M: As we mentioned in our prep post yesterday, Top Chef is invading Washington DC this season. The show started fast, with a really quick quickfire. Yes, they sprinkled in some intros to the contestants before it started, but many of them weren’t introduced until either during or after the quickfire (if at all!). So, we’ll check out the contestants in a bit, instead we’ll do what the show did, and jump right in… after the jump. Continue reading
E: Here we are, the first night with the All Star format. How did it go? I’m not sure. The first week is never when you get the emotional heft of a partnership, so there isn’t much to have missed at this point. Either way, there was a lot that was magical, and some other pieces which were technically proficient but not emotionally connected. And, I have to add, some atrocious filming. Now, some dances were great, but in the opening sequence, we actually lost all of Ashley Galvan, among other people. Isn’t this stuff supposed to be blocked in advance? It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the camera person where the dancers are! Ridiculous. Even when we get to see a dancer, it’s usually only half of them. Their feet are important, folks! We want to see what’s going on from the waist down! There is no excuse for this, seriously.
Anyway, it was a good night, and I really enjoyed it. Cat wore a high and rather enormous bun with a turquoise dress with gold paisley applique. It’s fabulously 60s and vaguely classical. We got to see a dance – allegedly picked at random – for each dancer. They got to share one thing about themselves. Here’s the breakdown:
M: Hi all, this is just a quick post getting ready for the new season of Top Chef, which is set to kick off another season of culinary competition tonight (Wednesday June 16th) at 9:00 on Bravo. We’re excited for it, so we wanted to put a quick PSA up getting ready.
This time the setting will be the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., which seems like a pretty fun location. Previous seasons have seen the contestants put through the ringer in San Fransisco, L.A., Miami, Chicago, New York and last season in Sin City, Las Vegas. To me, and I don’t know why, DC feels like a very different choice.
E: How so? Lots of previous contestants had restaurants in DC (Carla, Spike), and it’s getting more and more of a rep as a foodie city.
M: Oh, it’s not that it doesn’t seem like a great city for food. With the possible exception of Chicago, the other cities all seem more glitzy, and to me that’s not a bad thing for DC. For the purposes of Top Chef, most of what we see of the city is its local Whole Foods Market, and one or two locations for a “host city” specific challenge, like the wedding challenge in Vegas, or cooking for a Univision soap in Miami. So in that regard, they should be able to do some neat political tie-ins this season.
E: There’s a lot of speculation there could be tie ins with Michelle Obama’s health food initiative, which is cool. What else could there be? Cause-specific appetizers? I kind of love that idea.
M: As we mentioned a few times last summer, the summer fare on TV is usually so poor that the bar is significantly lowered, and things that would otherwise seem pretty weak are perfectly acceptable and entertaining. In preparation for that, yesterday E sent C and me an email with links to info on a few new summer shows that we might want to check out. There was one that stood out to me as looking legitimately promising, AMC’s new code-breaking conspiracy show Rubicon.
Then last night, on the off day for Celtics-Lakers, and in a commercial break for Last Comic Standing, I flipped to On Demand (that’s how empty my DVR is right now), only to find that the first hour of the premier of Rubicon became available just that day for a sneak preview. Apparently they aired it Sunday night, with relatively little fanfare, and have now made it available On Demand and online. Needless to say, I had to check it out. What follows is my best attempt at a spoiler-free, or at least minimally spoiler-infested, early review. The full two hour premier will air on August 1st. Continue reading
E: Now that was some dreamy good stuff, people.
The show opens with the twelve All Stars in a staged garden, standing on a roll of turf in front of a formal hedge with urns and flowers. David Bowie’s “Fame” plays. They drink tea. Seriously, they dance with tea cups, the saucers balanced in the crook of their arms. I could faint! It was amazing. The men – and we begin with our focus on Mark Nakamura – are in shirts and bow ties, some with vests and suspenders, as if they’re at a very relaxed garden party from a hundred years ago or so. The women? I dunno. Are they supposed to be Edwardian? Victorian? Flappers? I don’t care. The effect is awesome. The Top Eleven slink in, then flap like swans. There’s a croquet game. They dance together with precision. It’s stunning.
And of course, it’s been choreographed by Wade and Amanda Robson, who appear to be sitting at the judges table. Some things you can just tell, you know? Although it did remind me, in a way, of Mia’s genius “Higher Ground” from season 5, because it took a song I knew well and found rhythms and themes rolling beneath it I had never seen.
E: This hurts so much! I seriously can’t stand it. I hate that they’re not doing a top twenty. I’m so looking forward to seeing old friends, so to speak, among the All Stars, but – argh! It was more than usually painful to pare these kids down to ten.
So. Ahem. We had under an hour of Vegas week, which included the Broadway round, the make your own choreography round, a contemporary round with Travis Wall (woo!) and final solos.
E: Youch! The return of some old favorites has me dancing on my toes. I’ve got to admit it, though – this episode is sadly thin on new talent. Perhaps the producers don’t want us to invest in too many people when they’re going to let so few through? I can’t account for it. This episode brings us to two Southern audition cities, and finally to fabled Vegas week for the brutal, grueling winnowing process. We’ve got crazy hair, tears, tears, more tears, and an audition city so terrible we don’t get to see a single successful applicant. We have Persians (hey, where were you when they cast Prince of Persia?), injuries, addicts, mobsters’ daughters, mimes, and something called a Scooter Rocket. Shudder.