If, like me, you are somewhat unwell and have searched for all your old boyfriends on Facebook, you are well disposed to understand the experience of watching MasterChef All Stars.
We stare in the hope that old feelings of intimacy will be restored just long enough to feel a little jolt. Instead, we turn away ruefully almost as soon as we have looked and tell ourselves, "I don't know WHAT I ever saw in him".
It's difficult to see the appeal in this aging MasterChef and it's difficult to understand why Ten would air something with such puzzling rules when so much of my brain is already occupied learning the puzzling rules of water polo.
Why? Why? Why? We ask and we find it is only more questions, not answers, which emerge. Why did they put it on at the same time as the Olympics? Why do they let Kate talk to nearly everyone as though they are scullery maids? Why did they not replace the judges with domestic cats for JUST one season? IMAGINE! You could have a little Matt tabby looking adorable in a tiny cravat hissing at the contestants and licking butter from his paws. You CAN'T tell me that this would not deliver OzTAM numbers hitherto unseen.
Also. Why was last night's program set in a fire station? Also. Why was Hayden permitted to drive the vintage fire engine when it would have been HILARIOUS to see Dani in charge of an emergency vehicle? Also. Why sausages?
Actually, we can probably have a stab at answering the snag question. Last night’s sausage challenge seemed to be dual-purpose. First, it permitted Matt to utter the phrases "sausage" and "oo err" in a wide variety of regional British accents including my personal favourite, his plucky Covent Garden flower seller. Second, it helped our Julie find her inner Hattie Jacques.
Many of us have long suspected Julie of naughtiness and were unsurprised to see the original MasterChef victor reprise the better lines from Carry On Matron. Just minutes into this challenge, she let fly with some Vicar-shocking doozies.
"I have never handled sausage skin as I did with you," she told Gary. Perhaps it was petulance that prompted her to tell Chris, "You like handling meat!".
When Naughty Nurse had set the tone, "sausage" jokes continued apace. Even for a smutty person like me, it was a bit much. I found myself idly hoping that Kate, captain of the yellow team, would lead everyone in prayer to stop the senseless snag jokes.
There was to be no respite. Instead, there was to be what seemed an entire weekend's worth of sausage "competition" so dull as to make the Bunnings car park seem like the men's relay by contrast.
Clearly, I was not the only one with James Magnussen on the mind. When faced with the crushing boredom of a MasterChef adjunct, where the judges had not been replaced by fluffy cats, producers coughed up a nostalgic fur ball.
Hayden took pause from the work of doing unremarkable things to lamb to remark that his "worst memory of MasterChef" was the day back in 2011 when he paraded around in his "sluggos"; an evocative term for a small item of Lycra worn by a gentleman who wishes to barely cover his honour. Several minutes of Hayden's "worst memory" are reprised and the young chap continues to delude himself that he was somehow forced by the rules of cooking to wear virtually nothing on national television.
Perhaps editors for this episode were preoccupied with the Olympic Games as a good many things made no good sense. Chris remarks that this sausage sizzle for firefighters is "literally bang bang bang". Aaron says "We figure out the grill is really hot". Dani continued to burble in the fashion of a children's television presenter and says things I don't quite catch like "lolly gobble nom nom" and "yummy in my tum tum number one". I couldn't be sure.
Kate, who has selected lamb for her team of terrified travellers, seems very angry about something. Perhaps it is the recess in her filming schedule for dishwashing products? Kumar maintains impeccable manners as Aaron and Marion consider duck and compare their eerily similar hair-dos in team red.
Meantime, team blue is buoyed by the very good spirits of Matron Minx. Chris and Justine appear to take Julie's lead well and Poh elects not to scream "I HAVE MY OWN SHOW LET ME OUT OF THIS FARCE". Which, given the circumstances, evinces an admirable restraint.
At some point or another, the firefighters emerge carrying what appears to be a victim of smoke inhalation. (I'm not making this up.) The workers perform CPR near the sausage-sizzle stations and Callum looks as though he's thinking about alerting the Food Health and Safety people.
Aaron talks about toasting buns. Julie winks at a burly firefighter. Everybody's sausages are a Vesuvial fever-dream and they spatter and burn and Justine observes that she often has problems with exploding sausages. DO YOU SEE WHAT YOU HAVE STARTED, JULIE? I feel ashamed.
Eventually, Gary and Matt run out of smallgoods-based double entendres and decide to join the firefighters in sausage consumption. George speaks some errant Italian and Gary remarks, upon encountering Julie's sausage, that pork is "a forgiving meat". As opposed to lamb which does not have such lenient tendencies and tastes, according to George, "lamb-y".
Matt and Gary then compare sausage sizes in a charmless act of single-entendre that does not bear description. The firefighters seem, rather justifiably, miffed that the nation's most lauded amateur cooks have given them nothing but car-park food.
In the end, team Callum's modestly-sized sausage took out the prize. But, as anyone who watched this peculiar hour could attest, the real winner on Monday night was the company that produces Carry On boxed-sets.
The story MasterChef turns smutty in a senseless snag challenge first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.