Colin Hogg: Revenge a dish best served cold

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Heston Blumenthal cooks like a mad scientist, mal-adjusting food into strange, disturbing new shapes.
Heston Blumenthal cooks like a mad scientist, mal-adjusting food into strange, disturbing new shapes.

John Campbell didn't do so badly against the Prime Minister in their already infamous television confrontation on Campbell Live last week. Well, not according to my mother. "Did you see that John Key's eyes?" she asked me. "Cold."

I saw them and they were, though I didn't immediately grasp what that had to do with anything. But the mother reckons the eyes have it and she wasn't buying any suggestions that Campbell had been defeated in that interview by the awful cold-eyed Prime Minister.

But, from where I was sitting, Campbell had been humiliated, resorting to huffing and puffing and shuffling of sheaves of useless paper while Key took him apart with his awful logic on the matter of the GCSB legislation - and his cold gaze.

Still, if it's any comfort to Campbell, there's an 87-year-old woman in Christchurch who won't hear a word against him and whose eyes warm at the very thought of him.

Another chap with odd eyes who popped up on TV the other day is Heston Blumenthal, who has a ridiculous new series called Heston's Fantastical Food (TV One, Saturday, 7.30pm).

It's ridiculous in the best possible way - which is to say that the wide-eyed host attempts to mark himself out from the numberless horde of TV foodie presenters by being larger than life.

In this new series, the food is larger than life too - ridiculous, as I mentioned, but fun. Blumenthal's angle is to cook like a scientist, a mad scientist, mal-adjusting food into strange, disturbing new shapes.

It's the sort of thing that happens as societies crumble into decadence, but it does make interesting TV.

In Heston's Fantastical Food, Blumenthal declares he wants to "bring back the wonder of food" and make us all feel like kids again, which turns out to be an excuse for a show constructed like a cross between The Food Truck and Gulliver's Travels.

In Saturday's first episode, the wide-eyed one set about converting a bunch of captive commuters to the joys of starting the day with a decent breakfast by making them the biggest breakfast in the world - a boiled egg as big as a bed, cereal pieces the size of pillows, sausages disguised as tomatoes, black pudding nutella.

The budget must have been super-sized too, as Blumenthal took over a commuter train to serve his theme park breakfast on. Whoopee. Next Saturday, he'll be making the world's biggest icecream. Lick that. Did I mention the puns?

In another sort of English televisual foolishness altogether, there's Father Brown (UKTV, Sunday, 8.30pm), more of the new sort of fusty old twaddle that has already bred the likes of Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge.

Written a century or so ago by GK Chesterton, the Father Brown stories star a crumpled, bike-riding Catholic priest who solves crimes on the side.

For the new TV series, the setting has been moved to the 1950s, out of the city and into England's scenic Cotswolds.

Playing the priest is Mark Williams, famous as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies but unlikely to become particularly famous as Father Brown, who seems an odd, uncharismatic character to resurrect for TV, even in sentimental times.

This is pure nostalgia shot on an endless English summer day when murders seem to happen, though they're usually tidied up nicely in time for tea.

- NZ Herald

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