Going To Hell
- June 14
Regular readers of On the Buzzer are probably used to
the pattern that goes on here; I pick a show, and
complain for 500 words about how awful it is. At least
that seems like how it's been. I aim to fix that today.
Can you believe it? A show I like? It's inconceivable!
Nah, it's just a game
show that puts everything together.
And that show is...Hell's
Kitchen. Yup. FOX's cooking death match on Monday nights
has won me over from last year. It has everything:
compelling competition, interesting contestants, and of
course, a great host.
For those that didn't
follow the show last week, Hell's Kitchen is Yet Another
Elimination show on its face, but there are a few things
that set it apart. One, contestants are competing not
for a cash jackpot or a record deal, but partial
ownership in a restaurant chain. That's a neat prize.
Apprentice contestants never had it so good. Two teams
of six compete in a pair of challenges, one for a
reward, and one for immunity. (So far, so Survivor, I
know) but the challenges are based in the culinary arts.
Where else will you see contestants trying to pare
stacks of squid, or preparing an entire menu with $100
worth of ingredients? This while Survivor falls back on
the Three Strikes Trivia contest they do every year. The
other neat thing; while immunity is immunity, the losers
are left on their own. The 'best performer' on the
losing team puts up two of his own, and the head chef
determines who will be leaving. So I suppose a bit of
bootlicking is in order, but in the end it is the
contestant's own skill that will determine their fate.
And what would a game
show be without contestants? While we've only seen the
first two episodes, but the twelve contestants this year
all have some sort of experience in the food service
industry; whether that is as a prison chef, a
fishmonger, a deli manager and a cafeteria chef. These
people should know what they're doing. For that matter,
they should know what they're in for, since there was a
whole other series of shows last year to watch. Each
player looked completely surprised to find out that
their first task was to create a signature dish in a
half-hour. For that reason I laughed just as hard this
year as I did last year.
Finally, what would a
game show be without a host? Gordon Ramsay is no Jim
Perry or Bill Cullen, that's for sure. Then again, Uncle
Bill was never putting up his own job as part of the
prize package on "Blockbusters." A world class chef by
trade, Gordon Ramsay alternates between laughing it up
with reward winners on a luxury dinners, and barking
orders during the immunity challenge where both teams
operate half of the titular restaurant. Ramsay's is at
his best when he's pushing around his recruits. These
people are competing for a share in a world famous
restaurant; not living in a house for three months or
something. This is supposed to be hard. Ramsay puts the
players put their paces, and drills into their head that
99% just won't cut it. Things have to be right the first
time. I wholeheartedly approve of that. That sort of
fire-in-the-eyes seems to be lost in the States
these days, with people willing to do the bare minimum
to get by and letting mistakes out in their work.
If you like food
even a little bit, you'll find something to like in this
show. If you don't, watch anyway, you'll find something
else to like.
Travis Eberle has a yummy recipe for a
rice-and-sausage dish. E-mail him at
firstname.lastname@example.org if you