Have you ever written a speech or a paper, but before you saved it, your computer crashed and you lost the whole thing? Then you try to rewrite the exact same words in the exact same order, but no matter what you do, it's just not as good as the original? This happens on TV, too. This week, ABC translates The Great British Bake Off, the UK phenomenon delivered stateside by PBS and Netflix, into The Great American Baking Show. The show is exactly the same… almost.
The Great American Baking Show uses the same graphics, same theme music, same set, and same three-tier baking competition format (as did The American Baking Competition, a previous remake CBS did in 2013). Each week a bunch of amateur bakers take part in a signature bake, demanding a certain type of culinary skills, then the technical bake, where they are forced to cook a recipe they've never seen before, and finally the show-stopper, a round all about wowing the judges with an insane mound of cookies, cakes, pies, loaves, or other delicious treats that Oprah would break her diet to down. Each week, a standout cook is awarded "Star Baker" and someone is sent home until there's one winner. The prize? Bragging rights, which, in the shadow of Iron Chef, Chopped, and this week's returning competition, Top Chef, is about as un-American as spitting in an apple pie. The pacifism works for both shows.