Sunday, December 25, 2011

Restaurant Impossible Review (and comments on "fake" urgency)

I like reality shows in general if they live up to the quality of Project Runway. Shot well, interesting characters, produced and edited well and a reason to tune in again. I love television news so reality shows are like news on steroids. I really like Tabatha Coffey in Tabatha's Salon Makeover. The producers find the controversy in the characters (or they fake it well) and Tabatha handles it all with her iron fist and will.

Restaurant Impossible seems to be produced in the Tabatha model, with Trading Spaces thrown in. The problem I have with Restaurant Impossible is that they create fake urgency. In the Offstreet Cafe episode (and many others), there is some urgent 2 day timeline to get everything finished. Why? Are the staff, production crew and Robert Irvine so busy and so booked that they need to renovate a building in two days? He spends 1/3rd of every show yelling at the construction crew. It's weird. There are so many restaurant and food issues they could focus on without wasting air time creating a false urgency about not getting the interior finished. Reality check. We viewers know you are going to make it. Unless half your episodes end in the construction people failing, we know how it ends. What is the reason for the horrible deadline? Work another day already! Producers, it shouldn't be part of the show. It makes your viewers uncomfortable when he is yelling at the construction people who have been set up to fail because of the unrealistic deadline. Oh ... wait ... the construction people miraculously make their deadline every time and Robert never says, "good job guys". So that means any normal construction people would say, "forget you.. I quit. While I try to do my job revamping this space you continue to yell at me every episode? See ya..." See producers - it doesn't work. It means you don't have enough show to fill 22 minutes so you create fake controversy. Instead, why don't you talk about real restaurant issues... business, food, vendors, creating menus, getting in a shipment of wilted lettuce. It's not working.

It could be as good as the Tabatha show but it falls short because you are forcing the drama. Project Runway has built in, natural stress as does Tabatha. You are creating it. It makes it a formulaic, predictable ending with over dramatic, "oh my gosh" we pulled it off again music, crying...blah blah. It should be about food - it's on the Food Network. Not about a box of missing hardwood floor strips. The restaurant people are fascinating, the menu issues are intriguing - but if I wanted to stress over floor tiles I would be watching TLC.

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