Sunday, November 13, 2005

Death Watch For Kitchen Confidential

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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ribbiticus said...

what an absolute shame! maybe you can start a letter-writing campaign to save the show. think that'll help?

michele sent me today. :)

Anonymous said...

Heheheh. Maybe in the letter-writing campaign, you should try to convince the network that you don't really like the show; you were only watching it out of a sort of macabre sense of rubber-necking, like folks do at an accident on the highway. If you convince them, maybe they'll keep it. :)

utenzi said...

Michele sent me up the coast to say hi to you, YelloJkt. I hope all is well on the non-TV front.

I've heard over and over that Arrested Development is a great show but I've never seen it. Kitchen Confidential, on the other hand, I've seen 3 times and it's very good. I hope it doesn't get canceled. I'd read Bourdain's travel book but not the memoir from when he was on top of the game. I never saw his Food Network show unfortunately, which is odd.

carmilevy said...

The problem with mass media: generally speaking, the masses are asses. The numbers eventually dictate a certain show's survival - or death. Quality has no place in the equation.

It isn't limited to TV, either. Britney is still a huge draw. Go figure.

Michele sent me again. Poor you!

Anonymous said...

Last year, Arrested Development was the one show I made a point of watching regularly. My husband and I were amazed by it. Haven't seen Kitchen Confidential, but it does sound good. You’ve convinced me. Having worked in some kitchens, though not top New York ones, I know that funny edgy things are happening all the time. I bet the writers don’t even need to exaggerate much.

trusty getto said...

Gotta tell you, YJ, I can't wait until I have enough time on my hands to actually go back to watcing TV!!! And cooking. Yesterday was the first time I've cooked anything real in quite some time, and all it was was a lousy beef vegetable soup. And my kids hated it!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm still mourning the demise of American Dreams and Joan of Arcadia... I can't handle anymore disappointment right now!

Suburban Turmoil said...

Aww man, I'm bummed and until now, I'd never even heard of this show.

Once, Fox had a great show called "Get a Life." Cancelled after six episodes. I was bereft.

Anonymous said...

I watched episodes 1-6 of Arrested Development this weekend. It definitely made me laugh, but after the buildup I heard on NPR, I had expected something a little more sophisticated and complex. I'll get the rest of the series when I see it at the library, but I'm not going to pay to watch it.

Unknown said...

I hate The War At Home! It's so dull! Completely humorless in my opinion.

I haven't seen Kitchen Confidential though, so I can't weigh in on that topic.