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What I Watched Last Night

Welcome back to hell, everyone. Chronically pissed-off Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay was back last night to guide us through a third expletive-laden season of failure and humiliation in Fox-TV's Hell's Kitchen - a show that might as well be called Get The Fuck Out Of My Fucking Kitchen, You Fucking Worthless Lazy-Arse Pieces Of Fucking Shit.

In last night's two-hour extravaganza, which repeated last Monday's premiere episode, we met 12 chef wannabes looking to win a $250,000-a-year salary (plus profit-sharing) as head chef at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas, which we last saw on TV as the home base of the American Casino reality show that got a little too real.

To win the Hell's Kitchen chef-off, our contestants have to prove to Ramsay that they possess both the backbone to withstand his verbal abuse and the basic cooking skills to actually run a kitchen that serves high-falutin' cuisine - all while cooking for crowds of real, high-falutin' people in the Hell's Kitchen restaurant. To prevent the guests from being food poisoned or notes hurriedly scrawled in pencil saying "Help Me" being stashed under customers' cuts of Beef Wellington, Ramsay has to approve every appetizer and entree dish that goes out.

The 12 competitors are split into same-sex teams (boys are Blue Team, girls are Red Team), and those on the losing side have to survive the Worthless Cook Elimination at the end of each program. Ramsay selects one "best of the worst" loser from the losing team to be the hatchet man responsible for nominating two underperforming schmucks on the team for elimination. Ramsay then tells one of them to get the fuck out of his kitchen and go home.

A jungle beast looking for the sick and weak among the herd to eat first wouldn't have far to look with this bunch. My choices for first-eaten were Eddie, a soft-spoken 5'2" short-order cook with a kidney disease that has stunted his growth, and Aaron, a rotund 48-year-old Asian basket case of a retirement home chef who spends his time sweating profusely, bursting into crying jags for no reason, and getting dizzy every five minutes because his answer to weight loss is starvation and cigarettes.

I figured Aaron would be in for the most pain this season when he showed up for the introductory meeting with Ramsay decked out kinda sorta like a cowboy. I'm not sure whether Aaron just wandered away from the line for Let's Make A Deal, but there he was.

"Where's your horse?" asks Ramsay, as if he's never met an Asian cowboy. "You're one chunky monkey."

Right, then. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to laugh or feel sorry for banzai buckaroo. Maybe that thought occurred to Ramsay too, since he spent the next two hours out of character by not once swearing or hurling kitchenware at such an easy mark for brutal humiliation. Or maybe Ramsay's just too smart to browbeat the psychologically fragile with a kitchen full of sharp knives and cleavers hanging about. So instead, he spent a lot of time picking on some wise-ass named Vinnie, a New Jersey nightclub cook too dense to actually know what the word "rubbish" means.

Vinnie can't cook pasta worth a shit and uses water instead of vegetable stock in the risotto because the kitchen's out of stock. What the hell - "vegetables are made of water," Vinnie pretzel-logics Ramsay, who samples the risotto water and proclaims it "gnat's piss." I'm not sure how Ramsay would know what gnat piss tastes like, but heck, he's a French cuisine chef. Those guys are always using all sorts of weird shit anyway.

Meanwhile, the women on the Red Team were embracing the notion that if you're going to cook snooty French food, you might as well act like a snooty French chef - so they spend their time ignoring Julia, who they sneer at for being a lowly short order cook in a waffle house. None of them can fry quail eggs to save their lives, yet they spend two hours chasing Julia away from the eggs without it occurring to any of them that if anyone knows how to fry a fucking egg, it's a waffle house cook.

By now it's been two or three hours since the actual dinner guests started filing in and not a single one of them have eaten so much as an appetizer, so Ramsay orders his maitre d' Jean Phillipe to close down the whole place. Eventually, I'm sure the trendy folk of Los Angeles will consider showing up at Hell's Kitchen and being sent home after not being fed for three hours a trendy way to lose weight.

In the following episode, Ramsay designates Buckaroo Aaron as the restaurant's server for the evening, saving him from any possible kitchen indignity. Buckaroo Aaron spends the evening crying again, getting dizzy, and sweating profusely tableside while taking 15 minutes to de-bone the sole on their plates. One woman expressed a look of sheer dining-customer terror while the suspense built to see whether any of the giant rivulets of sweat running down the cowboy's cheeks were going to fall into her food. The customers express their thanks by complaining to Jean Phillipe about their sole going cold and the big trail of bones still left in the fish.

Back in the kitchen, Jersey Vinnie is burning the sole, Little Eddie is getting stepped on while getting confused over how to properly cook pasta, nobody in the restaurant is getting served a thing created by Blue Team, and Ramsay rails on about the risotto continuing to be too peppery. Christ, you'd think these idiots could save themselves a whole lot of trouble if it would just occur to someone to follow a written recipe, but nobody seems to be that bright. So Ramsay gets incredibly pissed, yells "Where's that fucking cowboy?" and kicks the entire Blue Team out of the kitchen, leaving Red Team to feed the rest of the now-starving customers.

At the end of the episode - despite volunteering to be the sacrificial lamb because, well, you don't have to put up with anywhere near this level of shit down at the nursing home - Buckaroo Aaron isn't even nominated for the chopping block.

Immediately, a sigh of relief is heard across the nation from everyone in a Hell's Kitchen pool betting that he'll have a nervous breakdown, stroke out, or just hang himself in the shower before getting the ax.

Instead, Ramsay sends Little Eddie packing because casinos generally prefer head chefs who don't get trampled underfoot without protesting loudly about it at least once.

My prediction for next week's episode, whose trailer featured an ambulance: Jersey Vinnie accidentally lops off one of his fingers with a knife after being instructed by Ramsay to go peel some shrimp.

*

Holy polio and Hiroshima, Batman! You're in the Army now! Earlier, the History Channel's Modern Marvels: Weird Weapons of the Allies featured a U.S. plan to attack Japanese industrial targets by using bat bombs.

The plan, approved by President Roosevelt in 1942, involved clipping tiny napalm incendiary devices to semi-hibernating bats and packing them in large Bat Bombs dropped at night over the Japanese mainland. The bombs would open before hitting the ground, the bats would fly out and trip the napalm bomb timers, and find buildings in which to roost. Thirty minutes later, Japan would be a mass of flaming bats and all sorts of weird confusion would reign.

The idea was deemed a success after some of the armed bats accidentally got out and burned down half of the Auxiliary Army Air Base in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Few people, Commissioner Gordon included, were amused.

The whole project was scrapped before actually being implemented when the buzzkills over in Atomic Warfare showed everyone how to stop worrying and love The Bomb. The following quarter, the Army was nearly brought to budgetary ruin when 90,000 bats filed unemployment claims.

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See what else Buckner and the Beachwood has been watching in the What I Watched Last Night archives.



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Posted on June 12, 2007


MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - The Traitor Who Is A Great Patriot.
SPORTS - Gambling At The Grate.

BOOKS - Scientists Gone Rogue.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.


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