Tonight, the season 5 premiere of “MasterChef Junior” arrived, and it was basically much of what you saw was reality TV comfort foot at its finest. You knew what you were going to get, and with that expectation in mind, you’re likely leaving the first hour feeling satisfied. It was fun, it was cheerful, and it was inspirational given that most of the show’s viewers probably can’t make seared scallops or fancy pork chops as grown adults. These kids want you to be better!
The best thing about the premiere is that it moved quickly. If you’re going to have these episodes where you’re opening with a massive amount of contestants, we prefer that you move through them quickly and not waste a whole lot of time. The strength of the show arguably is when you’re getting to the top 20, or some other period where you know all the contestants and can start to find rooting interests.
Are some of the contestants so far worthy? Absolutely, and all of them have that bright-eyed enthusiasm and hope that you like to see of the youngest generation. The thing here is that we’re in an era where so many adults are so cynical and divided because of this or that in the world; it’s nice to see people on TV sometimes who are just focused on the task at hand, happy to be there, and not burdened by any of the stresses of the outside world. Sure, there’s a prize at the end of this, but this is a show where being there is more about the experience than just winning.
If there is a clear critique that we would offer for the episode tonight, ti is strictly that the challenges were not entirely balanced. For example, we’d prefer all of them to be either about recreating a famous dish of Gordon Ramsay’s, or all be about trying to create something using a given protein. The big thing that you’ve gotta remember here is that every kid learns and experiments in their own way. Some may be incredibly creative when it comes to flavor, but not have the technical or analytical skills to mirror a Ramsay dish. Meanwhile, others may be great at following a specific recipe but struggle in creative avenues. We just don’t want any kid out there thinking “man, if only I’d had a chance to make a salmon dish.”
We did think that we’d miss the three-judge format more than we do; upon reflection, we are realizing that taking away the time from a third judge allows for more of it to be geared towards the individual contestants and their stories. They remain the star of the show, and the more of a focus you can put on them, the better off you’re going to be when the dust settles.
Overall – A fun, lighthearted start to what is probably going to be a very lighthearted show. “MasterChef Junior” is not designed to revolutionize cooking shows — it’s all about entertainment, and the show provides that and then some. Grade: B.
What did you think about the season premiere? Share your thoughts now in the attached comments! (Photo: Fox.)