I really like Top Chef. Last season? AMAZING. The entire season, you got to watch four great chefs battle it out and lay waste to their competitors. And, yes, looking back Angry Voltaggio's win was almost assured (though I was really hoping the Young Santa or Friendly Voltaggio would pull off the win) but the others were amazing competition. And the season before that had Carla! And Stefan! And Fabio! And...okay, I don't even want to talk about the winner, but still - good, good, lively stuff.
This season, not so much. This week was Restaurant Wars, which should be an exciting, drama-filled hour. It is the only time that the average person might see someone almost get decked because they think a Gastro-pub is too "done". But last night had nothing remotely approaching that. The whole struggle of one concept over another, or how much the budget should go to dishes? Nope. It was just "Oh, Restaurant Wars? Ok. Here is our menu. (Commercial Break) And now we have shopped." And then the team with all the normal hallmarks of a loser (awful name, bad front of house) won. And seriously, "EVOO"? Not only does it sound dumb, but I can't be the only one who looked at it written down and immediately heard Rachel Ray's voice in my head.
What struck me most, though, is that by Restaurant Wars the show should be a battle between a bunch of fantastic chefs, whereas this week the judges didn't seem super-impressed with anyone. There's no one you really root for. Maybe Tiffany, who's awesome as a person, and one of the stronger chefs in the season, but I can't help but wonder how far she would have made it in last season's culinary Thunderdome. It's Angelo's game to win at this point, but he's so...off-putting. He's not bad enough to be their actual villain, but he's just sort of pesky. My favorite is Kelly, but she's sooooo low key. And not reality show "generally affable but dropping the occasional wit-bomb" low-key, actual low-key. Every interview seems like they shook her awake at 4 A.M. and started asking questions. And, I mean, I still think she's great, but she's not exactly the sort of person you make a fan page about.
It was just a bit shocking realizing that the show has made it this far with two pieces of dead weight still holding on and no clear top three.