Catch up TV reviews: Crazy Delicious, Meat the Family, Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency
Ivan Radford | On 26, Jan 2020
Crazy Delicious (All 4)
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory meets Bake Off. That’s the pitch for Channel 4’s new cooking contest, which manages to lose some of the magic of each in its determination to over-egg its own pudding.
The concept is impressively bizarre, as we see three chefs duke it out to become the favourite of the “food Gods” – three judges who genuinely hover above the set, dressed in white, waiting for them to ascend with their offerings. The three gods? American food guru Carla Hall, Swedish traditionalist Niklas Ekstedt and eccentric magician Heston Blumenthal. And the set? That’s apparently all edible, from chocolate soil to a Prosecco brook.
The result is a strangely hallucinogenic experience that’s compered by Jayde Adams, making jokes at every opportunity while chomping on the scenery (literally).
The problem, though, is that the actual competition isn’t really very unique at all, with the first round recalling Britain’s Best Home Cook as they have make one ingredient shine, and the second round borrowing an element from Netflix’s Sugar Rush, as the winner of round one gets a bonus of additional time.
The recipes are certainly interesting, from strawberry cheesecake chicken wings to reinventing the hot dog and making a birthday cake with edible glitter and parsnips. The best of the bunch (Hannah), however, is unfairly overlooked, despite coming up with a hay creme pat in a trifle that really buys into the concept of eating their natural surroundings – when that happens, you wonder what exactly the show is trying to reward or celebrate.
There are moments of foodie fun, such as when Heston wonders why he didn’t think of inserting vinegar into a triple-cooked chip, but it’ll take another few recipe tweaks to get this enjoyably mad but disappointingly uneven mixture right.
Meat the Family (All 4)
While BBC Three marked Veganuary by following two vegans through a local community trying to convince people to try not eating any animal-derived food, Channel 4 has gone one better: getting families to live with animals for several weeks before deciding whether to eat them or not. The result is a fantastically challenging, yet lightly entertaining, watch that proves less of a cynical exploitation and more of an usually ambitious experiment. Would you part ways with a lamb after having it in your home for a month? Or a pig? Or a chick? The option to send the animal away from the slaughterhouse tempts many of them, particularly the younger participants, and observing the different attitudes and reactions to the increasingly tough moral dilemma is compelling TV. When one lamb does return in a box, meanwhile, the shock and astonishment at what has become of a once-loved household member certainly leaves an impact – one of them, tellingly, admits it looks impressive and tasty, but that they could never eat that particular lamb. This is a fun, but thought-provoking watch that should be avoided by any vegetarians, but sampled by omnivores feeling brave.
Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency (All 4)
The NHS is in crisis, something that has been proven with increasing urgency by documentaries over recent years. Now, Channel 4 shines a light on another aspect of the over-stretched, under-resourced health service that is often undiscussed: the need for treatment of mental health issues. As society becomes more open to discussing mental health, more people are also requesting help and treatments, and Losing It shows us the consequences first-hand, as Nottingham NHS Trust tries to cope with that demand. There’s the heart-wrenching story of Laura, a new mum who suffered from postpartum psychosis, a condition that is still trying to be understood, to 11-year-old Briena, who is having severe panic attacks. A sensitively captured, important reminder of the state of our nation’s health service – and the impact that also has on our own health.