Friday, March 17, 2006
I watched and enjoyed both editions of Bravo’s Project Runway even though I haven’t the slightest interest in “high fashion” and so far I’m digging their new show, Top Chef, even though I have little patience for the kind of fussy gourmet cuisine the folks on the show aspire to master.
Top Chef is less manic and stagy than the similar Hell’s Kitchen (the Fox show from last year which starred the always-apoplectic Chef Ramsey) and more interesting than the sedate Next Big Food Network Star (a second edition of which debuts soon on the Food Network.)
As always these kinds of “reality” shows rise or fall on the quality of their casting process…put together an interest bunch of folks and put them in odd situations and it can be escapist TV magic (take a bow, current edition of The Amazing Race.) On the other hand, if your cast is dull and irritating (that’s right, Survivor: Panama- Exile Island, we’re looking at you), it can make getting through episodes slow, mind-numbing slogs.
Top Chef seems to have brought in enough interesting people to make it work. We already have people to root against (the smug, pretentious Stephen and the whiny, crabby Tiffani) and underdogs to root for (the ditzy, profane Cynthia, who is competing even while her father is dying of cancer and the fun-loving Miguel) and competitive infighting already brewing. (Kenneth, the cocky, acerbic Irish guy, got the boot in the first episode when his food failed to live up to what his ego had promised it would be.)
Katie Lee Joel, the host, is no Heidi Klum (Joel’s kiss-off phrase…”pack your knives and leave the kitchen”…doesn’t hold a candle to Klum’s gloriously abrupt “You’re out”) but she doesn’t get in the way too much. Neither do the judges (whose names escape me and I’m really don’t care enough about them to go look them up.)
Top Chef is not great TV…but it’s fun and engaging and that’s cool by me.
(As an aside: I do wish though that Bravo didn’t run so many promos during Top Chef for Blow Out 3…featuring the self-absorbed wonder that is Jonathan, the gayest self-proclaimed [over and over and over again…we get it, “bro”, you “dig the chicks.” Right. Whatever works for you, dude] “straight” guy in TV history. I like a lot of “reality” TV but nothing on heaven or Earth could get me to watch the show and endure yet another one of Jonathan’s endless prissy/pissy tantrums.)