychological games played between the ‘cops and robbers’. Hence the
popularity of series like Cracker, Inspector Morse and (even) Waking The
Dead.

Male homosexuality was verboten at the time but that didn’t make it
invisible or unknown and it featured as a crucial subplot in the first
episode. The hotel lobby scene, gay “Brief Encouter”-esque in feel if
not linked to the reality of the scene, turned the frisson between the
closet and the contemporary illegality into a marvellously subtle
criticism of the law’s nonsense. The waiter, in the briefest of
appearances, gave a brilliant performance on how to skirt the
sensitivity of the subject professionally. And Martin Shaw’s face was
priceless at the hapless Bacchus. “I’m not like that, I’m married!”
still echoes down the ages as the truth that dares not speak out.

What I also liked (in episode zero at least) was that despite the
psychotic revenge binge the Philip Davis character embarked on, the
actual violence or gore was barely shown and the horror was implied
off-screen, which makes it a very classical Greek-style drama.

South Pacific Pictures has another big hit on their hands with The Almighty Johnsons.  

When I went to the preview of the pilot, I was really impressed by the strong characters, excellent cast and original topic.  After watching episodes two and three, I was rather worried that my high praise for the show was a little bit premature.  

I kept watching because I was intrigued to see where the show went: if it’d be a one-hit wonder, or a show that became a regular fixture in my weekly TV viewing.  

I shouldn’t have been concerned: the show picked itself up again and grew on me much more than I initially imagined it would.  The series went from strength to strength with its development from starting with a physical earthquake (who would’ve thought…) to ending with metaphorical earthquakes: a couple splitting up, an almost-perfect-couple-getting-together, another odd (but perfectly matched) hooking up and a very awkward, funny way to reveal that the “Helen Clark” lady is actually the boys’ mother.  

My biggest disappointment of the series was redeemed in the final episode too.   I was disappointed when we found out who Frigg was.  It felt odd (unoriginal even?) to learn that the actress who played Van West’s ultimate true love was to be Axl’s true love as well.   I was so relieved that she wasn’t actually Frigg!  

I have just one wish for Season 2:

More episodes. Please.

PS One question I have: How old is Gaia?  A first year nurse could actually be 20…. (Update.. I mean, is she really 22?)

Whoopi JaxBerg has found two white hairs on her head while in the house. Thankfully not in the food.

Back in the Masterchef kitchen tonight the contestants are charged with the task of cooking four Spanish Tapa dishes in two hours, with the four core ingredients for none other than the God of New Zealand cooking, Peter Gordon. After no one went home last week, two are destined to go home today. Traceylee seems fairly giddy at the sight of Peter Gordon and his presence acts as a catalyst for some menopausal symptoms. I just think he looks like a pirate.

Michelle is all ‘ I never cook vegetarian, I only cook with meat’ after being told one of the four dishes must be veggie, but didn’t she cook a chocolate cake in one challenges when she had the option of cooking with meat? Unless she had lamb in the cake I am pretty sure that it was a veggie cake. Some of the contestants knowledge of Spain would send any 3rd Form geography teacher into a tailspin.

For the pantry run they are allowed to grab 20 ingredients but once more a contestant lets the nation know they cant count. Nadia grabs a whopping 30 ingredients! Mathematics is a key skill in cooking, they really should test potential contestants ability to count to 20 at auditions before putting them through. Nadia is worried that she will be sent home on this error, I don’t know why, as the track record proves that will not happen. Whoopi and Billy T Cameron have the least amount of ingredients and they get to go up to Nadia’s tray and each take five of her items for themselves, rather than running of to the furthest away Countdown to get some more.

Then people cook, and Michael sets the corner of his tea-towel alight.

Then they judge.

It really wasn’t anything that exciting today, they even had to do a flashback to something that occurred literally two minutes ago, without even waiting for an ad break to help us forget what had just happened. During the judging it is quite clear who is in the bottom and who was really shone today. Traceylee has done her idol proud and is top chef for the day. As her price she will be dining as Mr Gordon’s restaurant, team leader in the next challenge and gets to put together her dream team. I currently am so on Team Traceylee, I could hug her.

Michelle, Billy T Cameron and Sam the builder are the bottom three. We are repeatedly reminded that Cameron hasn’t been in the bottom at all blah blah blah, trying to make up time for a complete episode.

Michelle and Sam are sent packing, you could see it coming just on the presentation of their dishes, which kind of resembled the sort of food you will put out for your buddies when your flat decides to have drinks. I did want to see Michelle go further, I think she has a lot more in her. Then again with the show being so over saturated on the TV screen, having her bright red hair streak gone will make for some easier viewing.

Rewind a little here: at the beginning of elimination Josh the Terminator refers to the challenge as ‘The Spanish Inquisition’. WAIT! Did they just compare the Masterchef competition to The Spanish Inquisition: if it was a German cuisine challenge would they have called it ‘The Holocaust’?

With that said I sure hope next weeks challenge is not Cambodian food.xx 

 

 

Tonight the contestants do a weird conga-line out of the house onto a
party bus with Josh and Ray (I am just going to guess Simon wasn’t on
the bus so he didn’t have an altercation with the bus driver if they had
to have a pit stop on the way). They are whisked away to Simon Gault’s
pretentious restaurant, Euro, ‘re-launch’. I am assuming that it is
called Euro because they have a French, very Jean-Philippe like,
matradee.

Everyone is paired up to prepare and cook one of the
five ‘courses’ for 100 people. I use the word courses very loosely as
the sizing of some of them wouldn’t even pass as a snack for me. Simon
is very assertive about how Euro is his baby and if you mess this up for
him then you are as good as dead. Tracylee is fearful of harming
Simon’s reputation which apartly is huge, despite the fact that until
the 1st season of New Zealand Mastchef aired most of us had no idea who
he was…well unless you were literally made of money, enough to eat at
his establishment where just breathing seems to hike up the tab phenomenally, seriously I am not joking, it is very expensive.I got very
strong views on this form of dining but lets save that for another day.

Michelle and Billy T Cameron are working together preparing a venison
dish that is served with courgettes but the superfancy restaurant
doesn’t have enough courgettes for the meals that has been planned for
ages, they only have a measly 700gm of the vegetable. Michlelle must now
run all the way to Countdown, not the nearest supermarket where the
manager himself helps her get more courgettes. At this point in the
episode I was following the activity on the Masterchef FB page and alot
of unhappy people with this advertising plot-device. The puroposeful
mucked with the challenge just to shamelessly fill the sponsor quota for the week. How dumb do they think their audience is? The
whole thing doesn’t make me want to shop at Countdown, if anything it
puts me off.

Some of the teams struggle – need professional assistance brought in,
duck fat not rendenered properally, egg wastage, slow service-, while
others excell. And in the end all the food goes out, the customers are
drunk, I mean happy and Simon is glad no one blew the place up and his
‘relaunch’ went well – because if I was really relaunching my ‘baby’
restaurant, I would let 10 home cooks in to cook the food so I can
stress less. Everyone hugs.

Back at the Masterchef Kitchen everyone is given their team scores for
the day. Nadia and Stu – who gave the best line of the night ” The chefs
kept coming around squeezing my breasts”- are the top 2 of the day and
get to go back to Euro for a fancy pants 10 course meal. Whoopi Jaxberg
and  Anothony really didnt do too well but are speared elimination as
the judges simply cant work out who to send home because they were all
so good…or equally bad.

And thus concludes the 45minute advertisement for countdown and Euro,
which was broken up with more Countdown ads. I know that there is
sponsorship, that shows need it to be able to actualy happen but there
is a point where it is too in your face and overshadows the content of
the contest.