Catch up TV review: Celebrity Crystal Maze, Love Bites, The Truth About Amazon
Ivan Radford | On 06, Dec 2020
Celebrity Crystal Maze (All 4)
Richard Ayoade has rarely been on better form than in this new run of Celebrity Crystal Maze, which brings together Laura Whitmore, Chris Ramsey, Perri Kiely, Jordan Banjo and Gareth Thomas to try and solve the ever-varied challenges of the Aztec, Industrial, Futuristic and Eastern Zones. Ayoade weaves his enigmatic and excitable humour with a sarcastic, dismissive streak, which keeps the “surprisingly free” stars firmly in check – but also laces it with enough self-deprecating commentary to make sure he’s a likeable figure.
Much like Channel 4’s Taskmaster, the result is a wonderfully ideal form of escapism during a global pandemic, demanding immersion and suspension of disbelief in a string of absurd tasks, without ever taking them too seriously. “You should be pleased with yourselves,” our host tells his contestants. “But not smug.” That delicate balance is precisely at the heart of this successful reboot, which is silly and specific enough to keep the whole family entertained.
Love Bites (ITV Hub)
Will it be love at first bite? That’s the question ITV2’s new cookery show is hoping to answer. Fronted by Scarlett Moffatt, it blends First Dates and The Great British Bake Off with the kind of format-blending that made Flirty Dancing on Channel 4 a success. Alas, the ingredients are slightly off in this half-baked dating series, which brings together three contestants to try and cook dishes to impress a woman seeking a date. She doesn’t know who’s cooked which, and gets the chance to grill them all as they sweat through a three-course cook-off – and then blindly taste-test each offering and pick her favourites. But where there could be can’t-cook-won’t-cook fun on the menu, the series doesn’t trust us to know anything about food or even take the format seriously – the show casts contestants who have barely cooked anything before, and doesn’t give us any hint of a recipe or instruction so that we can imagine cooking along at home. When one of the dishes is so raw that our taste-tester has to be warned not to eat it for health and safety reasons, you know that the programme’s taken a wrong turn. Even with the right couple ending up together in the end, the result is a disappointing jumble of flavours and ideas, and not even the charismatic presence of the always-likeable Scarlett Moffatt can heat things up.
The Truth About Amazon: How Amazon Took Over the World (All 4)
Channel 4’s series investigating the behind-the-scenes realities of Amazon couldn’t be more timely; with the country in and out of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic this year, more and more people have turned to the online giant’s shop of everything to get things delivered to their doorsteps. While previous instalments in this ongoing documentary haven’t exactly been eye-opening, this latest chapter is an interesting look at the way the e-commerce site has positioned itself as a competitor in a growing number of arenas – from recruiting popular sellers on eBay to join its own online marketplace to introducing its own brand products, not to mention its emphasis on consistent next-day delivery to combat the high street and other retailers. Questions about warehouse conditions and other such criticisms that have been levelled at the giant remain unaddressed by the series, but are likely to make an appearance eventually. For now, this is food for thought at the start of the busy festive shopping period.