Saturday, August 24, 2013
MasterChef Indonesia Season 3
Hello guys, hope this post will not be boring since I'm pretty excited about writing it. As the title suggests, this is about MasterChef Indonesia season 3 which ended last Saturday. So this is a bit late, but I only find the time to write it now. I actually didn't watch MasterChef Indonesia as it started airing this year because of 2 reasons, my internet connection is not that reliable that it makes watching live streaming such a painful experience to endure and the fact that Chef Juna is no longer one of the judges. The draw to watch it just wasn't that big, I have to say. In the end, I did start watching it because I found out that the official MasterChef Indonesia YouTube channel kindly posted each episode online after it aired (I think it's immediately after or perhaps during, I'm not sure) and I was really really bored. Let me pause here awhile to again thank the kind people in RCTI or Fremantle (Indonesia?) or whoever who had the power to decide that this could happen. Thank you for the kind generosity! I am talking about around 1.5 hours of content goodness sans advertisement being posted promptly twice a week. It was awesome. I'm wondering if this is the first of any Indonesian tv programme being put in all its glory in YouTube for everyone to see. It could be or perhaps X-Factor Indonesia was the first one.
So anyway, I only started watching when they were more than halfway into the season. I kinda marathoned it everyday that in the end I kinda managed to catch up. I watched the finale last Sunday when it was aired the evening before. I really really like MasterChef Indonesia that I did feel a bit of a regret that I didn't start watching it as it aired. "Why does it matter?", someone asked me. It matters for me because I think it doesn't allow me to participate in real time with what was happening in each episode. Watching it late meaning whatever comment I have doesn't matter anymore since it's already in the past and reading people's comment about the episode is also not as fun anymore. Lesson learnt, next year I'm gonna start watching as it airs. Anyway here are some of my take on this season.
First of all, there are always that comments from people that MasterChef Indonesia's quality is so low compared to the American or Australian ones. Hmmm ... I think in MasterChef, there's an advantage that the haves have that the have nots do not have. The haves have more opportunity in their lives to try different food or they have more access to know more about how to cook certain things or how food can be presented that there's no denial they have an advantage in challenges. Similarly, people in Indonesia can be considered the have nots as compared to the people in America or Australia, so in terms of how to cook or present the food, we are just in a lower level. This is even more so if you see that among the contestants in MasterChef Indonesia, there are just really people who are not exposed to different type of ingredients, so of course things will be harder for them and as a result they may not do as well. I've come to accept this and I don't mind it at all. Despite of perhaps the lower quality, I think what's really good about MasterChef Indonesia is actually the Indonesian-ness of it all. Yes, there are criticism that in this season not many Indonesian meals were featured, but overall in term of the contestants and how everything went, it's just full of Indonesian flavors and I enjoyed it so very much. Overtime, I do hope that the quality of the cooking and the skill of the people will improve, but I think that is also tied with how Indonesia as a country can develop. I am currently watching MasterChef Indonesia season 1 (they also posted previous seasons in YouTube!) and I am only in the early episodes, however already I can see that there's an obvious improvement between the contestants' skills. So I guess as this show goes on, the quality will continue to improve.
Talking about season 1, I am still quite early in the season but man based on what I watched so far, I'm surprised that they were granted another season. Season 1 was unnecessarily dramatic. One of the finalists for season 3 made a comment about how someone cried so dramatically in his season. It was worse in season 1 when I think just in episode 2, there was already some dramatic crying happening. The editing in season 1 was more typical of stupid Indonesian tv shows; dramatic music, focusing in slow motion the expression of people, and then showing it over and over again - it's just plain awful. So even in this case, season 2 and season 3 had made good improvement. There are still some stupid editing going on, but overall things seem more meaningful this time around. I felt even with the judges, there was already some improvement. I felt even Chef Juna was unnecessarily more dramatic in season 1. I think he was more himself and more relaxed in season 2. I do have to say though that watching him in season 1, it reminds me how deadly his smile can be :P With that, let me comment about his replacement, Chef Arnold. Earlier in the episodes, I thought he wasn't really himself, like he's putting up a show or something like that, just like Chef Juna in season 1, but as the episodes go, I think Chef Arnold was more into himself and things felt more natural. So overall, though losing Chef Juna was bad, it turned out it wasn't a big lost. The judges were still an entertaining front. I felt Chef Degan was more comfortable this time around and like last year he just exuded this fatherly presence that you just have much respect for him and at the same time he can also appear as fun :) and then there's Chef Marinka who strangely made me think that she's so beautiful :P who again can bite despite her cuteness :P I begin to think that if any of them are the ones leaving, the lost would be more profound. I could be wrong since it's perhaps the same sentiment people felt when Chef Juna left, but it turned out Chef Arnold did just fine. Chef Arnold itself sometime appeared very strict, but sometime I felt his childish self came through (he's so young, under 25!) :D
On the other side of the judges, of course there are the contestants. I have to say they were pretty colorful and seemed like a bunch of fun people. The age range this time around seemed to be really young. I think only less than 5 are over 30. They're so young, they are the fist-bumping generation rather than doing high five :P I have to say that I shed tears at almost every elimination, even in the final! They just got into you! The villain this time around was Mimi. Yes there's an actual villain who people did not like. It's funny how this season's contestants can seem to be so harmonious with each other, but come confessional time they can really bitch about other people :P Obviously in MasterChef you don't really get to see much about how the contestant interact with each other on a personal level, so you may not be able to get why certain people don't like other people, but I have to say I can get why Mimi was not well liked. I can sense it from the way she spoke during her confessionals. It reminded me of an Indonesian girl I once knew. I believe at that time we just had to tolerate her because that's just the way she speaks. The more I think of it, I was reminded of this other Indonesian boy who admitted to me how he didn't like her because of the way she was and he had difficulty seeing how she could be liked by people, he felt there must be some fake-ness in it :P Perhaps he's right, but also a language affects how you can come across. I think that girl comes across alright in English compared to in Indonesian :P Anyway, in the case of Mimi, it's telling when a guest star who interacted with her for an hour or so can say things like maybe she's a nice person, but I think the way she speaks can be rather too hard to take. Another villain it seemed was Brian who made it to the final. It seemed not many people like him, but I couldn't figure out why and I am so curious to know why people didn't like him much. After all he appeared as this nice devoted dad who's doing all this for his family. Anyway, I read some comments that if Chef Juna had been around, the contestants would have behaved more seriously. That could be true, but again I don't mind it much. It's alright for me that the contestants were more playful this time around :P I love how these people regardless of their different religions and ethnicity seem to just go along and be friends and all hugs (yes even the muslims) and supports (except to Mimi and Brian). It's heartwarming, because you really should just be friends with people from different background than yours.
One of the dramatic moment this season came during the spike elimination, which I hated. Here members of the losing group challenge had to vote out the weakest link. It was dramatic because Tante Angella who I thought was the nicest contestant was so troubled about it that she was crying (obviously) and would rather take herself out of the competition rather than vote. She's such a little mouse. She always appeared timid and scared when she had to face the judges. At this spike elimination, it was surprising that the kind Chef Degan was the one taking hold of the situation and appeared darn strict throughout. It's like seeing your favorite teacher got angry, it was so uncomfortable and it mesmerized me that even the other 2 judges ended up quiet throughout the whole thing. I'm glad the spike elimination was fairer this time around than last season. The person voted could choose 2 other people to join him in pressure test.
Another thing that came back this season is the black team. I totally have a mix feeling about this. It's basically a group of previously eliminated people who were given the chance to go back into the competition. There were some improvements compared to last season. For one, they didn't have the gothic make-up and they didn't act all fierce and bitchy, so that's a huge huge relief. It's easier to take them more seriously this time around. Last season, the members of the black team were chosen by the judges. This time around, the 15 previously eliminated people competed among themselves for a spot. Perhaps that is fairer but again perhaps it's a matter of luck. I have a mix feeling about the black team, because at one point I felt it's a bit unfair to the contestants being eliminated after the introduction of the black team, they don't get second chances. Yes you could argue, if you're that good, you don't have to worry about this because you should never be eliminated. However sometime I think luck plays a lot of factor in pressure tests, sometime your egg just came out overcook or your one chance of doing flambé didn't give you flames, so that is just sad bad luck. Then with the black team, the competition felt a bit like a ding dong that didn't progress much. It feels like a stunt to extend the whole competition longer. On the other side though, I do get sad when some people are eliminated, so it's good to see them back.
Like season 2, there is also the family challenge, in which the contestants directed one of their loved one during the cooking. I think it's not relevant to their cooking ability, but I have to say that it was very entertaining. I guess the surprise here was when Nino, perhaps the most good looking contestant, turned out to be married. He's a weird guy for me, I think he is very handsome if you're looking at him from the side, but from the front view, he's not that handsome :P I have to say that sometime the challenges were there just for entertainment purpose, like the doomsday dinner and the tag team challenge. I hated the tag team challenge. A team of 2 takes turn cooking every 5 minutes or so. I thought it was pointless. Then there are things which were meant to shock the contestants, for example having to catch a chicken and then watch it being slaughtered (they blurred it for the viewers at home) or opening a mystery box and finding a cute rabbit (no they don't have to watch the rabbit get killed). One very shocking thing was when the judges opened a big mystery box and there was a dead cow's head inside it. I was thinking this wouldn't happen in America, PETA would be protesting as fast as the box was lifted :D In a way, there's certain craziness that can happen only in Indonesia :D
Another thing that seem to make it every season is the outrageous ingredients, the likes of cow's tongue, brain, and cheek. Aarrgghh!!! They seem to make it every season! Brain even appeared twice because one guest star, Anggun, chose that! Speaking about guest stars, there were really some interesting ones, like Anggun, cast and crew of The Raid, the chef that did molecular gastronomy, and Chef Kenny Chan and Chef Wan from Malaysia. I have to say though that I think they underused the presence of Anggun and especially the cast and crew of The Raid (such a waste!). They did show off Chef Wan really well. You can really feel his wonderful energizer bunny character :D For the first time, I thought Chef Wan speaks really really fast :D Overall I think they did the whole Malaysian leg really really well. I didn't know of Chef Kenny Chan before. He seemed to be really interesting in his peranakan nyonya get-up :P A bit of trivia, in season 2, one of the chefs during the Hongkong leg was also called Kenny Chan :D
The last episode before the final did manage to deliver another surprise. One of the finalist is William, this Chinese Indonesian boy who appeared like he must have come from a privileged life. Surprise, surprise, he's not rich. Looking at his very modest house, one can even say that he's from the lower end of middle class. I find that to be really surprising. Looks can really be deceiving. His family is kinda your typical Chinese Indonesian and listening about how strained relationship was with his dad because he quit school to pursue culinary and his dad's request that he doesn't get any more tattoo are really so typical Indonesian Chinese or perhaps Indonesian in general :P It's strange but I find it interesting also that he is also your typical Buddhist Indonesian Chinese (there's a small altar in his house). You see, most Indonesian chinese who are famous in Indonesia are Christians, that I can't really even name one who's still holding traditional beliefs like my family.
Anyway, I have to say the final was tough and challenging. There were 3 rounds and 2 of them were actually duplication challenges. So I think that's a bit disappointing. If there's any other criticism was that there's no Indonesian dish or requirement for the final challenges. I thought it's a shame. Indonesian dishes do seem to be really difficult. Many of these young contestants would readily admit that they're doing more western dishes because it's easier and having to cook Indonesian dishes could be so daunting for them. Still the 3 rounds were so hard that the time given was quite a lot, culminating in the 5-hour challenge to complete a macaroon tower with a cake at its base. I have to say it's hard since I've never made it, but I still cannot help feeling a tiny bit disappointed that the end results from the 2 contestants looked like shit :( Even though William beat Brian with a huge gap and the winner was kinda predictable even before the final began, I have to say it was still quite an intense final. I also have to say how I love that the judges looked so dashing during the announcement :)
Some other things to comment in random order now. A lot of english being spoken despite of this being in Indonesia. I guess it's a true reflection of how people speak in Indonesia these days, especially the youngsters. The curse F word was beeped, but I found it a shame that "pig" (the english word) was also beeped. I thought that decision is unintelligent. I've become more critical when english was used. I hate wrong pronunciation by the narrator or wrong spelling and spelling is still a big issue here :( Then while the editing is getting better, there were still mistakes with how things were shown, some things often appeared not in sequential manner.
I love how my french knowledge made me able to understand each time Chef Degan criticized the contestants about their mise en place.
The pantry seemed better this season compared to last season but seeing season 1's pantry, I think season 1 might be better. I think they had bigger space then.
MasterChef Indonesia is really a long process. One of the contestant commented it took 4-5 months to do this whole thing. It's aired twice a week, Saturday and Sunday, each episode is around 1.5 hours without advertisements. Someone commented to me how she wished American MasterChef also have this much content. The format for each episode is often like this, challenge 1 in which the winner automatically get a pass to the next round and he / she gets to choose the main ingredient for challenge 2 for the rest of the contestants. The 3 bottom people in challenge 2 go to pressure test in which one will go home. I wish the advantages could be different instead of always the same, for example how about the extra time they gave in the previous seasons? Or having the luxury to consult the judges. By the way, I like how the judges were more like mentors to these people.
I watched MasterChef in YouTube in my own time, however I have to say that the airing time in Indonesia is rather bad. It started at 04:30 pm and people like my mom can't really watch it in its entirety and it causes her to not really follow it. It's a shame! The timing clashes with the time mom has to do laundry and make dinner. So if only they start it around 06:30 after the maghrib prayer and finish before 9, I'm sure it will be something that the whole family can really enjoy together. It is rather weird the way tv programme are shown in Indonesia. For example X-Factor Indonesia and Indonesian Idol start late that they often finish after midnight. This makes me wonder how difficult it is for kids or people who have to work or go to school (there's school in a Saturday in Indonesia). How can they watch these things? Isn't it like losing a substantial chunk of viewership? Very very strange.
There are still cheesy things, for example the final 4 elimination where the one eliminated must ran while waving goodbye at the judges and the other contestant who were in a boat *roll eyes* I'm not sure if cheesy things can ever disappear from Indonesian tv, but I do hope hope they will try to minimize them. You know it's much better when the dramatic part wasn't scripted, for example the final 3 reaction when they all dropped to the ground, praying, crying, lying down, when they found out that they would only find out the result of their challenge the next day. It was funnier that way and more appreciated.
I wonder if William really fulfills his promise and gets Lius (the hearing impaired contestants and perhaps Mr. Congeniality) the hearing aid.
So anyway this is my long winded writing. Season 3 had been awesome!!! I'm really really looking forward to next year! On other news, apparently there's Top Chef Indonesia in another tv station. I wonder if the people there would be as nice to put the episodes in YouTube.
:) eKa @ 9:29:00 PM •