There are three great train wrecks in entertainment history.
Undoubtedly the best is in the early scenes of The Fugitive with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. As the train jumps the tracks and roars straight at you, you tense up and sit back in your seat, waiting for the impact to blow you to smithereens.
Second best is a wreck that is never shown, but the whole movie is about the lead-up to the crash. That's Runaway Train with Jon Voight and Eric Roberts. It's tense and heart-pounding, but ends in a eerie, dreamy acceptance that this train is going to be in little pieces in a few seconds.
The third best train wreck in entertainment history is happening right now. It's called Masterchef Australia, and it is a reality show that manages to combine mean-spiritedness and banality with a complete lack of suspense. It features judges so little known outside their own restaurants that they have to keep repeating their credentials every episode.
This won't mean much to you folks outside the US, of course, but it has been massively hyped here in Oz. It started out with a huge audience - mostly, I would guess, people who loved the BBC show called Masterchef. In the space of about nine episodes the local producers have managed to turn so many people off that it surely must rate as one of the worst examples of bad decision-making in the history of TV - and think how many of those there are!
The British original is a good-spirited show that is all about cooking. A bunch of people cook their hearts out and two judges decide who advances. Even when the dish is inedible, say raw chicken, the judges inevitably look really sorry for the contestant and commiserate that things didn't quite work out.
The Aussie version is actually nothing like the British show. It's more like Australian Top Chef Idol Survivor, with contestants undoubtedly being chosen for their personality and TV-ness. The judges love to mislead the contestants, much in the manner of an idiot uncle who thinks it's funny to tell a kid they're not getting any Christmas presents because Santa died only to say "Just kidding" when the kid starts bawling.
Last night's episode was the ultimate as the judges decided they had better things to do and they let the contestants decide who should be the first person to be kicked off the show. In the words of Reality Raver, a fun local blogger who obviously watches waaaay too much TV, the show has turned into a farce.
All of which is only interesting to me because Linda applied to get on the show. Thinking it would be like the BBC show for amateur cooks, she thought it would be a hoot to give it a go. She certainly cruelled her chances when she answered No to the question about whether she could give up three months away from her family if she were selected.
Thank God she did. Every time I watch one of those episodes, I picture her in the group. I could see her standing before the judges as they decide which 20 go to the finals. "Linda," they would say ever so slowly, "you're a good cook, but we're looking for a great chef so I've got some bad news for you." Camera shows Linda looking resigned to not going through. And then the judge smiles and says, "The bad news is you're going to be away from your family for three months because you're a finalist!"
They actually did that over and over to the contestants until you wanted to slap them upside the head. Most contestants went from abject dismay to near hysterical joy. My darling, however, would have been far more likely to scowl at the short judge who had said this (well, two of them are verrrry short and one is a flamboyant giant, so let's say the shortest judge), and my darling would probably have said something that would have aired like, "BLEEP you, you cruel midget BLEEPhole. Why would I want to spend one more BLEEPing day much less three months with BLEEPs like you?"
But let's say she held her tongue and ended up in the house with all the others. The mind boggles to think of her putting up with the clueless cute blonde - "Would you get a clue, you dumb BLEEP?" - or the super earnest one who is so scared of being eliminated - "Honey, it's a BLEEPing cooking show in BLEEPing Australia. Get a life!"
Well, you get the idea. In fact, the only reason I am enjoying this show at all any more is because I keep fantasizing scenes with my darling in the midst of all this. Frankly, that would have been fantastic entertainment. Chalk it up as one more mistake the local producers made.
Testing the Heavy Drinkers Quick Weight Loss Program.
Log. Day Three.
I continue the tests to determine the viability of losing weight by not drinking while eating and exercising as normally. Significant changes are being noted. Perhaps most notable, the monkeys are no longer screeching at me, and are in fact conversing intelligently.
6.00pm I made a scotch and water for LK. Surprised myself by not wanting a drink myself.
6.01pm Changed my mind, but held firm. It helps that I have made sure there is no white wine or vodka in the house.
6.03pm Looked in the cupboard. Asked Linda what Framboise tastes like.
9.00pm Dinner. Tonight LK made baked penne with roasted cherry tomatoes, chili peppers, olive oil, fresh herbs and bits of sausage. I am beginning to suspect the fact that she didn't get on Masterchef has motivated her. I decide not tell her I never mailed her application.
9.10 Have more baked penne. Not even hungry any more, but it tastes so good. No, I mean I am doing this in the interest of the experiment to see if booze alone is why I am not losing weight.
10:50 Fighting sleep.
10:52 Fighting monsters in my sleep. The scariest is Freddie Krueger with a wine glass in his blade fingers. I know what will happen if I take it, and yet....
6.00am Wake up feeling good. Decide that means it's not time to get up and try to go back to sleep.
Blood glucose levels have gone down -3.6%.
Body Mass Index down -1.9%
Weight down -1.5%
Conclusion: Very concerned about false readings. Must not jump to conclusions that booze really does have an impact of weight. May have to abandon trials if this disturbing trend continues.