Friday tellybox, 18 September 2015: Carmilla and GBBO

Carmilla Season 1

Yes, fine, you’ve caught me. I’m cheating by talking about an entire season of a show. However, it’s a web series from Youtube, so each episode is only three or four minutes long. Which makes the entire series no more than a double-episode of a standard cable show. That’s not such a cheat, right?

I’ve bounced off web series before, so I went into this cautiously, and fell in love fast. It was the hints of weirdness in the early episodes that caught me. A story that gradually builds up the speculative elements usually works for me, as long as the build up isn’t so gradual it becomes glacial. This one didn’t. A lot of the weirdness has a Nightvale feel to me, which is really appealing, but somehow it’s more charming.

The charming definitely comes from the characters and how they relate to the mysteries around them. Laura, the protagonist, is bubbly and delightful without crossing the line into irritating. Carmilla is cool and calm, with hints at something darker that plays out beautifully during the series. Laura’s friends are interesting and I particularly loved the story about Perry and LaFontaine, childhood best friends relearning how to be friends as LaFontaine explores and figures out new ideas about gender expression and presentation.

I’ll admit, I started watching it because I kept hearing how great the f/f relationship is, and they were right. The slow-build between Laura and Carmilla is lovely and I can understand why it’s generated a huge amount of fanfic. It’s the relationships between the characters that kept me loading up new episodes long after I should have gone to sleep. The plot is fun, the weird elements are nicely threaded through, but it’s the story about people that I’m loving.

I have a feeling that I’ll be gobbling up season two just as fast as I watched season one, and then I’ll have to join everyone else in waiting impatiently for each new episode. It’s a little rough around the edges in places, but never enough to throw me out of the story, and it’s far too easy to get sucked into watching episode after episode late into the night, even if you’ve promised yourself that you’ll only watch two. Ahem.

Great British Bake Off: Victorians

Another first for the series – an entire episode focused on old recipes, from the Victorian era! Break out the gelatin and the pie molds, everyone.

While I still remain to be convinced about Charlotte Russe as a delicious thing, mainly because jelly and bavoise cream manage to hit all my food texture squicks in one fell swoop. I do have a bad habit of eating all the ladyfingers if anyone leaves a package open near me, though. It’s just all the other elements I don’t love!

The game pies, on the other hand, looked very good and I was delighted to see Tamal do so well. The pie sounded amazing.

The tennis cake technical challenge was…entertaining. I was amused by how many of them had never made sugar paste. That was something I tried when I was thirteen. Can’t say I loved it–I’m not a big fan of stuff that’s just sweet with no other feature to it–but at least I could tell that Matt’s had gone rather badly wrong. Fruitcake with marzipan is nom, but you can leave the sugar paste and royal icing for someone else.

Er, Matt, who ever heard of baking icing? Honestly. I like you, I’ve loved some of your ideas (please put Matt’s vol au vent recipe from last week online somewhere), but baking icing is never ever a good idea. Even royal icing.

The hard thing is that we’re now down to the last few bakers. This year, it felt like we started with a more even playing field than in previous years, which made each week’s decisions that bit harder. The biggest surprise to me is that Paul has turned out to be a very good, very precise baker. He wasn’t someone I would have predicted would get this far! I have no idea who is going to win, although I do have a couple of quiet preferences.

Bring on fancy pastry next week. I have a feeling cream horns are much harder to make than I would have expected…