When the world seems too stressful and you want to unwind, reality TV or competition shows can be therapeutic.
If you're in the mood to get sucked into a mini-drama over whether that cake will be finished on time or if the judges will turn their chairs or if the rescuers can save the day again, these shows are a great escape.
There is added excitement in the TV world these days for local viewers, thanks to a trio of Seacoast residents who are getting their turns as stars.
We'll start with Evan Hennessey, who is chef and owner of Stages at One Washington in Dover after working earlier in his career in Portsmouth restaurants 43 Degrees North and The Dunaway.
Hennessey earned a $10,000 prize in the spring as the winner on Food Network's "Chopped." Now he's back for "Chopped Champions," competing against other past winners for a $50,000 prize. He got off to a great start, winning a first-round "Battle" episode this week and earning a place in the finale to be shown at 9 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Hennessey's victory in the "Battle" round this week included some daunting challenges. When asked to make a dish with turmeric tea, carrots and smelt, Hennessey used all parts of the smelt, carrot stems and other ingredients like toasted almond to create a turmeric tempura battered smelt with blistered carrots. In the entree round, when he was given venison, blueberry pie filling, salty licorice and green tomatoes, he made blueberry glazed venison loin with pickled green tomatoes with a yogurt sauce.
Perhaps an even bigger challenge is coming up for native Portsmouth musician Sam Robbins, who didn't get the greatest news after his performance on a blind audition episode of NBC's "The Voice" this week.
None of the celebrity judges turned their chairs for Robbins to invite him onto their teams for the main competition, but he received high praise and an invitation to compete for a chance to return to the "The Voice." Robbins, 22, was invited to compete in the first "Comeback Stage," an online-only companion show featuring country music singer Kelsea Ballerini. The winner among six competitors will get a second chance on "The Voice."
Robbins, a Berklee College of Music student, has already won big, getting to perform Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" in front of millions of people watching on national TV. The 2015 Portsmouth High School graduate will now get lots of exposure on "Comeback Stage" and you just might see him again on "The Voice" in November.
Next we move to Animal Planet, where Epping's Jane Kelly is making regular appearances on "North Woods Law."
Kelly is known for nursing raptors back to health after they've been injured in the wild, often hit by cars. She started out part time at the Center for Wildlife in the Cape Neddick area of York, Maine, and now operates On The Wing in Epping. Her work with New Hampshire Fish and Game Department conservation officers made her a natural fit for "North Woods Law."
Justin Silva, co-executive producer of the show, said Kelly "has been extremely film-friendly and rehabbers like her play a pivotal role in these animals’ journey back to health so they can be sent back into the wild. Jane provides the show with happy endings.”
Good luck to Hennessey, Robins and Kelly. We hope they are all featured in many happy stories, and we thank them for their service and our entertainment.