You asked for it, you got it: TV Club for television’s swearingest, trashiest, Britishest cooking show, Hell’s Kitchen! The program, one of three dozen on TV starring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, mixes the bottom rungs of the food-service industry some actual chefs (of varying talent) to be berated by the hotheaded Ramsay for the chance to win a job at one of his restaurants. Noel, Donna, and I will rotate TV Club duties for this season, the most rage-filled Hell's Kitchen yet.
It’s a shame we’re starting so late. We could’ve dedicated a whole post to Psychopath Joseph Tinnelly’s magnificent meltdown and early exit. Wait, I'm still confused: Was he trying to say he was a bitch, or that he wasn't? We still can discuss it, of course, but let’s focus on tonight’s episode first.
Beginning with some foreshadowing: “Chef Ramsay loves my ass!” proclaimed Lovely, after being on the chopping block for the second time in a row. She thinks he’s trying to tell her she can win. No, he’s not, Lovely. You won’t win.
The quickfire challenge, er, team contest pitted teams in a sausage-making race, and nearly caused death by double entendre. “You’re clearly comfortable with your meat!” “How thick would you like it?” “Size matters!” Ad nauseam. Making sausages looks difficult—I’m sure I’d just split the casings constantly—and Big Robert and Jim proved it, as they couldn’t produce a single strand of six. Robert, who scowled the whole time, blamed Jim—instead of, you know, maybe switching places and trying it himself, or offering much in the way of suggestions. The ladies easily beat the men, proving the ladies KNOW THEIR SAUSAGES! [Cue ridiculous sound effect.]
Hell’s Kitchen is all about the pile-up; every episode harps on one or two people, and Jim took the brunt of it during the first half tonight. His teammates loudly bitched about his slow-moving nonchalance—of course, in this “bunch of alphas,” as Andy correctly labeled them later, everyone looks nonchalant by comparison. Still, Jim did his best to ensure he’d be up for dismissal at the end of the episode by shufflin’ around the dining room serving amuse-bouches as if the kitchen didn’t depend on his swiftness. (“I’m not gonna run around,” he said. “For what? It all gets done.”) His pokiness set the Blue Team back on apps while the Red Team made swift progress thanks to Freckle Face Ariel.
Before we get too deep into service, we should talk about Robert’s dramatic blow-up when he and the rest of the Blue Team were forced to clean the dorm. When Kevin muttered something about the chefs’ lackluster sausage-making skills, Robert did the reasonable thing: He charged Kevin like a rhino and screamed in his face, then dramatically pulled off his chef shirt and flung it around. “Don’t make me look like a horse’s ass!” he screamed. Um, dude, with your man-boobs flopping as you stomp around, you’re doing that just fine on your own.
Okay, Robert, you had your catharsis. There's no need to break a broom later and yell about how you “almost died” during last season. Oh, but you had to do that too, didn’t you? So you “almost died,” eh? Have you done anything to get healthier? Gaining another 20 pounds didn’t help matters, and I’m sure your smoking works wonders for that heart condition. In other health news, Monotone Dave needed a full arm cast thanks to his accident hosing down those fire trucks, but he decided to stay even with one bad arm. When he returned from the hospital during dinner service, he quickly showed up his teammates by working harder and better than any of them.
The promos for every episode of Hell’s Kitchen make the upcoming one sound like THE. MOST. SHOCKING/INTENSE. EPISODE. EVER., and tonight’s twist had the chefs cooking for a bunch of C-list celebrities: singer Drew Lachey (who?), Tom Green (not looking as terrible as he did on Celebrity Apprentice, but not good), John O’Hurley (from TV’s Family Feud!), Melinda Clarke (who?), Kid of Kid N Play, and Kristy Swanson (from the Buffy movie!).
The service itself wasn’t terribly interesting. Aside from the usual problems—lamb chops not thick enough, chicken undercooked (sadly, no Ramsay yelling, “YOU COULD’VE KILLED SOMEBODY!” like he often does in that situation), etc.—they finished the service fine, with the men barely beating the women.
On the men’s side, Jim screwed up early, and Andy screwed up late, undercooking his chicken and having sous chef Scott get in his face. Had the men lost, both of them would have been on the chopping block. The men’s victory bought them a stay of execution, but they aren’t long for the world of Hell’s Kitchen.
With the ladies, Lovely continued to putz around the kitchen in clueless stupor, and Tek freaked out early on when O’Hurley sent his food back for being too salty. She recovered, but Lovely just muddled through. When the A.V. Club staff was discussing Hell’s Kitchen last week, Amelie noted that Lovely is this season’s Lacey, a similarly unschooled and useless presence in the kitchen. Unlike Lacey, Lovely doesn’t have much of a personality, which ensures a swift exit on reality TV. I was convinced that Lacey lasted so long last season because she had a big mouth and no self-awareness—she was the bumbling villain who easily provided the tension that sustains these shows. They even brought her back for the finale, for crissakes!
Small-Mouthed Suzanne, ever the know-it-all—even though Ramsay took her to task for her crappy lamp chops—had the gall to ask the chef for a “play by play” for how the Red Team lost. It was an underhanded way to try to look smart—and to put the focus on the others who screwed up—and Ramsay rightly told her to fuck off. But this is Hell’s Kitchen, where people never learn their lesson: When Ramsay called on Suzanne to get her opinion on who should leave, she took it as a sign Ramsay likes her. I don’t know that he does, madam.
With Tek and Lovely on the chopping block, it couldn’t have been more obvious who needed to go. But Hell’s Kitchen isn’t a meritocracy, at least not this early in the season, and neither woman had a big enough personality to make compelling television, so it could’ve gone either way. Suzanne suggested Lovely, and Ramsay agreed. His assessment? “If people were named for their cooking, her name wouldn’t be ‘Lovely’—it’d be ‘Useless.’”
And now that she’s gone, let us utter no more plays on words that compare her name to her cooking.
TASTE THE RISSOTTO!:
• Quick aside for a previous episode: For me, even bigger than Jeremy’s insane theatrics was something that seemingly went unnoticed: Ramsay’s complete failure to back up maitre d’ Jean-Philippe Susilovic after living Texan stereotype/ticking time bomb Van Hurd’s inappropriate dining-room behavior. Van should have been dressed down by Ramsay for a) his behavior and b) not respecting JP, who is in charge of the dining room. Instead, Ramsay yelled at them both, which didn’t adequately humble Van, whose blood is 100 percent rageohol.
• This season’s prize: working at a restaurant in Whistler. I know it won restaurant of the year nine years in a row or something, but does that underwhelm anyone else? For Season 7's winner: a lovely bed-and-breakfast in Wisconsin’s ski capital, Merrimac!
• I can’t stand the sound of Monotone Dave’s voice. It’s the same as Chris Griffin’s on The Family Guy. “This is, like, crushing for me,” he told Ramsay when discussing his broken arm. His voice would’ve sounded the same if he were ordering waffles.
• Whoopi/Tennille, you are well-miked in your interview segments. There is no need to yell. “A LEADER DON’T GET SLAPPED IN THEY MOUTH LIKE SUZANNE’S ABOUT TO!” Incidentally, Suzanne’s from Milwaukee, so she’d be psyched about that gig in Merrimac.
• I keep confusing Kevin for sous chef Scott. No more chrome domes, please.
• I love that Bowflex or whatever and stationary bike out on their deck. At least they provide a couple more seats for contestants’ smoke breaks.
• Next week: The KITCHEN-POCALYPSE, according to Jim (incidentally, my favorite show ever). Prepare yourself for sensory barrage that undoubtedly awaits us.