Two episodes make a Friday post, 4th September 2015

Each week, I pick a couple of things I’ve watched and have a little discussion about them. Or not so little…

Deep Space 9, S3Ep18: Distant Voices

The good thing about this episode is that it’s over. Um, yes, that does rather indicate it wasn’t good.

It’s still not at the quality of the worst season one episodes, but it’s definitely not DS9 at its best, either. The central idea–a telepathic attack that leaves Bashir trapped in his own mind, represented as a dying DS9–is interesting, but ultimately doesn’t work particularly well. It’s an idea that probably sounded good on paper, but fell very flat on screen. Alexander Siddig can hold his own when he’s given great material–you can see that in later episodes–but that’s the problem here. The script simply isn’t good and none of the actors were able to improve much on it.

That said, it’s not all terrible. I mean, Garak is in it. Any episode is automatically better if Garak is in it. Andrew Robinson is amazing in that role.

And if you’ve watched later episodes and know Bashir’s arc, some of the themes about his repeated failure to be the very top of anything make a lot of sense. In that context, it’s an interesting episode. Ultimately, though, it’s not great and Garak is the one bright spark keeping it from being unwatchable.

Thankfully, if I remember correctly, the next few episodes are amazing (if one skips the Ferengi one), so I feel like they’re a reward for getting through the last couple of stories.

Great British Bake Off: Week 5, Free Froms

I’m a bit of an amateur baker and I love GBBO. It’s one of my (two) exceptions to the “blergh, get the reality TV away from me” reaction I usually have.

(The other is Strictly Come Dancing. Don’t judge me.)

One of the things I love about GBBO is that these guys are bakers like me, working with the same equipment that I have. Unlike other cooking shows, there’s the promise that I might be able to tackle those recipes, if I level up my game a little. It’s also a show where I pick up a lot of tips, ideas, and useful information about why certain baking things work the way they do.

This week, for the first time in the show’s history, the bakers had to create cakes and other deliciousnesses without certain ingredients. Anyone who has ever baked for a vegan or a celiac will know how tough that is! My dad is vegan and I have a couple of celiac friends, so I’ve got some experience here.

The signature bake challenge was to make a cake without refined sugar. Note: refined. They were allowed to use any other sweeteners they liked, including honey, agave, maple syrup and fruits, so this wasn’t exactly a diabetic heaven. But it was interesting to see what they came up with and I’d really like to try Nadia’s cake with sugar-free jam.

Then came gluten-free bread, in the form of pita using alternative flour. Anyone who has eaten gluten-free bread will know that it never gets the texture of regular bread. Without the gluten, it ends up crumbly and dry, unless you’ve got some tricks up your sleeves. I have to admit, I’d quite like to try the pita recipe. Paul Hollywood’s demo pitas looked pretty good and non-crumbly. I have a feeling most of the contestants’ attempts didn’t quite have that texture…

For the show-stopper, they had to make a dairy-free ice cream roll. When people are told to make dairy-free desserts, the usual response involves a lot of fruit and not much else. My father has been given so many fruit salads over the years.

So many.

And most of the contestants did go for a tropical, fruit-themed recipe due to the coconut ice-cream they were making. This may explain why Nadia was my favourite, because she went for chocolate.

My choco-holic vegan father salutes you, Nadia.

I was delighted to see Ian finally knocked off his pedestal and Nadia given the star baker slot. Overall, I wasn’t hugely impressed by some of the bakes on display, but I did ear-mark a couple as things I’d like the recipes for. Baking with key elements missing like the dairy is intimidating the first time you try it, so it’s no surprise that some of the bakes were so uninspiring, but I had hoped these guys would come up with some delicious new ideas.

Hopefully the show will keep the free from episode in next year and the bakers will spread their wings a little more.