Let me preface this blog entry (or rant, however you see it) with this. I am an American, born and raised. I am California to the bone. But have I always lived here? No. I don’t always side with Americans just because of birthright. Also the US never fell in love with Rik Mayall and in my book if you didn’t love that man and enjoy hours of him making you laugh harder than anyone on the planet, then you are damaged so far beyond repair. So I doubt most of what Americans do automatically.
Last night PBS premiered season 5 of “The Great British Bake Off”. Sadly they felt it was necessary to change the name to “The Great British Baking Show”. Why? I don’t know. I think it was fine in its original form. For the past few months I have been trolling YouTube for episodes and clips. Also any episodes, briefly posted of “An Extra Slice”, which was a 30 minute show hosted by Jo Brand (not related to Russell and much funnier than he) showcased that week’s baking item and always had the person voted off the same week. I could piece together a lot of things but it is nice to see entire episodes, well almost. I noticed the running time for the US version was about 5-6 minutes shorter than the UK version. What was edited out I may never know. During season 5 there was a scandal most commonly referred to as “Bingate”. Although I think it could have been averted had cooler heads prevailed. I didn’t want to spoil it for you here. The baking items in each episode are as follows:
Episode 1: Cake
Episode 2: Biscuits
Episode 3: Bread
Episode 4: Desserts
Episode 5: Pies and tarts
Episode 6: European Cakes
Episode 7: Pastries
Episode 8: Advanced Dough
Episode 9: Pâtisserie (Semi-Final)
Episode 10: Final
There have also been a few celebrity versions done for Sport Relief charity which is great fun to watch, the 2014 winner was Bonnie Wright of the Harry Potter movies.
A couple of years ago aired “The Great American Bake Off” with Paul Hollywood and in the place of Sue Perkins was Jeff Foxworthy. The shiver you just felt go down your spine is perfectly normal and healthy. How you could replace Sue Perkins with ANYONE is impossible. If you do like her I recommend catching episodes of her and Giles Coren in “Supersizers Go” on Hulu or YouTube. She also wrote and starred in a fantastic comedy called “Heading Out”.
My point before my gush-fest was this: sometimes America takes a wonderful show and screws it up. So often the original is so much better than the remake. We buy shows, reshoot them scene for scene, word for word. More often than not we also hire a British or Irish actor to play the lead and make them do an American accent. The example that jumps to mind first if a show called “Life”, respectable in its attempt, but the original was better. A few years ago Roseanne Barr spent millions obtaining the rights to “Absolutely Fabulous” but was smart enough in the end to know better than to actually make an American version. It just would not have worked. We are way too uptight and overly politically correct for it to be believable. You call it a “Re-boot” I call it a mistake.
For many people when they watch a reality show they sit back and say “I could do that – and better”. As for myself I would never attempt such a thing. I deeply admire anyone who even auditions. Minutes would elapse before I snap under the pressure. The critiquing and criticism is more than I could handle.
During “The Great British Bake Off” I didn’t have a favorite person I was rooting for; I wanted them all to win. A couple of weeks ago Fox had the season 2 finale of “MasterChef Junior”. Now watching that I was SO biased and had such a strong favorite, I adored little filter-free Oona (if only someone would come up with a compilation of her expressions!) and Abby is a sheer genius with 2 ingredients. But main favorite in this house was Logan, the 11 year-old southern gentleman with the bow ties. What he came up with every week astonished me and I think Gordon Ramsay as well. Young Mr. Logan Guleff did win the finale and I know he really deserved it. Not having any kids of my own I find I am very sensitive to a crying child, so when they cried I cried too. Logan must have the proudest mom on the planet. She did such a great job, because Logan is just a great kid. He was always saying to the others ‘Good job!’ and being supportive, which I can’t say about every kid on that show. Most of them amazing kids, one was a real bad apple. I won’t name names, but watch an episode and you will quickly figure it out.
I sincerely hope that with the positive rumblings in the Twitterverse that “The Great British Baking Show” will blow up here, I really wish it all the success it so richly deserves, and gives anyone who wants it, publicity and work.