Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Hell's Kitchen: The Names Have Been Changed, But That's All

Hide your meat tenderizers and your melon ballers; professional yeller and part-time chef Gordon Ramsay is back with a new batch of chefs for him to break down, build back up, break down again, and reward with a restaurant. Soon, one of these chefs will bask in the same glory as last year's winner, Heather, who is working in Las Vegas and has mostly gotten over the night terrors now. (Mostly.) Returning to help Ramsay out, with varying degrees of success, are Ramsay's largely mute sous chefs Scott and Mary Ann, perpetually abused maitre d' Jean-Philippe, and that irritating narrator who constantly states or recaps the obvious. It's helpful if you've just flipped back from another channel during the commercials or if you've left the room to get a snack, but otherwise? Shut up, narrator.

Now, Gordon Ramsay gets all the ink for being a scary guy, and he certainly doesn't make the environment a pleasant one in which to work, but the contestants do bring a lot of the stress on themselves. They cry, they refuse to work with each other – and what kind of an idiot do you have to be to talk back to Ramsay? Vinnie? Has that ever worked out well for anyone? Granted, he's going to yell at you no matter what you do, but there's no point in actively trying to make him lose his rag. And on the subject of Ramsay's treatment of his chefs, Ramsay seems reluctant to ridicule Eddie, who has a disease that stunts his growth, but he's got no problem taunting Aaron about his weight, and that's where it all starts to get uncomfortable. It's okay if he's calling his minions incompetent, because he does that to all of them, and he's done it so much it's lost all meaning. But personal attacks seem like a step over the line, even for a man who's become famous for being abusive. Random yelling and specific, localized yelling are very different.

Anyway, there are no surprises this season. Once again, the chefs are split into teams of men and women, and again, the teams screw up the dinner service so badly that Ramsay shuts the restaurant down halfway through. (It's appetizers that they ruin. Isn't it always appetizers?) The endlessly bickering, completely dysfunctional women's team is chosen as the losers, and Tiffany gets sent home for not turning out the appetizers. All of this is standard practice for Hell's Kitchen, and it won't really heat up until some chefs start to take charge and become frontrunners. Melissa and Brad distinguished themselves from the pack this week, but it's only one episode, and there are still plenty of services to be messed up. Allez bitching!