came and went as fast as standing in line at McDonald's Express. In it,
superstar chef Anthony Bourdain (rechristened Jack for the series), as
played by the underappreciated Bradley Cooper, talks about how your
restaurant meal should "dazzle, amaze and delight."
check and check. And yet, the mysterious Fox network raised a finger and
yelled, "Check, please," saucing and tossing it after only four episodes (of
like the terrific Jay Mohr series Action, Confidental was the victim
of yet another heinous Fox crime, as baffling and inexplicable as their
"news" division. The series may have been canned, but it has also been
preserved in this warmed-over DVD collection of the entirely too-short
was based on Bourdain's somewhat true personal story of his soufflé-like
rise and fall and rise in the sharp-knived world of high-class Manhattan
eat-out. It offered a promising menu: a charming-as-hell lead character, an
impossibly good-looking staff (sure, lots of actors and models work in
Manhattan restaurants, but these gorgeous people are actually career
restaurant slaves with no plans to ditch and run). Ultimately, it's a
near-perfect mixture of plot and character chemistry – New York restaurants
always come and go, but this one's demise was tragically premature.
Special of the Day is classy act-TOR Frank Langella, as the restaurant
owner, who makes a theatrical entrance from time to time to lend gravitas
and to dispense heart-to-hearts.
surprise standout is the hilarious John Francis Daley, late of the
cult-classic Freaks and Geeks.
He plays a rube chef, but in a
uniquely awkward way that he makes his own rather than taking the Easybake-Oven
version as cookie-cutter nerd boy. Of still being a virgin, he admits, "In
Utah, I had a magazine until my mom found it and started crying."
Ultimately, the same old daily special is offered for TV-workplace fare: the
smarmy, the sexy, and the stupid, but the writing is as sharp as a Ginzu
knife, and good acting turns up the heat and cooks faster anything that
could have been spit out as bland.
characters, of course, are gonzo and on the perennial verge of a meltdown,
but unlike most TV series that pretend to know the workplace,
Confidential gets it right. Most chefs work about 80 hours per week
busting their onions, throwing tomatoes and tantrums, and dealing with
Murphy's Law ("Anybody seen my fingertip?" asks the British chef, who also
later says, incidentally, "You don't know how I feel. I'm British. Even I
don't know how I feel.").
show's writers know the eating public, making use of such obnoxious and
spit-in-their-plate-worthy customer comments as "How many carbs in that?"
"Can I have mine without butter?" and "Let me ask my trainer." They also
accurately portray the nightmare of offering brunch, where patrons – all of
them as annoying as they are evil – should be immediately slain.
times, the plot seems a bit desperate (the dilemma of killing baby bunnies,
the comic agony of getting robbed, expensive eels slithering on the floor, a
less-than-friendly competition with a neighboring restaurant); it moves a
bit too swiftly, and often seems too eager to please (as most good sitcoms
are in the beginning).
cause some mild indigestion, but the DVD will let you see how it found its
footing in the few discarded leftovers after its cancellation. A dirty
shame, because it would have gotten tastier once it worked out the kinks,
but that's the beauty and savoring grace of DVDs.
early oughts were an era in television in which it was fashionable to offer
up a series described as "Sex and the City in a…." This was a
bit closer to the real deal, actually developed and produced by Darren
Star, who was the man responsible for the groundbreaking cable series about
sex in a city. Fairy tale but funny and occasionally insightful. The claws
are definitely out: an attitudinal waitress says to a gay waiter: "I love
that scarf. It really brings out your vagina."
high-couture food to the sex, and such mildly introspective Carrie-Bradshaw-esque
lines like "I love satisfying people's appetites, especially my own," and
"New York is a very forgiving town. If you're good at what you do, it finds
a way to reward you."
Ultimately, here's what sums up the entire world of Manhattan after 7 p.m.:
"It's a city of small apartments and even smaller kitchens, which is why New
Yorkers love to eat out."
there are the catchphrases: Sex and the City had "modelizer" and "spunkyfunk,"
but Kitchen Confidential was trying for "This lamb is your lamb. This
lamb is my lamb" and "I’ve seen cleaner plates on a stolen car." And, sorry
to say, there is the occasional food fight. But ultimately, there are no
sendbacks. You'll be satisfied with what is brought out to you.
commentary track, featuring cast members and writers, is no pity party.
They'll admit to "Jack Tripper moments" and an unfortunate comparison to the
overrated play "Noises Off," but ultimately it is pleasantly agreed that a
good time was had by all, and now by you.
the waiting list and taste what you've missed, because Fox or no Fox, you
are ultimately personally to blame for this show being killed, and you need
to make amends. Like a good meal, this series should stay with you long
after digestion, but in a good way.
©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 12, 2007.