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Television ian 2/11/2013

The official TV ratings season kicked off last night but the battle began some time ago.  Channel Ten was the first to start with a flourish about a month ago bringing on Masterchef: The Professionals.  It worked a treat until My Kitchen Rules (Seven) ran over the top of it, wiping Nine’s The Block off its anticipated pedestal in the same fell swoop.  MKR is attracting more than 3 million viewers while Masterchef is dreaming of regaining the magic million.  But why is it so?

Well, it is elementary my dear Watson, it’s elementary…

And of course it is elementary to be ratings-wise with the benefit of hindsight.

Firstly, The Block is a tried, true and tired formula…

Secondly, we don’t want to see ‘professional’ chefs fail, some of whom don’t understand the basic foundations of cooking.  It’s like watching the Olympic dressage event and seeing people falling off their ponies…

…A second secondly, we are now finding Pierre Marco White a tad scary, bordering on creepy.  We were expecting a harsher Gordon Ramsay without the f-words but we now see someone who could be out on day release, possibly looking for a dish that goes well with fava beans and a nice Chianti.  And, damn him, he has hypnotised the lovely Matt Preston into being a willing apprentice and knife sharpener.  Forgive the poor contestants for falling off their ponies – It’s ol’ Pierre who has frightened the horses.

Thirdly, Seven has a winning formula – it is about losers like us who are passionate about food but may not be too good at whipping up a dinner party under pressure.  These are the people next door – and we love some of the neighbours and are not so keen on others.  In fact, we downright hate a couple of them.  The cooking is the subtext – the show is about the people – and Manu and Pete flow through like hosts at a party – with seamless, almost unnoticed authority and command of their domain.

There’s no reason why the pattern won’t continue and perhaps even strengthen.

Which brings me to Sunday night’s surprise 8:30 package, Elementary.  When I saw the promos I wanted to run a mile.  What were the producers thinking with ‘New Holmes, New Watson, New York’?   Holmes and Watson had the Guinness Book of Record for a successful bromance – never consummated, but the deepest respect, love and dependence on one another – And the new Holmes is a woman?!  And Baker Steet is now New York?!  And the dapper Sherlock is now a slovenly tattooed confrontational pig just out of rehab??!!

I tuned in to watch a train wreck and was converted, seduced and addicted quickly and totally.  So were many others according to the ratings.  This is true to Conan Doyle at its core and surreally respectful of the original – the script is sharp and witty, the performances are superb and the direction full of confidence.  Who says a man and a woman can’t have the deepest of platonic love.  Well, lots of people, but Holmes and Watson look like proving them wrong.  There’s tension and need in this relationship – even lust – but it’s not sexual.  This show is the highlight of the week for mine at this stage – and it goes to show that if you serve up what people will enjoy, they will watch.  Think outside the square a bit.  It’s elementary.  If only I could get those two over for dinner.

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