Under Pressure

Below Deck | Bravo | S8 E2: There’s No Crying in Yachting

We’re back with the crew of My Seanna, and Eddie’s just been told about his superstar deckhand Avery leaving the boat. Now Eddie is left with “I don’t want to do anything” James, and “I don’t know how to do anything” Shane – not the best position to be in! Lee makes a call to get a new deckhand and – as long as it’s not Rhiley – hopefully things will improve for the next charter.

Francesca continues to be annoyed as Izzy’s speed; she asks her to pick up the pace, while primary guest Charley complains to Captain Lee about the service. Chef Rachel also has her hands full in the galley because the guest want a full tasting menu (from “different nations”) on day 1 of the charter. #Unreasonable? Lee then describes the deck team: “like three bears trying to f*** a football,” and this is why this man is reality TV treasure, people. Lee calls all the crew into the wheelhouse to let them know about Avery, and also to acknowledge how high-maintenance these guests are.

One of the guests, Shay, makes it abundantly clear she wants to see more of James. She’s going to ask the deck crew to get into Speedos for another guest’s birthday – and that’s not at all creepy, for some reason? If this was a guy asking the women to get into bikinis… #justsaying (something tells me James won’t mind a bit, but that’s beside the point).

Later, Charley complains to Francesca that not all the guests’ luggage was unpacked, and she’s starting to get really annoyed – at the guests, but also at Izzy, because as she rightfully says, she can’t do the job of all 3 stews. Francesca asks Izzy to handle the luggage while she and Elizabeth do dinner service. Izzy complains at the sheer volume of clothes the guests brought, and says she’d much rather be outside; she actually goes to Captain Lee and asks to move to the deck crew and replace her as a stew – he says he’ll take it under consideration, but in an interview says they just need to get through this current charter!

Francesca and Elizabeth set up the “different nation” dinner, and the crew gets dressed up in clothes to represent different nations. Rachel is working overtime in the galley but looks like she has everything under control; she says she got into cooking because of Anthony Bourdain, and has traveled the world studying different cuisines (Captain Sandy’s dream chef?!). In the middle of dinner service, Lee can’t find his black pants and Francesca runs off to try to find them while Elizabeth is making drinks with Shane’s help (?) and Izzy is still unpacking clothes. The guests, predictably, complain – but this is completely on Francesca. She should have told Lee she was in the middle of service and would look for the pants after serving the guests – because the guests have to come first – especially these guests.

Francesca tells Izzy to find the pants and runs up for service. Shane goes with Elizabeth to “present” the drinks to the guests – which is really weird, tbh – and Eddie calls him on the radio and tells him to stay behind the scenes, since he’s just standing there while Elizabeth does her actual job. Charley comments that Francesca “looks exhausted” (you think – with all your complaining?), and she does seem like she’s starting to unravel. Francesca calls Elizabeth down to the cabins to start cleaning while Izzy fumbles with her radio, and then Francesca runs back up to continue dinner – while the guests complain they’re tired.

Charley and his boyfriend go into the galley to “help” Rachel plate dessert – and Rachel says that has never happened in her 14 years of experience. Francesca bumps into them while they’re doing this, and is understandably unhappy. The guests then return the empty plates to the galley, and finally retire. Lee calls Francesca to the wheelhouse to discuss the day, and she gets upset and starts crying; in his interview, Lee says “there’s no crying in yachting,” though after 7 seasons there’s certainly been a lot of crying… I can’t help but wonder how Kate would have handled this situation – probably the same except without the crying?

The next day, Francesca does some yoga and is determined to do better. However the guests’ breakfast orders are completely bonkers and all over the place – they all want very different meals. Rachel gets a little frustrated since 8 guests want 8 omelettes with 8 different toppings – understandably a lot for 1 chef! One guest actually sends back a mean because she didn’t want avocado on toast, but sliced avocado… sigh. As the guests complain yet again, Rachel has a mini panic attack; she composes herself later and says she can do better. I think she’s doing amazingly and these guests would drive anyone insane!

Later, Charley discusses dinner plans with Francesca, and asks if charter guest Lexi can do a body shot off of James; Eddie asks James, and James is happy to oblige. Eddie, James, and Izzy take the guests to a beach picnic, leaving Shane as the lone deckhand on the boat. Shane takes the opportunity to strip down and go for a swim when no one’s (seemingly) watching. But of course Eddie tries to reach him and can’t (because his radio’s on the boat!) so Lee goes to investigate and sees him swimming. In an interview, Lee says “not on [his] boat”… They eventually get him on the radio and chew him out a bit. Shane is already way too laid back and it’s only charter 1!

While they’re on the beach together Izzy takes the opportunity to ask Eddie about transferring to the deck crew, since she has experience. Later, Lee discusses this with Eddie and Eddie says Izzy was helpful on the beach – more than “Sunshine” aka Shane.

The guests come back from the picnic and later dinner service begins – after Charley gives James a selection of Speedos to wear. They seem really happy with the food, for once, until some drama over James begins… one of the guests, Jamie, asks how Lexi ended up on a jet ski with James when Shay was interested in him. How old are these people?! The guests get mad and start arguing while James is changing into his shiny Speedo. The guests continue arguing while the crew stands around waiting; ultimately they stop and the crew brings a cake for Lexi’s birthday, complete with a gyrating James. Shay storms off, and Charley follows saying she embarrassed them; later, Lexi does her body shot off of James. As the guests stand around eating cake in the galley, Eddie wonders if they’ll even get a tip at all – because this charter has most definitely gone off the rails in every possible way! M

Getting Hot In Here

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W7: 1980’s Week

The 1980’s are alive and well in the tent this week, as the bakers get ready to tackle some challenges based on that totally tubular decade.

Signature Challenge

First up: quiche! The bakers must make 8 individual quiches, consisting of 2 different savory flavors, and Noel stresses the fact that they must be served out of their tins. High temperatures are going to be a challenge for this week, apparently, as Paul warns the bakers must be extra careful because of the heat. And as expected, the bakers have issues with the temperature, which Matt says has gone up to 28 C (~88 F).

Flavors and ingredients run the gamut here – Lottie is using baked beans, and she and Dave are both doing “English breakfast” quiches; Laura is creating a “pea and pizza” quiche, and Marc uses smoked haddock for his quiche. Despite the heat, the bakers all manage get their quiches done. Here’s how they turned out!

The judges have mostly nice comments for the bakers, but they absolutely loved Hermine’s quiches. The French baker excelled at the quiche!

Technical challenge

Paul’s advice for his challenge is to ‘watch the color for the end product.’ #Cryptic! The goal for the bakers is to make 6 custard and jam finger donuts. Again, Paul stresses deep frying in the extreme heat will prove difficult. Both Peter and Lottie mention they’re not looking forward to deep frying…

Paul’s finger donuts

Despite the heat (the bakers don’t even have to use proving drawers for their dough because it’s so hot!), the bakers seem to be mostly successful with their creations. After a lot of sweat, the bakers finish their donuts:

Bakers’ donuts!

Paul and Prue have nitpicky comments, and some donuts are fried too long or are just messy. Dave comes in last for his over-frying, then Lottie, Laura, Mark, Peter, and Hermine comes in first! Can Hermine take all three challenges this week?

Showstopper Challenge

Re-imagining ice cream cake (in 4.5 hours) is the challenge for the showstopper, and it must contain a baked element. With the heat, ice cream will probably prove to be a difficult ingredient to work with for this challenge… Matt lets us know the bakers will be using ice cream makers, so at least that’s one hurdle seemingly overcome in the battle with the heat? The bakers certainly take some risks: Dave plans to pipe ice cream on top of his cake, while Lottie plans to coat her entire cake all around in chocolate ice cream. Laura’s ice cream doesn’t turn out because she forgets to turn on the ice setting; she’s left with a chocolate mixture – she turns on the ice setting and chucks in the freezer.

The heat melts everyone’s ice cream really quickly – Mark says it’s around 35 C (~102 F) – and the bakers have a lot of trouble assembling their cakes. Maybe they should have rescheduled this week? Most bakers manage to get things to set, but Laura and Lottie have a lot of trouble keeping their cakes in shape; Laura’s cake falls apart in the freezer. Here’s how the showstoppers all turned out; ice cream in various states!

The judges like Mark’s ice cream cake, and also compliment Hermine on hers. Peter’s cake also looks quite nice and the judges love the flavors of his Christmas cake. On the flip side, the judges say Dave’s cake doesn’t look great, but it tastes great. Lottie’s cake doesn’t turn out quite how she wanted, and it doesn’t go over well with the judges. Similarly, Laura’s cake is lopsided and ice cream melted; the judges like the ice cream but the presentation is messy (and Paul doesn’t understand why anyone would do brownie ice cream – obviously he’s never been to Cold Stone Creamery?!).

The judges deliberate and say Lottie and Laura are in trouble, but Dave saved himself. Matt has the job of announcing star baker for the week, and it’s Hermine! She really did crush it with these challenges! Noel then announces the baker who will be eliminated from the competition this week, and it’s Lottie! She did struggle this week, though Laura has been in the bottom more often, Lottie had too many issues for the judges.

Five bakers remain in the competition, and Hermine has become a new front runner. The five bakers left are all very talented, and as Matt pointed out, everyone has now been named star baker once. I’d day Hermine, Peter and Dave are at the top of the pack and Laura and Mark are at the bottom, but as evidenced this week with the talented Lottie, all it takes is one bad week to be eliminated! M

The Coming Storm

Below Deck | Bravo | S8 E1: There’s No Place Like Home

OG Below Deck is back! Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain – and her razor sharp wit – will certainly be missed after 6 seasons, but season 8 brings back bosun Eddie Lucas, last seen in season 3 (aka “The Rocky Season”). Season 8 also marks a return to the Caribbean, and as Captain Lee Rosbach opines, “it’s like going home again.”

Motor yacht My Seanna has a new Chief Stew named Francesca, a new chef named Rachel, deckhands James, Shane and Avery, and stewardesses Elizabeth and Izzy. From the trailer, COVID is not the only thing that goes wrong this charter season…

We start with Eddie arriving on the boat, and he says he hasn’t been in yachting for the 5 seasons he’s been away; he looks for Captain Lee, and can’t find him… Eddie call the cap, and we learn that Lee fell in the shower and “busted some ribs” – so he’s not on board for the first day! We’re already off to an unusual start!

As Eddie familiarizes himself with the vessel, Francesca arrives and starts poking around the boat as well. They meet, and in an interview we get some insight into how she thinks: everything needs to be perfect. This should be fun…

The rest of the crew arrives, and James is taken with Francesca. Later, he says in an interview he’s there to have fun and do as little work as possible (but he’ll still “work hard.” Sure…). Avery is the seasoned yachtie, and Shane is the greenest of the green deckhands. So green, in fact, that when Francesca sits and meets with her stews, Shane sits with them, unaware they’re in the middle of a team meeting. Eddie doesn’t seem to know what to do with Shane, so basically just tells him to follow the others and absorb what they’re doing.

The stews start cleaning the interior, and Francesca gets them organized; they seem to be on top of things, cleaning-wise, and she’s happy with their work. Elizabeth is a hippie-type who says she “feels vibes,” and she says Francesca has “pure intentions.”

Chef Rachel arrives and tells Francesca of her harrowing 72-hours of having her purse stolen; she seems frazzled as she gets on the boat, but quickly goes to work organizing her galley. She says she’s a perfectionist (like all chefs?), but says she has to hit the ground running; she’s been in the industry for 14 years, so she seems to know how to roll with the punches (unlike Kiko and Tom from Below Deck Med #TooSoon?).

Captain Lee returns to the boat, and says his ribs are killing him – but only when he moves and breathes! He says he’s going to suck it up, and get to work, as a crusty sea captain would do. He has a meeting with the crew, and apologizes for not being on the boat; he then lays down the law: don’t embarrass the boat or themselves. In an interview, he says he’s not going to have a repeat of last season (the less said about Ashton, Brian, Tanner, etc the better). He stresses the importance of radios, says the guests will arrive the next day, and the crew gets back to work.

Lee, Eddie, Rachel and Francesca have their first preference sheet meeting, and charter 1’s guest is Charley, who has been on Below Deck twice before. We see a montage of him complaining; Lee says in an interview he’s a handful, and makes a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow metaphor. Oh how I’ve missed Captain Lee and his idioms and colorful phrases.

The next day, Charley and his guests arrive, and the crew gets to work. Izzy seems to have trouble making drinks and keeping things running smoothly, much to Charley’s annoyance; he actually gets behind the bar and tells her he’s going to “help” her since they seem super busy. Izzy leaves and gets Francesca, who’s not too happy with this; Charley tells Francesca day 1 will be considered a “learning curve” but they better get their act together. Jeez, dude! Guests like this who are so entitled really annoy me; we’re all human beings and make mistakes. No matter how much money you’re spending, you don’t get to complain about being on a super yacht, waited on hand and foot #SorryNotSorry. One could also argue the stews weren’t even making mistakes – they just weren’t moving fast enough for the guests’ liking. In any case, this reeked of “I’m going to make a spectacle of myself for television,” so there’s also that.

Chef Rachel seems to do a great job with her food, as does Avery; Eddie says he’s “like a machine” and they’re just rolling along smoothly. #Foreshadowing… Later, Avery gets a text from his mom saying that his grandmother is “getting worse,” and he makes the decision to leave the boat to go back home to his family. He goes to talk to Captain Lee and tell him his decision; later, Lee tells Eddie what’s going on, and Eddie wishes Avery well, but now needs a new superstar deckhand…

One episode in and there’s already a crew change, an injury, and a super-entitled guest! The season started off with a bang, and it looks like things will only get crazier from here on out (before a certain virus wreaks havoc at the end of the charter season), and I’m here for the (choppy) ride! M

Domo Arigato

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W6: Japanese Week

As a manga-style Noel points out, it’s Japanese Week in the tent! What does that mean, exactly? Since this is the first time the show has done this particular theme, it’s anyone’s guess – and the bakers are just as excited and worried as they probably should be. Let’s find out what Japanese treats the bakers will have to tackle.

Signature Challenge

First up, the bakers must make a batch of 8 steamed buns; these are usually filled with pork or curry, but the bakers can choose whatever they like – sweet or savory. Prue points out this is a bun challenge, so that should be the task at hand.

Mark and Lottie are doing hamburger-filled buns, and Paul asks them both to make one without pickles for him, since he’s not a fan. Who knew?! This starts off a friendly rivalry between the two burger bakers. The bakers have a myriad flavors in their buns, borrowing from Chinese, Japanese, and Indian flavors. Filling their buns proves difficult for Marc, who can’t quite seal his shut – and Peter, who overfills his first 7 buns and doesn’t have enough filling for the last one. Here’s how the buns turned out!

The judges have mostly nice things to say about all the buns, but some turn out a little dry, but with good flavors all around.

Technical Challenge

Prue’s matcha masterpiece

Prue’s advice to the bakers is “do not panic” – a foreboding start to the challenge! The bakers must make a matcha crepe cake; 12 matcha filled crepes layered on top of one another.

Some bakers aren’t familiar with or don’t like matcha; I’m not a fan, either, so I feel their pain. It’s very good for you, but much like most things that are good for you it doesn’t taste all that great…

Peter has issues making the crepes, and he’s not the only one. Noel tries to get the bakers to flip their crepes in their pans, and Dave is the only one who obliges – he successfully flips one crepe in the pan, and Noel jokingly declares him the winner.

The bakers have mixed results in getting their cakes assembled and decorated, though ultimately they all look pretty good!

I’m always impressed that the bakers’ creations come out remotely how they should, considering they don’t have full recipes. I suspect they’re able to see what the finished product should look like, or some facsimile thereof, because there’s no way that 7 bakers could all make cakes that look so similar with absolutely no guidance. Anyway, Laura comes in last, Dave in third, Lottie in second, and Peter comes in first!

Showstopper Challenge

For the showstopper, the bakers are tasked with creating a “spectacular kawaii cake” in 4 hours. Kawaii = cute, so these creations should be the epitome of cuteness while incorporating Japanese culture and flavors – and of course, they must taste good, as Paul reminds us. Soybeans, pineapples, cherry blossoms, and yuzu will be inside and outside of the bakers’ spectacular cakes.

How did they turn out? For the most part, cute!

Lottie gets compliments from the judges for her design and flavors, but Hermine’s cake isn’t “cute” according to Prue. Prue also says Mark’s avocados are “witty and charming,” but Paul says the cake is very dry – almost “inedible”!

The judges deliberate, and agree that Marc, Dave and Lottie have done well this week, while Mark, Hermine and Laura are in trouble. When all is said and done, Noel lets the bakers know the star baker this week is Lottie! Matt announces who will be eliminated from the competition this week, and unfortunately, it’s Mark. So the rivalry between Lottie and Mark begins and ends in this episode, with Lottie coming out on top.

Noel’s manga final form

Prue says Laura saved herself with her showstopper, and called Mark’s showstopper a “disaster,” so that’s why he was eliminated this week. With only 6 bakers left, the competition won’t get any easier, and if all the bakers do well, the judges will have to nitpick their bakes to whittle down the contestants. At this point, Dave, Lottie and Peter seem to be the front runners, but as Prue points out, one bad week can send anyone home – so they all have to bring their A-game every week! M

Pasties, Pastries, and Problems

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W5: Pastry Week

Edible architecture? Flaky golden crusts? It’s pastry week in the tent, and this marks the halfway point of the competition; several bakers say they’ve been looking forward to this. Will they – and their pastries – avoid soggy bottoms and rise to the occasion?

Signature Challenge

First up: the bakers must make their version “of the Cornish national dish, the pasty” (and that’s “past-ee”, not “paste-ee”). They’re tasked with making 8 pasties with any pastry or filling, in any shape, at least 15mm long. What are pasties, exactly? They’re basically meat pies; kind of like a Jamaican beef patty as we know them in the US. The bakers get to work and come up with some interesting flavors – including Peter’s smoked haddock and boiled egg pasty, and Lottie’s “toad in the hole” pasty. Here’s how they turned out!

When judging, the number of crimps in the dough was called out for some bakers, as well as how dry the fillings were. Overall the bakers seemed to do much better than the previous challenges; Paul and Prue had great things to say to several bakers, including Mark and Hermine.

Technical Challenge

Prue’s eclairs

The challenge, set by Prue, is to make 3 raspberry and 3 salted caramel eclairs in 2 hours 15 minutes. Making choux pastry and creme pat for the eclairs are precise tasks, and things can very easily go wrong – especially since the bakers have a pared down recipe.

There’s some trial and error in this challenge, as the bakers aren’t told how long to bake the pastry, and some people – like Marc, Linda and Lottie – have some trouble off the bat. Linda re-makes her pastry and hopes she’ll have time to bake it again…

Some other bakers have trouble with the fillings and toppings, then filling their eclairs. This challenge really looks tough, across the board, and no one seems too confident with their work, as per usual!

Here’s how the bakers’ work turned out:

Linda comes in last place, Mark in third, Hermine in second, and Peter in first!

Showstopper Challenge

The showstopper challenge, as Noel puts it, is to create “An exquisite sweet tart, contained within an intricately-latticed pastry cage” that must be free standing. Caged tarts? Sure, why not?! Prue says the bakers’ tarts should be really luscious – the kind of tart you want to eat a whole lot of but shouldn’t. As usual, the bakers’ designs are quite ambitious – there are intricate weaves on the various cages and flavors that run the gamut. Linda says she’s making a gypsy tart, and Noel says it was his favorite dessert, but that he hasn’t seen one since he was in school. Bless!

The cages that Mark and Linda make unfortunately break; Mark is able to somewhat salvage something, but Linda was not. Here’s how the caged tarts turned out:

Dave does well, as does Hermine; though Paul breaks her cage when he lifts it, the judges love her tart and cage. They give compliments to Laura, Lottie and Peter, but Mark and Linda come up short.

The judges deliberate and Paul says it’s “painfully” close for who will be eliminated this week as there are several options. Ultimately, Matt announces this week’s Star Baker: Laura! Her caged tart really looked incredible. Noel announces who will be leaving the competition this week: it’s Linda, who really did struggle with each of the week’s challenges. She says she’s proud of herself (she should be!) and all of the bakers breathe a sigh of relief until their next trio of baking challenges… M

A Sweeping Success?

Supermarket Sweep | ABC | S1 E1: Give Me the Roses, Richard

The Sweep is back! Supermarket Sweep (finally) premiered on ABC tonight, and it brought with it nostalgia, a bit of comedy and of course, folks running around a supermarket.

The structure of the game remains mostly unchanged, but there have been a bunch of modern updates. Teams (which now have names, like “Team Biscuits,” get 2:00 for their big sweep by default instead of 1:30, but each correct answer still adds 10 seconds to their sweep time. The contestants’ podiums are now LED screens shaped like shopping carts, and they look pretty cool!

Replacing David Ruprecht as host is SNL alumna Leslie Jones. While the teams of two still answer supermarket brand related questions, the format of the questions has been updated to include categories like: picture puzzles to identify a brand, selecting the fake product from a list of three, and identifying a brand’s mascot by their online profile (and now one member from each team runs the mini sweep in the beginning of the show). There’s inexplicably still a round robin portion, where the contestants switch off answering questions – always my least favorite aspect of the 90’s/2000’s version.

One member from each team still runs the big sweep, with Jones commentating on the action. In addition to cameramen, there are now cameras fixed to the carts to get a carts-eye view of the madness. There’s a security guard (?) and other “employees” in the store, like a flower salesman (the Richard mentioned in the episode title), and barista who inexplicably slowed down the contestants. There are also cashiers to, presumably, check out the groceries.

The dollar amounts of this sweep are drastically higher; on the 90’s/2000’s version of the show, the totals of the big sweeps would usually be no higher than $2,000; in this version there were $3,000+ totals #logical.

The final sweep format has also been tweaked – it is now the Super Sweep. As per usual, the winning team is given a clue and they have to run through the store reading clues and finding products, but now they initially win $25,000 and have the option to cash out or keep shopping. If they keep shopping they can go for $50,000, and if they’re successful they can cash out or and keep shopping and go for $100,000!

I enjoyed the episode and the updates they made to the show’s formula, though changing to an hour-long show with 2 sets of contestants seems a little odd; why not just keep it at 30 minutes and air 2 episodes? It’s clear Leslie Jones is having a blast (and her energy isn’t as manic as it seemed from the previews… yet), but how could anyone not get excited about the good clean fun of Supermarket Sweep?! M

Chocolate Challenges

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W4: Chocolate Week

This week the bakers are tasked with handling all things chocolate. If this season is like seasons past, they’ll quickly learn how difficult working with chocolate can be while making sure they have exceptional flavors to impress Paul and Prue.

Signature Challenge

First up this week is a favorite chocolate treat: brownies. The bakers must make a batch of 18 brownies for the judges, and Prue warns that the bakers may not want to ice their brownies, or they’ll be sickly sweet. I agree – brownies and icing rarely mix well.

Most bakers use various nuts, but Peter puts figs at the bottom of his pan and pours his batter over them so that the figs will top his brownies – an interesting approach! Lottie gives herself a whole lot of work with her double-baked chocolate and pecan brownie topped with raspberry cheesecake. Sounds amazing, but also extremely stressful. There are even a few s’mores (which is “quite an American term, but it basically means melted marshmallow, I think” according to Laura) -inspired brownies. Incorrect s’mores assessment aside, s’mores brownies sound incredible.

The bakers stress over their brownies, and some are in fact raw in the middle; but here’s how they turned out!

Peter’s fig brownies are “ok” according to Paul; Laura’s are far too sweet according to Paul and under baked according to Prue. Sura doesn’t fare much better as Paul doesn’t like her flavors, and Prue again says the bake is wrong. Overall, only Mark got mostly positive comments. Matt in a voice over mentions before the Technical Challenge that the bakers could practice their brownies, so this was even more disappointing that no one did a decent job.

Technical Challenge

A batter babka than one she had in New York, according to Prue #sus

Paul’s challenge for the bakers is to make a chocolate babka, a traditional Jewish loaf cake, in 2 1/2 hours. It seems like none of the bakers have made or tasted a babka before so this should be interesting.

The bakers follow the instructions, which say to “Cut through the middle of the dough into two long pieces. Then lift the right half over the left half, followed by the left half over the right half, repeating the process to make a two-stranded plait.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Tangent time: I put this part in because I’m mildly obsessed with with the word “plait,” as this is what we Americans refer to as a “braid.” Checking the Google, the British use the word plait, which comes from the Old French “pleit”, which means “a fold.” We Americans use the Old English word “bre─ídan/braiden,” which means “to weave.” The more you know!

The bakers seem to fare better in this challenge than the brownie challenge; here’s how some turned out:

More than I could do! But Paul and Prue are tough judges.

Paul and Prue rank the bakers, and have varied comments. Overall the bakers seemed to do pretty well.

In last place is Lottie, who struggled in the challenge more than most. Mark comes in third, Laura in second, and Linda comes in first place! Paul asks her if she’s ever made a babka before, and she says she hasn’t – impressive!

Showstopper Challenge

It’s a white chocolate celebration cake for the Showstopper this week, and it must be made for a specific occasion. It must have a minimum of two layers and be baked in 4 hours.

White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate – it has no cocoa solids in it, a generally accepted requirement for calling something chocolate – and Prue says working with it can be a nightmare. She tells Lottie to remember she “only has to be not the worst,” which Paul jokes is a great mantra.

As usual the designs are impressive, but the bakers have some difficulties. Check ’em out!

The judges say Sura’s cake is inedible because it’s raw in the middle; they also criticize Linda’s piping work on her English Rose Cake. Peter’s cake is successful and gets complimented by the judges, as does Laura’s.

The judges deliberate, and Noel has the nice job of announcing this week’s Star Baker: it is Marc! Matt has the not so nice job of announcing the baker who’s leaving the competition: it is Sura, who Matt says just had a bad week.

This week’s challenges seemed really difficult for the bakers, and some rose to the challenge but others struggled. I think it was the right call to eliminate Sura, since she didn’t do well in either the Signature or the Technical (though neither did Lottie, but Lottie’s showstopper may saved her from elimination). With only 8 bakers in the tent, I can’t wait to see what confectionery concoctions they task the bakers with creating next week! M

Still Amazing

I absolutely love The Amazing Race, and tonight it came back for season 32 – 11 new teams are running around the world in an epic race for a million dollars. Besides the drama between the teams (themselves, and other teams), I love seeing the cultures and customs of the exotic – and sometimes not so exotic – places the race takes the contestants.

After last season’s reality-star-a-palooza (I’m still salty that Janelle and Britney were eliminated before Rachel and Elissa in the battle of the Big Brother players…) it’s nice to have 11 teams of people we haven’t seen on some form of reality TV. Former NFL players, friends, siblings, fathers and sons, and couples make up the roster of teams this year.

I’m so happy the show is back, but so very unhappy that CBS decided to put it on one of the 3 nights per week that Big Brother airs, because that’s a lot of reality TV in 2 hours. I love Big Brother but it’s a chore to watch (especially this “All Stars” season), as is writing about it.

I’m going to watch The Amazing Race and start recapping it once Big Brother is over, because THERE ARE OTHER NIGHTS IN THE WEEK, CBS. #NotBitter, just tired ­čśť M

Wheeling, Dealing and Zip-Lining

Big Brother: All Stars | CBS | Week 10 POV

It’s time for another veto comp – BB Comics! – in the BB house, and there’s a distinct possibility that one of the nominees will come down, forcing HoH Nicole to nominate her alliance-mates Enzo or Cody.

Nicole tells Christmas again that Christmas is not her target; she just needs to use Christmas to get “who she wants out, out.” Not sure why she didn’t just say “Memphis” because at this point it should be pretty obvious he’s her target, but I digress…

Enzo and Cody are happy about the fact they’re the only 2 player to never be on the block… #foreshadowing?

Memphis chats with Christmas and tells him Nicole is scared they’ll be mad at her. In the DR, Memphis again relies on his multiple Wise Guys alliances, and thinks the rest of the house will keep him over Christmas. I kinda love that Memphis is utterly clueless that Cody sees right through him.

Enzo tells Nicole that he’s more scared of Memphis than Christmas; Memphis is most definitely her target, so he doesn’t have to convince her!

Memphis tells Cody that Christmas has no idea what’s going on, and Memphis feels safe because of all the Wise Guys. In the DR, Cody reaffirms he’ll quickly vote out Memphis if Nicole wants him to.

In an odd segment in the kitchen, Enzo explains he’s never used a teapot to make tea – he uses a regular pot instead. In the BB house he decides to use a teapot for the first time, and is amazed that it whistles when it’s ready. #OldTechnology! In the DR, Cody calls him a man child, and I can’t disagree. What would the Meow Meow think of electric kettles?!!

Christmas talks to Enzo to try to find a way to keep her Wise Guys alliance safe; she asks him if he’ll use the veto if he wins. As Christmas explains, if Enzo wins the POV, Nicole would have to nominate Cody and they could vote him out. Unbeknownst to Christmas, there are several problems with this: (1) Enzo is scarily terrible at comps. (2) Enzo is in a tight alliance with Cody, so there’s no way he would use the veto if he won, no matter how unlikely that would be.

Later, Enzo says he’s rethinking things, and Christmas is now the bigger threat because she’s wheeling and dealing. He tells Nicole about her plot to back door Cody, and Nicole laughs about it. In the DR, she says she doesn’t care – she still wants Memphis gone.

Cody talks to Enzo and Christmas and tells them his girlfriend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but underwent treatment, and he’s missing her terribly. Christmas says her mom battles breast cancer and also beat it; in the DR she cries and says she misses her family. I get the conceit of this game is to be cut off from the rest of the world and that it’s a social experiment, but seeing all these players over the years miss their loved ones so much is still tough to watch. Let them text, at least!

Christmas talks to Nicole (again) to see if there’s a way the girls can team up. Nicole says the slate’s clean between them, because they both made game moves against each other. In the DR, Nicole says she’s thinking about making another final 2 deal with Christmas to supplement her deal with Cody. Christmas says she doesn’t want to repeat history, when Josh chose Paul over her for the final 2 in BB 19. Josh’s decision won him the game, so that worked out well for him! Nicole thinks over Christmas’ proposal, out loud…

Enzo has a heart to heart with stuffed cow Moo-Lan… and then the veto comp begins.

As per usual the players have to zip line past a room full of BB comic book covers, and make their board match the room’s. Whoever does this the fastest wins the golden power of veto.

All the BB Comics

And as per usual, there are multiple versions of each cover with minor differences between them – and some differences are very hard to spot. My personal favorite covers were Cody’s CALI-FURY, Tyler’s ABRA CURL DABRA, and of course Janelle’s THE BOMBSHELL. The players are extra salty about the evicted houseguests in the DR, I might add… Speaking of the DR, I was on board when they turned Cody into his comic book character, but that little gimmick got very old very fast.

Christmas seems to finish the competition relatively easily, and Memphis does too… Nicole complains she has to be a “cereal killer” on her comic, while Janelle gets to be a goddess. Pretty much!

The results are revealed, and it comes down to Nicole and Cody; with a time of (a very speedy!) 11:21, Nicole wins the veto! In the DR, she asks if this confirms her all-star status. Meh?

Christmas is upset about losing the competition, and talks to Memphis, who in the DR is convinced Christmas is going home. Enzo is getting a little paranoid about voting out Memphis, and tells Cody they should send Christmas home.

Christmas again talks to Nicole and Nicole assures her she’s safe. Christmas correctly predicts Enzo and Cody will potentially flip the vote. Christmas really wants to get Cody out and tries to convince Nicole to back door him.

At the veto meeting, Nicole predictably chooses not to the use to veto, so either Christmas or Memphis will soon be seeing the jury house… At this point, Enzo and Cody are controlling the game, and it’s quite literally a 50/50 chance for each nominee to go home. Enzo and Cody have reasons to evict either person, but I think Christmas’ time in the house is over [insert obligatory Christmas-pun here]. M

Sailing into the Sunset

Below Deck Mediterranean | Bravo | Season 5 Episode 20: A Mighty Wind

It’s season finale time for a truly tumultuous season of Below Deck Mediterranean The Saga of Rob and Jess!

Rob tells first mate David he’s in for the crossing. Later, he says it would be a great opportunity for him in order to see if he wants to continue in yachting (and to be away from Jess).

Sandy lets Malia drive the yacht for the final trip back to port, and Tom stops by the wheelhouse to see Malia in action.

Bugsy takes the guests’ breakfast orders while Jess does laundry. In an interview, Bugsy says she’s proud of the interior, and she thinks they’ve come a long way. She thinks there’s an expiration date on working in yachting, but she’s not settling down any time soon. On the flip side, Aesha says she thinks she’s done with yachting; she’s spent so much time serving other people and now it’s time to focus on her.

Alex says the deck team has had its ups and downs but Malia has been a great bosun. I think that’s true – there’s been relatively little issues or drama with the deck team, aside from Rob’s distraction. The editors make it seem like the last docking could go horribly wrong, but it doesn’t; Malia and crew guide the ship into port one last time.

The guests disembark, thank the crew, and leave. The crew has its final tip meeting, and Sandy says the interior killed it; the last tip is $20,000! Sandy also hands out “awards” in which she thanks each member of the team and rates them on The Beaufort Scale (from 1 – 12): that relates┬áwind speed┬áto observed conditions at sea or on land (via Wikipedia). She explains why they got their respective ratings, and it was a nice way to end the charter season. Afterwards, Jess talks to Sandy and thanks her for encouraging her.

Everyone gets to work cleaning; Malia asks Rob if he’s leaving with a girlfriend, but he says he doesn’t know. The crew gets ready for their final night out; Jess asks Rob if they’re “good” and he says they are, but Jess says they can be single for that night. #Communication? In the cab ride over, Rob and Jess go in separate cars, but everyone discusses them on the way to dinner. At the dinner table things get awkward quickly when Jess doesn’t want to sit opposite Rob.

Sandy talks to Tom, who kinda apologizes for being a jerk. Sandy basically says she knows how yacht chefs are. Everyone seems to be having fun except Jess, and the crew even gets to dance with some dancers at the restaurant. In an interview, Sandy says she loved the crew, despite the Kiko and Hannah situations; Sandy leaves the yachties after dinner.

The gang heads out to a club, where Jess tells Rob he’s completely “cold-shouldered” her. He says everything is always his fault… they sit down and continue discussing things. He says she was the one who said they could be single that night; she says nothing she ever does will make him happy. As the rest of the crew celebrates, Rob tells Jess she can go to Bali without him; she gets upset and walks off.

As a (really ripped) fire dancer performs for the crew, Bugsy goes after Jess, who’s in the bathroom – which is behind a false bookcase. Very cool, but very odd in this setting. Inside the club, the yachties run into the charter guests that just left the yacht! Rob chats up Hannah, who tells him he has a beautiful soul while Jess gets angry and vents to Malia. Jess says Rob’s ignoring her while going after Hannah, while Alex and Bugsy make out, and Tom and Malia are their usual PDA-tastic selves. The former charter guests leave, and the yachties leave shortly after.

The girls go in one cab, and the boys in the other; Jess cries and says she loves Rob and doesn’t want to cry over him. The boys discuss things and Alex tells Rob not to let Jess tell him what to do. And they’re all very drunk at this point, so no one will remember any of it, I’m sure. In any case, Malia tells Rob she thinks Jess really loves him, but they’re on different wavelengths at the moment.

Jess says she doesn’t know what Rob wants from her, so he can be single. And they’re still sharing a 2 foot cabin, somehow. The next morning Rob and Jess speak, and he tells her he’s doing the crossing; she says he’s “damaging” to her. She cries and asks him for a hug; she asks him not to do the crossing and not to “run from this.” He says he has a ticket to Bali and he has 2 days to decide what he’s doing… Rob says they should pack and just get off the boat; he kisses Jess as they go about packing things up.

Alex is the first to leave the boat, and he says he had a great experience. Bugsy sweetly kisses him goodbye and he takes off. Rob says his goodbyes, and Jess leaves with him; they hold hands and kiss once they’re off the boat. We learn that Rob did in fact go to Bali with Jess instead of doing the crossing. But in real time we know they’re not together (spoiler alert, to no one at all).

Aesha is next to leave, and happy to go home. Bugsy is next to go, and Sandy says it was a pleasure having her back. Malia and Tom are the last ones on the boat, and Tom says it was a pleasure working with Sandy (um, when?!). Anyway, Malia thanks Sandy for the opportunity to be her bosun, and Tom and Malia head out.

Sandy says this was the hardest season she’s had, but she’s so grateful to have the opportunity to work with everyone this season.

And that’s a wrap (almost) on Below Deck Mediterranean! There will be a 2-part reunion over the next few weeks, but I for one am happy the season is over. It really was the Rob and Jess show for most of the season, but there was so much drama and the most turnover I can remember on any season of any reality show! It was a crazy season, and there were some interesting guests and lots of drama – a lot of which was fake (thanks editors!). But what would a Below Deck show be without a little delusion? M