Monday, June 11, 2007

Bye-Bye, Burke

Yes, it's true. Burke is gone, he's really gone.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Well, good, I guess. In real life, Isaiah Washington seems like a raging asshole, I never found his public expressions of repentance convincing, and I'm sure his continued presence on the Grey's Anatomy set made for a very tense working environment for everybody.

Even in terms of the show, it's OK. I first got into the show when Burke was covering up his hand tremor, and I was entranced by the apparent bond between him and Cristina. It took me a while to appreciate what a demanding, impossible-to-please control freak he was. The plotline might have been interesting with Burke continuing to work with Cristina after humiliating her like that (dumping her at the altar after she turned herself inside out for you? And saying that you're doing it because you love her enough to let her go? Dude, get a grip). But it seems a little Mer/Der redux, whereas now they might get some mileage out of how the invincible Cristina deals with being human like everybody else.

The only real downside is I'll miss looking at Isaiah on my TV screen. It's pathetic, you'd think there'd be some internal mechanism you could use to say, "That guy's a horrible human being, I don't find him attractive any more," but there isn't. It's just another example of the undeserved slack we cut pretty people in this world: no matter what appalling things they've done, we still like looking at them. Probably just the way that THE Preston Burke's friends would have used to justify continuing to hang around with him after the way he acted.

So, it's all good. I'm fine. Really. I'm fine. Seriously. Fine.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Delicious Anticipation

Yay! Hell's Kitchen is back. Another fun season of watching British super-chef Gordon Ramsay bellow, bully, and abuse a group of chefs hoping to land a quarter-million bucks and a great job. I'm not aboard the Ramsay-is-so-hott! train (he actually does, as loudmouth Vinnie said, look like a shar pei), but I find him vastly entertaining. No one of the contestants really stands out for me so far, but I'm solidly behind Waffle House Julia, whose colleagues treated her with inexcusable rudeness and snobbery to their own detriment (well, duh, wouldn't you think a short-order cook would be the first choice to fry eggs?).

I'm also looking forward, with some trepidation, to the third season of Top Chef, which starts tomorrow with a face-off between the top finishers from Seasons 1 and 2. After their nonstop pettiness and accusations of cheating, not to mention the outright assault, the entire cast of S2 (aside from Marcel) is dead to me; they make even S1's Stephen and Tiffani look good by comparison. Plus, Ilan isn't fit to flip Harold's burger. So you know which team I'm on.

S3 proper starts next week. It looks like they have made some needed changes, including hiring Lee Anne Wong to coordinate the challenges and adding Ted Allen as a judge to bring some warmth to the rude and dismissive Tom Colicchio. Let's hope the producers learned their lessons from what went wrong last time, cast the cheftestants for talent rather than personality, and keep the focus on the food, not the drama. (In other words, follow the example of Shear Genius, which managed to be remarkably professional, pleasant, and conflict-free.) But if it starts to look like S2 all over again, I'm out of there.

It'll be interesting to watch the two shows side by side. Although both are cooking competitions, they really call for different skills. TC stresses creativity, thinking on your feet, and doing your own thing; HK values consistency, organization, and teamwork. Not to mention a thick hide when Ramsay unleashes his blistering tongue on you. Ah, yes, this should be fun.

Edited June 7 to add re: TC S1/S2 Smackdown: what I said.