Tag Archives: And and Dec

Bad-boy chef gets a spanking

News of the cancellation of a bad show, or even of a good show hosted by someone I don’t care for, is always a refreshing way to start any day, I find. The morning, for instance, I read that Ant and Dec’s horrendous US TV debut, Wanna Bet?, had come to absolutely nothing and those two grinning sub-par cretins had been sent packing, was an especially bright one in my calendar. 

So today, when I woke up to find that Marco Pierre White’s new cooking series on NBC had been torn from the schedules after only three weeks – well, it hit like a spritz of cold fresh lake water to my face. I was instantly awake, alive, and ready to face the world. 

I’ve never seen Chopping Block, mind, so I can’t comment on it. Then again, neither has anyone else. The ratings were abysmal, and American TV executives are extremely ruthless and unforgiving. But I did see a trailer for it, in which White, the bad-boy chef with the grizzled features, tried to do a Gordon Ramsay – projecting grim authority and an intimidating puffed-up inner ugliness that seems to come from working too hard, staying up too late, and having too many competing worries in your head at one time. Only for some reason there’s something quite entrancing about Ramsay and his nervous straight-off-the-spit temper tantrums that makes him a one-off and very successful here in the States. White, by contrast, has none of that. He comes across as unpleasant, horribly arrogant, and someone I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as for more than two minutes, let alone watch him for a full half hour on TV.  

Why so many celebrity chefs feel the need to be bad boys – sour and volatile, behaving like petulant five year olds, making life horribly difficult for everyone around them – is quite beyond me. I’m guessing it’s a put-on, an affectation, the spoilt child throwing a fit each time he doesn’t get what he wants, that gradually becomes integrated into their image. They see their combustible personality and obnoxiousness as a plus, a positive: a dynamic motivating force that gets things done under pressure. And look – they’re successful and rich, so it’s all in a good cause, right?

Well, no. You’re not a winner in life, friend, just because you have money or restaurants or fame. The biggest losers of all are sometimes the richest in material terms. Why is that so hard to see? 

By the way, this phenomenon isn’t only the province of the British either. We have TV chefs over here too who are cantankerous and deeply egotistical and unpleasant, and they are famous for it, which is unfortunate. But I don’t have to endorse their petulance by supporting their ventures into television, do I? That’s where I have power. That’s where I become richly dynamic and motivating. By ignoring them completely.

It’s a passive-aggressive thing.  

But that’s okay. Because, having failed to catch the worn-out-looking Marco Pierre White and his (I presume) wretched copycat cooking contest show, I find I’m helped considerably in missing future episodes by having it yanked from my screen before I get the chance. Good for you, NBC.

So that’s it. Another fatality. Another British personality in a long, long , looooooong line of trounced hopefuls who thought they would just breeze across the Atlantic and show those American simpletons a thing or two about television, gets canned and sent back again in a snit. Justice has been done, the petulant child has been packed off to bed without cooking supper, and we viewers can rest easy yet again. 

Who’s next, I wonder?


Marco Pierre White and Chopping Block get no magic carpets out of five.

TV Swami – he say NO.

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Another British Import Hits the Scrapheap

70s drama Life on Mars axed

It was pretty so-so in its original form, I thought. They made it a little zippier in the US version, but it simply never caught on, and ABC killed it.

So – another one down. Add this to the worst comedy of all time, Coupling, game shows by the horrendous Ant and Dec and also Eamonn Holmes, and a bunch of personalities from Ann Robinson to Ainsley Harriott who tried to make it in America and fell short, and there’s a grim lesson to be learned.

Unfortunately, the British won’t learn it. You can’t just dump stuff on us and hope for the best. It has to be good too. Life on Mars wasn’t special, it was just more actors yakking. Drama’s costly, reality’s still popular, and cheap. A lot of actors need to start looking for second jobs. Their days are numbered on TV. Hopefully, the networks will think twice before importing any more dramas from the UK. Or anywhere else for that matter. 

The big-time British successes, such as Ricky Gervais and The Office, Simon Cowell and American idol, Piers Morgan on America’s Got Talent, and Gordon Ramsey, deserve to be popular because they’re authentic, extremely gifted, articulate, clever, and not just out to woo American audiences with their ‘act’. The losers – Ant and Dec, for instance – simply tried too hard and came here with insufficient charisma, talent, or material to make it. They weren’t up to the job and were sent packing by American audiences. Right now, Paul McKenna is making shows here. Another gifted guy. I hope the series takes off. 

After the demise of Life on Mars, next comes the American version of Absolutely Fabulous, which I predict will fail too. The BBC original ran for 36 episodes, beginning about 17 years ago. Loved that. It never gets old. But I already dislike the US version, to be called AbFab, and not one frame of it has been shot yet.


Filed under Television commentary