In the latest edition of our Midseason Report Card series, we are reflecting on a show that has been off the air for a little while now in “MasterChef Junior.” Not only that, but it is a show that ironically has already finished its first season.
But, we do still feel like there is a lot to take from this show and discuss. At first, we felt like this was going to be nothing more than cheesy filler to try and capitalize on the “MasterChef” name and throw in kids in there a la “American Juniors,” but the product that we had was only slightly diluted from the original. Even with some weaker challenges, you could still even argue that the show was equally captivating for the sake of having young kids being able to cook better than most people three or four times their age.
The shining stars – The biggest one for us on the entire show was actually Joe Bastianich, who surprised us with just how good with kids he was. We assumed more that Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliott would have no problem with this, but Joe comes across at times as pretentious and surly on “MasterChef” proper. But all three judges assessed the situation well with children there, and showed a different, but still entertaining side in dealing with young contestants.
Speaking of which, the show handled the kids perfectly. The season was not so long as to exhaust any of them, but still long enough that we felt there was competition. Plus, one of the fun things about kid contestants is that there is zero filter. While we don’t really want to see drama or crying, it was fun to see them show off their sense of humor during intense moments.
What needs work – The biggest issue with the first season, more than anything else, was just the balance of the casting. From day one, it was clear that Alexander was probably going to be the winner. While we eventually forged this whole conspiracy that Dara was actually going to win and the editors were going to trick us, we were wrong; it really was Alexander in pole position the whole time. We like him, but the challenge for this show is going to be finding balanced kid contestants in the future, and also find creative new competitions that will test the young chefs-in-training, but not exhaust them or traumatize them in any way. It’s a much more delicate show to handle than almost any other on TV.
Overall – We assume that this show will be coming back, given its solid performance on a night in Fridays where Fox has at times struggled. It’s not a very song season, but it doesn’t need to be. “MasterChef Junior” is never going to be a show that we remember as the best of the year, but it’s a fun little diversion that proves that some kids are actually learning a valuable skill in America at an early age. Grade: B+.
If you want to read some other entries in our Midseason Report Card series, be sure to visit the link here.