If you tune into Fox Monday night to see Kitchen Confidential, you are going to be disappointed and you only have me to blame. Despite the on-air promo last week and earlier reports, Fox has decided that repeats of Prison Break are a better sweeps month bet than new episodes of Arrested Development and Kitchen Confidential. According to the official KC website, new episodes will return December 5 in time for people to ignore it through the holiday season.
In my house it is an article of faith that any quirky, offbeat, critically praised, well-written show I take an interest in is doomed. As soon as I mention a show I want to try out, my wife should write the cast telling them to not make any big credit purchases. It is like TV executives have a secret sensor on my VCR they use as some sort of reverse Nielsen meter.
Kitchen Confidential is extremely loosely based on the memoir of the same name by Anthony Bourdain about his days as a sex-crazed, heroin-addicted, top New York chef. Already, this has laff-riot written all over it. I loved the book as well as Bourdain’s Food Network travel show, A Cook's Tour, where he traveled to exotic places to eat bizarre food. My favorite episode is when he went to Vietnam to eat a live beating cobra heart. Reality TV doesn’t get any realer than that.
For the TV show, they have changed the character’s name from Anthony to Jack and put his wilder substance abusing days behind him. Kind of like Sam Malone with a chef’s knife. Jack is played by Bradley Cooper who is most famous as the only non-ass-kicking character on Alias. He has the Jack Bourdain character pegged as a guy who knows the dangers of his lifestyle but still likes the heat of the kitchen.
The supporting cast is full of “types” including some stereotypes: Blond Bimbo, Snarky Gay Waiter, Bitchy Boss’s Daughter. The best is Jack’s sous-chef Steve played by British actor Owain Yeoman who is not nearly as repentant and reformed as Jack. Also showing promise is Freaks and Geeks alum John Francis Daley as the impressionable hero-worshipping wet-behind-the-ears cooking school dweeb.
The show is filmed single camera for a you-are-there effect and there seems to have been great care taken to get the lingo and feel of a top New York restaurant down. I can’t vouch for behind the kitchen door, but my dining experiences don’t contradict the overall verisimilitude.
Getting bumped out of sweeps is never a good sign, particularly for shows that need some time slot continuity to build an audience. Meanwhile crap like The War At Home and Out of Practice (don’t get me started on the paycheck-cashing, talent-wasting, phoned-in performances of both Stockard Channing AND Henry Winkler) is still on the air.
Catch Kitchen Confidential while you still can and enjoy a funny, edgy, well-written comedy before the guardians of the lowest common denominator throw it out in the alley like yesterday's fish special.
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