September 23, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares Review

Okay, I watched the first episode of Kitchen Nightmares on Fox. This will be a short review - I wish it were more like the BBC version.

All right, I'll elaborate.

1. The premise.

So, the premise is basically the same. Gordon Ramsay, foul-mouthed British celebrity chef, visits a restaurant that's in the dumps and turns it around. How he does that varies in the two versions of the show.

2. The food.

For me, it's all about the food. On both shows Ramsay tastes the (usually) awful food at the beginning.

BBC: Ramsay works with the chefs and owners creating a new menu, and discovering hidden talents in the kitchen. He then usually takes samples out on the street for locals to taste what they are missing.

Fox: Ramsay creates a new menu and about five minutes is spent on the food during the hour-long show.

3. The music.

This may seem silly, but I've noticed it really sets the tone for the shows.

BBC: The musical score (I don't know if you can call the music for a reality show a "score" but I'm doing it anyway) is light and airy. It's happy and would be welcome as the background for a Monty Python skit and the whole thing put together with Ramsay helping people instead of just berating them makes you feel "good".

Fox: The music is dramatic with sharp violins and a heart-pounding bass that would be more welcome on some telenovela. Which makes the whole thing overly dramatic and silly, like a carbon copy of so many reality shows out now.

4. The restaurant.

I hope this is a one-time thing and not a trend.

BBC: The restaurant owners and chefs are the sort of quiet, polite, yet misguided souls you would expect to find anywhere in the UK.

Fox: This first show features the overtanned, teeth-bleached, bulky namesake of the restaurant has some sort of roid rage episode about every ten minutes. I can't help but think that this restaurant was cast not because of the dire state (there were actually lots of people dining there before Ramsay stepped in), but because of the "drama". It makes me sad because I don't care about this guy, and I don't care about that restaurant. I like the honest casting in the BBC version much more.

5. The upgrade.

This is when Ramsay does his thing and turns the restaurant around.

BBC: The menu is revamped, sometimes the owner takes a cue from Ramsay and renovates the dining area, or the outside using their own money. I think this really gives hope to anyone who might be stuck in the same situation that they too can change things around without the help of a "surprise makeover".

Fox: I was surprised when the show sprang for a whole new kitchen. That's right, a whole new kitchen complete with new commercial grade ovens, refrigerators, etc. They paid for it. It seems like such a cheat, just another surprise makeover.

In the end, the mook changes his ways, yippee! And the restaurant seems like it will be a success. Oh how I care. Yes, I'll watch again next week, but if the formula stays consistent I don't know how much longer. Although I will keep watching the BBC version for sure.

Airs Wednesdays 9/8c on Fox.

1 comment:

magaziner said...

Exactly what I thought, too. My wife and I watched in shock and awe about how they could screw up such an already tried and true show with making it about theatrics instead of food and business. I'm watching it thinking "could they make Americans look any worse?" While the normal market wouldn't notice because I would say many people haven't seen the BBC version, for those of us who have, I feel like its hard not to compare. I also felt like, "Italian food?" I mean, its no wonder he didn't help the kitchen redevelop the menu more... stupid Americans only like their spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, and alfredo. I can't believe that the kitchen was perfect. What a load. "Our food is great, its the tools we're using that suck!" And when they revealed the new equipment, I said to my wife, "What is this? Extreme Kitchen Makeover?" I don't know why, but I hated that so much, probably one of the worst things I saw in the show. The selfish owner does nothing and gets a new kitchen - good job! Read a dog training book - reinforcing negative actions. And then, the end all, the big guy turns into a nice guy in all of a matter of days - his whole persona has changed and he's become a lovable galoof. That show isn't going to make it if they keep going this route. Oh, and lastly, I hate that bad video quality its shot on... the BBC version looks like its on film and is done so nicely, the FOX version looks like they produced it for $2500 in the back of someone's van.