We could all use some nice in 2020 – and there's no better delivery device for nice than "The Great British Baking Show," maybe the greatest television program ever created and definitely the greatest British import since The Beatles.
For those who haven't watched a single episode of this televised hug, I feel bad for you. Here's what you're missing: Each season, a dozen or so amateur bakers – no professionals, just a collection of cheerful pensioners and construction workers and stay-at-home dads and doctors and students – hang out in a well-furnished tent in the middle of a serene field seemingly filled with baby sheep. There, they cheer each other on, make politely witty banter and, of course, bake tasty treats for the gentle judgment of experts Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
And what does the winner claim? A million dollars? A bakery to call their own? Nope, they get a nice commemorative serving dish, a hearty handshake and the honor of knowing that everybody watching wishes they could be their best friend.
This new season – dropping every Friday on Netflix – comes with changes. Obviously, considering that it filmed during the pandemic, the contestants, hosts and judges have been bubbled. And there's a new judge this year, as Sandi Toksvig has been replaced by Matt Lucas, most famous this side of the pond as half of Kristen Wiig's bad Milwaukee roommate duo with Rebel Wilson in "Bridesmaids." He brings a similar energy to Mel, Sue and Sandi – more silly, but equally soothing – and he seems to get along smashingly with giddy returning host Noel Fielding. (Though his tendency to bust out silly voices ... less smashing.)
What hasn't changed is what's most important, though: its pleasant, warm, blanket-like cuddliness. The vibe is still friendly, and the competition is civil to the point of helping each other out when things get tight. In fact, in the first episode, a contestant accidentally knocked another's bakes to the floor, and the person with the upside-down pineapple upside-down cakes ... just accepted her apology and politely moved on. Clearly this is not an American reality show; they would've milked that drama for at least three episodes, five passive aggressive jabs and maybe one literally aggressive jab. Then, in episode two, Lottie just ... gives her leftover chocolate to a fellow contestant in need! WILD!
But that's just the kind of program "The Great British Baking Show" is. It's about the nice people you know making nice snacks.
So let's drink wine, savor the semi-finals, talk about the stuff that has and hasn't worked this season, briefly lament the Packers' latest loss, pour one out for the latest baker whose dreams have crumbled away and drink some more wine because, honestly, somebody's left the tent too soon.
Episode 8 recap
Episode 7 recap
Episode 6 recap
Episode 5 recap
Episode 4 recap
Episode 3 recap
Episode 2 recap
Episode 1 recap
Stay tuned to Netflix for new episodes of "The Great British Baking Show" every Friday (the show's airing at the same time in Britain, so it's getting a traditional episode-by-episode release as opposed to its usual all-at-once binge approach), then tune in to OnMilwaukee's Facebook page on Sunday nights at 9:05 p.m. for new episodes of our "The Great British Baking Recap Show," recapping all the star bakers, soggy bottoms and all the plummy pleasantness in between.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.