Hell's Kitchen has been a tumultuous ride thus far. The show seemed poorly produced in initial episodes, with odd cuts, and exasperating contestants. Gordon Ramsay's demeanor was unsettling to say the least.
As the weeks have passed, and thanks more to the wonders of TiVO/DVRs than the editing, one has grown more and more interested in the show. Ramsay is a talented chef, if not quite a patient teacher. The contestants are not just exasperating - they are petty, snivelling, middling cooks, and seem to lack grace under pressure.
The elimininations have been the interesting part - the viewer never knows what tasks or format will the contests take. Unlike The Apprentice, this show is able to throw reality-show conventions to the wind, and if only we didn't have to deal with the numerous voice-overs endlessly repeating what the attentive viewer knows well, we'd have a great show.
Last night's episode, the penultimate one, was quite interesting. Jessica displayed a not surprising casualness and didn't help with the initial task - a rush job to bake bread in preparation for the dinner service. Her souffle flopped, too. Michael and Ralph displayed their skill and experience throughout the episode, juggling multiple tasks, taking over many of Jessica's assignments, and finally completing a complete service for the first time on the show.(more details at Jokersupdates)
The individual preparations looked good, especially Ralph's filet mignon. In an interesting surprise, the contestants' families were present, and asked to rank the dishes. Michael's tuna beat Ralph's steak by a slim margin, leaving Jessica in last place, and having to leave the show.
In what may be a first for reality television, and I'm guessing here, Jessica's family included her 'girlfriend' - not a small step for television-dom.
Next week's two-hour episode features Michael and Ralph running their own kitchens, assisted by the previously axed participants. The winner gets his own restaurant.
Winner updates here
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