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June 3 2007

Kitchen Confidential DVD Review

Jack Bourdain is a talented chef whose party lifestyle has effectively ended his career: too much wine, women and song has made Jack a has-been. But when he’s given a second chance and just 48 hours to open an upscale restaurant, Jack assembles a sexy, hilariously dysfunctional staff and things really start cooking, both in the kitchen and the bedroom!

From the executive producer of Sex and the City comes this fresh comedy that is “slick, sophisticated and worth making a reservation for” (TV Guide)…Bon appetit!

Yet another casualty of the cancel-happy Fox network, Kitchen Confidential was based on the book of the same name by Anthony Bourdain, why they changed his name to “Jack” in the TV series is lost on me. As the above blurb describes, he is given another shot at running a restaurant, and in the first few episodes you do see him struggle with his own inner demons, but he is a changed man, and determined to make a go of it this time.

Only four of the thirteen episodes included in this DVD set actually aired, and that’s a shame. I watched it when it did air, I was disappointed they called it quits so soon, and finally seeing those nine unaired episodes just hit that point home even more. The cast quickly came together, the writing was fairly tight (for the most part… there were some clichés, but overall they did a credible job), and there were numerous laugh-out-loud moments.

The cast was fun, and had a wide range of varied histories. Bradley Cooper, best known for his role as Will Tippin on “Alias”, played Jack pretty credibly, and his early scenes where he fought his urges to drink were excellent. Fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” were happy to see Nicholas Brendon, famous for his role as Xander, playing the pastry chef Seth, though he did seem a bit TOO Xander-like to me a couple of times. Two actors I really liked, I wasn’t all that familiar with: John Cho as Teddy, the fish chef, and Owain Yeoman as Steven, the meat specialist. Mr. Cho has a long list of acting credits, While Mr. Yeoman’s is fairly short. Both were believable in their parts and had excellent comedic timing.

With the current landscape looking rather bleak for the sitcom genre, this was a welcome breath of fresh air, but you have to wonder if we are ever going to get a truly successful sitcom that lacks a laugh track. Sitcoms that seem to have an intelligence above boiler-plate scripts never seem to last, and it’s a shame. And for some odd reason they always seem to end up at Fox. Overall, it’s well worth your time to check out this short-lived series and, once again, question the sanity of Fox television executives.

Kitchen Confidential DVD cover



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  • This is actually airing on Fox Japan right now and I have been watching it, mainly because nothing else is on. I’m afraid that I can’t agree with your conclusions about how funny/good it is. I thought it was ok but didn’t quite come together well.

    As you mentioned, part of the problem was the cliches but there were other issues. One thing is that all the characters were fairly one-dimensional aside from Jack. I’m sure they were written this way because the cast was so large that they wanted to quickly imprint the characters on the viewer in a memorable way. Unfortunately, I think this made the characters hard to identify with and made the show relatively farcical when it focused on some of the peripheral characters.

    The other problem was that it’s harder to understand or track the relationships between the characters when so many of them are interacting for such a brief time. The characters needed to be paired up (a la Friends – the large cast worked well there because it was broken off into pairs with two satellite characters moving between the pairs – though I actually don’t like Friends) so the relationships could be easier to see and the characters would be more sharply defined from the interaction between each member of each pair.

    I think the show may have been better after it had a chance to mature but I wouldn’t see it as something that showed strong potential just out of the gate.

  • I’ve come to expect one-dimensional characters from sitcoms anymore, I just tend to gloss over them in that entire genre. I know you said you didn’t like Friends, but look at Joey: 10 seasons on Friends and 2 seasons on his own… for a one note character.

    I did see potential down the road, and we did get it in episodes like episode #8 “Teddy, Takes Off” where we learned about Jack and Teddy’s strained relationship.

    I just wish Fox had given it some more time to find an audience, but, then they wouldn’t be Fox if they had.