I normally don’t watch TV on TV. What I get over the air is snowy pictures in English and clear pictures in a foreign language. I never got cable TV when I moved into my studio apartment a few years ago since the last guy who lived here didn’t pay his bill and I would have to go down to the office to prove that I’m not the same guy trying to get service again. Besides, cable is overpriced when you only watch a handful of channels. The few TV shows I do watch on a regular basis are available on iTunes for Mac.
I thought the premier season of “Top Chef” was very original and refreshing with a fine balance between cooking and drama. The audition tapes shown in the first episode indicated that the contestants got selected for being “bouncy” (women) and “flamboyant” (men) without consideration of being able to take risks cooking in the competition. Season Two got wrapped up yesterday, which was very disappointing.
Several contestants imploded on their own without any help from anyone else, ethical issues kept popping up so often between the contestants that Judge Tom Collichio had to babysit the kitchen for an episode, and they were all too busy playing it safe to stand out from the pack. Everyone decided to gang up on Marcel for being the biggest jerk and threaten his life when everyone got drunk and almost shaved his head shaved.
I’d worked three years as a cook at The Old Spaghetti Factory in the 1990’s. Jerks weren’t uncommon among the kitchen staff. You either learned how to live with them or help them out the door as professionally as you can. On a cooking competition like this, I can’t understand why the contestants would throw away an opportunity to win $100,000 USD by focusing their efforts on the one person who decided that being a world-class jerk was his ambition and he still made it to the number two spot. (Marcel was even attacked at a nightclub during the two month break in taping of the show.) I’m disappointed that Judge Collichio couldn’t throw them out and declared Marcel the winner by default after the attempted shaving incident.
Surprisingly, when it showed the top four contestants at their regular cooking jobs, they act like normal people. Why they become complete jerks during the competition is beyond me. Ian won instead of Marcel, not that either one deserves the title Top Chef. This season was all drama with cooking left on the back burner.
The second half of Season Three for “Battlestar Galactica” is under way with top notch drama. The recent episode, “Taking A Break From All Your Worries”, alternates between the now captured Baltar (James Callis) being interrogated for his role in the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies, and Apollo (Jamie Bamber) and Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) tries to resolve their conflicting relationships with each other and their spouses.
The interrogation scene gets intense as Baltar gets confronted for his crimes against humanity by an angry President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) that she orders him tossed out of the airlock with him kicking and screaming down the corridors as part of a failed bluff, Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) questions him to the point of death after injecting him with a military truth serum, and his former assistant, Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani), stabs him in the neck for not telling everyone what they want to hear. After torturing him, Adama declared Baltar as being a victim instead of a criminal.
There are rumors that a major character will die this season, with Starbuck being the most likely to character to die under horrible circumstances. Keep in mind that Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) from the original TV series disappears in the “Galactica 1980” episode, “The Return of Starbuck,” episode, where his Viper crash lands on an isolated planet and presumed dead as the fleet moves on. So it wouldn’t surprise me if Starbuck does die because elements of the original series keep popping up in the new series.
THE DRESDEN FILES
The newest Sci Fi Channel show is The Dresden Files that’s based on Jim Butcher’s Chicago wizard for hire, Harry Dresden. I’d read seven of the eight books in the series, with book eight, “Proven Guilty”, coming out in paperback this month and book nine, “White Night”, is coming out in hardback in April.
The show begins early in the time line when wizard Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthrone) is still building trust with Lt. Connie Murphy (Valerie Cruz) as she hires him to assist with some odd investigations. Loosely based on the novels, there are some minor changes. Dresden drives a Jeep rather than a colorful VW Bugs, his office and residence is a store front in an old stone building instead of an old business tower and a stone basement under a boarding house, respectively, and the loose cannon spirit, Bob (Terrence Man), appears in human form instead of being a set of glowing eyeballs in an old skull.
The first episode, “Birds of a Feather”, a boy who believes that monsters are following him turns to the only person who can help him. Dresden has flashbacks to his own childhood with his non-magical magician father, establishing that his dead mother was a wizard, his father didn’t want him to get involved with the society of wizards, and his wizard uncle takes him in to train as a wizard. The humor between Dresden and Murphy is spot on.