Monday, September 15, 2008

Well, I just finished watching the highly-anticipated season premier of Martha, which was filmed on location at Martha's Bedford farm, Cantitoe Corners in Katonah.

The episode made me realize just how much I miss the old format and I savoured every second of the show, which I recorded for posterity. The show began with Martha standing outside her house, showing us the group of three chow-chow dogs - Paw-Paw's grandsons - from which she would have to select one puppy. (By the end of the show she had made that choice, although no further details were given.)

Following the introduction, there was a tour of the farm, including the second-floor gym in one of the buildings on the property where Martha works out every morning. Martha also gave us our first look at the new walled garden, or "boxwood room," she is building outside the Summer house, which is surrounded by enormous boxwood hedges. Also in this first segment, there were gorgeous panoramic shots of the farm from the sky and sweeping views of the paddocks, fields, stables and gardens. It's a gorgeous property! This was definitely my favourite part of the show!

Following this there were three cooking segments (Chris Schlesinger, Joey Campanaro, Scott Peacock and Rick Field) and a segment in the vegetable garden with her friend Memrie Lewis and three audience members who picked some of the ripening vegetables with Martha.

While the food looked delicious (especially Joey Campanaro's cheeseburgers!) and the garden looked luxuriant, I still wanted to get back to the tour of the farm! I was rewarded in the last segment with a tour of the stables. Martha took viewers inside and demonstrated how her four Friesen horses are meticulously cared for.
In a small office in the stables there is a state-of-the art computer system containing all of the medical and care information about the horses, maps of all the trails on the property, weather forecasts and more. Martha summed up the philosophy of the farm nicely by saying that the stables represent exactly the kind of place she is building in Katonah: a place rooted in traditional spirit with all the ease and facility of technological advancement.

The show closed with a brief shot of the guests enjoying their lunch outdoors at a long table set on a grassy laneway.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I did get to thinking that a more personal look at the farm would have been nice. Instead of the three chefs and the pickle expert, who could have been on the show at any other time of year, segments featuring some of the farm staff would have been fun: cooking segments with Martha's personal chef, Pierre, and her housekeeper Lily, for example, or interviews and how-to segments with the gardening crew.

The audience was almost incidental and I didn't really see the need to have them there at all. They were rarely shown. I think a more focused look at a 'day-in-the-life' on the farm would have been enjoyable.

Inside the houses was clearly off limits, but I would love to have seen the greenhouse, the carriage roads, Martha's collection of stagecoaches and decorative garden beds and landscaping on the property.

I'm hoping there will be more taped segments thorughout the year. Today's show definitely whetted my appetite to see more of Cantitoe Corners.

Tomorrow, tune in to Martha for an exclusive look at "Whatever, Martha" with Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, who will be guests on the live show.

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