26th Aug2020

‘Sugar Rush: Extra Sweet’ Review (Netflix)

by Rhys Payne

Having reviewed the first two seasons of Sugar Rush I was excited when it was revealed that there would be a new installment of the show. Not only that but it had a new title, instead of the newest season merely being labeled season three it was actually named Sugar Rush: Extra Sweet! What makes this season extra sweet I hear you ask..? Well, it’s the inclusion of almost side challenges and a new Extra Sweet pantry filled with interesting foods the bakers have to include. While I understand the necessity of adding something new to a season to stop the audience from becoming bored with the franchise, I don’t think these additions justified an almost “stand-alone” season instead they could have simply called it the third season and during the introduction said something like “this time the Sugar Rush kitchen is extra sweet… etc.” I don’t think the change was enough to have deviated from past seasons!

If you haven’t seen the past seasons of Sugar Rush, essentially it is a high-pace, energetic baking show where four pairs of expert bakers take of weird and wonderful challenges, in the hope to be the last pair standing and earn $10,000. What is fantastic about this show is the fact that it allows the expert bakers to showcase their businesses in a small video package which can only benefit them and increase awareness of their bakeries. The structure of the show is that the contestants have three hours to complete two rounds, cupcakes and confections respectively, but once they have done one round they can buzz in and use any remaining time in round two. If they save any time in round two this is used in round three, which is the big cake round, but new to this season there are extra Extra Sweet challenges that make these round even more interesting. At the ‘end’ of each round, a pair of bakers go home and one pair is selected as the winner. One of the best new inclusion to this season was the fact that the winning pair can choose between an extra 15 minutes in the final round or a guaranteed $1500 which obviously motivates the bakers to want to perform well in all challenges. If this reward system wasn’t in place there would be no reason to want to win either the cupcake or confection round so this inclusion gave the purpose of this round which is amazing!

Sugar Rush: Extra Sweet is crammed full of energy and tension complete with a massive, over-the-top clock counting time remaining for each round. The creative team behind Sugar Rush have clearly thought carefully about the nature of the show and the environment it’s trying to create, as the graphics and infographics – not only match the colour scheme of the show – also have been designed and animated in such a way that it keeps up with the fast-paced nature of the show. In the previous seasons, the pace has been muddled with which at times did make the show hard to watch but I am glad they have resolved this now. The show is hosted by Hunter March and judged by renowned chefs Adriano Zumbo (of the show Zumbo’s Just Desserts which I love!) and Candice Nelson alongside a special celebrity guest each episode. Hunter is a great host for the show but I do think that the weird walk through the kitchen he does at the beginning of each episode (after explaining the rules to the camera and viewers) is a little awkward. Also, the aforementioned introduction is done at the same time as the challenge is explained to the participants which is a bit weird as you can see the bakers being given the challenge in the background but can’t hear exactly what is being said.

The themes for the episodes in this season are extremely wild. But some of the favourites were Junk Food, Magic, Summer Vacation and Breakfast/Dinner/Tea. The Junk food episode was very interesting as there were many realistic-looking cakes and the Extra Sweet challenge for this round was you had to also represent what you do while your eating you favourite food, which was fantastic to see all the bakers hobbies and interests. The whole idea of a magic-themed episode filled me with so much joy and the fact that it included an anti-gravity cake was truly the icing on the cake! There was a cupcake round that revolved around cocktails and as someone who enjoys a good cocktail many of the cupcakes produced gave me the inspiration to have a go and try to recreate these iconic drinks. The cocktail round appeared in an episode all about Summer Vacations and, as this was the opening round, the bar was set so high for the rest of the episode but the episode did end on a bit of a sour note. Both the cakes produced in the final round were very disappointing with one cake toppling over as the round progressed! This did make for very engaging television and I do truly feel sorry for the bakers involved but nevertheless, the cakes did not match the high standard of the other cakes from this season or even match the high quality of the cupcakes at the beginning of the episode. The Breakfast/Dinner/Tea episode again produced many realistic-looking food inspired cakes but the inclusion of an anti-gravity element in the final cake round was very unnecessary. While I am always impressed by gravity-defying cakes this didn’t really fit with the theme of the episode too much.

Overall, Sugar Rush: Extra Sweet is a fast-paced show, that showcases the baker’s talents and allows them to promote their own businesses which is fantastic. The energy issues from the previous season were fixed and a new reward system helped tie every round together. Each episode is almost an hour-long but the high-energy throughout does help the time fly. I would recommend it to people who are a fan of The Great British Bake Off but find it somewhat too relaxed!

**** 4/5

Sugar Rush: Extra Sweet is available on Netflix now.

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