TONY SQUIRES – SMH COLUMN

Recipe for drama starts with raw meat

MasterChef Australia (Ten, 7.30pm) hit its stride this week featuring a good, old-fashioned pressure test elimination. The four black-aproned pot rattlers had to come up with a steak tartare, with the two least impressive faced with chef Ian Curley’s Bombe Alaska.

It was simple. Curley was the perfect caring but slightly intimidating conductor. There was natural drama with besties Pip and Lucy forced to fight each other to stay in the game. That’s the recipe for good telly. Serve with buckets of tears.

In ”Heaven and Hell” week, Wednesday’s elimination features the team that failed the challenge serving 70 university students a seven-course meal based on the seven deadly sins. In my brief university days that would have been seven courses of sloth, thank you very much.

Reality television is almost never real, but when the drama is genuine it resonates. Watching Matt and Kim from The Block Sky High (Nine, 7pm) fighting to the point where they were concerned about their relationship was brutal and compelling. ”That’s how I talk to tradies,” an apologetic Matt said, ”and The Block turned Kim into a tradie.”

Now it’s time for the couples to stop fighting their partners and turn on the other couples as they try to jointly jazz up the common areas of the block.

This viewer has become a little obsessed with Offspring (Ten, 8.30pm), having made it appointment viewing for the first time this series. Last week, watching the wonderful Garry McDonald wander about his yard whacked off his scone after his first joint was priceless.

The ensemble pieces are beautifully constructed, the dysfunctional family vibe over-the-top funny but still relatable.

Sometimes I worry about Nina’s inner thought track and fantasies. Is she out of her gourd? Should she be trusted with a scalpel in an emergency baby delivery?

Given she constantly loses arguments with herself, it’s hard to see her winning one with anyone else. But Asher Keddie is good enough to make us believe Nina shouldn’t be taken away in some sort of restraining device. As she questions her relationship with Patrick, Billie is dealing with Mick’s growing popularity as a musician and card-carrying lust bucket. Suddenly, he’s a rock star with internet fan sites involving pictures of his jeans-clad groin. What’s a wife to do?

This season’s final episode of Hannibal (Seven, 10.45pm) begins in a dark place, ends in a dark place and spends most of the middle bit in a slightly darker place. That’s been the way of this show based on the characters created by Thomas Harris and set before Hannibal Lecter was put away for whipping up a meal of human liver, fava beans and a nice chianti.

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