MasterChef is expanding. It’s in its fourth season here, though it seems as if it’s been around forever, or as long as Hell’s Kitchen at any rate. MasterChef has become a summer staple, like mosquitoes and fleeing the city for the countryside.
It’s one of a number of cooking shows — most of them, it seems, hosted by Gordon Ramsay — that have found a niche on prime-time TV during the summer, an alternative to reruns and cop shows not good enough to air during the winter, when more people are watching TV.
Of the summer cooking shows, MasterChef is the only one that’s expanding like a foodie’s waistline, though. Earlier this month, CTV announced plans for MasterChef Canada, which will debut sometime in 2014.
MasterChef Canada joins some 36 other international versions. Co-executive produced by Elisabeth Murdoch, of the Murdoch media clan, MasterChef has versions in countries as far-flung as Bangladesh, Finland and Israel. Junior MasterChef will join CTV’s lineup in the fall, when it will air Fridays, on the same day and at the same time as on parent network Fox.
Ramsay — yes, him again — wrapped filming on Junior MasterChef’s first season last month. As Ramsay explained at the time, “Having children of my own who love to cook, I know firsthand the skill and passion these kids can have at such a young age, and what they can do with it. It’s just extraordinary to watch them in action.”
MasterChef is user friendly in a way that Hell’s Kitchen isn’t. An online link points viewers to the night’s recipe du jour, encouraging viewers to try their luck at home, in their own kitchen. That’s unlikely to happen with Hell’s Kitchen, even if you do like your chicken raw or your risotto burned to a crisp.
Sixteen would-be chefs remain when MasterChef returns tonight. The amateur cooks include a boxing coach and a young woman identified in captions as a “yacht stewardess,” which seems a little déclassé and old-fashioned for a 2013 reality show, but she’s still in contention for the grand prize.
MasterChef is a cooking show, too, as opposed to a long bicker-bash. The chefs’ critiques focus on things like flavour, presentation and technique, rather than who can shout the loudest or sabotage their teammates and get away with it.
At the start of one cooking challenge, Ramsay announced: “Your 60 minutes start now. Sixty minutes is a long time, guys.”
Try two hours, then. That’s how long tonight’s MasterChef is. Fortunately, time flies when you’re having fun. And MasterChef is an enjoyable show — provided that, as with that summer getaway you had planned, you keep your expectations in check.
8 p.m., CTV, Fox
Three to see
• The Spike Guys Choice 2013 awards need little explanation, except that not so long ago, it might have seemed inconceivable that Ben Affleck would one day take home the Guy of the Year award, in an award ceremony designed to celebrate the year’s biggest manchievments. Sylvester Stallone or Steven Seagal, perhaps, but the Gigli guy?
6 p.m., Spike TV
• Modern Family repeats a semi-magical outing from October, in which Phil (Ty Burrell) is delighted with young Luke’s prowess as a budding magician, unaware that Luke has lost his appetite for magic and wants nothing more than to pull a vanishing act.
9 p.m., City, ABC
• Paul McCartney pays Stephen Colbert a return visit on The Colbert Report, perhaps remembering the last time, when Colbert famously read off his notes: “So you were in a band called ... The Beatles? What was your thing?” To his credit, Sir Paul stayed in the moment. McCartney rarely grants interviews on the late-night talk-show circuit: Colbert has landed himself quite the coup.
11:35 p.m., Comedy
12:35 a.m., CTV
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