Catch up TV reviews: LEGO Masters 2, Operation Live, Liam Bakes, Beat the Internet
James R | On 18, Nov 2018
LEGO Masters: Season 2 (All 4)
LEGO. Everybody loves it. Even before the tiny plastic bricks adapted smartly for the modern age of computer games and self-aware movies, Denmark’s toy giant was a mainstay in living rooms worldwide, as kids enthusiastically pieced together buildings, cars and more, helped by their equally enthusiastic parents. So it’s an inspired move by Channel 4 to give LEGO a chance to evolve once more for the modern entertainment age – by building a reality TV contest that takes the best of The Great British Bake Off and blends it with, well, LEGO. The tournament brings together friends, family and partners to out-brick each other, mostly just for the sheer fun of it all. There’s school mates Harry and Ollie, siblings Catherine and Patrick, father-and-son Paul and Lewis, father-and-daughter Stuart and Izzy, nephew and uncle Jayden and Kato, brothers Chris and Joseph, friends Nathan and Tom (teamed up by the programme) and spouses Adam and Odette.
Simply watching these LEGO lovers harness their imagination is reason enough to tune in, as their relationships, trust and teamwork is put to the test. The addition of celebrity judges (Rob Beckett and Paddy McGuinness kick of Season 2’s run of guest stars) is a nice touch to keep things novel. But it’s the host, Melvin Odoom, who holds everything together with a hugely winning charm and a delightful energy – gleefully encouraging each contestant, while also unveiling additional obstacles, like getting out some remote control cars to check whether the teams’ LEGO bridges can hold the extra weight. With a diverse array of competitors, an equally varied range of tasks, and LEGO everywhere you look, this is a genius piece of programming that, unlike I’m a Celebrity… and more, doesn’t need to run every night of the week to get you hooked. The Great British Brick Off? Go on then.
Operation Live (My5)
BBC Three broke ground with its live autopsy broadcast on TV last year, but now, Channel 5 is going one better, with a series that screens operations on actual live people… live. It’s an audacious, almost inappropriate idea, one that somehow manages to blend absurdity with horror. “I’m Steve and I’m a surgeon,” begins orthopaedic surgeon Steven Millington at the start of one episode, with a bizarrely ridiculous deadpan friendliness that feels absolutely out of place in an operating theatre. But that down-to-earth joking is part-and-parcel of the day-to-day routine for the team we watch take out parts of someone’s knee and replace the bits with metal substitutes. As they scrap, cut, hammer and staple things apart and back together, we see the patient under the knife cheerfully moving his head around, as he looks at what’s going on – just one of many wonderful, weird moments that make for a unique, riveting piece of television.
Liam Bakes (All 4)
Liam Charles was one of the best things about The Great British Bake Off last year, so when Channel 4 brought him back to judge Bake Off: The Professionals, it was an astute move to bring some life and energy to a brand. Giving him his own show altogether, though, is an even better move that pays off from the very first second you see him on screen. Liam is a fantastic TV presence, hilarious, humble and honest, even as he assembles some truly impressive culinary treats. He’s got a unique style to his cooking that’s part youth, part Jamaican heritage and part knowing pop-culture references – and so we see him whip up everything from Mega Chocky cupcakes (including crunchy balls in the middle that he calls “texture bombs”) and peanut butter layer cakes to, best of all, cola-infused eclairs. It’s edited with a snappy, street-style vibe that could seem gimmicky or contrived, if it weren’t for Liam’s entirely genuine presentation, from the way he balances humility with confidence in his skills to the way he invites friends into the kitchen, helps them make something, then race to stop them stealing his show away from him. Years ago, Jamie Oliver made a career for himself from being a down-to-earth chef in a kitchen full of formal, serious adults. In 2018, Liam is about to do the same, joining a roster of modern TV chefs (including Nadiya Hussain and Samin Nosrat) that brings a welcome dose of diversity to a menu that was gettting stale.
Beat the Internet (UKTV Play)
Let it never be said that the TV game show has run out of ideas. After the BBC invented a quiz based around novelty timers, UKTV’s Dave has gone all Google for its latest format, which asks people to guess things based on autocomplete web searches. Family Fortunes 2.0? That’s the essential premise at play, but Beat the Internet’s dry topic and low-budget set – it mostly involves looking at a list of words on a plain white screen – is lacking that classic show’s sense of personality or fun. Host John Robins does his best to bring some giggles, while Sunil Patel plays the role of trivia font with a deadpan charm, but it’s hard for them not to feel like Pointless imitators, and the whole thing is played far too sedately, resulting in something that’s oddly soulless and underwhelming. There’s potential for improvement (see Robins’ pointed asides to camera designed to bring a self-aware irony to his cheesy patter), but based on Beat the Internet’s uneven opening episodes, it’s sadly hard to see many people searching for this in huge volumes.